How the government shutdown will affect tech

Here's the list of which tech-related government functions will go offline if the plug is pulled and which will continue to work

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Public access to government information portals. Many websites that provide public access to government information aren't considered essential services, and so might either go dark or not have personnel on hand to manage them. The Hill notes that "agencies are instructed to shut down their websites even if the cost of taking it offline exceeds the cost of keeping it up." (Maybe that's why the IRS's website is staying up and will even accept tax filings.)

Work on the NIST's cyber security framework. The NIST's cyber security framework was released earlier this year as a preliminary draft document; another version was slated for release in October. Work on that might well be pushed back, too.

Smal-business lending. Government-run lending programs, which include small business loans that appeal to two-guys-in-a-garage-level tech firms, are also going to be victims of the shutdown.

What will work

Patent and trademark processing. Processing of applications for trademarks and patents through the Department of Commerce will continue, as well as ongoing patent review processes -- whether for newly filed patents or for reviews of existing ones (e.g., for patent-troll cases).

Some NTIA operations. Another key tech-related subdivision of the Department of Commerce is the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which will continue to run at least partly since it oversees the management of things like FirstNet and other emergency-responder systems.

Most any e-commerce site that depends on the U.S. Postal Service. Another of the many reasons why having the U.S. Postal Service run as a self-funded operation is such a great idea: It means a government shutdown won't affect it at all. E-commerce outfits that do business by conventional mail won't see their business crippled because of this.

The general rule of thumb in a shutdown is that if any given government function involves "the safety of human life and the protection of property," it'll keep running. But not all government functions that rely on IT (or which IT itself may rely on) fall into that category -- even if common sense and our experiences in IT say otherwise.

This story, "How the government shutdown will affect tech," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.


Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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