FAA shutdown puts contractors 'in a real bind'

Tuesday - 8/2/2011, 5:39pm EDT

Cindy Troutman, President, CGH Technologies

Download mp3

By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

The Federal Aviation Administration shutdown is in its second week, and along with the 4,000 sidelined FAA employees, the contracting community is reeling.

Take CGH Technologies, for example. The Washington, D.C.-based contractor has a roughly $115 million portfolio in FAA contracts. But it all came to a halt when partisan gridlock over the FAA's funding reauthorization threw the agency — and its industry partners — into a partial shutdown.

The firm is just one of some 200 contractors hit by stop-work orders.

Cindy Troutman, the president of CGH Technologies, joined In Depth with Francis Rose, to give her perspective and to provide one snapshot of how the partial shutdown at FAA is affecting contractors.

She said the company has received three stop-work orders that have affected 22 people at CGH, including a "mission-essential-type project," involving the new federal NOTAM system — shorthand for "notice to airmen." The system provides for communication between FAA and airport operators and "has not been revamped since the Teletype system," she added.

Just as FAA workers have been sidelined, CGH employees have been thrown into uncertainty.

"We had corporate meetings, tried to determine what was going to happen and we have people that are on either leave or leave-without-pay," she said. But if the shutdown continues (as now seems likely) even the workers being paid to stay home could see their paid time-off exhausted, Troutman said.

Troutman said the company, like many other contractors, experienced a range of emotions — from disbelief to anxiety — in the days leading up to the partial shutdown.

"I think all of us that have been there for a long number of years have thought that this would really not happen," she said. "But as the clock was ticking, I think more of us thought, 'This really is going to happen.' ... And a lot of us became pretty nervous. But still, when we did get the stop-work orders, it was kind of a shock."

The partial shutdown is particularly hard for CGH, she added, because about 80 percent to 90 percent of the company's work is tied to the FAA.

Ultimately, Congress' inability or unwillingness to pass the FAA reauthorization bill before heading off this week for its nearly month-long recess could mean temporary layoffs or furloughs for CGH employees, she said, and will put the company "in a real bind."