After Christmas Holiday, Effects of Partial Government Shutdown are Being Felt

SACRAMENTO -- The government shut down had a minimal effect over the weekend through Christmas because federal workers were given time off.

Wednesday, however, the effects of not funding government agencies took a more serious tone.

The federal building on Cottage Way is where key Department of Interior agencies for California and some other western states are housed.

While many key federal employees are still at work, others were told to stay home indefinitely.

Wednesday was the first official day of furloughs.

Those that did were furloughed given letters of explanation. They were told to leave things like cell phones and laptops and told that they are not allowed to do any government work from home.

Many furloughed workers cleared their offices of plants and other items that might suffer from an extended shutdown. Workers were hesitant to talk to FOX40 on camera, but some managers were only allowed to work on supervising office closures, then had to leave.

The majority of employees here work for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a sprawling agency that oversees federal dams and reservoirs, and the system that delivers water to California farmers.

The stalemate over the government funding bill affects dozens of agencies, but the bureau’s budget was approved in a separate bill earlier this year.

"So far we’re not affected by the government shutdown. We were funded in September by a water and energy bill, and so it’s business as usual for us," Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Todd Plain.

But that doesn’t mean it’s operations won’t be affected.

One Bureau of Reclamation employee said that his job has been made tougher because he has so many joint projects with the Fish and Wildlife service and the Bureau of Land Management, all of which have employees that have been furloughed.

Still, the shutdown’s immediate effect on the public is minimal because services affecting public safety or security won’t be affected.

TSA workers at airports are on the job, although not being paid.

The same with workers at the National Weather Service that tracks storms that may cause damage from flooding or winds.

The U.S. Postal Service is self-funding and remains open. The same goes for Immigration and Naturalization Services, which are also self-funded.

Federal courthouses are open but its money reserve may run dry in a couple of weeks.

And National Parks have been ordered to stay open for the public, although there won’t be any rangers or other personnel that can deal with visitors.

Visitors still have access to wildlife refuges along public roads, but interpretive centers have been shut down.

Furloughed workers had to give current contact information to their supervisors Wednesday so they could be called back to work as soon as the impasse in Washington is resolved.

The fear is that it will last so long, that they will start missing paychecks used to pay their personal bills.