Preparing for the Federal Government Fiscal Year End
If you look up Federal Government Fiscal Year End, here is what you would find on the Wikipedia page:
The United States federal budget for the fiscal year 2018, which runs from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, was named America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again. It was the first budget proposed by newly-elected President Donald Trump, submitted to the 115th Congress on March 16, 2017.
And since we are entering September, now is the time for government contractors to plan for a government shutdown just in case the 2019 fiscal year budget is not approved by October 1, 2018.
So what do we do?
Forewarned is forearmed so in order to do your due diligence, here are some of the terms you should be familiar with as a government contractor.
- Appropriation? An appropriation authorizes the spending of discretionary funds available to agencies and programs that have already been authorized.
- Appropriations are also known as an Appropriations Bill which is a bill that sets money aside for specific spending.
- A Continuing Resolution also referred to as a CR is a temporary bill put in place to continue funding at the current level when the fiscal year ends if no budget is in place.
For fiscal year 2018, some appropriations are already in place and essential services such as the issuing of social security checks will continue in the absence of an approved budget.
But what about other services?
This is where the terms essential and non-essential come into play. Referring to the Social Security check example, while checks will be issued, social security cards for new holders would most likely not be issued. Another example of essential has been work characterized by the Federal Government to protect our homeland while non-essential work includes the closure of National Parks, for example.
As a government contractor here are some of the things you should consider:
- Where are your government contracting employees? Are they performing an essential service?
- Do you know where your contracting officers are? If not, seek them out in early September.
- Are you operating under a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)? If so, be aware of what the CBA says in regards to shut-downs.
- WARN Act requires a 60-day notice if there is a shut-down of work.
- Which states are your employees operating in? Are there other laws in place in these states that will affect how they are treated in the case of a shutdown?
- What options can you provide to your employees? (Vacation/Leave, Furlough, Other Project Work)
- Has each contract been reviewed? For instance, if a contract was entered into before the lapse of funds and was fully funded, can you continue work on that contract?
Be aware that if a shutdown does occur government contractors must receive a Stop Work Order before work stops, so stay in contact with your Contracting Officer.
As an HR leader, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to communicate with your employees. We all know that in the absence of information, employees will make it up which causes morale problems as well as diverts attention away from the business at hand. Communicate early and often with your staff and be transparent in the communications. Be authentic and keep them abreast of what you know and don’t know.
Finally, documentation is very important before, during, and after a shutdown occurs. Make sure you are prepared for an immediate resumption of work when the Stop Work Order is rescinded. While none of us have a crystal ball and can predict if a government shutdown is going to occur, be proactive and use these next few weeks in September to establish contingency plans in the event it does occur.