Officials discuss possible government shutdown effects

Officials discuss possible government shutdown effects

Posted 9/27/2013   Updated 9/27/2013
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by Mary McHale
AFNORTH Public Affairs

9/27/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – In anticipation of a possible government shutdown Oct. 1, Department of Defense officials released information about its potential effects on key areas of the federal worker environment.

These areas include work activities, pay, base and family services. It is also important to note there are differences between this furlough and the one triggered by sequestration earlier this Fiscal Year.

If in fact a shutdown does occur, officials differentiated between the two kinds of furloughs federal workers can experience. They said an “administrative furlough is a planned event by an agency designed to absorb reductions necessitated by any budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations, for example sequestration. A shutdown furlough occurs when there is a lapse in appropriations, such as a government shutdown.”

In terms of work activities, officials stressed these effects would only be incurred if a government shutdown occurs. They said, “Air Force functions that are essential to national security and safety will continue.” Most other activities, however, will halt and a large number of civilian employees will be furloughed.

“Whatever the ultimate outcome, rest assured our no-fail air defense mission will continue unabated 24/7. Supporting and performing Operation Noble Eagle is the only option,” Lt. Gen. William Etter, Continental North American Aerospace Defense Command Region-1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) commander, said.

But while excepted activities would continue, effects may occur in other areas, such as temporary duty assignments and permanent change of station moves. All TDYs not in direct support of excepted activities would be canceled or terminated if a shutdown occurs. All PCS activities already underway will continue until completion while new PCS actions will not be initiated unless in support of an excepted activity.

As for pay, officials said military members and non-furloughed civilians will work and earn pay for the shutdown period, but they will not receive it until Congress provides appropriations. Employees who are furloughed would only receive back pay if a specific appropriation is approved by Congress.

“The pay piece is critical across the board,” Etter said. “I strongly urge anyone who anticipates financial difficulties to immediately engage with their chain of command to find financial aid resources.”

Effects on base and family services may vary by locality. Since programs such as education, child development, youth activities and commissaries may either be limited or suspended, persons are advised to check with their local facilities. The Army Air Force Exchange Service will remain open.

When it comes to TRICARE, private sector care will continue, along with inpatient, acute and emergency outpatient care in medical and dental treatment facilities. Suspended medical activities would include elective surgery or other elective procedures in DoD medical and dental facilities.

“My intent is to share as much information as quickly as possible as soon as I know it. We enjoy a day-to-day professional working environment that seeks to promote teamwork and consistent and transparent communication throughout. This situation is no different nor will we treat it as such,” Etter said.

“While I’m hopeful this shutdown will be avoided, it’s imperative we prepare ourselves should it take effect next week,” he said.

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