Status Updates (Last Updated January 27, 2019):
OPM has issued updated guidance on pay and benefits including detailed instructions on use or lose and restoration of leave; FMLA; expiration of Compensatory Time Off for travel; military leave; retirements; and other benefits. Employees are encouraged to read the guidance carefully. Link.
WE ARE OPEN - Last night, January 25, 2019, the President signed a Continuing Resolution (CR) through February 15, 2019, that brings Agency employees and other staff back to work and recommences all Government functions shut down during the lapse in appropriations.
Employees are authorized to resume normal operations and to check their work email regularly.
All employees who were on furlough because of the absence of appropriations are instructed to return to work in accordance with their normal schedules on their first day of the workweek. To assist furloughed employees in transitioning back to work status, unscheduled telework and/or unscheduled leave are authorized through Wednesday, January 30, 2019. Employees must coordinate unscheduled telework and leave with their supervisor.
We are awaiting final guidance regarding WebTA instructions and backpay. But we know it is going to be a short deadline for Monday morning. Please check your work email.
Additional information can be found on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-19-09: Reopening Departments and Agencies. Link
*** Final guidance for WebTA was sent via work email (8:00pm EST) to all staff on 1/26/19. There are specific instructions on how to submit the timesheet. Please check your email and complete your timesheets for PP26/2018 and PP01/2019. Supervisors must certify per the instructions before noon (EST) on Monday, January 28, 2019.***
Due to a lapse in appropriations, the USAID OIG has implemented its shutdown plan. Details can be found here at OIG Shutdown Plan (December 2018). USAID OIG employees can check back here to find information relevant to them as it becomes available. If you have questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second furlough decision notice was sent earlier today (January 25, 2019) to work and personal emails we have on record. You can also download a copy from the file section below. Employees are required to acknowledge receiving and reading the attached letter by replying to the email and copying your supervisor. If you do not receive the notice on your personal email or if you prefer to use the work email, please not that you are authorized to login to work to read and acknowledge receipt of their furlough notice.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued additional guidance covering using telework and other workplace flexibilities for excepted staff and an updated fact sheet on pay and benefits. See details and documents below.
Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019
OPM has issued guidance related to the implementation of the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 (S. 24). The Act, provides retroactive pay for Federal employees affected by a lapse in appropriations that begins on or after December 22, 2018, as soon as possible after the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates. This amendment covers employees affected by the current and any future lapse in appropriations.
There are also provisions for administering leave for furlough employees. In providing retroactive pay for furlough hours, employees may not be charged paid leave (e.g., annual leave and sick leave) or other paid time off (e.g., compensatory time off in lieu of overtime, for travel, or for religious purposes; credit hours under a flexible work schedule). All paid leave and other paid time off was automatically cancelled because of the lapse in appropriations. There is no legal authority to revoke those cancellations and charge employees for paid leave or other paid time off.
Additionally, excepted employees who are required to perform work during a lapse in appropriations “shall be entitled to use leave”. However, while excepted employees have the option to use their paid leave (i.e., establish entitlement to paid leave to be paid after the lapse ends), they are not required to use leave to cover periods of authorized absence from work. Instead, they may choose to remain in the default status of being furloughed during any such authorized absence during the lapse. We expect employees generally to choose to allow the default furlough status to be applied to any approved absence, since the new Act section 1341(c)(2) provides retroactive pay for furlough periods without charge to leave. File attached below. Also available at this Link.
Pay and Benefits Update
OPM has issued updated guidance on a variety of topics affecting back pay and benefits. We encourage everyone to read them carefully as it covers detailed information on the furlough impact to your benefits. As reminder, since employees are entitled to receive retroactive pay after the lapse ends (with certain exclusions noted in the guidance), the lapse period will no longer be considered as a period of nonpay status. There is a copy of the document below. As usual, you can find the latest OPM guidance on their site. Link.
Telework and other workplace flexibilities for excepted employees
OPM has issued guidance on using telework and other workplace flexibilities for excepted employees. It states that agencies should, to the extent possible and appropriate, provide additional flexibility to the Federal civil servants who are excepted from the furlough to perform necessary functions for the American people. OPM strongly encourages agencies to be as accommodating as possible during the current lapse in appropriations to allow telework-eligible employees performing excepted duties to telework more frequently, permit flexible start and stop times under a flexible work schedule, and provide employees with the ability to request time off based on their personal circumstances. The full document is attached below.
Second Furlough Letter
As we approach the end of the first 30 days, we are preparing to issue a second furlough notice to cover the next 30 days. Most OIG operations in Washington and many of those overseas continue to be suspended. All employees who have not been designated as “excepted” from furlough, will continue to be placed in “non-duty and non-pay status”.
If we have to issue the second notice (most likely this Friday morning, January 25, 2019), we will do so via work and personal emails. We will require that employees acknowledge receiving and reading the letter by replying to the email and copying their supervisor. Employees are authorized and expected to login to work to read and acknowledge receipt of their furlough letter.
In terms of back pay, on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, the President signed into law S. 24, the “Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019,” which requires the compensation of government employees for wages lost, work performed, or leave used during a lapse in appropriations that begins on or after December 22, 2018, and entitles excepted employees to use leave during a lapse in appropriations.
Federal Credit Cards During Shutdown
GSA manages the Federal SmartPay program. This program manages the distribution and monitoring of federal credit cards across the government. Please follow this link to get the latest information on the impact of the shutdown on your government issued credit card. Link.
If you have additional questions or need further guidance on federal credit cards, please contact the central SmartPay phone line at (703) 605-2808, or e-mail box: email@example.com.
Outside Employment and Ethics Questions
Outside employment and activities including any ethics questions must be referred to our General Counsel, Nicole Angarella. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have provided funding for transit benefits to cover the month of February. As a reminder, there is no personal use of this government issued benefit. At this point, only excepted staff should be using the transit benefit. It is fraudulent to use the transit benefit for any purpose other than home to work to home commuting by means of mass transportation. Participants certify to this when they submit their transit benefit applications.
We have included at the end of this page a PDF letter that employees can share with creditors to help explain the furlough process.
Listed below are resources that furloughed employees may find useful:
- Unemployment forms
- USAID Staff Care Call Center (Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year)
(See PDF document below for overview of services)
Free-phone: 877-988-7243 (877-98USAID)
Direct Dial: 919-645-4960
Reverse Charge: 44-0-208-987-6200
USAID Staff Care (code USAID)
- Updated guidance on Use-or-Lose - (January 9, 2019) OPM and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had determined, in guidance issued prior to the lapse, that a lapse in appropriation qualifies as an exigency of the public business for purposes of annual leave restoration. Therefore, as long as the leave was properly scheduled in advance, agencies must restore any annual leave that was forfeited because of the lapse in appropriations—regardless of whether the affected employees were furloughed or excepted from the furlough. Link.
- Direct link to shutdown furlough guidance including FAQs - Link.
- Updated guidance on TSP Loans - (January 8, 2019) The TSP allows for the suspension of loan payments when employees go into nonpay status to prevent their loan from going into default. Normally, TSP requires documentation from the agency. However, the TSP does not need documentation of your furlough at this time. If your loan payments were up to date prior to the furlough, missing one or two payments will not cause your loan to be in default. You can check the status of your loan by logging into My Account, selecting “TSP Loans,” and then selecting “Are my payments up to date?” Or you can call the ThriftLine at 1-877-968-3778 and speak to a Participant Service Representative. As long as retroactive pay is approved, all missed loan payments will be submitted and posted to your loan. TSP will provide more information as the furlough continues or as events change. Link.
- AFSA has a robust body of information on the shutdown as it applies to foreign service employees, including links to resources. Their update about "Personal Finances When You Are Furloughed" is particularly useful. Link.