Shutdown: What’s available? What’s not? And why?

LOC shutdown

By now, you’ve all (hopefully) heard that the federal government began a shutdown at 12:01 Tuesday morning. So what’s available, what’s not, and how is that determined? For a good general overview, see NPR’s The Shutdown: A Guide to What Would and Wouldn’t Close.

For a more legally-themed list:

The Federal Courts are open. SCOTUS will remain open (in fact, they remained open during the 1995-1996 shutdown as well). According to the court’s website, “In the event of a lapse of appropriations, the Court will continue to conduct its normal operations through October 4. The Court building will be open to the public during its usual hours. Further notice will be provided in the event a lapse of appropriations continues beyond October 4.” The Courts of Appeals and the District Courts have sufficient non-appropriated funds to remain open until October 15th, at which point they will reassess the situation, if the budget situation is not yet resolved.

The Library of Congress is closed, and their websites are down, with the exception of and THOMAS. The SEC remains functional, as does the Federal Reserve (which is self-funded). The State Department will remain open until their money runs out. Passports are still being issued (but the buildings passport offices are located in may be closed).

The Federal Digital System (FDSys) will continue to post Congressional materials, but “Federal Register services will be limited to documents necessary to safeguard human life, protect property, or provide other emergency services consistent with the performance of functions and services exempted under the Antideficiency Act,” and other collections will not be updated until the government reopens. The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal employees from “mak[ing] or authoriz[ing] an expenditure or obligation exceeding an amount available in an appropriation or fund for the expenditure or obligation,”  with exceptions “for emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

The FTC is closed, and their website has gone dark. Any FOIA requests submitted to them will not be processed, and complaints and Do Not Call requests cannot be filed at all. They have, however, posted a great explanation of their shutdown plan, including citations to all the OMB documents that detail the procedures for administrative agencies in absence of appropriations. Check it out here. OMB Bulletins, Circulars, and Memoranda are available here (The OMB website is still up, but an error message informs visitors that it may not be updated on a timely basis). The OMB also has a list of Agency Contingency Plans that detail what services will be available from each agency during the shutdown.


Got more? Let us know in the comments!

UPDATE: The Congressional Research Service Report from Sept. 5, 2013 on Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects is available here.

UPDATE 2: The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has captured versions of blacked out agency websites, if you need to retrieve static information. A list is available here.