The Government Shutdown; How it Affects the Legal Services Industry.

Posted by Gennine Cooper
January 23, 2019

Since December 22, 2018, due to a lapse in appropriation bills, the Federal Government has been in a shutdown.  Here at Incserv, our day-to-day services include interaction with several Federal Offices providing retrieval, filing and other services to you, our client.  However not all offices are affected in the least, while others are either partially or fully shut down.  Below is a guideline to what is and is not affected, which we will update as continued shutdowns occur.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Obtaining a Federal Employer Identification Number can typically be done electronically which is still available.  However, if it falls in the category of fax or phone retrieval (about 5%), this service will be delayed.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

As of January 4th, we’ve only received an automated response indicating the office is closed due to the lapse in appropriations and that we will be contacted when this has been corrected.  This affects our ability to process certified copy requests.

National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC)

At the NVDC (the Coast Guard Vessel Registration Office) during the funding lapse, they are not authorized to process any items associated with Commercial vessels.  The very limited staff is only processing Recreational work received electronically, however at a delayed pace.  Mail is only able to be date stamped and will be filed in order when the shutdown lifts.

U.S. Department of State

Business can be conducted with the U.S. Department of State because the authentications office is able to process document authentications and other consular services using revenues generated from fees it charges for these services.  Embassies would typically be unaffected, as they are governed by the laws of their own country.

Other Federal Agenciesgovernment UCC  300x200

Like the Department of State, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) remains open, funding its operations using the fees it collects; however, in the past this has only been for a few weeks. The Office of Comptroller of Currency (OCC), as per its website, is “funded through assessments on supervised institutions and not Congressional appropriations, OCC operations are not affected by a government shutdown from a lapse in budget authority.”  This means we are able to request certificates of corporate existence and other certified documents for national banks and savings banks.

District of Columbia

If you didn’t know, DC does not have autonomy over its own budget!  In the past, the District of Columbia would have been affected by the shutdown.  However, thanks to legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton passed in 2017, DC is not affected by the shutdown.   With the new legislation, DC government agencies including the Department of Consumer of Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), Recorder of Deeds, and the Department of Notary and Authentications, are now business as usual during the Federal shutdown!

For more information on our federal agency services, you may click on the following link. If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to reach out to one our experienced staff members.  We are happy to assist!

Lucy Rose, Project Manager, Product Research and Development