Pay & Benefits Watch Pay & Benefits WatchPay & Benefits Watch
Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

More Uncertainty Awaits Feds After the Shutdown


The government shutdown is winding to an end, but federal employees are not out of the woods quite yet.

The shutdown, which has -- for varying lengths of times -- furloughed roughly 900,000 federal employees and temporarily cut off paychecks for many more, appeared primed to end Wednesday, 16 days since the government last operated at full strength. All federal employees, including those on furlough, will likely be reimbursed for the time they missed.

They still, however, face uncertainty.

“It is apparent that the deal that is being concocted is an inadequate one because it appears it will be a short period of time,” Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said at a community event Wednesday with local business leaders and federal stakeholders. “Well that short period of time reinforces people’s notions they can’t depend on their federal paycheck coming in on a regular basis. They can’t depend upon the Congress to appropriate money on a regular basis.”

The compromise plan only provides government funding until Jan. 15, likely culminating in another confrontation between House Republicans and Senate Democrats over the implementation of sequestration cuts in 2014.

“There’s not much reason to celebrate,” Moran said.

In the interim, federal employees will certainly have their hands full. Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said her members have expressed concern about the growing pile of work awaiting them when they return to their offices.

“All that work is backed up,” Kelley said. “[Federal employees] are so committed to their jobs and take so seriously their obligation to the American public that they will want to move those backlogs as soon as they can but you can only do what’s humanly possible.”

Kelley added the workload was already piling up due to decreased workforces from sequestration.

“They will feel a lot of stress and pressure when they come back,” she said, “not from the agency or anyone else but from themselves.”

Help from Business

Local businesses in the Northern Virginia area pledged to continue to help federal employees for several months as they recover from the financial toll of the shutdown.

Kevin Reynolds, president of Cardinal Bank, will continue to give federal employees overdraw authority and provide mortgage relief. Kevin Reilly, president of Hyundai Alexandria, said that while his company’s payment deferral plan for furloughed feds would end once the employees go back to work, feds should continue to reach out to the company and Hyundai will make every effort to accommodate their financial difficulties. Utility companies such as Washington Gas and Dominion Power encouraged cash-strapped federal workers to start payment plans and promised to work with feds on a case-by-case basis.

The business leaders said they too expect to feel the ripple effects of the shutdown for many months. John Renaud, a National Park Service employee, agreed, saying he was not likely to make a significant purchase in this time of economic uncertainty.

“If you’ve been furloughed now, and you’re kicking the decision down the line, you’re going to be reluctant to make major purchase decisions until you have some security,” Renaud said. “Everyone needs to plan for their financial well-being and lack of certainty causes problems across the board.”

Many federal employees are putting off smaller purchases as well. In a survey of its members, 84 percent of respondents in an NTEU poll said they had to cut back on necessities. Seven in 10 are having difficulty making ends meet, while nearly half are delaying medical treatments to save money.

Help from Agencies

As federal employees have sought relief while operating without paychecks, their unions were fighting to get help from agencies.

NTEU has achieved some success on that front, Kelley said, convincing the Homeland Security Department, Health and Human Services Department and Internal Revenue Service to issue letters on official agency letterhead explaining their employees were temporarily not receiving pay.

These letters will help the employees receive payment deferrals and greater access to loans, Kelley said. 

Eric Katz joined Government Executive in the summer of 2012 after graduating from The George Washington University, where he studied journalism and political science. He has written for his college newspaper and an online political news website and worked in a public affairs office for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. Most recently, he worked for Financial Times, where he reported on national politics.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.