HUD Updates Contingency Plan for Possible Government Shutdown

Lawmakers are approaching a Sept. 30 deadline and are far apart in reaching an agreement to keep the federal government funded or else risk a partial government shutdown. Despite agreement that a short-term spending measure to extend government funding, known as a continuing resolution, will be needed to avoid a shutdown, progress on this has been contentious.

Whether a budget or continuing resolution passing seems likely or not, federal agencies have been instructed to think ahead. At a minimum, agencies submit their shutdown contingency plans to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review every other year. HUD recently updated its contingency plan for possible lapse in appropriations.

One level deeper: In the event of a shutdown, HUD employees fall into one of two categories, non-excepted and excepted. The vast majority of HUD employees are non-excepted, meaning that they’re prohibited from working during a shutdown. A very small number of employees are considered excepted. In determining whether an employee is excepted, the agency follows strict Office of Management and Budget guidance. All excepted employees can carry out only those activities allowed under an exception to the Antideficiency Act, which are identified in HUD’s contingency plan.

In the event of a shutdown 339 of HUD’s 8,528 employees would continue working full time as excepted employees to perform activities that are essential to operate HUD during a lapse in appropriations, according to the HUD contingency plan. In addition, on any given day, 1,116 HUD employees could be recalled to work on an intermittent basis to work solely on excepted activities.

The bottom line: Any length of shutdown can delay approvals for funding and answers to questions and result in operational disruptions. According to the FAQs for HUD stakeholders in HUD’s contingency plan, HUD will have a limited number of employees to answer emergency questions by email or telephone during a shutdown.

All HUD regional and field offices and HUD Headquarters will be closed, with some limited exceptions for a very narrow range of activities that are permitted during a lapse in appropriations. In most cases, if you call or email the field office or Headquarters staff, you will hear a voicemail or receive a return email indicating that the government is closed. The FAQs say that you should check the HUD website for emergency contact information if you are not able to reach your normal contacts.