“Shutdown” Chaos at I.R.S. Wrecks Employee Morale

The U.S. federal government “shutdown” forced the IRS to furlough 88% of its employees. The agency then recalled about half of them, calling them “essential employees”, so they could back up Trump’s last-minute promise that the IRS would still send out tax refunds even without an operating budget.

But the agency could not issue paychecks while the shutdown continued, which was great for morale, as you might imagine. Many employees took advantage of a union contract provision to say “I would prefer not to” when asked to report to work without pay (one report says fewer than half of them showed up when ordered to do so; 14,000 stayed home). Some decided to do a little extra paid work on the side instead.

The grumbling broke out into public protests by IRS workers in some places. Another report said that each week of the shutdown roughly 25 information technology workers were bailing to take jobs elsewhere.

As a result, the agency told Congress it will need at least a year to recover from the resulting backlog of work and the disruption.

The government has only reopened temporarily. The political conflict underlying the kerfluffle was never resolved, and Congress will either have to pass a budget or another short-term spending patch (and President Bluster will have to sign it) by the middle of next month or the whole “shutdown” impasse begins again.

In other news: The gilets jaunes protests in France have dovetailed with an ongoing campaign to disable or destroy traffic-ticket-generating cameras. Something like two thousand of the cameras — roughly two-thirds of those in the country — have been attacked, causing costs to the government — to repair them, and from lost ticket revenue — of more than half a billion euros. And apparently the government has stopped repairing them for now — deciding to wait for things to die down, as their repairs are so quickly undone.

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