OMB issues shutdown guidance to agencies

Wednesday - 9/18/2013, 10:16am EDT

The Office of Management and Budget issued a memo Wednesday providing guidance to prepare federal agencies for the possibility of a government shutdown. The memo seeks to remind agencies of their responsibility in planning for such a contingency.

OMB said it does not think a government shutdown is necessary, but agencies should still be prepared.

"[T]he administration is willing to work with Congress to enact a short-term continuing resolution to fund critical government operations and allow Congress the time to complete the full year 2014 appropriations," OMB spokesman Steve Posner said. "However, at this time, prudent management requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse and OMB is working with agencies to take appropriate action."

The memo addressed several frequently asked questions, explaining everything from contracts and grants to the use of IT operations during an appropriations lapse.

The memo said agencies should update their plans for operations to be consistent with OMB Circular A-11. The article explains the legality of actions agencies can conduct during a funding hiatus and a timeframe for implementing shutdown plans.

In addition to the circular, agencies should refer to relevant legal opinions issued by the Attorney General and the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice. The memo did not specifically address those legal opinions.

The memo said agency leaders should ensure only "excepted" activities continue during the lapse in appropriations.

In the event of a shutdown, agencies will not be allowed to carry out "routine, ongoing operational and administrative activities relating to contract or grant administration," the memo said.

Agencies will, however, be able to incur new contracts or grants if they address emergency circumstances that imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property.

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