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Posted at 2:28 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

How a potential government shutdown is impacting federal workers

By Ed O'Keefe

Earlier this week we asked federal workers and contractors how they are dealing with a potential government shutdown looming -- and they've responded well.

Here are some of the more interesting responses received thus far. Join the conversation by sharing your thoughts below:

From a Government Accountability Office employee:

"It's awful. We're operating with last year's budget figures and cutting, cutting, cutting. We have very little purchasing power for books and journals (I'm a librarian). And last year's budget won't cover this year's journals. Inflation factors for journals are frequently 15-20%. We can't travel to conferences to for training. We can't take external training because there's no money. It's terrible."

From a Department of Health and Human Services employee:

"To qualify: I work at an agency's headquarters and my primary interactions are with younger professional staff all of whom have fewer than 10 years of government tenure.

"None of our day-to-day activities have been affected by the debate around a government shutdown, however significant cuts in operating budgets are expected and preparations for that eventuality have been ongoing for some time. Doing more with less has been an objective for years and staff continue to try and find ways to increase efficiencies, identify and curtail wasteful spending, and limit/control hiring and grade inflation. Unfortunately, in the past, these efforts have met with mixed success.

"The general attitude towards a possible shutdown is that of giddy anticipation and much finger-crossing. Truth be told, every one of us would love an opportunity to take a break - even unpaid - as my colleagues and I tend to work focused and long hours. That said, I have no doubt that federal workers with lower salaries or those otherwise financially stretched feel quite differently about the matter."

From an Environmental Protection Agency worker:

"Morale seems low and declining. Senior level management decision seem slower in coming. I'm not sure that's all that bad a strategy given the negative eye the current Congress has turned against our agency. Pretty depressing these days."

From a National Institutes of Health employee:

It is a hold-your-breath-and-wait ordeal. We do business as usual, but it is that one email from the branch chief that is a reminder to keep a pending shutdown in the back of your mind. I am an administrative clerk for one of the labs at NIH. If orders are not considered "emergencies," they are not getting placed the closer it gets to the end of the continuing resolution. The threat of promotions being frozen hurts morale, especially with being a new government worker (under a year). Being deemed "non-essential" in case of a shutdown is like a slap in the face. When you mess with anyone's job or career, you mess with their dignity and self esteem. Those on Capitol Hill forget that. We are being held hostage out here just because we chose to go into public service. I am a GS-5 employee making less than 35K a year and I have a college degree. Without a paycheck, how do I pay my college loans? I don't make enough to have a big savings account. What are those like me supposed to do?

Share your thoughts here:

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 1, 2011; 2:28 PM ET
Categories:  Government Shutdown  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Postal Service aid plans would jeopardize federal retirement funds, watchdog says
Next: Government shutdown avoided for now, with a two-week funding extension


EPA - Morale is low. Comes from freezing federal pay, atrocious rents, and rising health care costs. That's a pay reduction not a freeze.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | March 2, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Well, you could always get a real job, but then you might not have time to whine and wimper at 10:39 in the morning.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | March 2, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

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