US government shut-down - impact on Alaska
September 29, 2013
As Tuesday marks the start of the US government fiscal year, an impasse between the political parties will likely lead to a shut-down of 1/3 of the US government operations for a period of time.
About one-third of the government will shut down. About 800,000 of about 2.1 million federal employees will be sent home without pay. There are about 23,000 federal employees in Alaska, mainly associated with the US military. The likely impacts for Alaska will include:
- National parks will close. This would include Denali and other national parks.
- The EPA will essentially cease operations.
- Research projects and statistical work will stop. For example, medical research at the National Institute of Health would be disrupted and some studies would be delayed.
- Federal courts would continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.
The functions likely to be unaffected:
- The military and other agencies involving safety and security would continue to function. These include air traffic controllers, border patrol and law enforcement officers.
- Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits would still go out.
- The majority of the Department of Homeland Security’s employees are expected to stay on the job, including uniformed agents and officers at the country’s borders and ports of entry, members of the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers, Secret Service personnel, and other law enforcement agents and officers. US Citizenship and Immigration Services employees would continue to process green card applications.
- Deliveries would continue as usual since the US Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.
- The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls but suspend most routine safety inspections. Federal meat inspections would be expected to proceed as usual.
The hardest hit area will be the parks and Interior Department employees. Economically the impact would grow with the duration of the furlough and the number of employees affected.