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Thursday, November 14, 2013

FY2014 Appropriations Lapse and the Department of Homeland Security: Impact and Legislation

William L. Painter
Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy

Absent legislation providing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY2014, the Department implemented a shutdown furlough on October 1, 2013. Operations of different components were affected to varying degrees by the shutdown. While an estimated 31,295 employees were furloughed, roughly 85% of the department’s workforce continued with their duties that day, due to exceptions identified in current interpretations of law. Some DHS employees were recalled to work after the furloughs began on the basis of unanticipated needs (such as disaster preparedness activities) or the enactment of appropriations legislation that temporarily covered personnel costs.

While the DHS shutdown contingency plan’s data on staffing and exemptions from furloughs is not a perfect metric for the broad impacts of the lapse in annual appropriations, some of the data provided by DHS lend a perspective on some of the effects on the department’s staffing and operations during the funding gap until fuller post-shutdown reviews are completed. Even though most of DHS continued to work through the shutdown, most of the department’s civilian employees were not being paid until the lapse was resolved. A handful of activities were paid for through multi-year appropriations or other revenues, however, and employees working in those programs continued to be paid on schedule.

During the funding lapse, several pieces of legislation were introduced that would have impacted the funding status of the department, allowing it to either pay employees or restore operations to varying degrees. Two of these were enacted.

The Pay Our Military Act (P.L. 113-39) returned almost 5,800 furloughed Coast Guard civilian employees to work and restored pay for active military personnel and the civilian federal employees and the contractors that support them.

On October 17, 2013, the President signed into law a Senate-amended version of H.R. 2775 which carried a short term continuing resolution (CR) which funds government operations at a rate generally equivalent to FY2013 post-sequestration levels through January 15, 2014. This act resolves the lapse in funding, returns federal employees to work, and retroactively authorizes pay for both furloughed and exempt (or “excepted”) employees for the duration of the funding lapse. This report examines the DHS contingency plan for the funding lapse that began October 1, 2013, and the potential impacts of a lapse in annual appropriations on DHS operations, focusing primarily on the emergency furlough of personnel, and then discusses the legislative vehicles that had the potential to mitigate those same impacts.

CRS is continuing to gather information on the actual impact of the shutdown on DHS operations now that the October 1, 2013, lapse has been resolved, and will update this report as warranted.

Date of Report: October 24, 2013
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: R43252
Price: $29.95

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