As you may now be aware, at 12:01 a.m. EDT Tuesday morning the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) ordered the federal government to “shutdown” due to Congress and the president’s inability to agree on a spending bill for fiscal year 2014. The 2013 fiscal year ended Sept. 30. The shutdown, which is predicted to last through the week and into the week of Oct. 7, will continue to have multiple effects on our country and its operations.
Many government offices have officially ceased operation and it is estimated that 800,000 government employees’ positions have been furloughed due to the process. Federal security, safety and emergency services whose activities pertain to the safety of human life or the protection of property will remain functioning through the shutdown although some will operate with limited employees, defined as “essential,” versus operating fully staffed. Agencies that have a surplus in funding from FY2013 are allowed to remain open as long as funds remain available (i.e. the State Department).
AFIA has compiled information from multiple sources to keep you up-to-date on the shutdown and how it could affect you. Please keep in mind as you read that this information is ever-changing, as the government is still determining essential office operations and employees at this time.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be operating with essential staff only. FDA will perform emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property; criminal law enforcement work; and activities funded by carryover user fee balances, including user fee balances under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, Generic Drug User Fee Amendments, Medical Device User Fee Amendments, Animal Drug User Fee Act, Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act and Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. If you have timelines due to the agency, we suggest fulfilling deadlines although immediate responses from the agency are not likely.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will continue its activities pertaining to homeland and national security, activities essential to ensure continued public health and safety including safe use of food and drugs and safe use of hazardous materials, law enforcement and criminal investigations, and disaster and emergency assistance.
- The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) functions as an independent business unit, therefore USPS will operate on a normal schedule.
- The Agriculture Department’s (USDA) website has been turned off. The page routes to a message explaining a “funding lapse” prevents data from being readily available. Agencies’ and offices’ websites within USDA are also inaccessible including the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Foreign Ag Service (FAS) and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Other government agencies such as FDA and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) have stated that while their sites remain up and running, they will not be updated during the shutdown. To file a report with OSHA call (800) 321-OSHA.
- USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) should continue all safety-related activities, including inspection of meat, poultry and egg products, as well as services necessary to support inspection activities. Other FSIS functions will be impacted.
- Although APHIS’ website is unavailable, the Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) ePermits System remains operational to users to submit permit applications, receive notifications and access other data. PPQ will process electronic permit applications for permit forms: 525, 526, 546, 585, 586, 587, 588, and 621. Visithttps://epermits.aphis.usda.gov to submit.
- APHIS will also continue activities such as cattle tick fever surveillance and foreign animal disease diagnostics as they are deemed necessary to protect U.S. borders against entry of foreign diseases and care of animals in our custody because this is necessary to maintain research property. These programs are financed through available funding or are considered “excepted.” Programs funded by congressional appropriations will be temporarily discontinued.
- The monthly crop estimates set to be released by USDA on Oct. 11, are expected to be delayed. USDA’s market news reports, NASS statistics and other agricultural economic and statistical reports and projections are discontinued until further notice.
- The USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) will continue to provide grain and related commodity inspection and weighing program activities supported by user fees. However, all activities supported by appropriated funds will be discontinued. This involves all activities conducted by GIPSA’s Packers and Stockyards Program (PSP) and all compliance, standardization, methods development and international monitoring activities conducted by GIPSA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).
- The e-Verify system will be shut down, hindering employers from checking employers legal status.