USDA APHIS workforce minimal during government shutdown
posted October 1, 2012
The following are messages received from USDA APHIS regarding the shutdown of the federal government.
I recognize many of you have questions about the operations of our office during the government shutdown. We will continue to complete all import/export work that is driven by user fees. There is a very strict definition of “driven by user fees” and the simplest way for me to describe it is if we are billing you for the activity we will be here to perform that work. If we do not bill you that work will not be completed. A very minimal staff will be available to perform import/export work. However, at this time we do not intend to alter the existing structure of how we process your certificates with the exception being we will not formally plan appointments. We will process all work on a first come first serve basis with office hours beginning at 8:00 AM EST. With these circumstances it is unlikely that we will be able to meet the same level of customer service. Turnaround times may be lengthened and office waiting times will most likely be increased for any customer. In addition, on any given work day once all import/export work is completed the office will close regardless of the hour. For instance if we have all certificates processed by 1:00 PM all personnel will end their workday and the office will close. If the workload is such that it requires a full eight hour day then employees will work until 4:30 PM EST. We will not have staff available to answer questions about certificates and the International Regulations Website has been disabled. This will not be a smooth process and I ask for your patience as we work through the government shutdown.
The message below is to all stakeholders from the APHIS Administrator Mr. Kevin Shea.
Cristopher A. Young
APHIS Stakeholders -
Due to a lapse in appropriations for APHIS as of October 1, APHIS has initiated the process of orderly shutdown of nonessential operations. You can view USDA’s plans for a lapse in appropriations at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/contingency-plans
We understand the uncertainty that the current circumstances present for Americans that USDA serves every day, as well as our many partners around the country. Effective today, many APHIS staff will be furloughed pending reinstatement of funding by Congress. These staff will not be available by phone or email, and cannot carry out work for the Agency, until funding is restored.
In APHIS, certain activities would continue because they are financed through available funding (e.g., user fees, trust funds) or are considered “excepted,” such as cattle fever tick surveillance and foreign animal disease diagnostics because these protect our borders against the entry of foreign diseases and care of animals in our custody because this is necessary to maintain research property. Minimal support would also be maintained to sustain program delivery for these programs. Those APHIS activities funded by Congressional appropriations would not continue during a funding lapse, such as assistance for the control of most plant and animal pests and diseases; research, except for the care of animals and plants; review or authorization of notifications or permits for the importation, interstate movement, or field release of genetically engineered organisms; review of petitions for nonregulated status related to genetically engineered crops; and most management, administrative and oversight functions, such as facility inspections and complaint investigations related to the Animal Welfare Act.
We are committed to keeping you as up to date as possible, within the limits of current circumstances.