Those of us who follow the Hill are beginning to feel like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day: waking to news of another potential shutdown, we wonder if we will spend the next 13 months until November 2012 in a state of permanent impending doom. Most remember the partisan bickering over spending levels that almost closed the federal government earlier this year. Last week the House failed to pass a continuing resolution that would have temporarily funded the federal government at $1.043 trillion, in order to provide additional time for Congress to pass the 12 spending bills needed to fund the federal government for the entire year. Many Republicans balked because they wanted lower amounts agreed to in an earlier budget resolution passed by the House. Most House Democrats on the other hand, opposed the bill because some of the funds for disaster relief efforts were offset by cuts to a government program that supports the production of energy-efficient cars.
While Republican leaders promise there won’t be a shutdown, the threat of one throughout the year has had continuing implications for federal contractors and employees. Under the Anti-Deficiency Act, agencies may not obligate the government to spend money exceeding amounts lawfully appropriated to date. Lorraine Campos and Joelle Laszlo provide six strong recommendations to government contractors in “Preparing for a Federal Government Shutdown”. Since the end of the Federal Fiscal Year is September 30th, one thing we can say here is that Federal contractors and grantees would be well-served to submit, and have received by the government, payment requests by that date. Of course, if the government hasn’t also paid by that date, you can expect a delay as the funds technically expire and confusion reigns.