The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has now established a page addressing “Agency Contingency Plans” with myriad links to the plans for a variety of agencies. The OMB webpage also links to FAQs that address what is to be done to conduct an “orderly [government] shutdown” where there is a “lapse in appropriations”.
While these are directions for the agencies to follow, the documentation provides some guidance for contractors as well. Specifically, the FAQ provides that activities that are funded or “excepted” will be allowed to continue; those that aren’t won’t be. However, as a government contractor, if you are required to coordinate or be overseen by federal personnel then your activities – even if funded – may not be allowed to continue. This might occur because, among other reasons, (1) the personnel that oversee your activities are themselves placed on furlough or (2) the locations in which you are required to perform are shutdown during the lapse in appropriations. Your contracting officer should be providing you with information and direction on your status and allowed activities. If you don’t receive any notice, you should reach out to them to obtain direction.
Further, whether you are kept on as “excepted” and allowed to work, or you are notified at the start that you are to “stop work,” bear in mind that your status may change over time based on ongoing developments within the government. Thus, in the event that there is a lapse in appropriations and the government engages in a shutdown, you will need to pay close attention to emails, phone calls, and other contact routes to ensure that you are able to reactivate or deactivate at their direction.
If this occurs, opening up separate tracking numbers and documenting the directions you receive, actions and impacts will be important to any potential recovery. There are a number of ways in which your contracts, and the personnel and contractors you use to perform these contracts, could be affected. Because this event is unfolding in real time, please don’t hesitate to contact Susan Warshaw Ebner or Eric Whytsell, or your Stinson counsel. We are here and available to answer questions and assist if needed.