Update: As of today, January 18, 2018, Peace Corps has published its Operations Plan in the Absence of Appropriatons. It would appear that the policy to maintain Volunteers in the field, at least in the short term, is still policy as is printed below. Read the plan here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.peacecorps.gov/documents/open-government/Peace_Corps_Operations_Plan_in_the_Absence_of_Appropriations.pdf
If by midnight, January 19, 2019, Congress fails to pass a budget or a Continuing Resolution to continue funding for the federal government, then there will be a Government Shutdown. Peace Corps issued a plan to show how it would continue operations if there were to be a government shutdown in December of 2017. In December, Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a Continuing Resolution which is set to expire on January 19, 2019, at midnight.
Here is the important policy statement from the plan published November 2017.
A. Any lapse in funding is expected to be temporary and of short duration. If the Peace Corps were to suspend its operations overseas during a funding hiatus, the health, safety and security of Volunteers would be at serious and immediate risk.1 Furthermore, Volunteers have no means of support without subsistence payments made by the Peace Corps. Therefore, a suspension of overseas operations by the Peace Corps would require the Peace Corps to evacuate all Volunteers and temporarily return them to their homes of record.
It would take between 15 and 30 days to complete the process of evacuating all Volunteers to their homes of record following the beginning of a funding hiatus. During that period, overseas operations would have to continue to protect the health, safety and security of Volunteers before and during the evacuation and provide Volunteers with subsistence payments until the evacuation is complete. It would cost the U.S. government an average of approximately $3,500 per Volunteer for round trip travel alone to evacuate them to their homes of record and then return them to their sites when the funding hiatus ends. This would amount to approximately $29 million for all Volunteers. In addition to these direct costs, the U.S. government would lose the value of the volunteer services being provided by Volunteers for the duration of the funding hiatus. Volunteers make a commitment to serve for 27 months, and it would in most cases not be possible to extend their service to make up for any interruption during a funding hiatus. It is estimated that the value of this loss of volunteer services would amount to at least $15 million per month. Finally, there would be significant but unquantifiable intangible losses to the U.S. government since much of the good will that Volunteers have built in their assigned communities during their service would be lost if they are sent back to their homes of record.
In contrast, there would be only minimal savings in operating costs, particularly at the outset, if Volunteers were to be evacuated to their homes of record. Until the evacuation of all Volunteers is completed, the agency would not be able to begin to curtail operations overseas that are reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety and security of Volunteers, and living allowance and other subsistence payments to Volunteers would continue. Therefore, if, for example, the funding hiatus lasts only 15 days, there would be no savings of operating expenses overseas, but there would be direct costs to the agency of at least $29 million. Even after all Volunteers are evacuated to their homes of record, it would be necessary to keep some operations in place to protect government property.
Given the significant tangible and intangible costs that would be incurred in evacuating all Volunteers to their homes of record and the minimal savings in operating costs overseas that would be achieved by doing so, evacuating Volunteers and returning them to their homes of record would only be justified by a much more substantial lapse in appropriations than the agency expects. The agency has, therefore, determined that the Peace Corps is not required during a lapse in appropriated funding to take any action to evacuate Volunteers and return them to their homes of record.
The Director has determined that all Peace Corps U.S. direct hire and FSN employees overseas are reasonably necessary for the protection of human life and property and, in particular, are required to ensure the health, safety and security of currently serving Volunteers. ((1 All references in this plan to Volunteers include Trainees.)
(Please note: We will continue to monitor the Peace Corps website and if any further announcements are published, we will post them.)