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 executive editor of FCW.
Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.
Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.