Government Shutdown May Mean No BlackBerries For Bureaucrats

A government shutdown could leave bureaucrats BlackBerry bereft. i i

A government shutdown could leave bureaucrats BlackBerry bereft. Alan Diaz/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

itoggle caption Alan Diaz/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A government shutdown could leave bureaucrats BlackBerry bereft.

A government shutdown could leave bureaucrats BlackBerry bereft.

Alan Diaz/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Few places have the BlackBerry addiction as intensely, or have had it as long, as Washington, D.C. which is not just the nation's capital but where the term "crackberry" could have easily been coined.

After all, even the president wears a BlackBerry and that's despite the fact that, for security reasons, hardly anyone can send him e-mail and he's severely limited in whom he can contact as well.

But it's possible hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats will be forced to go cold turkey if the government shuts down later this week should Republicans and Democrats not agree on a stopgap spending bill.

At least, that's what Nextgov, a publication that covers the "technology and the business of government," suggests.

If Congress forces the government to shut down, then agencies and employees might have to shut down office Web-based e-mail and power off BlackBerrys, according to federal law.

Not only that. Using a BlackBerry to do unauthorized work during the shutdown could get a federal worker in big trouble. How big? Read on:

The so-called Antideficiency Act prohibits agencies from accepting voluntary labor for services that are not essential — vital to the protection of life and property — during a shutdown. Federal officials or employees who violate the rules can be fined up to $5,000 or sent to prison for two years. In other words, it's illegal for employees to work and for agencies to allow work to be done.

OK, the likelihood of thousands of federal workers being imprisoned for checking their BlackBerries during a shutdown is next to zero though it's amusing to contemplate.

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