Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Federal Government Shutdown

GSA SmartPay Charge Card Program

October 9, 2013

What does the GSA SmartPay 2 Master Contract say about a shutdown?
Each year, Congress must pass appropriation bills that provide legal authority to spend or obligate U.S. Treasury Funds.  The bills must then be signed into law by the President or become law through a Congressional override of a Presidential veto.  It is possible that all of the appropriation bills will not be completed in time for the start of any given fiscal year.  A continuing resolution is usually passed to allow the Government to continue to function; however, in recent years, the Government has been required to “shutdown” nonessential functions.  In the event of a government-wide shutdown, payment to the Contractor would be late for most accounts; however, all centrally billed accounts would be paid with Prompt Payment Act interest upon a budget passing.  The Contractor shall not deactivate any account in this situation unless otherwise notified by GSA or the agency/organization. 

Can I still use my card?
Yes; the GSA SmartPay® 2 banks will continue to function as normal when there is a Government shutdown and purchase, travel, fleet and integrated cards will continue to function normally, absent any agency-specific action to disable the cards.  Cardholders are reminded to check with their agency regarding continued use of cards due to appropriation limitations in place during shutdown.  You may not be authorized to use your card if your agency has determined you are not an excepted employee during the shutdown. 

Please Note:  The Anti-Deficiency Act prohibits most agencies from incurring obligations in the absence of appropriations (unless otherwise allowed by law or for emergencies involving the safety of life or limb, the protection of property, or other excepted services).   Please coordinate with the appropriate officials in your agency to ensure only appropriate purchases are made and payments are issued in the event of a shutdown, as this issue can become quite complicated given the wide variety of agency missions, funding types, etc.

Will the banks’ 1-800 customer service call centers continue to operate?
Yes, if you need to reach the bank during the shutdown, please call the 1-800 number on the back of your GSA SmartPay charge card.

Do I still have to pay my individually billed travel card bill?
The answer to this question depends on which contractor bank services your GSA SmartPay charge card account(s).

Citibank understands that in the event of a government-wide shutdown, agencies’ ability to make payments for card activity and reimburse individually billed cardholders for their recent travel activity may be delayed. Citibank will not deactivate any account in this situation unless otherwise notified by GSA or the agency/organization. In addition, Citibank will continue to generate statements of account during a shutdown.

Given differences in appropriation funding, reserve funding, and other fiscal factors, we also understand not all agencies are impacted by the shutdown in the same way or at the same time. Should your agency be impacted by a government-wide shutdown, please contact Citibank so that we can understand your specific agency situation in regard to your ability to process payments and/or travel vouchers. Depending on the duration of the shutdown, your agency statement cycle, and any other relevant factors, we may have the ability to make special accommodations, such as changes to account aging, waiver of late fees, and other measures to support your agency and your active cardholders during the shutdown. In addition, Citibank can help support your agency in implementing best-practice measures to help reduce risk of card misuse during a government-wide shutdown.

JP Morgan will work with individual cardholders on a case-by-case basis in the event of government-wide shutdown to address hardships caused by this event. Individual decisions regarding how to assist each cardholder will be made.  Standard processes including account aging, late fees and finance charges would remain in force unless it is determined by the bank that an individual cardholder has experienced a hardship related to the shutdown.

U.S. Bank will not deactivate any account without authorization from the GSA Contracting Officer.  U.S. Bank understands that accounts could become past due until budgetary issues are resolved.  Once the budget is approved, we will work with the Government to bring past due accounts up to date.  U.S. Bank will also work with the Government to implement risk mitigation measures to monitor fraud and unusual delinquencies in the event of a Government-wide shutdown.

If I am late paying due to the shut-down, will my card become delinquent?
Please see the answers to the question above as each bank will treat delinquency differently.

What if my card is already delinquent; will I be given more time to pay? 
No.  Payment is due to the contractor bank per the statement due date.  If your account is delinquent prior to the shutdown, it will continue to be considered to be delinquent until full payment is made to the contractor bank.  The time elapsed after payment is due does not stop accruing in the event of a government shutdown.

My card is about to expire.  Will I receive my new card during a shut-down?
Yes.  In accordance with the terms of the GSA SmartPay master contract, if your card is due to expire during a government shut-down, your new card will still be mailed out. If your agency elects to have the charge cards sent directly to you (for example, an individually billed travel card) then you will receive the card at the address on file.  If on the other hand, your agency has elected to have the cards mailed to the government offices for dissemination by an Agency/Organization Program Coordinator or other government employee, then your card will be mailed by the bank but most likely be held by the distributing government office until the shut-down is over.  If you are deemed an excepted employee, your agency will most likely deliver the card to you, but confirm card delivery procedures with the appropriate officials in your management chain prior to the start of the shutdown period.

What if I am on travel during a shutdown?
Unless your agency takes action to disable travel cards, your card will continue to work if you are on travel during a government shut-down.  However, there are rules related to employees on travel during a shut-down, so please check with your agency regarding what actions are required while traveling during a shut-down.

What if I have recurring or automatic payments on my purchase card?
Please coordinate with your agency/organization finance officials and Agency/Organization Program Coordinator to ensure that these payments are properly dispositioned in the event of a shutdown. While it is likely a shutdown will be brief in duration, be advised that purchase cardholders may need to contact merchants to stop any automatic payments which may be scheduled to occur during the shutdown period. 

Note:  The Anti-deficiency Act prohibits most agencies from incurring obligations in the absence of appropriations (unless otherwise allowed by law or for emergencies involving the safety of life or limb, the protection of property, or other excepted services).   Again, please coordinate with the appropriate officials as needed to ensure only appropriate purchases are made and payments are issued in the event of a shutdown, as this issue can become quite complicated. 

What actions should A/OPCs take to prevent potential fraud and/or misuse of GSA SmartPay charge cards during a government shutdown?
The response to this question mainly applies to individually billed travel cards but, it can also be applied to purchase, integrated and fleet cards as necessary.  The Office of Charge Card Management recommends Agency/Organization Program Coordinators review the card accounts of furloughed individuals and consider deactivating cards or reducing spend limits and cash withdrawal limits to$1.00.  In some instances the contractor bank may be able to assist with a "global" deactivation or spend/cash withdrawal limit reduction if the agency provides them with a list of accounts for which the action needs to be taken.  Please work directly with your contractor bank if "global" action is necessary.  It may also be a good idea to keep a list of all cardholders whose accounts have been deactivated or reduced so they may be restored quickly once normal operations resume.  

Note:  DO NOT CANCEL OR CLOSE furloughed employee charge card accounts as this action would necessitate the need for card re-issuance and will cause an unnecessary delay in resuming normal operations once the government reopens.

How can I reach the Office of Charge Card Management during a shutdown?
Of course; please contact us through our central phone line at (703) 605-2808, or e-mail box:

The GSA SmartPay® program provides charge cards to agencies/departments throughout the U.S. government, as well as tribal governments, through master contracts that are negotiated with major national banks.

SmartPay® Charge Cards are for Official U.S. Government usage only.


T: 703.605.2808 | Email Support:
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