Friday, September 27, 2013

Shutdown 2013 Update No. 2

It was gratifying to see a couple of pundits (Ezra Klein of WaPo & Politico's Ben White) agreeing with my analysis on the likelihood of a shutdown with very similar reasoning. I have co-workers who will vouch that I figured this out a few days back before I ever typed it in here.

While I have to be real careful here because I don't want to reveal any internal processes or names unnecessarily, we got additional instructions from our office on shutting down (I wasn't there late Thurs. evening when this email came). Redacted version:
Here are the highlights of today's (September 26) senior staff call, with some slight tweaking to account for more recent information:
(1) Front Office News: J___ will be Acting for the rest of the calendar year.
(2) Shutdown planning: The front office plans to send out an official email laying this out, but here is a head's up as to what it should say (if there is conflict between the email and the following, the email will control):
(a) On Tuesday, all employees are expected to come to work at their regular starting time to secure their office space, shut down all electronics, enter their time in Quicktime (more on this below), and receive further direction from their supervisors. Telework privileges will be withdrawn for the day to insure an orderly shutdown.
(b) On Tuesday, employees will have up to 4 hours to complete the shutdown; however, you may stay only as long as it takes to complete the shutdown. For the time you are here, you may code Quicktime with as usual. For the remainder of the day and the rest of the pay period, code your time as _____. Quicktime must be certified before you leave on Tuesday.
(c) After you go home (or wherever), you will be considered to be "on call." Only the front office (J___, E___, S___) or your supervisor will have authority to "call you back" during the shutdown. If a DOJ attorney calls you in regard to a case you are handling (see (e) below), refer them to E___ or S___.
(d) During the shutdown, government issued phones, smartphones, computers, or other electronic devices may not be used to conduct work, including just to check email or making any calls, etc. The Department is directing that these electronic devices remain off. (The IMR phone tree, which we've provided to the front office, shows private lines.)

(e) The federal courts will continue to be open for 10 additional days, and "essential" DOJ attorneys will be at work during that period. DOJ has a template prepared for motions for extensions of time. MSPB will be closed. EEOC will probably be closed, but we are still waiting for confirmation. If you are lead agency counsel in a matter that has a judicial deadline in October, you should advise your DOJ/USAO attorney before Tuesday that, if he or she requires your assistance, he or she needs to first call E___  or S___.
(f) For more info, go to There you will find FAQs related to HR, travel, procurement, etc. On Friday between noon and 3pm EDT, each Bureau/Office shutdown plan will be posted on this website.
I haven't gone to any websites. I responded in a rather cheeky way which I can afford to do based on my retirement eligibility in a few months:
Is it OK if it only takes me five minutes (or seconds) to "secure" my office and then I can go home?
I will follow the powers that be but having been furloughed on occasional shutdown over 30 years now, these rules seem new and a little odd. - but I'm sure they're within managerial discretion, so I'm not going to fight it!
P.S. How do I code increments of 5 seconds on QuickTime?
In former shutdowns, they just told us to go home or not come in and to "watch the news." 

I then got a call from one of my associates in another field office who asked for my insight on past shutdowns. So, that was kind of fun explaining to a friendly colleague what my past experiences had been. I shared the discussion I had with my wife this morning that I still think government employment includes some sense of security in spite of feeling like a political pinball. While we are constantly at the will of Congress and to some extent the President, our boss here in the Article II Executive Branch, if they really mess with us enough that we go down as in completely destroying the federal government (not that far-fetched mind you), everybody goes down with us. 

This is one thing I think the tea partiers fail to understand. And I think Cruz and Lee do understand it, but they are playing their base for personal aggrandizement and name recognition (although Cruz seems to be doing much better than Lee on that). It's like me having to go to the dentist this morning and finding that there were additional problems under the filling where he planned to put the crown. It wasn't pleasant, but I'm better off in the long run.

Nobody, me included, likes taxes. But they are necessary as part of responsible citizenship to help fight tooth decay (you know what I mean). Also, who likes the man bossing them around? The government is the ultimate man. You have no idea how much I dislike federal bureaucracy as I have gained skills in winding in through it to get work done for the benefit of my Department and ultimately the Citizens of America. You know what? I don't even like the hassles of paying and dealing with health insurance. But you can bet I don't take it for granted when any of my kids end up in the hospital! Actually, I sort of do because I just don't have to worry about going to the hospital. And that's something I believe all Americans deserve. So complain away, but at some point we need to grow up and take our medicine.

As a final treat today, from public YouTube, I give you our Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell:

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