March 01, 2011

John Cooney quoted in Law360 article regarding threat of government shutdown

2 min

Venable partner John Cooney was quoted in a February 25, 2011 Law360 article that focused on how government contractors are preparing for a possible government shutdown.

Addressing the fact that the last government shutdown was 15 years ago, Cooney stated, “the government and contractors have understood that there was this risk, but virtually nobody is in a position to respond to it who had been there during the last shutdown. In both the public and private sector, contractors and the government are having to relearn all these lessons, trying to recreate the memory banks and figure out what the problems will be.”

Speaking to the process of classifying agencies and employees into essential and non-essential baskets in the event of a government shutdown, and the fact that contractors aren't alerted to their agency's status until the shutdown is in progress, Cooney noted, “It's very hard for somebody in a contractor's front office to determine how they'll be classified."

The article also referenced an influential memo that Venable partner Ben Civiletti issued in 1981, while Attorney General. The memo interpreted the Antideficiency Act as prohibiting, during a shutdown, government operations that are not directly connected to the protection of life or property, except in emergency situations and except for programs operating under multi-year or self-funding arrangements, such as Social Security, which are typically exempt from government shutdowns.