In uncertain budget, government 'muddling along'

Tuesday - 3/8/2011, 7:34pm EST

Mike Causey, senior correspondent, Federal News Radio

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Tom Shoop, Editor-in-Chief, Government Executive

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As Democrats and Republicans continue to duke it out on Capitol Hill over the 2011 budget, feds are stuck in the middle. With the clock inching closer to another potential government shutdown, how are feds coping?

WFED's Mike Causey said the reaction he is hearing is mixed. Some people think the attacks on federal pay are unfair, and the public and lawmakers are lumping all government employees together, he said.

Others recognize that their work may be under-appreciated but also tell themselves, "I have a good job, I love my job, I'm serving my country and everything's OK," Causey said.

In a shutdown, non-essential employees are furloughed. This term - non-essential - can impact employees' morale. It's also a term that's hard to define, said Tom Shoop, editor-in-chief of Government Executive Magazine.

"If you're non-essential, why exactly we paying you to do the job?" Shoop said.

Agency-wide, the threat of a shutdown puts on hold programs that are deemed not necessarily. Managers hold on making decisions until the budget is work out.

"It's hard to have a high-functioning government under these circumstances...It's hard for agencies to go out and do really innovative things," Shoop said.

Instead, government is "muddling along," he said.

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