USVI government assessing impact of federal government shutdown

ST THOMAS, USVI — Governor John de Jongh said on Tuesday that commissioners and agency heads across the government spent the day today beginning to analyze the impact of the federal government shutdown on the US Virgin Islands. While for the most part the effect is minimal, funding and services to some agencies are affected and others are projecting that a protracted shut down could have a negative impact over time.

USVI Governor John de Jongh
USVI Governor John de Jongh

“I have asked each commissioner and department head whose agency benefits from federal funding and federal services to take a close look at how their day to day operations are being affected by the shutdown and what can be done locally to bridge the gaps that exist,” de Jongh said.

An overview of some of the local agencies who derive services and funding from the federal government and may be impacted include:

Department of Labor: Funding and general operations are not immediately affected. Sufficient funding exists to operate through the end of the year. No programs including regular unemployment and Extended Unemployment Compensation are affected and checks will be issued as usual..

Department of Health: Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program was affected.

• WIC Participants
No WIC participant checks with an October 2013 date can be cashed, therefore, WIC participants will not be receiving any October food benefits or any other benefits until the shutdown is over.

• WIC Certifications
All WIC clinics are open today and plan to be opened until Friday, October 4. Staff will be processing any participants who had certification appointments to wait lists and they will be certified to the program when funding becomes available.

• Check Pick Ups
All participants with October checks (WIC provides two months’ benefits at a check pick up, so those who picked up in September received September and October checks) will not be able to cash checks. Those who came in for October 1 check pick up were logged and will be contacted once funds become available.

National Guard: The shutdown will affect the majority of federal technicians and some civilians. Several divisions will remain on duty. The Active Guard Reserve, Active Duty and Operational Support and Counterdrug personnel will continue to report to work. There will be no one on Individual Duty Training and Annual Training status.

Department of Education: The federal government shutdown is affecting the Special Nutrition Programs (school lunch division). Meals and employee salaries will not be reimbursed until the financial impasse is resolved. No disruption in service is anticipated.

Department of Human Services: No immediate effect was reported. SNAP, TANF and other cash-assistance programs were paid. Medicaid will not be affected nor will child care services.

The governor said the assessment of the effect of the shutdown will continue in the days ahead.

However, “what I am equally as concerned about is the effect that this shutdown will have on the 700 or so federal government employees who live in the Virgin Islands. They are employed by a host of agencies from law enforcement to the courts to the park service. The shutdown will no doubt have a ripple effect here in the territory as well,” de Jongh said on Tuesday.

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