The year 2020 keeps scaling new heights of challenges. Any other year and a possible government shutdown or continuing resolution (CR) would be life as normal as we near the end of the fiscal year. But this year, it feels like a little more salt on the wound. In order for programs to continue in national security, funding needs to be in place.

Shutdown Scenario

While the defense industry has marched on during COVID-19, every end of the fiscal year is always a cause for concern for military, civilian, and contractors alike. Every component in the defense industry wheel is impacted in a different way, but the hits are felt. In a shutdown scenario, contractor doors may stay open (from home) while federal employees get sidelined, but new programs get delayed and civilians and military contacts are unable to answer questions or sign off on any project changes. The slowdown of work due to dispersed team members working remotely without regular access to classified networks has taken its toll on productivity and project timelines. A funding setback just slows down the work even more than a pandemic.

Another Day, Another Spreadsheet to Update for CR decisions

While a CR is much better than a shutdown, it is always an absolute waste of time. Countless man hours are wasted detailing program costs to be included in the short term CR bandaids. It is one of the many frustrations that federal employees walk through just to find a lifeline to keep the doors open and work continuing. And without the ability to start new programs that have been awarded with period of performance (POP) dates with an October 1 start, it just adds more struggle for contractors who have been absorbing the curveballs that the pandemic has continued to throw. Of course, the whole time, everyone agrees that it just doesn’t have to be this way.

All I Want for the Holidays is an Approved Budget?

And yet, unsurprisingly, as it always works with calendars, the end of the fiscal year is upon us again, and it’s the same story but with a slightly more challenging year. If a CR becomes a reality, the end date could be just in time for Christmas or possibly into January or February timeframe, depending on which side of the aisle you are talking to. With policy riders allegedly out of the CR landscape, if a CR is drafted this week and passed next week, we skip past a potential shutdown with hours to spare.

Frozen Life is Better in the Movies

It’s great to keep the doors open, but without new starts able to move forward, new hires and funding streams are frozen. The impact of uncertainty and programs and funding on pause is often hard to measure. While politics always have a sneaky way of impacting programs, history shows that if the longer the CR goes, the more likely it will continue to the spring if there’s a changing of the guard.

“How many new starts are planned for 1 October, I can’t tell you, but if we go to March or February there are more new starts over that entire period,” National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) senior vice president Wesley Hallman said to DefenseNews. “If it’s bad in October, it’s really bad if it’s going into March.”


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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.