What the Federal Government Shutdown means for KEA/NEA Members
Tags: News 


TO:              KEA Members

FROM:        Stephanie Winkler, KEA President

DATE:         September 30, 2013
RE:              Federal Government Shutdown

We wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in on what the shutdown of the federal government will mean for the US Department of Education, Congressional operations, federal agencies, and staff at the NEA/KEA.  

What the shutdown means for NEA/KEA Headquarters:   NEA/KEA and its staff will continue to operate on its normal schedule during the government shutdown.  

What the shutdown means for Congressional staff:  Congressional staff operations will be varied but you can expect a few certainties. Each member’s office will determine who is ‘essential staff’ and who is ‘non-essential staff’.  Staff that are classified as non-essential will be furloughed and required to leave any government issued phones, laptops, etc. at their office and will not be reachable through their work email accounts or phones.  Essential staff, which will likely be senior level positions and those with direct staffing responsibilities to the continuing resolution, will stay on duty throughout the shutdown period.  

What the shutdown means for the US Department of Education: About 90 percent of the Department of Education’s 4,225 employees will be immediately furloughed, and most won't come back until the funding crisis is resolved, even if the shutdown lasts longer than a week. On the positive side, many schools and colleges won't feel an immediate effect if the funding crisis is resolved quickly. Federal dollars will continue to flow to both K-12 and higher education. A longer shutdown, though, could lead to a big paperwork backlog and problems for schools, colleges and students that receive federal funds.

The first week of a shutdown: 
--Department staffing: The US Education Department will immediately furlough most of its employees, with the exception of a skeleton staff of appointees requiring Senate confirmation, their support staff and the minimum number of employees necessary to oversee student loans and Pell Grants. 

--Formula funding to states: $22 billion already funded for the 2013 fiscal year will continue flowing under Title I and II, IDEA and career and technical education. 

--Student financial aid: While Pell Grants and student loans will continue to be paid out, campus-based programs (the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and federal work-study) won't be.

--Grant processing for Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods will lapse for a week. Other grant programs that don't have any leftover money can't incur new obligations until the funding crisis is resolved.

--Meetings: Any "listening tour" meetings with higher education on President Barack Obama's college ratings plan are likely to be put off. The Senate was set to consider two education-related nominations Tuesday in an executive session that would be postponed. And a subcommittee hearing in the House on streamlining financial aid programs would be rescheduled for after the crisis.

--Federal research: The National Institutes of Health won't take action on any new grants. 

--Head Start: The Department of Health and Human Services won't be making new grants. A government shut down could immediately cut about 19,000 Head Start and Early Head Start spots across 10 states, according to information released by the National Head Start Association today. The number affected is a small percentage of the 967,000 total enrolled students, but the cuts could feel even deeper following 57,000 spots lost to the sequester. The cuts will come to 22 programs in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alaska and Oregon, but Florida will feel it the most. Seven programs in Florida comprise about 51 percent of the 19,000 seats.

If the shutdown lasts longer:
--Some US Education Department employees, but not many, return to work - about 30 additional employees. 

--A delay in payments for more than a week "would severely curtail the cash flow to school districts, colleges and universities, and vocational rehabilitation programs." 

--Even in programs where the money is still flowing, the delays will start to pile up: The department won't have enough staff to process applications for competitive and formula grants later in the year, meaning a big backlog when the government reopens.

For a brief overview on how the shutdown will affect other government departments and agencies please see this article from the Washington Post.

While this is not an exhaustive look at what a shutdown could entail, it is the best information available at this time.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your UniServ Director.