Government Law

If Government Shutdown Occurs, Thousands of Federal Workers Will Have to Turn Over Their BlackBerrys

In the event of a government shutdown, tens of thousands of “nonessential” federal employees will have to part ways with their BlackBerrys.

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have the story. The provisions of a 19th century law known as the Anti-Deficiency Act prohibit federal workers considered “nonessential” to voluntarily work in a shutdown, meaning they can’t use email or voice mail, the Post says.

However, “short of shutting off employees’ access to their office computer network, it is far from clear how agencies would prevent their furloughed employees from calling in for their voice-mail messages or signing on from their home computers,” the Post notes.

One proposed plan would have nonessential executive branch employees handing in their government-issued BlackBerrys, along with other electronic devices, as they make their way out the door, a senior administration official told the Post.

In Capitol Hill, some workers suggest the rule will be less strictly enforced. “I don’t think every office is going to put a big bucket out and make you put in your BlackBerry,” a Senate Democratic aide told the Journal.

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