Government Shutdown Impact on Operations and Business

The federal government shut down all but essential operations on October 1, 2013, after Congress failed to reach an agreement on a budget or a continuing resolution for funding government operations. As a result, most federal agencies have furloughed more than 90% of personnel and suspended most operations.

One federal agency, OSHA, developed a “Contingency Plan for Suspension of Agency Operations” that deals with the reduced number of employees. For example, only two compliance officers (one safety and one health) are working at each of OSHA’s 92 Area Offices around the country, and only two senior chemists and two industrial hygienists remain at OSHA’s Salt Lake City Technical Center. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), which investigates incidents at fixed chemical facilities, has kept only three of its 40 employees active

The Small Business Majority, an organization that represents 6 million employers, 43 million employees and 22 million self-employed Americans around the country, launched a national campaign asking small business owners to sign an open letter to Congress and to become active on social media and in letters to the local press expressing dissatisfaction with lawmaker negotiations over government funding and the debt ceiling. “Stop the Shutdown, Pay the Nation’s Bills” reads the website hosting the open letter.

“What these politicians clearly don’t realize is that a government shutdown doesn’t just impact government employees, but many small businesses as well,” reads the letter. “The threat of the government closing up shop alone diminishes my customers’ confidence and creates a huge amount of uncertainty, which wreaks havoc on my bottom line. Not only that, but this is all happening in the fourth quarter—the most important time of the year for countless entrepreneurs. Slackening sales now has serious consequences on my profits for the rest of the fiscal year.”

“A 55 percent majority [of entrepreneurs] agrees this short-term shutdown tactic allows politicians to hold the economy hostage to their spending priorities and threatens the nation’s credit rating,” the letter continues. “Additionally, a majority of small business owners said the most important job of Congress and the president is to focus on creating more jobs rather than reducing the deficit. “Many of the politicians who are playing politics with the debt ceiling and the national budget are the same ones who claim to support small businesses. Well, small businesses make up the backbone of our country, and this type of political gamesmanship does not help us. It hurts us.”

Gases and Welding Distributors Association