April 5th, 2011
01:03 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As the countdown to a government shutdown continues, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has sent notice to federal agencies to start preparing and sharing contingency plans if the government does shutdown come Friday.
In an email obtained by CNN, OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients tells agency officials that “given the realities of the calendar, good management requires that we continue contingency planning for an orderly shutdown should the negotiations not be completed” by Friday. The memo was sent Monday afternoon to all Deputy Secretaries and Chiefs of Staff, according to a government official.
While the details of such contingency plans remain unclear, Zients encourages agency officials in the memo to communicate with senior managers throughout each organization “on the logistical and managerial issues” related to a potential shutdown. “We know that the current uncertainty and threat of a shutdown is a tremendous burden on federal employees, and are very much aware that a shutdown – should it occur – would impose hardships on many employees,” writes Zients.
The last government shutdown happened in the 1990s during the Clinton administration.
“The President has been clear that he does not want a shutdown,” said OMB spokesman Kenneth Baer. “As the week progresses, we will continue to take necessary steps to prepare for the possibility that Congress is unable to come to agreement and a lapse in government funding ensues.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney seemed to downplay the significance of the contingency planning Tuesday. “There are procedures that are required to be taken, and it would be irresponsible not to take, to alert agencies and for Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries to pass on information about what would happen if funding were cut off,” said Carney in a briefing with reporters. Carney maintains hope that a shutdown will be avoided, saying there is still ample room for all sides to find common ground in the budget negotiations. President Obama hosted congressional leaders at the White House Tuesday in order to push leaders to reach final agreement. A readout of the meeting was not immediately available.
Similar shutdown planning is underway on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. An aide to House Speaker John Boehner told CNN, Boehner has asked the House Administration Committee to issue guidance to all congressional members on how the House would operate if the government was forced to shutdown.