Contributed by Ike Skelton and Russell Orban of Husch Blackwell’s Government Affairs Practice Group

The United States Department of Defense is the world’s biggest purchaser of goods and services, spending some $381 billion on contracts in FY 2011. But serious changes are on the way. The Iraq war is over and the Obama Administration is planning to withdraw from Afghanistan in the near future. Last summer’s hard-fought budget agreement requires $487 billion in cuts to the defense budget over the next 10 years. The President will soon recommend a defense budget that shaves $51 billion from its previous 2013 projections.


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Unless Congress takes action by March 4, 2011, most federal agencies will be required to cease operations, presenting significant challenges for contractors. Whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic about the prospects of a political solution that would avoid the looming government shutdown, preparing for it is a necessity. News reports on the issue are interesting, but they don’t do much in the way of developing a strategy for handling a shutdown. Here is a look at some of the key questions presented, with answers based on decisions that came out of the now infamous 1995 government shutdown.
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