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One More Consequence of Being a 'Nonessential' Government Employee: Surrender Your BlackBerry in a Shutdown

The Washington Post reports that an unexpected casualty of any government shutdown may be the BlackBerrys and other PDAs of "nonessential" government workers.

Under the Anti-Deficiency Act, it is illegal for nonessential federal employees to voluntarily work during a shutdown. According to the Post, "in the modern era, that means they can’t use e-mail or voice mail." Plans to make sure the government complies with this act are still up in the air, but a senior administration official told the Post that "one plan under consideration would require nonessential executive-branch workers to surrender their government-issued BlackBerrys and other electronic devices on the way out the door."

In what would be the first shutdown in the PDA era, the rules for PDAs are likely to be "haphazard." For example, some members of Congress have reportedly told their staffs that they may “read but not write” on their PDAs.

One group that should be well-prepared for the sudden loss of their PDAs is the SEC Union (National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 293). As I wrote here last year, when SEC leadership issued hundreds of BlackBerrys last year to employees so they could have "all the tools they need whenever they're called upon to pursue wrongdoing," Chapter 293 quickly negotiated a deal with the SEC confirming that participating employees could turn off and store their BlackBerrys when they were not on duty, with no effect on their performance appraisals.

Posted by Bruce Carton on April 8, 2011 at 03:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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