via The New York Times
Unsure from week to week how much money Congress will provide them as the two parties battle over the budget for the rest of this year, federal officials say many agencies have been operating in chaos, confusion and uncertainty.
Officials at various agencies have frozen hiring, canceled projects, delayed contracts, reduced grants and curtailed training, travel and upgrades in information technology.
In northern New Hampshire, a new federal prison, with space for 1,280 inmates, sits vacant because the federal government has not been able to hire correctional officers and other employees.
For some Head Start programs around the country, federal officials are renewing grants at 60 percent of last year’s levels. Local Head Start managers say parents, unsure of the whether there will continue to be space for their children, are trying to arrange alternative child care for preschoolers.
Michael J. Astrue, the commissioner of Social Security, said the agency had cut back distribution of annual earnings and benefit statements and had suspended plans to open eight hearing offices that would tackle a huge backlog of appeals by people seeking disability benefits.