Federal News Network surveyed 100 or so government contractors during the final week of the shutdown about current contracted projects and expectations once the shutdown ended.

Not surprisingly, 71 percent said projects would be delayed and 40 percent believe it would take more than four weeks to get up to speed. Respondents also thought high costs would accrue during the re-start. Comments included the following:

  • Significant costs associated with re-start include rescheduled travel, reworked program plans, and employee hiring
  • Security clearance waits
  • Awaiting payment of invoices submitted before the shutdown
  • Permanent loss of employees to commercial firms due in part to fear of future shutdowns. (Federal News Network February 2019)

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requested that agencies move swiftly to pay contractors along with federal employees. However, agencies themselves are experiencing payment backlog, as several of the government’s invoice processing agencies had large portions of their own workforces furloughed. Before they returned, contractors’ unpaid invoices had been stacking up, awaiting formal acceptance and payment since 22 December 2018. (ibid)

We are hopeful that Congress passes legislation to make contractors ‘whole’ once future shutdowns ends, but we’re not holding our breath. Prudent contractors should plan for fiscal management upon another shutdown, possibly as early as 15 February.

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