Federal gov't shutdown affects employees - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Federal gov't shutdown affects employees

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's been more than 24 hours since the federal government partially shutdown and just as expected, the effects have already rippled throughout the nation and all the way to Guam. Workers are being furloughed and services are being cut-off.

The start of the new fiscal year has started like no other. A phone greeting announced, "Hafa Adai, you have just reached the U.S. Small Business Administration Guam Branch Office. Our office is currently closed due to lapsed in federal government funding. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and ask you to call back once government wide operations have resumed. Have a nice day."

And whether it's federal employees being furloughed or operations shutting down - the effects are clearly evident here at home. In fact today, several tourists were surprised to see the park gates locked up such as this one at the war in the Pacific National Historical Park at Asan Beach. When KUAM News asked a tourist if he was aware of the federal government shutdown, the visitor said, "We don't know, I don't know." When asked if he was surprised by the news, the tourist responded, "Yes, actually, we went to Ritidian, but it's also closed." He noted that he'd checked all the parks, unable to enjoy them.

The last federal government shutdown lasted about a month, about 28 days to be exact in late 1995. And while a single day is one too many, it has left many questioning what other services could possibly be impacted as well.

For instance, Brian Cahill, the federal security director at the Transportation Security Administration at the Guam International Airport Authority, says while none-too-pleased with the shutdown, after getting guidance from its headquarters, TSA operations at the island's only airport will not be impacted. "Primarily, all of our mission critical functions will be supported," he said. "So like I said our officers will be at our check point screening travelers and their belongings, our screeners will be downstairs at the baggage pod screening check bags. The people who have been furloughed are basically administrative support so that's behind the scenes and again that will be transparent to our travelers and to our stakeholders."

Cahill wouldn't divulge how many exactly but says it's not a large group. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that about 93% of its TSA workers are exempted from furloughs meaning 7% or about 4,000 workers have been impacted.

And while none of his employees will be furloughed, Veterans Affairs Office director John Unpingco most worries about claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education and vocational rehabilitation programs. "How do we pay these claims? Because some veterans are 100% disabled, they can't work and so they depend on this for their lively hood and by that I mean their economic livelihood and so they can be cutoff and we got to do something," he said.

He says available funding will be exhausted by the end of October. He further adds the VA Office is considered a state office so most of its operations are run on local funding.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen just when some resolution will be met, but just as the day ended, the latest out of the capitol showed the House failing to pass a proposal designed to eliminate some of the most unpopular consequences of the ongoing shutdown. 

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