With the threat of a government shutdown looming, the Pentagon yesterday advised its employees it is beginning to prepare for a possible shutdown next week.

Congress has until October 1 to pass and send to the president a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would fund the government until final FY2014 appropriations are completed.

The House has passed a CR that provides funding until December 15. But, the House CR also includes a provision that defunds the Health Care Act, which the Democrat-controlled Senate will reject and the president has vowed to veto. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is currently working to pass and send back to the House a CR that excludes the defunding provision. However, because many House Republicans are adamantly opposed to a CR without a provision defunding the Health Care Act there is a chance that an agreement will not be reached before the new fiscal year begins.

In a memo to all Department to all Department of Defense (DoD) employees, Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter said as a result of this uncertainty DoD is updating contingency plans for an orderly shutdown . Even though there is still time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations by passing a Continuing Resolution (CR), Carter said “prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies.”

If Congress does not pass a CR before October 1 (when the new fiscal year begins) nonessential government activities would stop due to a lapse in funding. “While military personnel would continue in normal duty status, a large number of our civilian employees would be temporarily furloughed," Carter said.

Furloughs in the beginning of FY2014 required by a government shutdown would come soon after most DoD civilian employees have just finished taking six unpaid furlough days in the current fiscal year.

Carter’s memo did not include any specific guidance for DOD employees. It did, however, include Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance that addresses a number of specific issues and questions related to a government shutdown. Carter pledged to provide updated information as it becomes available.

Last week OMB issued a precautionary memo directing agencies to review their plans for operating in the absence of appropriations if an agreement if not reached on a CR. That memo advised agencies that they cannot “incur obligations when the funding source for the obligation is an appropriation that has lapsed,” except in limited situations.