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OPM Confirms Back Pay for Feds Affected by Latest Shutdown

Memo continues pay freeze for top political officials until March.

Officials at the Office of Personnel Management announced Friday that all federal employees furloughed as a result of the hours-long shutdown earlier this month will receive back pay for time lost.

In a memo released Friday, acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan told agencies that the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act, approved by Congress early on Feb. 9, includes language granting retroactive compensation to any federal employees furloughed because lawmakers missed the midnight deadline to fund the government.

Senators had reached a deal to keep agencies open—and to raise spending caps laid out in the 2011 Budget Control Act to avoid agency sequesters—on Feb. 7, but Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., unilaterally held up consideration of the bill until the early morning hours of Feb. 9. The legislation funds the federal government until March 23, giving lawmakers time to craft an omnibus appropriations bill using the new spending figures.

Although President Trump had signed the continuing resolution—the fifth so far this fiscal year—in the morning, McGettigan said the shutdown lasted for some well into their work day.

“The lapse in appropriations began at the beginning of Friday, February 9, and ended when the president signed [the CR] later that morning,” she wrote. “For many employees, the lapse in appropriations ended during their daily tour of duty. These employees had a portion of their tour during the lapse and a portion of their tour after the lapse ended.”

OPM said agencies should be flexible in determining feds’ pay and leave status in light of the short shutdown, and that “use of excused absence may be appropriate” for workers in some circumstances.

McGettigan also noted that OPM will again extend the applicability of the pay freeze imposed on some senior political officials and appointees, which was initially set to expire in January. Imposed by spending measures for fiscal 2017, the expiration date of the pay freeze has been continually extended with each short-term CR.

“This language means that the freeze on the payable pay rates for the vice president and certain senior political appointees at 2013 levels . . . continues through March 23, 2018, or the date of enactment of new appropriations legislation,” McGettigan wrote. “Future congressional action will determine whether the pay freeze continues beyond March 23.”

(Image via Flickr user NPCA Photos)