What They’re Saying About Portman’s PSI Investigation on the $4 Billion Cost of Recent Government Shutdowns

September 18, 2019 | Portman Difference

Yesterday, Senator Portman, Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and Ranking Member Senator Tom Carper released a new report that documents the cost to American taxpayers of the last three government shutdowns and the impacts they had on the economy and core government functions.  The largest direct cost of these shutdowns is lost productivity, work not performed by furloughed federal employees.  Over the past five years, the federal government has been fully or partially shut down for 54 days, costing taxpayers nearly $4 billion—$3.7 billion in back pay to federal workers who were furloughed and prohibited from going to work, and at least $338 million in other costs associated with the shutdowns.  Moreover, the total amount of combined employee furlough days represents an estimated 56,938 years of lost productivity. Here’s what media reports from are saying:


·       “When the government shuts down, even partially, because the White House and Congress don’t do their jobs, its work doesn’t get done. But the costs for doing nothing are enormous.  A bipartisan Senate report estimates that three partial government shutdowns in the past five years cost taxpayers $3.7 billion in back pay, $338 million in other costs, and almost 15 million days or 57,000 years in lost productivity.” – Washington Post Column by Joe Davidson, September 18, 2019 


·       “Other impacts noted in the report from the most recent shutdown include the cancellation of about 60,000 immigration hearings; delays in decisions on potentially dangerous consumer products; closed and unattended national parks; and closed Smithsonian museums, which resulted in a loss of ‘significant revenue from its on-site shops, theaters and dining facilities.’” – Washington Post, September 17, 2019


·       “The Congressional Budget Office also found that the shutdowns not only cost taxpayers billions of dollars, but reduced overall economic growth. The CBO estimated that the most recent shutdown reduced economic growth by a combined $11 billion in the last three months of 2018 and first three months of 2019.” CNN, September 17, 2019


·       “A new bipartisan report by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released Tuesday found that this year’s shutdown and a more widespread 2013 shuttering of federal agencies cost taxpayers about $4 billion, mostly for back pay for workers who did not work during the shutdowns. Almost 57,000 years of worker productivity were lost, according to the report by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Tom Carper, D-Del., contributing to piled-high trash at national parks, a suspension of consumer product safety inspections at U.S. ports, and delayed certifications for new aircraft.” – Associated Press, September 17, 2019


·       “According to the Portman’s report, the 52 days the federal government was fully or partially shut down over the past five years cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion, mostly in back pay to federal workers who were furloughed. The report reckoned that combined workdays lost during recent shutdowns amounted to 56,938 years of lost employee productivity. And those numbers are likely low, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations says, because some agencies said they couldn’t provide the committee with the data it sought.”Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 17, 2019


·       “American taxpayers incur the tab not just from paying feds not to work and other costs associated with shutdowns, the senators said, but also due to the ‘significant lost productivity costs’ and “important functions” that are not performed.” – Government Executive, September 17, 2019


·       “Most of the money went toward back pay, with $3.7 billion paid to workers who were forced to stay home while their agencies and departments went without funding. Another $338 million was for related costs, including lost revenues, late fees and additional administrative work. And the total time lost by furloughed employees came to 56,938 years of work.” – The Fiscal Times, September 17, 2019