DHS ORGANIZATIONS & POTENTIALLY OTHER FEE-BASED OFFICES FACE POSSIBLE FURLOUGHS, IMPACTING YOUR BUSINESS
In case government business wasn’t distracted enough already, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agencies are facing possible partial furloughs this summer in the wake of dramatically lower user fees brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless Congress provides supplemental funding in July, thousands of employees in these, and possibly other fee-based organizations, could be furloughed. The potential for a furlough is enough of a distraction. First, agencies must, by law, conduct Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) in case actual furloughs do happen. Those discussions take would-be customers away from discussions with contractors and in virtual meeting rooms. Second, the prospect of losing pay for a period of time can be distracting for any employee, DHS workers being no exception. Add on top of that transitions from home-based work to offices re-opening and it is easy to see that the pace of business will almost surely be impacted. There is not much contractors can do about this situation, either, other than showing empathy and patience. Congress may well provide funds, but likely not until the last minute. It is also important to note that while Congress may restore funding for employees, any acquisitions that were to have been funded by user fees may not be covered and are very likely on hold. Contractors doing business with any department that operates either partly or entirely from user fees should have serious discussions now about the viability of current operations a contractor may be supporting and fund availability for planned projects.