For federal employees, the recently ended government shutdown carries a high price. While the reopening of the government was tied to a bill that would provide back pay, the functioning of more than 800,000 federal workers is not a switch that can be flicked on and off will no ill side effects.
A “conservative” report on the cost to the Pentagon alone estimates the cost at more than $600 million. What many people, including apparently some members of Congress may not realize is that when you shut down entire departments, the equilibrium and smooth operation of the office can be negatively affected.
Everything thing from routine activities to conferences and vendor meetings, to certification training and legal and disciplinary actions have to be placed on hold until the workers are back on the job. And there is the intangible effect on morale, as workers become tired and frustrated by the uncertainty and abuse that is heaped on them from numerous media sources.
Most agencies should have a realistic stance towards performance issues this year and take into consideration the effects of the sequestration furloughs and now the shutdown, as federal employees recover from the trauma of this year.
However, given that the shutdown could affect individual’s work product and goals for the year, we recommend that all employees carefully document any issues that could arise from the shutdown.
In all the haste to shutdown and restart a department, you may be scrambling to save time and get back on track. While documentation of the status of your projects before and after the shutdown may seem unnecessary, should questions develop later, complete documentation of where things were can ensure you are not relying on memory to answer accusatory inquires.
Source: Federal News Radio, “Pentagon says shutdown wasted at least $600 million,” Jared Serbu, October 18, 2013