Delaware’s Senior U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) joined a bipartisan effort with U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to unveil a new report that documents the cost of the last three government shutdowns and the impacts it had on the economy and to American taxpayers.
The largest direct cost of these shutdowns is lost productivity, work not performed by furloughed federal employees. Over the past five years, the federal government has been fully or partially shut down for 52 days, costing taxpayers nearly $4 billion — at least $3.6 billion in back pay to federal workers who were furloughed and prohibited from going to work.
At least $338 million in other costs were associated with the shutdowns, including extra administrative work, lost revenue, and late fees on interest payments. The total amount of combined employee furlough days represents an estimated 56,938 years of lost productivity.
The Subcommittee based its cost estimate of nearly $4 billion on the information provided by 26 federal agencies. However, some agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, and the EPA were unable to provide basic information about employee furloughs, including back pay, for certain shutdowns.
Some agencies were unable to provide information about additional costs and impacts associated with the shutdowns, so the total cost is likely higher, raising some serious questions about the ability to perform effective oversight of its own employees.
The report also makes several recommendations, including for Congress to enact an automatic continuing resolution (CR) to permanently prevent federal government shutdowns.
“Government shutdowns are avoidable failures of governance that hemorrhage taxpayer dollars, put our nation’s federal agencies in organizational and financial disarray and pose risks to our national security. The impacts can be felt in every corner of our country, in red states and blue states alike,” said Senator Carper. “The effects and costs of a government shutdown are often far-reaching, long-lasting and immeasurable – and that’s exactly what our bipartisan report shows.
“We found that the last three government shutdowns cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion in back pay to federal workers and an estimated 56,938 years of productivity were lost – this does not even account for the federal agencies that did not have the necessary data to calculate their losses. I hope this report serves as a reminder to the President and Congress about the real consequences and costs to taxpayers when we do not do our jobs. Now, Congress has a few weeks to work together to fund the government to avoid another shutdown. Democrats and Republicans must come together, stop governing through continuing resolutions that are woefully inefficient, and do our most basic job by ensuring that our government has the funds it needs to operate.”
“This report reaffirms what I’ve always said: Federal government shutdowns don’t save money, they actually cost taxpayers billions of dollars,” Portman said. “It’s time to end government shutdowns for good. I’ve introduced legislation to accomplish that goal and ensure we avoid disruptions that ultimately hurt taxpayers and our economy. I look forward to continuing my work with Senator Carper and my bipartisan colleagues to end shutdowns once and for all.”