With 25 days before $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years are set to start, the White House sent word this week to civilian and defense agencies to prepare for the worst to happen.

… For months, some managers have been quietly preparing worst-case plans, having grown painfully familiar with budget uncertainty after a near-government shutdown last year and numerous stopgap budgets. …

The court system, which faces a $555 million loss next year under an 8.2 percent cut mandated for civilian agencies, is preparing to close some district courts one day a week, impose employee furloughs of up to four weeks and reduce the hours of security officers who guard courthouses. …

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission assured employees in November that no furloughs or layoffs are planned. Instead, to save money, outside contracts would be stretched out or stopped. The National Park Service has slowed some hiring for the tourist season, a strategy that advocates and former park officials said would have to continue in January.