Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

Government Shutdown Has Hidden Costs, Long-Term Consequences

| Jan. 07, 2019

Two years ago today, I wrote in The Hill that the incoming administration should prioritize recruitment and retention of top talent into the federal workforce. Unfortunately, the current government shutdown reflects a continuing disregard for the role of career staff. Many Americans serving our country, including civil servants, diplomats, members of our armed forces, and the staffs of national laboratories are getting the message that the career paths they chose are insecure and unreliable.

In addition to all of the immediate pain being felt by many public servants and contractors who are struggling to pay their bills — whether they are expected to work without pay or required to stay home from work without pay — there are pernicious, long-term consequences to this treatment of the federal workforce that we need to focus on. Most important, this shutdown undoubtedly will reinforce a discouraging trend: More and more workers are leaving the civil service and diplomatic corps. For example, for fiscal year 2018, which ended on Sept. 30, career civilian retirements were up 24 percent from the previous year. And they are not being replaced.  Only 6 percent of federal workers are under age 30.  

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Sherwood-Randall, Elizabeth.“Government Shutdown Has Hidden Costs, Long-Term Consequences.” The Hill, January 7, 2019.