Feds to get back pay after shutdown
- By Adam Mazmanian
- Oct 17, 2013
Federal workers on the job during the partial shutdown and those furloughed will receive back pay in their next paycheck as part of the stopgap spending bill that ended the shutdown around midnight of Oct. 17.
"Back pay will be provided for federal employees in their next paycheck," said a spokesperson from the Office of Management and Budget in an emailed statement. Some agencies posted notices allowing for unscheduled leave or telework for employees, and OMB said that agencies "will use all available workplace flexibilities" to accommodate workers returning after the 16-day shutdown.
Federal employees returning to work face a backlog of phone messages and emails, as well as a period of catching up on their work. Some will also face less obvious hurdles, like having to renew expired passwords and building access cards, said John Palguta, vice president at the Partnership for Public Service. "People don't realize, there's not an on-off switch for government," Palguta said.
There is, however, something very like an on-off switch for government websites. Data.gov, the Census website, USA.gov and other key online resources were restored to full service as the government opened for business on the morning of Oct. 17. The PandaCam at the National Zoo, one of the most lamented digital casualties of the shutdown, was turned back on as well. However, there is going to be some lag time before key economic data will be released.
The Labor Department did disclose that about 70,000 furloughed federal workers applied for unemployment benefits for the week ending Oct. 5. Because of the back pay provision in the continuing resolution, however, any claims received by furloughed feds will have to be paid back.
The continuing resolution allows for the operation of government at the budget levels of fiscal year 2013 through Jan. 15, 2014, and allows for the Treasury to issue new debt through Feb 7. The CR also allows for the Department of Commerce to move money to fund the planned launch of two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite systems – a bipartisan policy rider that has been attached to House and Senate versions of the continuing resolution throughout the standoff. It is designed to limit an expected gap in polar satellite coverage that could require NOAA to look to the private sector or other governments, including China, for weather data.
Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.