Both political parties in the U.S. congress are currently at odds over the approval of next years budget, and if a compromise isn’t reached we could see the government officially shut down next week.
That means we’d be denied access to all the really useful things provided by the government, which apparently includes the official websites of many federal organizations, such as the Library of Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Park Service, and several others.
“In the event of a temporary shutdown of the federal government, beginning Tuesday, October 1, all Library of Congress buildings will close to the public and researchers. All public events will be cancelled and websites will be inaccessible,” the Library of Congress said in an advisory statement on its website today.
In terms of resources, it doesn’t take much to keep a website running. However, the LOC has noted that several of the services offered on its own site require employees to facilitate them, according to a statement it gave to ArsTechnica. My guess is that the organization doesn’t want to confuse people who try to use these services and become frustrated when they don’t get the expected results — nor would they have anyone to contact those people to explain the situation.
The FTC didn’t issue a statement, but did tell Ars that it would redirect all visitors of its website to a splash page for the duration of the temporary government shutdown. Other organizations like the Department of Veteran Affairs will apparently continue running with a skeleton crew making periodic updates. I’m guessing this will be true of other essential services — where people will push on without pay because the alternative would be worse for others.
Sadly, not every organization has issued a statement about what would happen in the event of a government shutdown, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens if things turn sour. (But when congress does finally come back from leave, hopefully someone has the good sense to introduce a bill — or a line item within next year’s budget — to pay for at least some of these federal services to continue functioning for a time.)
On a positive note, the government shutdown will temporarily put an end to the NSA’s controversial strategy of collecting both public and private personal data on U.S. citizens.