Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life Goes on For Beltway Bandits

Those of you out there in real America probably looked on the prospect of a government shutdown with amused contempt, perhaps even wishing it would happen to prove how screwed up Washington is, or how evil the Republicans are, or how feckless the Democrats. But for those of us who make our livings from the government it was rather more serious. In my office we were running out work already, because we have received very few new assignments since September 30 when the last real budget expired. Since then the government has been operating under a series of continuing resolutions. Federal managers hate to issue contracts under a continuing resolution, because they can only award a portion of the total project equal to the portion of the year covered by the CR; that is, under a 4-month CR, they can award 1/3 of the project, and so on. Since getting a contract awarded takes quite a bit of work, they hardly ever do this, especially when they are facing the prospect of a shutdown that would bring things to a halt, and especially when they don't know what their eventual budgets will be. Under a shutdown most of the work we do have would have stopped, and we might have been facing layoffs ourselves. Now that a budget is approved (or on the verge of approval), things should return to normal, and we should start getting new task orders from our clients who haven't had their budgets slashed.

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