Pentagon Prepares for Government Shutdown

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaking to reporters at the Pentagon

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaking to reporters at the Pentagon

Officials at the Pentagon are warning employees to prepare for a government shutdown on Sept. 30. By Stephanie Gaskell

“As many of you are aware, annual funding for the government expires on Sept. 30, 2013,” begins the letter sent to Defense Department employees Monday by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

It’s a familiar sign of congressional gridlock, after sequestration went into effect earlier this year under the Budget Control Act of 2011, triggering cuts to the defense budget and civilian furloughs. Now the Pentagon is bracing for another budget showdown in Congress.

“The department remains hopeful that a government shutdown will be averted. The administration strongly believes that a lapse in funding should not occur and is working with Congress to find a solution,” Carter said in his memo. “There is still time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations; however, prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur at the end of the month.”

But, Carter warned, if there is a shutdown “a number of government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding. While military personnel would continue in a normal duty status, a large number of our civilian employees would be temporarily furloughed.”

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said if DoD civilians are furloughed, they would not be automatically entitled to retroactive pay if a deal was reached – they would have to wait for Congress to act with additional legislation to restore the pay.

There hasn’t been a government shutdown since 1995.

For now, Carter is instructing DoD personnel to check out the official Office of Personnel Management guidance for “some of the questions that may be on your mind.” http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance

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