Contingency Plan for Shutdown in the Absence of Appropriations
Posted, December 15, 2011
In accordance with A-11, section 124.2, the National Labor Relations Board’s plan to effect an orderly shutdown of the agency in the absence of appropriations is summarized here and detailed below.
Time to complete shutdown: ½ day for the large majority of employees; 1 day for a limited number of employees (fewer than twelve) with administrative duties such as acquisitions, human resources, and information technology to handle contract issues, pay/benefits issues, and IT-related functions necessary for shutdown.
Number of employees expected to be on-board before implementation of plan: 1720
Total number of employees to be retained under the plan:
- Military, law enforcement, health care: 0
- Financed by other than annual appropriation: 0
- Number of employees retained to protect life and property: 9
(there are currently two Board Member vacancies which
would make it 11 with all five Board Members on staff)
- Excepted personnel: 3 PAS, 1 career appointee acting as PAS, 4 SES, 1 GS-15
- Percent of excepted employees (including 3 Board Members): <1%
- Designated personnel will be called in to work and travel as necessary to protect life and property, including significant and immediate federal legal actions already taken.
Purpose. The purpose of this instruction is to establish procedures to govern the operations of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the event of a lapse in appropriations. All agencies are required to maintain a contingency plan in the event of an appropriations hiatus.
Scope. This instruction applies to all offices and employees within the NLRB.
Policy. In the event of an appropriations hiatus, it is the policy of the NLRB to:
A. Commence the orderly and expeditious shutting down of all but emergency NLRB functions by securing files, property, and office facilities.
B. Ensure that the NLRB meets its responsibilities to the parties in current unfair labor practice and election case proceedings consistent with the Anti-Deficiency Act.
C. Ensure that NLRB employees are fully informed as to the reasons for the shutdown and that payroll and other employee benefit responsibilities are met.
D. Ensure that the NLRB retains the ability to respond to unfair labor practice incidents that might result in significant and immediate harm to the private sector economy.
Concept of Operations. This plan provides the Board and General Counsel the required flexibility to protect federal legal actions already taken (but not pursue new cases), based on the OMB memo dated 1/2/1996 to Gloria Joseph (attached) and to deal with events that might occur during a shutdown. Here are the main points of the plan:
- The plan assumes that HQ will have a minimal staff present (Presidential Appointees, Deputy General Counsel, Executive Secretary, Solicitor, Chief Information Officer and Chief of Security only).
- Each Division Director will develop and hold a list of minimum personnel required, (one per function plus backup, including contact information) to deal with emergency scenarios that might arise.
- To protect federal legal actions already taken, the General Counsel will work with the Division Directors to designate the NLRB personnel necessary to maintain the protection during a shutdown. Those personnel will be called in to work and travel as necessary.
- If a member of the public or NLRB staff informs the HQ excepted personnel of an emergency situation (examples of which could range from workplace violence to a non-functioning website), the GC and/or Boardand/or its designee will make the determination of what resources are required to respond to the situation and contact the appropriate Division Director(s). The Division Director(s) will either deal with the situation or use their list to call in the appropriate NLRB personnel to work on the problem only until it is sufficiently resolved for immediate purposes and can be further attended to after normal operations are restored.
Responsibilities. The plan assigns the following responsibilities:
The Board and the General Counsel are responsible for ensuring that all necessary determinations are made to carry out the excepted functions of the NLRB during an appropriations hiatus.
The Board Members are responsible for ensuring that Board offices take all necessary actions related to shutdown activities.
The General Counsel is responsible for ensuring that Headquarters General Counsel offices and Regional offices take all necessary actions related to shutdown activities.
The Director of Administration is responsible for ensuring that all necessary and appropriate action is taken with regard to administrative activities to ensure the orderly and expeditious shutdown of Agency activities, including the issuance of appropriate announcements and directives implementing the contingency plan.
All Agency Employees are responsible for taking appropriate action, consistent with the guidance given, regarding the orderly shutdown of activities. When the Agency has reason to believe that a shutdown is likely to occur, management will ask all National Labor Relations Board Union (NLRBU) unit employees to update, if necessary, their telephone number information.
All Agency Employees are responsible for checking the Agency website (www.nlrb.gov), and/or calling the Agency update number (202-273-[redact]) for status updates and information regarding a recall to work date. Employees may also monitor various media sources (local radio, television, Internet, etc.) for status updates and information regarding a recall to work date. At the conclusion of the shutdown, the Agency will use existing telephone trees to inform headquarters NLRBU bargaining unit employees of the date and time they are to return to work. The Agency will use existing telephone trees to inform Field NLRBU bargaining unit employees of the date and time they are to return to work, provided that no bargaining unit employees will be required to notify any other bargaining unit employee of the date and time they are to return to work. The Deputy General Counsel and the Executive Secretary are designated as union points of contact for the GC and Board-side bargaining units, respectively. In addition, the Deputy GC is responsible for acting on any employee requests for outside employment for General Counsel-side employees and the Executive Secretary for Board-side employees.
Staff Retained After Shutdown. Critical operations of this Agency are widely dispersed. NLRB has personnel located in 53 regional, sub-regional and resident offices, and three ALJ branches outside Washington. Further, the NLRB, unlike many departments and agencies, has no discretionary programs susceptible to total shutdown on a temporary basis. Each matter brought before the Board (or turned away due to the absence of staff) has the potential for serious labor relations strife posing a potential national emergency and may have to be dealt with, if only on an interim basis pending resumption of normal operations.
Therefore, the NLRB needs flexibility to appropriately respond to these incidents. Presidential Appointees (PA) are excepted by statute and will constitute the core of the Headquarters staff available to evaluate situations as they arise and determine the appropriate response:
1 – Board Chairman (PAS)
2 – Board Members (PAS) (two Member positions are vacant)
1 – General Counsel (PAS) (now encumbered by a career appointee)
Advisory staff will augment the core group to perform excepted activities related to threats to commerce should labor unrest occur or to the safety of human life and protection of property as a result of a violation of the National Labor Relations Act:
1 – Deputy General Counsel
1 – Executive Secretary
1 – Solicitor
1 – Chief Information Officer
1 – Chief of Security
Orderly Shutdown Activities – General Principles. Upon notification of an appropriation hiatus:
- Agency employees will be advised to report to work to begin an immediate and orderly shutdown of Agency activities. The process of communicating the shutdown order; securing files and physical facilities; notifying parties of the cancellation of hearings; canceling court appearances and meetings will take approximately one-half workday (see Communications Plan and Proposed Shutdown Procedures).
- After completion of shutdown activities, employees who are not necessary to perform excepted Agency activities will be furloughed.
- Employees will be allowed to complete Agency business previously scheduled for the day of shutdown and which would cause serious disruption to the public if canceled without notice. Such business includes representation elections, trials, hearings, and appearances in federal court. Those employees will be authorized to complete such Agency business by close of business on the day of shutdown to assure that those essential services are performed.
Overview of Shutdown Activities. The following shutdown activities will take place:
A. All materials of a confidential nature will be identified and secured.
B. Incomplete projects will be listed, with priorities for the orderly resumption of activities upon the return to work.
C. Emergency situations (e.g., current or imminent labor disputes which are seriously adverse to the public interest) requiring immediate attention will be identified and brought to the attention of the appropriate Excepted Personnel.
D. Telephone and e-mail contacts will be made whenever required to advise parties in active cases, court personnel, contractors, and other members of the public of the Agency shutdown, and appropriate arrangements will be made for each situation. Incomplete contacts will be identified for follow-up by personnel remaining to conclude the orderly shutdown. Telephone messages will be recorded at all office locations throughout the NLRB indicating to the public that the Agency is in a “temporary” shutdown mode. The NLRB will post notice of procedures to be followed in the event Board offices are closed due to lack of appropriated funds.
E. All Field offices will have recorded messages to identify to the public that the NLRB is in a “temporary” shutdown mode. The message will advise the caller that if a true emergency exists involving a job action, the caller should call the emergency number provided. On the outside door of each Field office, a notice will be posted advising the public of a phone and fax number to contact for assistance if there is an imminent threat to the safety of human life or protection of property as a result of the violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Additionally, the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) will post an advisory notice on the Agency shutdown website. An automated email response message will be sent to the sender of messages from external email accounts, notifying the sender of the NLRB’s shutdown mode.
F. No financial obligations may be incurred unless strictly required to effect the shutdown or protect life and property. Although these obligations may be incurred, no funds may be disbursed.
G. Equipment will be secured to the maximum extent possible.
H. Supervisors will secure files and ensure all computer data will be backed up and computers turned off.
I. Field offices will be closed. NLRB Headquarters building will be on weekend security status.
J. Local GSA Building Managers will be notified of the shutdown so that GSA may take appropriate action to secure facilities and discontinue all services.
Proposed Shutdown Procedures. The following is a list of procedures to be followed by every NLRB office and organization:
- Record voicemail message on field office telephone numbers
- Post paper notice on field office doors
- OCIO will post approved out of office messages in response to all external emails
- Record voicemail message on all staff phones
- Receive Shutdown Packet, either in person or by email
- Notify local USPS and express couriers (e.g., UPS, FedEx) at each office of shutdown and provide specific instructions on delivery, holding, and securely storing mail, correspondence, parcels, and packages
- Load fax machines with ink and paper
- Shut down (not restart) computers and other equipment, except fax machines
- Secure individual work areas and offices
- Store and lock any sensitive materials
- Turn out lights
- Lock doors
Communications Plan. The Communications section of the plan is designed to facilitate communications between:
- The NLRB and the public (status, how to contact the agency in an emergency)
- The NLRB and its staff (status, recalls)
The Communications Plan covers preparation leading up to a shutdown, implementation the day of a shutdown, operation during a shutdown, and recall to end of a shutdown. Communications activities are summarized in the table below:
NLRB Communications Plan Summary
Implementation (Day of)
Shutdown Package. The proposed contents of the Shutdown Package to be distributed to all staff physically and/or via email include:
- Official Notice
- Emergency Contact Information
- FAQ (NLRB-specific questions)
- Administrative Bulletin on Outside Employment During Shutdown
- Administrative Bulletin on Unemployment Insurance During Shutdown
- Personal Phone Script
Acquisitions. The Acquisitions Branch is charged with making sure that NLRB fulfills its contractual obligations within the context of no appropriations. No services will be performed, and no new obligations will be incurred, unless for the protection of life and property. The Acquisitions Management Branch’s role in the shutdown plan is summarized here:
- Protection of Life and Property: The following contracts fit this criteria:
- BlackBerry and Internet service,
- Data Center and
- Wide Area Network.
Those contracts will continue unless Senior Management makes a different determination.
- No Contractual Impact (on shutdown operations): Determine which contracts do not depend on NLRB Activity during a shutdown. Those contracts will continue unless Senior Management makes a different determination.
- Contracts Based Solely on Orders: Determine which contracts do not incur costs if an order is not made. Those contracts will continue unless Senior Management makes a different determination.
- Prepare to Issue Stop Work Orders: The Acquisitions Management Branch will prepare stop work orders and issue those deemed necessary for all other contracts, with the exception of some non-severable contract actions. The stop work orders will be issued the day of the shutdown. This action may be modified based on guidance from OMB. As part of the preparation, the Acquisitions Management Branch Chief will provide information to contractors to assist with preparation of a stoppage if the Government shuts down.
Human Resources. Human Resources considerations during a shutdown will be summarized in a separate HR Fact Sheet and communicated to NLRB personnel as part of the FAQs on day of shutdown.
The Agency began revising its contingency plan based on OMB Circular A-11 in February 2011, and we are prepared to execute the plan in the event of a lapse in appropriations. We greatly appreciate our employees’ cooperation and their dedication to the Agency’s mission and the American people.