Shutdown could freeze payments to Denver firm

October 2, 2013: 9:36 AM ET
american automation governemnt shutdown
60% of American Automation's business comes from government contracts. If the government shuts down, they might not get paid.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

On Oct. 1, Lisa Buckley's security management firm is due to bill thousands of dollars in new business to Uncle Sam. But during a government shutdown, those invoices could remain unpaid indefinitely.

"We're going to go ahead and send our bill. But if the the government shuts down, who's going to process our invoices?" said Buckley, who owns and runs Denver-based American Automation with her husband.

Their firm, which employs 45 people, relies on government contracts for 60% of its business. The firm provides energy management, security systems and security devices to the Air Force, Department of Homeland Security and other federal clients.

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Buckley said the latest bills are for services rendered in the past 30 days. She said the business would be fine if a shutdown just lasted a few days, but "after that, it's a serious problem." If payment for these contracts is delayed, she said it will affect her ability to pay vendors and employees on time.

Buckley's firm used to be 80% government contracts, but a year ago, frustrated with budget cuts and threats of a shutdown, she decided to diversify.

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"It's quite irresponsible how the government has been running the country," she said. "If I ran my business like Congress has been handling the budget, I'd lose my job."

If the shutdown lasts more than a few days, Buckley isn't sure how it will impact American Automation's existing contracts. Buckley's team is headed to North Carolina in less than a week to start work on a new government contract.

"Now I don't know what's happening with that ... and we've already bought our tickets," she said.

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