Wylie Wong’s article "How Has the Government Shutdown Impacted Federal IT?" in FedTech Magazine interviewed IT leaders of Federal agencies in discussion around the 2019 Government Furlough and its repercussions. What the article does not cover is the wider issue of impacting government contractors and private corporations like HumanTouch that directly support and staff government agencies.
HumanTouch General Counsel Wendy LaDuca articulated the actions HumanTouch took between Dec 22, 2018 – Jan 25, 2019 in addressing and responding to the shutdown:
It's clear that we have yet to see all the repercussions of the shutdown. As an IT government contractor in the civilian and military sector, HumanTouch, LLC (HT) realized early into the last shutdown that to weather the situation, it would have to be creative and innovative in developing new strategies to protecting staff and projects. Many of HT’s employees affected by the shutdown possess hard-to-find IT certifications. If we furloughed those employees, we would risk losing them (and we really like our employees!). If we asked them to use their vacation/sick time or take leave without pay (LWOP), discontent and low moral could set in.
When the government reopened, not only would finding replacement personnel be difficult, but HT would need to wait out the clearance process for many, if not all, of those replacements. While the clearance process typically takes 1-2 months in the best of times, after a shutdown, that time frame can easily be stretched out by several months, as government employees catch up on backlog. For Time & Materials contracts, a contractor gets paid only for the hours worked, and this delay could result in a devastating lack of revenues.
In this “new normal” of shutdowns, HT understood that to ensure a seamless transition for projects upon government re-opening, and to keep our employees insured and paid, we would need to do something a little different. Each member of HT’s executive team volunteered to donate one day of salary per week for the duration of the shutdown. And our CEO volunteered to forgo his salary altogether. The thought was that if we invest in our team, it would pay itself off many times over in employee retainment.
Obviously, coping with shutdowns continues to garner a lot of interest even though the shutdown is ancient history in our fast-paced world. I recently sat on a panel held by the Association for Corporate Counsel, dealing with this very topic. Sponsored by Wiley Rein LLP, with HT and FEMA as participants, we shared lessons learned, coping mechanisms and anticipatory strategies.
Wendy has almost two decades of experience as a general corporate and securities attorney, with a special interest in corporate governance. In practicing law, Wendy enjoys implementing innovative ideas and creativity to achieve results that exceed expectations. Wendy especially enjoys working in the entrepreneurial area, and her goal is to provide HumanTouch with high-quality, resourceful and efficient legal support that contributes to, and fosters, HumanTouch’s growth trajectory.