Federal government’s shutdown wipes out EIA
BY KURT ABRAHAM, Executive Editor
WASHINGTON -- The ongoing U.S. federal government’s shutdown, and the impunity with which the Obama administration has shut down services selectively, has finally impacted the Energy Information Administration’s operations, and its website. This action follows a confusing round of double-talk at the beginning of the month, in which the Obama White House, in describing which agencies would be defined as “essential” and “non-essential,” originally described the EIA as non-essential. However, as the shutdown got underway on Oct. 1, the EIA let the news leak out via a “tweet” on Twitter that while other non-essential agencies would cease operating, it would get a reprieve and continue operating until the end of Oct. 11.
The reason, according to EIA, was that the agency had enough spare funds to continue operating through that date. However, a correspondent at businessinsider.com said that he quizzed a DOE spokesman about “the exact size of the rainy day funds available,” and that person refused to answer. According to EIA’s website, the agency had a fiscal 2013 budget of $99.5 million, down 5.2% from 2011’s figure. EIA reportedly requested that DOE raise its funding 11.4%, to $117 million, for the 2014 fiscal year.
Yet, even the eventual shutdown of EIA last Friday did not time out as planned. After stating on Oct. 1 that it would operate “through Oct. 11,” the agency posted a note on its website that morning, that it would shut down a healthy chunk of its operations at mid-day. The statement read, “As a result of the lapse in appropriations for the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the EIA.gov website and our social media channels will not be updated after 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, October 11, 2013.” The statement went on to say that “transactions submitted via the website might not be processed until appropriations are enacted; databases might not be available; and we will not be able to respond to inquiries.” The timing of the EIA shutdown follows a familiar Obama administration pattern of releasing so-called bad news on Fridays, when the media, and many Americans, may be paying the least attention.
In the announcement, EIA went on to pose potential questions that users might have, along with answers. In response to the question, “Will the shutdown affect EIA's reports and data releases?, the agency, responded, “Yes. The release of all reports and data will cease during the shutdown.” As for what impact the shutdowns will have on industry respondents to its collection program for data, EIA said, “Respondents to our energy data collection program should continue to submit reports as normally scheduled, which will enable us to maintain continuity of the data. However, please keep in mind that there will be no one present at EIA offices during the shutdown to answer questions or deal with technical issues that may prevent the filing of reports. Therefore, in the event you are unable to submit scheduled reports to EIA, please continue to prepare data for submission, but hold those reports until EIA resumes operations.”
Finally, in response to the potential question, “Can EIA's Information Center be reached during the shutdown?,” the agency said, “No, the EIA Information Center is closed. Inquiries received during a shutdown will be responded to as soon as possible once EIA offices reopen.”