With little more than three weeks left before the end of the fiscal year and a deal on future spending still not done, federal leaders are starting their Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) so that essential functions continue to be carried out, while other functions – and people – stop work.  The process is taking on more urgency this year as some believe that there is a real chance for a partial shutdown.  Most recently, former Congressional Budget Office Deputy Director Raymond Scheppach stated that he believes that there could be a shutdown and that it could last some time.  Regardless of whether there is a shutdown or, if so, how long it is, federal agency heads still must prepare as if there will be a shutdown.  In the short term, this creates a distraction that could delay year-end business as decision makers get drawn into COOP sessions.  That could lead to frustration on the part of government contractors and their customers who were counting on last-minute deals to go through.  Over the longer term, a shutdown means that contractor personnel would not be able to work from a client site and that contractors may not get reimbursed for the costs of keeping workers onboard while their jobs are on hold.  Reaching federal employees may also be a challenge.  Feds will be sorted into three groups: “furloughed”, “excepted”, and “essential”.  It’s important to understand now where your federal contacts fall.  One key part of COOP work:  federal workers will not be able to attend outside conferences or similar eventsGovernment contractors should also have their own COOP processes in place by now.  It may be time to get them out and put them in action.