What happens when federal employees aren't on the job...

Wanted to be sure you saw this Politico article highlighting the wide-reaching impacts of the shutdown across the federal government – inspections and investigations have been halted; tax refunds are delayed; furloughed judges mean the immigration courts backlog is worsening; and more. Key excerpts:
The 24-day-old shutdown is hobbling enforcement efforts throughout the federal governmenthalting power plant and oil well inspections, slowing financial fraud probes and tax audits, thwarting plane crash investigations and even delaying a probe into Facebook's privacy practices.”

Agencies have also canceled training for prosecutors who go after online child pornography and drug sales. The Justice Department has furloughed most of its administrative judges, who enforce immigration laws. And the Federal Communications Commission isn't responding to consumer complaints about robocalls. ”

The resulting pileup could take months to untangle even after the shutdown ends…”

“Former federal enforcement officials say the main problem is simple: Employees who should be looking for pollution, safety hazards and other threats are sitting at home instead of on the case… Meanwhile, the shutdown has caused EPA to miss inspections at some of the thousands of factories, recycling plants, power plants and other facilities it oversees. The agency schedules its full year of inspections each fall, and missed site visits might not be made up until the next year. ”

Enforcement has also slowed to a trickle at the Securities and Exchange Commission…’Active investigations that are routine have ground to a halt,’ said Jacob Frenkel, a lawyer with Dickinson Wright and a former senior counsel in the SEC’s enforcement division. Still, he said, ‘investigations that require expedited action in court to stop a fraud likely are continuing to move.’”

“At the Internal Revenue Service, audits and other efforts to ensure that taxpayers are paying the correct amount have ground to a halt. And that gives an advantage to people purposefully trying to avoid taxes, former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said… ‘The days lost can’t be made up after the shutdown ends,’ Koskinen said, noting that the IRS has fewer employees because of budget cuts. ‘People keep forgetting that that’s the result at many agencies.’”

“The Federal Trade Commission has halted its investigation into Facebook’s alleged mishandling of users’ data, a case that lawmakers have already complained is dragging on too long… But now the case is on hold, to be picked up when the 1,100-plus-employee agency is again fully operational. Under the FTC’s contingency plans, only investigations involving corporate mergers are moving ahead. ”

“Furloughs have forced the National Transportation Safety Board to halt ongoing investigations into plane crashes, train derailments and other accidents — probes that not only pinpoint the accidents’ causes but produce recommendations on how regulators can improve public safety. ”

“The shutdown forced the Justice Department to cancel a training session last week for its prosecutors about online markets on the so-called dark web where criminals trade in narcotics, child pornography and other illicit goods, a DOJ employee told POLITICO. ”

Federal immigration courts, which fall under the Justice Department, have drastically reduced their workload as the majority of roughly 400 judges have been furloughed, said Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. That will add to the court’s growing case backlog, which stands at more than 809,000 cases, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University… ‘It can mean that someone can be seriously hurt or killed waiting for their family’s case to be heard,’ Tabaddor said.”