Guam – Hundreds of Federal Employees on Guam will be furloughed and thousands of military personnel will not receive a paycheck until the fiscal standoff in Washington D.C. is resolved and either a FY14 budget or a continuing resolution is passed.
However, things are not as bleak for GovGuam as the Governor’s officer reports that most federally funded programs will be able to stay afloat at least for now.
“At approximately two this afternoon we received, Joint Region Marianas received word from commander navy installations command to go ahead and begin an orderly government shutdown what this means is that our supervisors are now notifying employees that will be furloughed but those are primarily people in administrative functions. There is some functions that will continue working we call them accepted functions which are primarily in the protection of life safety property and national security,” said Navy PAO Lt. Matt Knight.
This means that out of the roughly 770 civilian employees that work for the military on Guam, 270 will be furloughed and the remaining 500 will report to work but will not get paid until congress either passes a budget or a continuing resolution.
Nevertheless, Lt. Matt Knight says that most services on Guam’s military installations will continue. The gates will be manned, the military installations will continue to operate, MWR, the commissaries, the exchanges, the Naval Hospital and DODEA schools will all stay open. However, approximately 6,000 military personnel will be required to show up to work but they won’t get paid unless congress can pass a budget or continuing resolution. “All of our employees whether accepted or non-accepted are valued members of the team and whether or not they’re continuing to work really is not an indication of the value they bring to our team. This has really been a difficult year for all of them and this governmental shutdown is just an added hardship to an already difficult year,” said Lt. Knight.
The Guam National Guard will also be impacted by the federal shutdown as about 140 personnel will have to be temporarily furloughed. “There’s a significant impact on the Guam National Guard for sure and it’ll affect our standard daily activities our federal technicians and our civilian personnel do contribute a lot to our operations some of the impact would be felt in the maintenance of vehicles maintenance of properties and at the same time training operations and that’s a significant impact,” said Capt. Ken Ola. Capt Ola adds that despite the furloughs they will remain ready to assist in any disaster or emergency that the governor may need them for.
So how will GovGuam fair amidst this federal shutdown? “As of today our agencies did an analysis of their federally funded programs and it looks like a majority of them actually won’t be affected by the shutdown and that would be because many of them have carry over funding or have already obligated their funds for this fiscal year. So, even in the event of a temporary shutdown there will be money used for these programs,” said The Governor’s Deputy Press Secretary Phil Leon Guerrero. Leon Guerrero says that the Government of Guam is not immune to the shutdown. The Guam guard as noted earlier will have to furlough over a hundred employees and then there’s other areas that will be affected like the Guam Behavioral Wellness Center or the former Department of Mental Health and the Department of Public Health and Social Services.
Public Health Director James Gilan says there are over 60 federal programs that his agency administers. Some are 100 percent federally funded while others are a mix of federal and local matching funds. “Some of the programs will be devastated if it’s a hundred percent and there’s no money in the hundred percent federal and there’s no money we’ll have to shutdown the operation. A lot of them are local federal match so we can live off the local funds for a while and if the federal government comes to their sense we’ll just credit back what we spent,” explained Gilan adding, “The food stamp program the SNAP program. The information we have right now and it’s subject to change but right now is we have the authorization already for this month so people will be getting their benefits or already will have their benefits by one o’clock for that. We’re not sure what happens in November.”
Gilan says the Medicaid program is fully funded and most programs with some local funding will be able to survive off of their local funding. Community health centers will remain open but they will have to cut some positions in the health centers. In fact, roughly 25 staffers could be temporarily furloughed. Gilan says they’ve received mixed messages on whether or not there will be food stamp or SNAP funding in November. So, while he awaits clarification Gilan’s hoping that this fiscal standoff in D.C. will be resolved soon.