Officials with the Agriculture Department confirmed Thursday that although it is subject to the partial government shutdown, the government’s largest payroll processor, which is housed within the department, will get the next round of paychecks out on time for all agencies that have appropriations.
The National Finance Center is responsible for providing payroll for more than 130 federal agencies across the federal government, but since it is part of Agriculture, it entered a partial shutdown with the lapse of appropriations last month.
Still, agencies pay for the services of the National Finance Center and a healthy number of finance center employees are excepted from furloughs, so paychecks for funded agencies for the period that ends Saturday will go out as scheduled.
“Agencies not impacted by the lapse in appropriations will continue to get paid as normal,” Agriculture spokeswoman Michawn Rich said. “We have adequate staff on site to ensure that there will be no delays in processing.”
Ahead of the shutdown last month, the Agriculture Department provided detailed instructions for the nearly 1,000-employee finance agency as part of its contingency plan. According to the plan, roughly 65 employees in the Government Employee Services Division, which handles agencies’ payroll, are excepted to handle paychecks during the shutdown, although that number is expected to fluctuate based on the processing schedule.
“In preparation for a potential government hiatus, NFC has designated personnel necessary in preparation for the hiatus,” the department wrote. “GESD must provide Help Desk Operations in support of the payroll scheduled to run that aligns with a hiatus. In addition, if a prolonged hiatus (in excess of 3 or more days) occurs, GESD will be responsible for ensuring that all payroll processing is completed.”
Additionally, the agency has a number of its furloughed workers in an “on call” status, available to come in as needed, particularly in the IT department.
“For personnel on-call, if they are called to respond, they will work to resolve the system issue either remotely or at their assigned work area,” the department wrote. “Once resolved, they will return to furloughed status, but remain on-call. Once the entire payroll cycle is completed, all personnel except [Operations and Security Center] Denver will be furloughed until needed for the next payroll cycle.”