Shutting down the federal government in a 24/7 world isn’t easy. During the last government shutdown in 1995, the Internet wasn’t yet mainstream. That didn’t happen until 1999, so workers weren’t wired to check and respond to email from anywhere, anytime.
Government workers didn’t work remotely in 1995. The Telecommute Enhancement Act of 2010 has made working from home a common practice for most federal employees. But in 1995, no one could have imagined how the Internet, smart phones, tablets and laptops would change the workplace.
Back then, government agencies also couldn’t push out news and information 24/7 from Twitter accounts and government websites.
On Tuesday, just about every government Twitter account tweeted, “Due to the government shutdown, we will not be tweeting or responding to any replies. We will return as soon as possible.” Federal websites include disclaimers that content will not be updated because of the government shutdown. Furloughed employees, accustomed to working in a 24/7 world, were told to not access their government-issued email, laptops and electronic devices.
The federal government went dark on Tuesday despite the fact that there was no invasion, disaster or revolution disrupting the technology or the service that powers the technology.
According to BBC News, the government shutdown has other countries confused and concerned. “That leaders of one of the most powerful nations on earth willingly provoked a crisis that suspends public services and decreases economic growth is astonishing to many,” BBC News reports.
Shutting down a government in 2013 has more gravitas than it did 1995 because of all the ways technology has allowed the federal government to connect with its employees and the public.