As the budget dispute in Congress continues, government employees are preparing themselves for a possible shutdown and everything that means. If it happens, essential government services will stop until the shutdown ends.
If your job's not essential and you so much as look at an email, in theory, that job could be gone. Or you could be coughing up a hefty fine and spending time behind bars.
The Antideficiency Act makes it illegal for work to be done, or for agencies to allow work to be done, during a shutdown. In fact, according to NextGov, violations of the act are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and as many as two years in prison.
That's why administration officials have indicated that non-essential personnel will report to work on the first day of the shutdown-if it happens-only to turn in their smartphones, laptops and other mobile devices with which they connect to office networks. At the same time, The Wall Street Journal reports:
In some corners of Capitol Hill, workers are whispering that chiefs of staff may go soft on the rule; they would allow workers to keep their electronic lifelines and just discourage pecking. "I don't think every office is going to put a big bucket out and make you put in your BlackBerry," a Senate Democratic aide said.
Others are re-routing work email to other addresses that they will be able to check from personal devices, the story says. At least one staffer on Capitol Hill also joked about beginning a 12-step program for BlackBerry withdrawal.