How a Government Shutdown Will Affect In-plants
The strong possibility of a federal government shutdown beginning Sunday morning will have big implications for the in-plants serving government agencies, like the ones I visited just last week. If Congress is unable to pass legislation to fund the federal government for the coming fiscal year, all federal operations deemed “nonessential” will close. That, unfortunately, includes many in-plants.
“The Design Office and Printing Management were deemed non-essential. We will cease operations at 4:00 pm today,” says Michael Munshaw, chief of Design & Printing Services at the Library of Congress. He and his colleagues will not be caught off guard though.
“All crucial pieces have been printed and delivered. Unfortunately, we have been planning on this all month, so the Library moved quickly to push all critical events and activities into the month of September,” he says. “Today is just wrapping up any loose ends. The shutdown signs have been made and are posted outside our buildings. Our last events were yesterday, so today looks to be quiet. At the end of the day, each employee will update their voicemail and emails stating we are not operating due to a lapse in appropriations.”
The story is a little different at the U.S. Government Publishing Office.
"Approximately 40% of the agency’s personnel will be furloughed during the lapse in appropriations," says GPO Chief Communications Officer Gary Somerset. "GPO’s operations will be limited to those that directly support Congress and the legislative process, fee-supported activities related to protection of the United States, such as passport manufacturing, and other related activities permitted by law."
Over at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the nine-employee printing and mailing operation will have a temporary reprieve from shutting down, says Ty Simpkins, chief of Logistics Operations and Publishing Services.
“At FERC, we’ll continue operating during any government shutdown, but not indefinitely. So, it’s business as usual until we are notified otherwise,” he says.
Smithsonian museums will use prior-year funding to remain open as long as they can, according to the Washington Post, after which they would shut down all activities that are federally funded. Grace Lopez, exhibits graphic designer for the Smithsonian American Art Museum, estimates that gives her museum and sign shop another week – a week of preparing to shut down.
“We usually hear from ‘The Castle’ – as we call the main part of the Smithsonian where official word originates – about what exactly the shutdown signs would need to say, and what the layout should look like,” she says. “Then each museum takes care of producing and posting signs in appropriate locations. Since the Smithsonian likely has a week available to stay open, we wouldn't begin this process until around next week mid-week. So today we just stay put.”
The situation at the World Bank Group is a little different since it is not a federal government operation.
“Our program is funded solely by the Bank and not the U.S. government, so we should be able to keep operating without issue if there's a shutdown. The operators will keep working and the presses should keep humming along,” notes Wes Troup. “We generally only produce publications for the Bank and other international development institutions. However, the United States is a member of the World Bank. So just as with any other member country, we are already prepared to provide printing support if directed to do so by Bank management.”
Whether government in-plants stay open or not, the stress of a shutdown is an unwelcome intrusion into their busy lives, though sadly it’s nothing new.
“We have been through this before,” laments Munshaw. “So much extra work and effort put forth by federal agencies.”
Related story: IPI Visits Five In-plants in Washington, D.C.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.