In Brief

Government Shutdown Could Cost Defense Department Billions

Aerial View of the Pentagon
An aerial view of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. (Image credit: Frontpage | Shutterstock)

As the United States entered its 14th day of the federal government shutdown, experts had more bad news about the long-term impacts of a lengthy budget impasse: It could cost the Department of Defense billions of dollars.

It typically costs between $4 billion and $8 billion to shutter and reopen the federal government, but Todd Harrison, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent, nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C., said the shutdown could cost the Department of Defense billions of dollars down the line, reported

For one, agencies will have to deal with all the work that has accumulated since the shutdown began on Oct. 1. The final price tag, however, will also depend on how the government deals with issues such as back pay for federal employees.

While special legislation has helped to insulate many military and Pentagon employees, the inefficiencies created by the government shutdown could have lasting consequences. "It's not that it's immediate," Harrison told "It won't cost you billions of dollars in the first year. It's billions of dollars over the life of these programs."

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Denise Chow
Live Science Contributor

Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.