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Workers wonder what a shutdown looks like

April 1, 2011 at 11:13 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, April 1 (UPI) -- Government workers brace for a possible shutdown next week as the U.S. Congress and the White House remain at an impasse over a budget, agency employees said.

The stop-gap measure keeping the federal government running expires April 8. While reports earlier this week indicated Republicans and Democrats reached agreement on the parameters of another budget bill, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House GOP freshmen squelched those hopes by indicating they were adamant that any budget measure include deep cuts in spending.

Government employees haven't been given information about what a shutdown would entail, and are asking questions of their agencies' human resources departments, The Washington Post reported.

"You have to keep reminding them that the worst thing they can do is start adjusting their schedule to something that might not become evident for a period of time," said Michael Kane, the Energy Department's human resources chief.

"The worst of it is the uncertainty," said Michael Besmer, who processes Social Security payments in Philadelphia. "For all we know, we'll go home next Friday and we won't know whether to come to work on Monday. We hear more from the media than our superiors."

Personnel and information technology managers say planning for a shutdown is time-consuming and robbing managers of time to plan next year's budget.

"It doesn't add to the productivity of the government," Diane Breckenridge, who works for the secretary of Health and Human Services, told the Post.

The White House has ordered agencies to keep from rank-and-file workers details about who would report to work if a shutdown occurs. Each agency is responsible for determining which employees must work and which functions are essential.

"It would not be prudent to discuss plans that have not been finalized," said Moira Mack, an Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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