The Washington Post

Federal workers: What are you doing with furlough time?


The government shutdown will be measured in weeks instead of days starting Tuesday, as the virtual halt in federal operations reaches its second week.

The Post wants to know how furloughed federal employees are spending their time off work. What are you doing with your spare time? What is your strategy for dealing with extended furloughs if this thing drags on for weeks or even months?

Use the form below to share your plans and coping strategies. The Post may publish some of your insights online and in the newspaper. (Scroll down for examples).

(Can’t see this? Open this form in a new window.)

The House passed legislation on Saturday to ensure that federal workers will be paid for the shutdown period, and President Obama has signaled that he will sign the measure as soon as the Senate approves it. But Congress has to pass a new budget before anyone outside the military receives back pay, meaning hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees have no new income in the meantime.

Already, federal workers have shared their plans for coping with time off work and lack of pay.

Federal employees protest the sequester outside the Department of Labor on March 20. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg). Federal employees protest the sequester outside the Department of Labor on March 20. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg).

Patricia Irwin, who works with the Social Security Administration in Indiana, said she has contacted her creditors to put them on notice that she “might have to make other arrangements about my bills.”

“I also inventoried my pantry and deep freezer, and I am working up menus based on what we have,” Irwin added. “And, I’m getting things done around the house, and consolidating errands. We’ll pinch wherever we have to.”

Kodi Phillips, an Internal Revenue Service employee from Pennsylvania, is catching up on housework. “I bought a new house just under a year ago, and there are still a few minor repairs and maintenance that needs to be taken care of,” Phillips said.

Barbara Sesek, a Virginian who works for the Defense Department, said she is using this time to work toward a master’s degree. Her advice to fellow furloughed feds: “Don’t panic, keep in touch with your co-workers, make sure you’re all okay and be vocal with your elected representatives.”

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed or e-mail  josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



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Josh Hicks · October 4, 2013

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