I was in Washington, D.C. during part of the October U.S. government shutdown. I was planning to attend the Defense Daily Open Architecture Summit, but two days before the event I received an email stating that it was delayed to November due to the shutdown. What to do, what to do?
The television exposure on the local channels was non-stop coverage of the lack of progress in coming to some kind of agreement. My fianc√©e and I wanted to see for ourselves what the National Mall looked like during the shutdown so on a rainy Thursday afternoon we boarded the Metro and headed to Capitol Hill. The pedestrian traffic was light but the rain probably had more to do with that than the shutdown. Every monument on the mall had barricades blocking access, and the Lincoln Memorial had park rangers on duty to prevent access. While the other memorials had barricades, in most cases it was possible to stroll through each. I visited my favorite, the FDR Memorial, with only one other couple in sight. It was as though we were experiencing a private showing of the memorial. We circled back towards the new Martin Luther King Memorial, approaching from the Tidal Basin side to a great view. From there we headed over toward the White House just in time to see the caravan of House Republicans leaving to return to Capitol Hill.
It was heartbreaking to see busloads of school children on field trips to the National Mall, faced with the closures of the museums and monuments. Imagine the impressions they were taking back home to Iowa and Montana. However, foreign tourists were having a great time snapping photos of all the closed sights. I can only imagine what stories they were telling their friends back home.
From Washington, D.C. we flew to Bangor, Maine and then drove to Bar Harbor where we were to get married and spend our honeymoon. My fianc√©e and I were planning to have our wedding ceremony in Acadia National Park but with national being the key word, the park was ‚Äúclosed.‚Äù Fortunately we found a beautiful alternate site just outside the park for the wedding ceremony. We spent the next several days visiting the ‚Äúclosed‚Äù park. While there were barricades preventing automobiles and buses from entering the park loop, one could still hike or bike into the park without being stopped. In fact, over five days, we did not see a single ranger. We hiked to the top of Cadillac Mountain to see the sunrise. We biked the 20-mile park loop, which turned out to be a wonderful experience without the cars and buses competing for the same roads. It was almost as if we had exclusive access to this beautiful area at the peak of the autumn leaf season. If this was what a shutdown looked like, I was enjoying the experience. Maybe we do have too much government spending!
But overall, I was very disappointed in the way our leaders handled the budget talks and I am embarrassed by all involved. The problem has not been solved, only delayed. We can be sure that January is not going to be any better. This is having a tremendous impact on our industry since government spending dictates which defense programs will move forward. The uncertainty continues, slowing down research, new product development, and sales of electronics. Suppliers continue to stay cautious, watching their spending while this uncertainty continues. At this point I have a difficult time even taking a guess as to when things will return to something that we recognize as normal. Maybe this will become the new normal, causing many to rethink their business plans for the next few years.
In 2014, VITA Technologies is going to place an emphasis on system level products and integration. If you have any topics related to this that you would like covered, please feel free to drop me an email.