By Alicia Kubas
Government Publications Librarian
Americans have become more familiar with federal government shutdowns in the past year. We’ve experienced three shutdowns in 2018/2019 for a combined total of 17 days and counting, and no one can forget the 16-day shutdown in 2013.
What makes the current shutdown different, though, is that it’s a partial shutdown with only 25 percent of the federal government going unfunded. Regardless, this shutdown has affected nine federal departments including the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Homeland Security, Transportation, and Justice — as well as many government agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to name a few.
The news articles listed below go into greater detail on exactly what parts of the government are still running and what has been affected by the partial shutdown.
Some government data still available
When it comes to government information availability during a shutdown, it is fortunate that Congress has been funded so govinfo.gov, congress.gov, and the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications are all still working and updating. However, data and new information from agencies or departments that have closed due to the shutdown are impacted.
For example, a large swath of climate and weather data usually collected and made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is not being collected and many of this agency’s websites are completely unavailable. Other agencies like the U.S. Geological Survey will be updating their real-time data only when needed for health or public safety and with limited support at that.
Contact a librarian for help
If you’re having trouble tracking down government information or data because of the shutdown, contact the library or a specific librarian mentioned below to see if we can help find that information from another source!
- Alicia Kubas, Government Publications Librarian
- Rafael Tarrago, Librarian for Political Science
- Mary Schoenborn, Public Policy Librarian
News articles to frame the issue
- New York Times, Government Shuts Down as Talks Fail to Break Impasse, December 21, 2018
- Vox, Government shutdown 2018: What’s open–and closed–during a partial government shutdown, January 2, 2019
- CNN Politics, Government shutdown: By the numbers, January 3, 2019
- USA Today, House OK’s spending bills to reopen government, but shutdown expected to continue, January 4, 2019
Freely available government and nonprofit sources
- Congressional Research Service, Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects, December 10, 2018
- Government Accountability Office, 2013 Government Shutdown: Three Departments Reported Varying Degrees of Impacts on Operations, Grants, and Contract, October 15, 2014
- Hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The Impacts of the Government Shutdown on our Economic Security, October 11, 2013
- Hearing before the Joint Economic Committee. The Way Forward from Government Shutdown and Debt-Ceiling Confrontation Toward Long-Term Fiscal Sustainability and Economic Growth, October 11, 2013.
UMN Libraries Resources
Casas, Andreu, and John Wilkerson. A Delicate Balance: Party Branding During the 2013 Government Shutdown. American Politics Research 45(5): 790-812.
University of Minnesota research and expertise
Many University of Minnesota faculty work in areas related to politics, governance, elections, and government accountability — and you can find them by searching the Experts@UMN database.
Two particular faculty in the Department of Political Science have published research and taught courses around government accountability and transparency:
- John J. Coleman, Dean of Liberal Arts and Professor of Political Science, has conducted research on American politics throughout his scholarly career and published many articles and books on the topics of divided government, elections, and politics.
- James R. Hollyer, Associate Professor of Political Science, focuses on politics as well with a spotlight on corruption, transparency, and accountability in government.
In addition, the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, housed within the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, focuses on inspiring an engaged citizenry via open discussion and civil debate on the biggest issues in politics and governance in our world today. The Center sponsors various events and speakers on a wide range of topics and supports research within this area of focus — including government transparency, health-care policy, and the election process, to name a few.