Long-term effects on national security post-government shutdown

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Joshua Geltzer, former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, discusses what impact the last government shutdown has on national security, and how it could negatively affect the workforce.


The total impacts of the 2018-2019 partial government shutdown are still being calculated. While several agencies were affected by the funding gap, the most prominent fell under the Department of Homeland Security. From the Transportation Security Administration to the Coast Guard, national security issues were front and center for 35 days. According to Joshua Geltzer, former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, the “non-essential” workforce is key to our national security, and furloughing them presents long-term problems.

 

“In particular, it’s long term work that suffers. The law as it has been interpreted about what work can go on, is imminent threats to life and property. That gets exempted and is deemed essential during a shutdown. There’s more that’s important than just what’s imminent. I know from being in government, that which isn’t directly in front of your face, the medium term and longer term, it often waits anyway due to the press of the day-to-day,” Getlzer said. “Here, that stuff is truly not happening at all. Those are the folks who are not able to continue working. That analysis, those projections and strategic planning beyond today, tomorrow or next week, it is really important and it worries me when that doesn’t get done for weeks and months.”