Federal Government Shutdown 2019 – What Contractors Should Know

Published: January 04, 2019

Federal Market AnalysisBudgetPolicy and Legislation

GovWin Federal Market Analysts share some thoughts and resources to help contractors know what’s what during the current partial federal shutdown.

Over the last few weeks several of our clients have asked questions about the scope and impact of the then-potential-now-a-reality partial federal government shutdown. Our suspicion is that there are others out there that are just as interested in navigating the situation, so we thought we would pull together some information that we hope will be useful to you.

Shutdown “basics”

Seven Things Contractors Should Know About the Federal Shutdown lays out some of the crucial “basics” and commonalities that every contractor needs to understand about any government shutdown and how it may impact you.  

One major caveat is that furloughs only apply to non-essential personnel. Furloughed employees cannot conduct any government business or use government-furnished equipment. This includes something as simple as unlocking the door of a government data center. Essential personnel – those supporting national security, public health and other actions deemed essential within each agencies’ shutdown guidance – continue to work, albeit without pay. After the shutdown Congress and the White House will have to agree to issue back-pay to the essential personnel who worked without pay. In many cases, non-essential workers will also get back pay to compensate for the disruption to their income.

Shutdown 2019 “particulars”

Each shutdown has its own unique parameters. This is especially true for the current one because some departments remain open while others are not. This is because most federal agencies received full FY 2019 funding back in September 2018.

GovWin FMA’s FY 2019 Budget “Minibuses” – First Take outlines the departments that received full funding for all of fiscal year 2019 when Congress passed the two "Minibus" bills. Minibus is a bit of a slang term where Congress uses multiple piecemeal appropriations that cover multiple appropriations bills/departments, in contrast to an omnibus that covers multiple bills/departments in one big bill.

Bottom line: the departments that have full-year budgets in place and that are not affected by this shutdown are Defense, Labor, HHS (except FDA), Education, VA, and Energy (and Congress). The departments that are impacted by the current shutdown are DHS, Commerce, Justice, State, Interior, USDA, Transportation, Treasury, HUD and some other smaller agencies like EPA.

Other Resources

Senator Patrick Leahy’s Appropriations Committee Staff has released a list of impacts, some of which have contractor implications.

Some relevant media coverage that we have found helpful include:

Contractor Implications

Contractors should expect delays in the release of requests for proposals (RFPs) that were anticipated during this time at the affected departments and agencies. Contracting officers typically are not considered to be “essential personnel,” so they are most likely on furlough and restricted from working or using government-issued equipment. So do not anticipate seeing any planned RFPs from the affected agencies until the shutdown is over.

The shutdown does not necessarily apply to contractor bid deadlines for RFPs that have already been released. Any RFPs that have been previously released which include bid deadlines that occur during the shutdown, we recommend that contractors submit their bids anyway, just to be on the safe side.


GovWin Federal Market Analysis (FMA) director Deniece Peterson and team members Christine Fritsch, Angie Petty and Alex Rossino contributed to this article.