Thousands of Wright-Patterson employees were expected to report to work Monday morning for further instructions “to carry out orderly shutdown activities” if a partial federal government closure stuck at midnight Friday, base authorities said.
The scenario could be a replay of October 2013 when most civil service employees at Wright-Patterson were sent home on furlough at the state’s largest single-site employer with more than 27,000 personnel, but how many might be impacted in another temporary closure could not be answered Friday.
“It is difficult to determine how many employees would be impacted because a determination of the furlough parameters has not been released,” base spokeswoman Marie Vanover said in an email.
All military personnel, regardless of their job, would report for duty, according to the Defense Department.
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Those who stay on the job — both military and civilian — will not be paid until a Congressional appropriations bill is passed, according to the Pentagon. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force planned to remain open over the weekend unless it receives a shutdown order, according to spokeswoman Diana Bachert. She said the museum would issue an update to the news media, and post an alert on the museum’s social media sites and its website if it must close.
Retired Col. Cassie B. Barlow, installation commander of Wright-Patterson the last time a shutdown hit, said Friday carrying out shutdown activities were “very complex” and “all encompassing.”
“I feel sorry for the folks on the base right now and what they have to go through,” she said. “It’s very frustrating. It’s frustrating for the commanders, but it’s also frustrating for all of the employees because they are starved for information right now and they’re listening to the news …
“It’s a stressful time especially when there’s a potential to not get paid,” she said, adding it was “no way” to treat employees or run a business.
The Pentagon issued a contingency plan Friday that listed broad categories where employees may be allowed to stay on the job, such as police, fire and medical services and other duties deemed “essential” to national security.
The reverberations of a government shutdown would be similar to the last one struck in 2013, according to Air Force Capt. Hope Cronin.
“We are hopeful that there is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations,” she said Friday afternoon. “However, at this time, we must plan for a range of scenarios” that include a short-term stopgap funding measure, a budget deal or a shutdown.
Air Force reservists were expected to attend a previously funded drill weekend Saturday and Sunday at the base with the 445th Airlift Wing, said spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris.
Among other impacts, U.S. District Court in Dayton would remain open, federal Judge Walter Rice said Friday. “I don’t expect any immediate change,” he said.
The U.S. Postal Service mail delivery and post offices would stay open and Social Security payments would continue to recipients, according to authorities.
The Ohio National Guard issued a statement Friday saying the agency would continue national defense operations and respond to state emergencies.
At the University of Dayton Research Institute, which has millions of dollars in federal contracts employing some 200 people, some employees may be prevented from doing their jobs and the institute “would need to find other work for them as possible,” John Leland, UDRI executive director, said in a statement. “Other contract work might have to shift temporarily shift from a government installation to a UD facility.”
Those changes are “disruptive” and “causes waste at taxpayer expense,” he added.
Head Start education programs for pre-schoolers were expected to be open Monday if a shutdown occurred, but a long-term government closure may have an impact on operations, according to Barbara Haxton, executive director of the Ohio Head State Association in Dayton.