US Army Corps of Engineers
Louisville District Website

Special Edition CPAC Bulletin on Shutdown

USACE
Published Oct. 16, 2013

#3 SPECIAL EDITION CPAC BULLETIN                           

SHUTDOWN FURLOUGH

This bulletin provides:

- An update to the TSP Loan information that was provided in the Special Edition CPAC Bulletin #2 issued on Friday, 11 October 2013;

- Additional information on the definitions of "exempt", "excepted" and "POMA-excepted" employees;

- Clarification of leave options for USACE excepted employees;

- A link to the information on "Order of Precedence" When Gross Pay is not Sufficient to Permit all Deductions;

- Procedural aspects of furlough, depending on its duration;

- Additional Sources of Information; and

- CPAC email address that employees may use for additional questions regarding the current furlough.

 

This information will also be posted to Division/District websites or other information pages.

 

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***********UPDATE ******* TSP Loan Information *************

 

1. Can I take a TSP loan while I'm furloughed?

 

2. By law, a TSP participant may take a TSP loan at any time before separation.  TSP has an administrative rule that participants must be in a pay status in order to take a TSP loan.  The TSP adopted this rule because it generally requires participants to agree to repay their loans through payroll deductions.  The first payment is due on or before the 60th day following the loan issue date.

However, since shutdowns are rare occurrences and are typically of short duration, the TSP's Executive Director has determined that it is in the best interest of participants to interpret the requirement that participants be in a pay status to mean that a break in pay due to a Government shutdown does NOT disqualify one from TSP loan eligibility.  A short-term break in pay status would still allow participants to commence payment by payroll deduction within the required 60 days of the loan issue date.  If a shutdown were to extend beyond the 60 days, participants would still be responsible for making loan payments.

For more information please visit the TSP website at: https://www.tsp.gov/index.shtml

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Furlough Status Defined (Excepted, Exempt, and POMA excepted)

1.  Who are "excepted" employees?

In the context of shutdown furloughs, the term "excepted" is used to refer to employees who are funded through annual appropriations and therefore are affected by the lapse in appropriations, but who are excepted from furlough because they are performing work that, by law, may continue to be performed during a lapse in appropriations.  Excepted employees include employees who are performing work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work specifically authorized by the Department of Defense.  Some examples of "excepted" activities in the Corps of Engineers are minimal staffing levels to operate and maintain hydropower facilities and locks and dams; also included would be activities that support these functions.  There are other types of work covered by the "excepted" definition.  If you are unsure if your status and whether it is "excepted" or "exempt" (see below), check with your supervisor.        

 

2.  Are all employees who qualify as "emergency employees" for the purpose of weather emergencies considered to be "excepted employees" for the purpose of a shutdown furlough?

Not necessarily.  "Emergency employees" are those employees who must report for work in emergency situations - e.g., severe weather conditions, power failures, and other situations in which significant numbers of employees are prevented from reporting for work or which require agencies to close all or part of their activities.  Emergency employees are not automatically deemed "excepted employees" for purposes of shutdown furloughs. 

 

3.  Who are "exempt" employees?

Employees are "exempt" from the current shutdown furlough if they are not affected by a lapse in appropriations, meaning the funds used to pay these employee salaries still exist.  This includes employees not funded by annually appropriated funds, (e.g., ones working under prior year funds, such as construction projects that have carryover money from last year, or multi-year funds that still did not expire on 30 September).  Employees who are "exempt" from furlough are not affected by the shutdown, so are generally still covered by normal pay, leave, and other civil service rules.  Note that it is possible for "exempt" employees to be affected at a later point in time by the lapse in appropriations, when or if their carryover or separately funded accounts run out.   As the "shutdown" continues for a longer period of time, more and more of the "exempt" status employees are being affected and newly furloughed.

 

4.  Who are "POMA-Excepted" employees?

On 5 Oct 13, the Secretary of Defense issued guidance for the implementation of the Pay Our Military Act (POMA) that appropriated funds to provide pay and allowances to DOD civilian personnel "whom the Secretary...determines are providing support to members of the Armed Forces" performing active service during such period.  The term "pay and allowances" under the POMA authority, includes annual leave and sick leave for employees recalled under POMA.  Across the Defense Department, the POMA memo allowed hundreds of thousands of DOD civilians at military installations to be recalled from furlough.  However, within the Corps of Engineers, the number of employees affected by POMA is quite small.  This is because the POMA memo specifically excludes civil works funded activities, which is the majority of employees in the Corps.  Within LRD, the POMA memo allowed DA Interns to be recalled (because they are directly funded by Army) and a small number of civilians with similar direct DOD funding. 

 

* If you still have questions concerning your position designation as Exempt, Excepted, or POMA Excepted, please see your Supervisor for clarification.

 

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Clarification of Leave Usage for USACE Employees

The Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service (DCPAS) recently published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.  The leave information in this DCPAS FAQs regarding the impact of the POMA on pay and leave does NOT cover civil works EXCEPTED employees in the Corps of Engineers.  Leave and timekeeping guidance from HQ USACE is that pay and leave provisions described in the POMA memo only apply to employees who were specifically recalled under the POMA authority on 6 October, and do not apply to any of the civil works funded positions/employees of the Corps since they are specifically excluded from the Act. 

 

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Order of Precedence When Gross Pay is not Sufficient to Permit all Deductions

1. When an employee's pay is insufficient to permit all deductions to be made because a shutdown furlough occurs in the middle of pay period and the employee receives a partial paycheck, what is the order of withholding precedence? 

To see the order of precedence for applying deductions from the pay of civilian employees when gross pay is insufficient to cover all authorized deductions please see the document at the following link: http://www.chcoc.gov/Transmittals/TransmittalDetails.aspx?TransmittalID=1477

 

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Procedures Used to Implement Furlough

1.  How does the length of a shutdown furlough affect the procedures that are used to implement the furlough of employees?

The length of a shutdown furlough does not affect the procedures used.  For most employees, shutdown furloughs lasting 30 calendar days or less (22 workdays) are covered by OPM regulations under 5 CFR part 752, adverse action procedures.  Shutdown furloughs lasting more than 30 calendar days (22 workdays) are also covered by OPM regulations under 5 CFR part 752, adverse action procedures.  When the shutdown furlough goes beyond 30 calendar days (22 workdays), agencies must treat it as a second furlough and issue another furlough notice to employees.  The procedures are the same, just that the employee will get a second letter. 

NOTE:  RIF procedures are not applicable to "emergency shutdown furloughs" because the ultimate duration of an emergency furlough is unknown at the outset and is dependent entirely on Congressional action, rather than agency action.   These rules are different for "administrative furloughs", like the one that occurred from July through September of 2013.  

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Additional Sources of Information

1. Where is the best place for employees to find updated information on benefits as the furlough continues?

Employees should refer to the following websites for updated information regarding furlough:

For overall benefit questions, employees should go to the Army Benefits Center website at www.abc.army.mil

For TSP information, employees should go to www.tsp.gov

For information on Federal Dental and Vision (FEDVIP) program go to www.benefeds.com

For information on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAFEDS) go to https://www.fsafeds.com

For the most up to date Furlough Q&A document from OPM go to www.opm.gov and click on Furlough Guidance  (NOTE:  This is overall policy guidance and not specific to USACE)

For the most up to date Furlough information from DoD and Army go to http://cpol.army.mil/library/general/2013sequestration/FY14Lapse.html

 

2.  If I still have questions after reading the information found at the appropriate website, who should I contact?

If you still have questions or need additional clarification after reviewing the information at the websites provided, you may email your question to the CPAC at: LRD-CPAC@usace.army.mil