Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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Continuing resolutions, or 'Buddy, can you spare a dime?'

Now that we’ve nearly lost count of how many continuing resolutions Congress has passed this fiscal year (the answer: six, although it feels like about a million), here’s a question for you: How much has this congressional cat-and-mouse game affected your department or agency?

We ask this question because — although a continuing resolution may pay the bills — funding the government for a couple of weeks is far different than funding the government for a year.

Living paycheck to paycheck is one obvious analogy. While we’re talking about the federal government here rather than an individual, the principle is the same. Anyone who’s lived paycheck to paycheck knows that it’s murder on long-term planning. You simply don’t lay many plans, especially if you’re not sure the next paycheck will be there or if you’re not certain how much the check will be for. And it’s kind of hard to keep your mind on business when every few weeks you’re spending down to your last dime.

We’ve seen news items about some of the consequences of these continual CRs upstairs where the big decisions are made: Hiring being postponed, programs being back-burnered, etc.

But we’re wondering about the nuts-and-bolts effect further downstream, in the trenches. How is it affecting you (beyond morale, that is) where you sit? Or is it?

Any anecdotes to share?


Posted by Phil Piemonte on Mar 29, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 Bri

I've read alot of good valid comments on here that alot of hard working government employees have taken the time to post. I understand that we all love the country that we work for,and are sick of our so called elected officials acting like spoiled kids here. As for myself I protect this great country, expected to lay my life on the line each and everyday (even without pay I'm told) that I report for duty but I know the sacrifice has to be made. My question is, with all the posts that were made on here how many of you sent emails to the ones that are causing all of this mess and let them know how you feel about it?

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 The South

Operating under a CR is always difficult. Contracts must be funded quarterly rather than annually, which increases workload for budgeteers, contracting and accounting personnel. Spending slows because we are limited to what we executed at this same time last year, and because there are no new starts, we are essentially limited to what we bought last year. People must operate with extreme caution. Add to that funding two wars which span the globe and multiple humanitarian relief efforts. Then when the appropriation is passed, we are flooded with funding that we must execute within a very short period of time, which may or may not be possible due to contract lead times. It's a challenge, to say the least. But then we fedral employees make way too much money anyway, don't we?

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 Concerned Fed

I am concerned daily; will the gov't shut down or will it not. To be prepared for the shut down I have had to defer 2 months of house payments,'in case'; tell my parents that I can't give more to help them for they both are in their 80's and are trying to live on social security because I do not know if I will have a pay check; tell my children that I can't give more to help them with clothes for the children, school expenses and help with buying more food. Quit giving the money away to other countries UNTIL we can take care of our own! How many homeless children/adults do we have? How many senior citizens are there who have not had an increase in the ss checks WHICH amounted, the last time, to a whole $4.00. I am proud to be an American, but I am so ashamed of our officials, starting with the President and on down the line, it makes me ill!!!! WE the people have elected you to run this country, now start running it correctly with 'THE PEOPLE' who voted you into office.

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 Mary Sanderson Wyoming

We are being impacted in that our season of high summer use will begin without our being able to hire all the help we need. We have to continually go in and tweak our budgeted amounts, giving our full time staff an incremental number of days, and then figuring out if we can hire the other seasonal workforce to do the additional work that we always have to do when we get people visiting the Forest. It's a very difficult thing to plan for, high use with nobody out there to clean the toilets, cut the trees that are dying, or pump the toilets. And our contractors aren't necessarily going to know if they will be paid, either. Stupid that we're already planning on a 2012 budget.

Thu, Mar 31, 2011

It's the same old song and dance routine, year after year: Congress gets elected or re-elected, they meet and pass their own pay increase, and then fiddle around with the rest of the country while posturing and preening for the cameras, telling us how bad it is. (Whatever "it" happens to be this week). As long as planes fly from point A to point B, and as long as this ancient electronic equipment is needed to help said planes take off, fly, and arrive safely, I guess I'll get to continue working at my job. But we may not have any lights on in the Tower Cab. Just kidding. The controllers don't turn on the lights at night anyway. But you get the idea. As long as we have to keep the National Air Space up and running, Congress will have to keep our funding for the bare bones stuff that HAS to be done. Just a reminder to everyone: if PRO is good and CON is bad, what's the opposite of PROgress? CONGRESS! Have a smurfy day.

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