The three most recent partial government shutdowns cost at least $4 billion in total, with about $3.7 billion of that attributable to later paying employees who had been on unpaid furloughs, according to a Senate report.
The cost likely was substantially higher, said the bipartisan report by a subcommittee of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, because only 26 agencies were able to fully quantify their costs, including some of the largest—DoD, Agriculture, Justice, and Commerce and EPA.
Agencies that were able to quantify the impact reported a combined 57,000 lost work years due to the two-week shutdown at the start of fiscal 2014, three days in early 2018 and more than a month spanning late December 2018-late January 2019.
It noted that the “spending legislation ultimately agreed upon by Congress and the President provided back pay for federal employees. As such, the American taxpayer funded furloughed federal employees’ salaries for the duration of each shutdown, even when employees were not permitted to go to work.”
Most of the rest of the cost was associated with the costs of shutting down and then reopening agency operations, lost revenue, and late fees on interest payments, it said.