Time to dust off, again, the furlough guide for federal employes.
Unless Congress acts quickly, more than 9,000 government workers here, and another 40,000 plus around the country, may find themselves furloughed without pay beginning next week.
The Internal Revenue Service, for example, has advised its 19,000 employes involved in collections, criminal enforcement and appeals to come into work Tuesday to begin shutting down operations. About 900 Washington area IRS workers are included.
IRS is one of the agencies that had September payroll fund requests in the supplemental appropriation bill President Reagan vetoed last week. He killed the measure because, he said, it provided too much for domestic spending and not enough for the military.
Congress was out of town last week and couldn't act to either override the veto, or come up with a supplemental the president would sign. Congress is due back at the office Tuesday.
Meanwhile, IRS, the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Labor Relations Authority and Justice are making plans to furlough all or part of their staff by mid-month.
IRS's collection and law enforcement operations will technically run out of money Monday (Labor Day). They have requested permission from the Senate Appropriations Committee to "reprogram" (transfer) funds from other accounts to meet next week's payroll.
Workers in those IRS operations have been told to come in Tuesday as usual, but only to prepare for a shutdown, and furloughs, to start Wednesday. If IRS gets permission to reprogram, that will stave off immediate furlough action pending approval of a September supplemental.
OPM, which is also short of money, may have to furlough employes later this month. The same is true at FLRA and the OMB, and in some White House operations.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) talked with Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) late Friday about the problem. Hatfield chairs the Senate committee that controls IRS's budget. Wolf also sent a "dear neighbor" telegram to subcommittee chairman James Abdnor (R-S.D.) whose area home is in the 10th Congressional District of Virginia. He has asked them to act quickly, this weekend or by Tuesday, to head off the IRS furloughs.
If furloughs come, this is what will happen to you:
Pay: You won't get any for any days you are on furlough. And you cannot request vacation time unless it was scheduled and approved earlier.
Insurance: Life and health insurance continue in effect. Premiums will be paid by the government for employes furloughed for consecutive days. Workers who are furloughed on a discontinued basis, that is on one day, off one day, have to pay their own premiums.
Unemployment Benefits: You can collect them depending on rules in your state. Ironically, the state will be reimbursed for those benefits by the agency furloughing you.
Sick and Annual Leave: Employes on short-term furloughs continue to earn credit for sick and annual leave and retirement purposes.
It is possible, of course, that Congress and the White House will get their act together in time to preclude the need for furloughs. But this has happened before this year and many employes were put on furloughs.
If you want to check furlough details next week, your agency personnel office should have a copy of Federal Personnel Manual Bulletin No. 351-32, issued last December by the Office of Personnel Management.