The Office of Management and Budget released a new report today surveying the economic damage from the federal government shutdown last month — and the news is grim. All told, OMB estimates the 16-day shutdown cost the country as much as $6 billion, taking between 0.2 and 0.6 percentage points off fourth-quarter GDP growth. OMB also notes that the shutdown stands as the longest in US history when measured in furloughed employee-hours.
59 airplane accidents could not be fully investigated
The report also breaks out specific damages from shutting down regulatory agencies. Closing the Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade bureau resulted in more than 2 million liters of US products left sitting at ports unable to ship. Shutting down the IRS delayed $4 billion in tax refunds. EPA inspections were also halted at 1,200 sites, including waste facilities and drinking water systems. Additionally, 59 airplane accidents could not be fully investigated thanks to furloughed employees at the National Transportation Safety Board.
Government research was hit particularly hard, with 98 percent of National Science Foundation researchers sent home on furlough, and crucial observation hours disrupted at three separate National Radio Astronomy Observatories and 10 Very Long Baseline Arrays across the countries. Four of the five nobel laureate researchers employed by the government were sent home on furlough, including three physicists at NIST and another laureate working on a space telescope at NASA.