The partial government shutdown is now in its fourth week and unfortunately, shows no promise for immediate resolution. To our friends and clients who are directly impacted by the shutdown, you have our sympathy and support. We hope you get back to work soon. To our friends and clients who continue to work but are starting to encounter challenges – both direct and indirect– arising from the shutdown, here are some thoughts to help keep your projects moving in the interim.
In this brief blog we’ll quickly highlight some of the potential – and cumulative impacts – the prolonged shutdown could have on military planning projects – and what professionals can do in the interim.
While we were trying to find information about which agencies are directly impacted by the shutdown, we found an informative and graphic-heavy article on Vox; you can find it here. As shown in the article, the Department of Defense (DoD) is not directly affected by the shutdown because a bill funding the DoD passed in September. However, numerous other federal agencies are shutdown, which may start to have an impact on DoD environmental planning schedules.
The Department of Interior (which includes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] and the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]) is included in the shutdown, so projects that require consultation with the USFWS or EPA may be delayed. Many agencies affected by the shutdown are charged with reviewing environmental planning documents that are important to the progress of military projects and training; much of that review and consultation has therefore been delayed. Also, planning projects involving cooperating agencies or just plain simple coordination (e.g., the US Coast Guard) may be on hold, as the agency point-of-contact is unavailable. It’s the domino effect at work.
Clearly this is a challenging and frustrating time for all. So here are our top five tips to try and keep projects moving now, and in the future, during this significantly impactful shutdown:
- Make project progress where you can (i.e., in other critical pathways not subject to agency coordination/approvals).
- Develop schedule scenarios to plan for potential worst-case delays.
- Put additional energy towards other projects that aren’t subject to shutdown impacts.
- Think ahead proactively. Develop a list of priorities for regulatory engagement when the shutdown is over (i.e., provide the regulatory agency a list of priority permits/approvals).
- When the shutdown is over, be understanding and supportive to your agency liaisons; they have been out of work, not getting paid, subject to stress, and are coming back to a mountain of work.
We hope this blog is quickly “OBE” (overcome by events) and we can all resume cranking away on projects and doing great things together!