Shutdown furloughs cost at least $2 billion

The 16-day government shutdown last month cost at least $2 billion due to salary retroactively paid to furloughed federal government workers, the Office of Management and Budget said Thursday.
 
Budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the total cost to the government is “significantly” larger than the $2 billion baseline but a total amount is not available. 
 
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“Total compensation costs, including benefits, are about 30 percent larger, in the range of $2.5 billion,” a new OMB report states.
 
Burwell said the report helps illustrate that Congress must find a new budget deal in the coming weeks to pass a set of regular appropriations bills. 
 
“That is the way to prevent something as harmful as this from happening again,” she said. 
 
At the beginning of the shutdown, 850,000 people — or 40 percent of the civilian federal workforce — were furloughed, the report says. 
 
That number decreased after Congress allowed 400,000 Pentagon workers to return to the job.
 
The budget office estimates that, in total, the government lost 6.6 million days of work during the shutdown, more than any previous federal government shutdown.
 
“OMB’s report is proof-positive that shutdown, slamdown politics is the wrong way to govern our country,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who requested the report. 

“This manufactured crisis damaged the economy, cost us jobs, and hurt middle class families. We now have the facts to prove it," she said. 

Last week, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated that shutdown and debt-limit crisis cost 120,000 private sector jobs in October. 

There were other direct costs to the government, OMB said. The National Park Service lost about $7 million, while the Smithsonian lost $4 million.
 
The report lists the number of lost man-hours in each agency and has a number of examples of specific delays caused for various. At the top of the list of lost work is the Defense Department, followed by the Treasury and Agriculture departments. 
 
“I think that one thing that did come out of the shutdown is a greater appreciation for a number of things that the government did,” Burwell said. 
 
Burwell refrained, as she often does, from attacking Republicans over the shutdown, however. 
 
The government shut down on Oct. 1 after congressional Republicans insisted on defunding or delaying ObamaCare as a condition of passing a stopgap appropriations bill, and Democrats refused. 
 
It reopened on Oct. 17 after the Obama administration agreed to a token change to ObamaCare under which a study would be made on the income verification oversight applied to recipients of federal subsidies.