Message from the NASA Administrator - Planning for an Orderly Shutdown

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013


As many of you are aware, annual funding for the government expires at midnight on Sept. 30.  The administration continues to strongly believe that a lapse in funding should not occur.  There is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations, and the administration is willing to work with Congress to enact a short-term continuing resolution to fund critical government operations and allow Congress the time to complete the full year 2014 appropriations. However, prudent management requires that we continue to prepare for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur at the end of the month.

As part of our effort to keep employees apprised of planning efforts, we are providing further information on how a potential lapse will affect our staff and operations.  Under a lapse in funding, our actions and decisions about what operations continue are governed by legal opinions issued by the attorney general and the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) of the Department of Justice.

In consultation with our Office of General Counsel, we have worked to determine which of our activities may continue under these legal requirements.  Similarly, we have worked to determine which employees would continue to report to work in the event of a lapse in funding, and which employees would be placed on furlough.  Should a lapse occur, and depending on the length of the lapse period, these determinations may change over time as circumstances evolve. Importantly, the categorization of employees and whether or not someone is furloughed is not a reflection on the quality of their work, nor of their importance to our agency.  It is merely a reflection of the legal requirements under which we must operate should a lapse occur.

Your managers will begin reaching out to you tomorrow (Thursday, September 26) to provide additional detail on our contingency plans and your status under a potential lapse.  These conversations are designed to provide clarity on how a potential lapse will affect you, but they do not constitute an official notice of furlough.  Official furlough notices will only be issued on October 1 if a lapse in funding has occurred.

I am very aware that the uncertainty of the current circumstances puts our workforce in a difficult situation, and should a lapse occur, it could impose hardships on many employees as well as the people that we serve every day.  We will work closely with all staff to do our best to support you throughout this period.  In addition, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has created a document to address some of the questions related to a lapse that may be on your mind.  The document can be accessed on OPM's website.

Thank you again for your hard work, dedication, and patience through this process, and for your continued service to NASA, the nation, and the American people.

Charlie B.



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