The longest government shutdown in the history of the United States is finally over after a record number of 35 days.
Civil servants and contractors have already returned to their jobs at NASA but the agency will need some time in order to gear back to full speed. The first days of work will be consumed on coming up with effective strategies that should reduce the span of the recovery period to a minimum. Administrative tasks like backpay are also being addressed while people are preparing to jump-start their projects.
It is likely that the government shutdown will cause a series of long-lasting effects but time will have to pass before the real damage can be observed.
In a way, we could say that NASA was closed for almost 10% of a year. The space program cannot be switched on and off without consequences. A period of warm-up is required before things will start to work as they used too.
Jim Bridenstine, the current NASA administrator, held a staff meeting recently. Bridenstine addressed several issues during a speech. He started by being thankful for the fact that the agency is open again and acknowledged that the first month of the year has been a difficult one for NASA. A heartfelt thank you was offered to the employees that stood by NASA and decided to wait until the government shutdown will end. Some employees left the agency but the impact will be minimal.
It can be said without a doubt that the contractors will suffer the most in the long run. Civil servants will receive their wages in a few days but the situation is a bit more complicated for the contractors.
Each contractor signed an individual contract with NASA and some of them were covered by clever stipulations. While some contractors received their money in advance the vast majority is paid for the services which are actively provided. Since nothing was done during the government shutdown it is likely that they won’t be paid. In addition, many contractors are now busy with other projects and new ones will have to be brought in.
It remains to be seen if large projects will be delayed in the future.
Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.