In case of shutdown, step away from the BlackBerry

Thursday - 2/24/2011, 9:31am EST

Alan Balutis, senior director, Cisco's Business Solutions Group

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

In a shutdown, just because you can work from home doesn't mean you should.

That means even if you are not in the office, you can't work on your smartphones, laptops or other devices.

The Office of Personnel Management explicitly says federal employees cannot volunteer to work unpaid during a furlough.

Technology has made working remotely much easier compared with the mid-1990s during the last partial government shutdown.

But the ability to work remotely will not exempt you from being furloughed, said Alan Balutis, the senior director for Cisco's Business Solutions Group and a former chief information officer at the Commerce Department.

"Certain personnel will be deemed essential, and they will remain on duty. Others that are determined to be non-essential and are part of the shutdown are under law prohibited from continuing to work or even to volunteer their time," Balutis said. "I'm sure many will do so regardless."

During the shutdowns in the 1990s, some federal employees still wanted to continue to work - unpaid, he said.

This desire to work "reflects the dedication and commitment to mission and service to the public that's an aspect of much of our public service then and now," Balutis said.

Even though the White House has publicly stated it is confident a shutdown will be averted, Balutis said the administration is probably determining now which federal employees are essential and which will be subject to furloughs.

Some systems - like payments of social security and veterans benefits - are automated and personnel who operate these systems will be deemed essential, he said.

However, he added, "There's a bit of gamesmanship here in the sense that any administration is going to want to dramatize the draconian effects of a Republican House unwilling to negotiate."

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