Fiscal year 2017 ends Saturday (September 30) without the threat of a partial government shutdown and the kind of last-minute budget negotiations that have become so common ahead of that deadline. However, this year the date also represents a different type of deadline for events that also could have a substantial impact on federal employees, a requirement that agencies submit their final “reform plans” for OMB review.
A temporary extension of agency spending at fiscal 2017 levels until December 8 was enacted several weeks ago as part of a package also containing disaster relief funding and an extension of the federal debt ceiling. Such temporary extensions are common when the end of a budget year approaches and Congress has not enacted regular appropriations bills–which for many years has been the rule rather than the exception.
The government has not had a partial shutdown since the first two weeks of October 2013, but there have been numerous threats since then, and political leaders soon will be back in the familiar position of deciding on another temporary extension; passing at least some of the individual appropriations bills through next September and wrapping the rest into a catchall bill; or enacting a catchall bill covering everything. The House has passed all 12 of the bills in the form of two packages but the Senate has not passed any.
The need to act again on the debt ceiling at the same time will add complication.
Meanwhile, agencies could start moving ahead with the parts of their reform plans that would be within their control. However, others likely would require a change in law are to be included in the administration’s budget proposal early in 2018 for fiscal year 2019.