The Federal Coach: Debt Ceiling Uncertainty for Federal Workers

As was the case earlier this year when the White House and Congress went to the brink before finalizing a 2011 budget, government workers are again facing great uncertainty about their work and their future amid the high-stakes political negotiations over raising the debt limit.

At this point, no one is saying what will happen to federal workers if a timely agreement is not reached on the debt limit. And when a deal is eventually struck extending the debt limit and presumably reducing the long-term deficit, how will federal pay and benefits be affected, and what impact will it have a government programs?

I’m again hearing that federal leaders are leaving their employees’ questions unaddressed, but what are you supposed to say? We’ve never had to confront a government default; and until the deal is drafted and the ink is dry, it’s unclear what it will mean for agency operations and employees.

Lest we forget, I wanted to build on some of the lessons learned from the springtime budget debates to offer concrete suggestions for communicating with your employees when information is limited.

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Susan Thomas

I always share what I know about circumstances such as this. Federal employees are deeply concerned about their livelihoods and rightly so. I think some feel they will be forced to bear the brunt of a situation they did not create. That’s enough to frustrate anyone.