While Congress passed another stopgap funding bill recently, its 3rd since October 1, 2017, it only funds the government until January 19. Which means questions of another shutdown, and who exactly must work during one, will begin to surface soon. Those in IT positions might be particularly uncertain because technology is in every aspect of operations and can be linked to critical agency missions focused on protecting life and property. The Office of Personnel Management addressed this issue directly in a 2013 guidance stating that IT operations and the employees in IT positions can only continue “if they are excepted activities under the Antideficiency Act, or where their continuation is necessarily implied from a congressional authorization or appropriations of other continued functions.”
Once those functions are identified, agencies must maintain those systems at the lowest possible level with the fewest possible employees.
Below is a look at how some agencies plan to deal with IT during a shutdown.
Commerce Department (last updated in 2015)
The Patent and Trademark Office would retain most IT positions during a shutdown, requesting exceptions for 56 staffers including project managers, supervisors and more.
The Office of CIO identified 8 exceptions including CIO, deputy CIO, CISO, and 5 IT specialists. All are considered excepted to “protect life and property”, including maintaining critical systems for national security.
National Institute of Standards and Technology would keep computer scientists and IT specialists to maintain the national vulnerability database and another IT specialist at the National Cybersecurity of Excellence.
Education Department (last updated 2016)
Their plan notes that 90% of the department staff would be furloughed.
Environmental Protection Agency (last updated 2017)
“Unless otherwise identified as being a mission-critical system that would support activities outlined…in this contingency plan, most agency IT systems, including network operations, should be scaled back to basic operational status. This means eliminating all activities associated with upgrades, development, deployment, and scaling back contract and on-call activities (both federal and contractor),” according to the plan.
General Services Administration (last updated 2017)
The GSA IT office is “completely funded through the working Capital Fund, which is an exempt funding source”. The IT employees would be expected to continue showing up for work until that fund dwindles. If that happened, the “office may initiate a phased shutdown based on available resources”.
Health and Human Services Department (last updated 2017)
Included under “activities to protect property”, the department requests 443 excepted employees to “maintain computer data” at the Food and Drug Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Indian Health Service, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health.
Housing and Urban Development Department (last updated 2017)
Their plan provides basic upkeep of IT systems in support of excepted services. The plan also details duties of the CIO and deputy CIO before, during, and immediately after a shutdown and gives a list of 76 critical systems to be maintained throughout.