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Shutdown to Freeze DoD Contracting


A government shutdown would bring virtually all new contracting to an abrupt halt -- stalling or stopping critical acquisition activities for the Department of Defense, Pentagon officials told

“If a shutdown occurs, no new contracts will be [awarded] accept those in support of an ‘excepted’ activity -- such as activities relating to safety, protection of property, emergency services and certain operational or medical requirements,” said Cmdr. Bill Urban, Pentagon spokesman, Comptroller. “This will prevent most new contracts from going forward.”

Existing contracts operating under prior year funding will continue in most cases, but if a deal is up for renewal it will most likely not go forward throughout the duration of any potential government shutdown, Urban added.

A Sept. 25 memo signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said: “the administration does not want a lapse in appropriations to occur. However, prudent management requires that the Department be prepared for the possibility of a lapse in appropriation.” Meanwhile, there are a number of rapid acquisition, research and development and science and technology initiatives which could be impacted as well, Pentagon officials said.

For instance, Pentagon programs designed to harvest emerging technology for quick delivery to Afghanistan could be slowed down or stopped in the event of a shutdown.

“Rapid fielded programs designed to bring technology to the warfighter quickly could be especially impacted,” said Pentagon Spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea.

With research and S&T, the impact of a shutdown would likely vary considerably depending on when and how certain projects or research areas were funded, she explained.

“Some research and development programs will continue - it all depends upon the color of the money they are funded with and the time-clock on that money. We won’t know the full impact of a shutdown on R&D until all the different funding nuances are executed,” Elzea said.

DOD vendors would also be affected by any shutdown, senior Pentagon officials said.

“Vendors working on contracts with funds obligated prior to the lapse in fiscal '13 or earlier funds could continue to work, assuming government personnel are available to provide any needed supervision. And, they could be paid for that work, but during the period of the lapse, we can't sign new contracts or extend old ones unless they're directly in support of excepted activities,” a senior Pentagon official said.

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