More Agencies Announce Furlough Plans

To date, the State Department has furloughed just a few hundred of its 70,000 employees, but said at a press briefing Wednesday that “every day that goes by, we get closer to that number being thousands.” To date, the State Department has furloughed just a few hundred of its 70,000 employees, but said at a press briefing Wednesday that “every day that goes by, we get closer to that number being thousands.” Sarah Scully/GovExec.com file photo

Ten days into the government shutdown, more federal offices are set to close their doors and furlough their employees, adding thousands to the more than 500,000 workers already furloughed.  

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission originally kept its entire 3,900 workforce on the job, citing leftover funds from fiscal 2013. Those funds have run dry, however, and NRC sent home all but 300 employees Thursday. Roughly half of the workers still reporting for duty are “resident inspectors” assigned to reactor and fuel facilities, according to NRC, while the other half are necessary to respond to emergency situations.

“Despite our best hopes, the NRC on Thursday will be joining the rest of the federal government in shutting down due to a lapse in appropriations,” Allison Macfarlane, NRC chairwoman, wrote in a blog post on the agency’s website. “I believe we all share a deep disappointment that this action has become necessary.”

NRC will not conduct non-emergency reactor licensing, reactor license renewal amendments, emergency preparedness exercises, reviews of design certification or rulemaking and regulatory guidance until the government reopens.

“We hope this interruption is as brief as possible and we look forward to being back at our desks, hard at work, doing what we do best here at the NRC in service to the nation,” Macfarlane said.

Federal courts also announced their shutdown date, though they still have enough funds to operate for another week. The Judiciary originally projected it would remain open for 10 days after the shutdown through its fee income and no-year appropriated funds, but spending cuts have allowed it to stay open until Oct. 17.

The Congressional Research Service said federal courts, similar to executive branch agencies, would allow employees performing “essential work” to stay on the job in non-pay status, while other staff would be furloughed. Federal courts have already postponed most civil and immigration cases.

To date, the State Department has furloughed just a few hundred of its 70,000 employees, but said at a press briefing Wednesday that “every day that goes by, we get closer to that number being thousands.” The agency has not elaborated on details of its timetable.

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