Nine federal agencies are unfunded due to a partial government shutdown, but it doesn’t take traveling to Washington, D.C., to reach shuttered services.
The shutdown began at midnight Dec. 22 and has continued for 13 days with lawmakers unable to reach an agreement on how much — if any — money should be allocated to build a wall along the southern border.
The Department of the Interior, under which the National Park Service operates, currently does not have funding. All national parks — including Catoctin Mountain Park, Monocacy National Battlefield and the C&O Canal in Frederick County — are closed, although visitors may still be able to access the grounds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also unfunded. Employees at the Frederick County Farm Service Agency are on furlough, Executive Director Missy Donnelly said in an automated voice message on the agency’s phone. Farm Service staff may not access email or voice mail until after funding has been restored.
However, another arm of the USDA — the Natural Resources Conservation Service — is open and operational, said Frederick County District Conservationist Brent Cammauf.
While the agency is waiting for a budget, it has been able to continue working on contracts. Employees are overseeing ongoing construction of livestock feeding and manure storage structures at 20 farms — of its 120 active contracts — in Frederick County, he said.
Its office is down the hall from the Farm Service Agency, and employees have seen the shutdown hurt some local farmers, who are up against sign-up deadlines for critical programs, Cammauf said. His team has collected some basic information from farmers for the Farm Service Agency for when it reopens.
In 2013, the Natural Resources Conservation Service was furloughed during a federal shutdown. The office has since been deemed essential and its workers are being paid, Cammauf said.
“NRCS has continued business as usual,” Cammauf said.
The Department of Homeland Security also does not have an approved budget, which has kept the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from processing reimbursement applications, said Vivian Laxton, spokeswoman for the Office of the County Executive. This includes requests due to May flooding and other weather-related disasters in Frederick County.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is also unfunded, but it will not prevent any projects in Maryland from continuing, Maryland Department of Transportation spokeswoman Brandi Bottalico said by email on Thursday.
Wallet Hub estimates that Maryland is the third most harmed state by the federal government shutdown.
For its ranking, the company weighed each of the 50 states and District of Columbia’s:
- Share of federal jobs.
- Federal contract dollars per capita.
- Percentage of families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).
- Real estate as a percentage of gross state product.
- Access to national parks.
Maryland, D.C. and Hawaii have the highest share of federal jobs as a percent of total employment, and Maryland, D.C. and Virginia receive the highest federal contract dollars per capita, according to Wallet Hub, which used publicly available data.
Unlike past shutdowns when funding for the Department of Defense was tangled in partisan politics, federal labs and the Fort Detrick garrison are operational and funded.
The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) — a medical testing laboratory — is funded. All of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) federal projects are also funded, because a budget for the National Institutes of Health passed Congress in the fall.
The National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) has enough money through its contract with the Department of Homeland Security and will remain operational unless the shutdown lasts multiple months, said spokesman Brian Gaudet.
The Social Security Administration is also “fully funded” through Sept. 30, said spokeswoman Vivian Nichols.
Frederick County has two Social Security Administration offices, including one in Frederick and another in Urbana. The office in Frederick is a general services office and the location in Urbana is a data center that maintains, “the demographic, wage and benefit information of almost every American,” The News-Post reported in 2014.
The partial government shutdown will not affect any offices in any way, and the administration will remain “fully operational” through Sept. 30, Nichols said.
Staff writers Steve Bohnel and Heather Mongilio contributed to this column.