In the wee hours of Thursday morning, after President Obama signed a measure ending the government shutdown and lifting the federal debt limit until early 2014, the Office of Management and Budget sent a formal message to agencies and their employees: It's time to get back to work.
"You should reopen offices in a prompt and orderly manner," OMB Director Sylvia M. Burwell wrote in a memo to the heads of departments and agencies.
"Today, the president signed a continuing resolution that brings employees back to work and reopens many government functions," Burwell wrote. "All employees who were on furlough due to the absence of appropriations may now return to work."
In a message accompanying the memo, Burwell said OMB would work with agencies "to make the transition back to full operating status as smooth as possible." She noted that the Office of Personnel Management would update its website to keep employees informed of the government's operating status.
As of Thursday morning, that site included a message saying, "Federal government operations are open. Employees are expected to return for work on their next regularly scheduled work day (Thursday, October 17th for most employees), absent other instructions from their employing agencies. Agencies are strongly encouraged to use all available workplace flexibilities to ensure a smooth transition back to work for employees (e.g. telework, work schedule flexibilities, and excused absence for hardship situations)."
In her memo, Burwell acknowledged the toll the shutdown has taken on federal operations and workers. "We appreciate very much your cooperation and efforts during this difficult period," she wrote. "Thank you and your teams for your service and your continued work on behalf of the American people under the challenging circumstances of the past few weeks."