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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

These DHS-Related Websites Have Gone Quiet with Government Shutdown

The following message was displayed on the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 20: “Due to the Lapse in Federal Funding, This Website Will Not Be Actively Managed.”

The partial shutdown of the government over border wall funding has prompted the same message on the websites of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Transportation Security Administration

“This website was last updated on December 21, 2018 and will not be updated until after funding is enacted,” reads a message on the CBP website. “As such, information on this website may not be up to date. Transactions submitted via this website might not be processed and we will not be able to respond to inquiries until after appropriations are enacted.”

However, the U.S. Secret Service, which falls under DHS operational control, did not display a message on its website. Still, USSS regularly issues press releases, the last released on Dec. 19

Not all of DHS’s publicly available web functions ceased. The department sent out a travel advisory on Dec. 23, and added two CBP press releases on its website on Dec. 25 regarding the 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died on Christmas Eve in CBP custody. On Dec. 26, DHS also sent out a travel advisory to the Philippines.

MORE: Here’s How the Government Shutdown Affects the Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Veterans Affairs is fully funded throughout the shutdown, and its website is functional. The same goes for the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. 

On Dec. 21, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney released a memorandum for executive departments and agencies on the shutdown. Additionally, the Office of Personnel Management released furlough guidance for all non-essential government workers.  

“As of December 21st, the only full-year appropriations Acts that have been enacted are the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019 (Public Law 115-244) and the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 (Public Law 115-245),” Mulvaney wrote. “We will issue another memorandum reopening government functions once the President has signed a bill providing for appropriations. Agencies should continue to closely monitor developments, and 0MB will provide further guidance as appropriate. We greatly appreciate your cooperation and the work you and your agencies do on behalf of the American people.”  

The Department of Justice website is also not being regularly updated during the shutdown, and released a 2019 contingency plan. The DOJ is retaining 84 percent of its workforce, as 95,339 DOJ employees were excepted out of the agency’s workforce of 113,546 employees. 

The shutdown also means that 95 percent of workers at the National Aeronautic and Space Administration will have to stay home, but essential functions like support for the International Space Station and staff working on upcoming launches are still working.

“We also won’t be able to keep tabs on NASA missions and discoveries as closely; the folks responsible for running NASA TV and keeping the agency’s website updated will be furloughed for the duration of the shutdown,” according to NASA. “It’s unclear how long that will be, of course, but recent history provides reason to hope that things will get back to normal soon. The previous two shutdowns of 2018, which occurred in January and February, both lasted less than 72 hours.”

James Cullum
James Cullum
Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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