Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Shutdown Update - 2019

I did go into my work email today. I guess we are supposed to check now and then to make sure our litigation deadlines are met. I don't have any active litigation as I've been working my way out of that in preparation for retirement. I went into email today just to check my calendar. I had the following email which I haven't even read because to me it is a mass of confusion. I only skimmed it to delete any names or personal identifiers. If you want to just skim down to the end for my response, that's OK.

SOL Employees,
As a reminder, all employees must report their time for the current pay period in QuickTime by 6:00 pm EST on Thursday, January 17. Employees may use only the following codes for this pay period:

Code 105 "Government Shutdown - Furlough": Use this code for all Furloughed time, including hours not worked by an excepted or exempted employee. The FAV key for Leave and Holidays is used in conjunction with this work code.

Code 107 "Government Shutdown - Excepted": Use this code for all Excepted time (unfunded work that has been authorized). The FAV key for "Administration" is used in conjunction with Code 107 when checking emails for up to 15-minutes per day. Use the normal appropriate FAV key for all other excepted work.

Code 010 "Regular": Employees who have received a notice of Exempted status (funded by a client bureau to perform exempted work) may use this code. Exempted employees should also review the timekeeping guidance that they were provided by me in a separate email earlier today.

Please note that "Excepted" employees (performing unfunded work that has been authorized) may use a combination of Codes 105 and 107. "Exempted" employees (notified that they may perform work that has been funded by a client bureau) may use a combination of Codes 010, 105 and 107.

Attached to this email is the QuickTime Instruction document that was provided last week in an email from . That document explains the process for submitting your time, including instructions for identifying the appropriate FAV keys.

If you have questions about QuickTime, please contact -----------------

Dear SOL Employees:
Here is some important additional guidance regarding the ongoing shutdown. Please review this email carefully.

Timekeeping: During the first pay period of 2019, from December 23, 2018 through January 5, 2019 (PP 2019-01), SOL staff were not required to enter Time and Attendance (T&A) in QuickTime. The Interior Business Center (IBC) will be coding all SOL employees during that pay period as Code 105 “Government Shutdown – Furlough.” Once the lapse in appropriations concludes, we will receive instructions regarding amending the T&A for that pay period to include all authorized excepted time, including (1) time spent conducting orderly shutdown activities, (2) the 15 minutes per day that SOL employees have been authorized to check emails, and (3) time spent on all approved excepted activities. SOL employees should be keeping a separate log of all time worked during the shutdown.

For the current pay period that runs from January 6, 2019 through January 19, 2019 (PP 2019-02), the Department has requested that all employees enter T&A into QuickTime so they may better report on the furlough and excepted work hours. Please continue to keep a log of authorized excepted work, and then enter it into QuickTime for the pay period. Please also retain the log in case your supervisor or others have questions. Time for this pay period must be entered into QuickTime and verified by no later than 6:00 pm EST on Thursday, January 17. In the event of a continued lapse in appropriations, time must be entered in QuickTime and verified by 6:00 pm EST on the second Thursday of each pay period. Note that T&A is collected in 15-minute increments, so checking emails for 10 minutes on a given day means inputting 15 minutes.

For all excepted and furloughed employees, time codes during the lapse in appropriations should be limited to codes 105 and 107, as follows:

· Furloughed time, and hours not worked by an excepted employee, is coded to hours Code 105 "Government Shutdown - Furlough." The FAV key for Leave and Holidays is used in conjunction with this work code.

· Excepted time (authorized work) is coded to hours Code 107 "Government Shutdown - Excepted." The FAV key for "Administration" is used in conjunction with Code 107 when checking emails for up to 15-minutes a day. The appropriate FAV key for other work that was authorized should be used.

As discussed below, beginning with PP 2019-02, a limited number of SOL employees will be funded by our client bureaus and will be “exempted.” Those employees should enter their time as normal, and will receive separate timekeeping instructions.

All timekeeping responsibilities will be handled by the Division of Administration, including certification of timesheets. It is not necessary for timekeepers or certifiers to take any action.

If you have any questions about timekeeping, please contact _____________

Additional Orderly Shutdown Activities: As we move into the third week of the partial government shutdown, we are authorizing you to conduct any additional activities that typically would be considered appropriate as part of an “orderly shutdown” and that have now become necessary due to the extended length of the lapse in appropriations. Such activities would include checking on the status of upcoming litigation deadlines, conferring with your clients and the Department of Justice to plan an appropriate course of action, and asking clients to identify any other ongoing activities for which they need legal counsel. Please email _________ if your client has identified the need for legal assistance. I will review these requests with the Division of General Law and let you know once a decision is made.

Orderly shutdown activities also includes providing updates to the Potentially Excepted Cases template, keeping your log of time worked and entering your time and attendance in QuickTime, and updating your email and voicemail out-of-office messages. Orderly shutdown activities would not include substantive tasks such as conducting legal research, drafting briefs or memoranda, or engaging in settlement discussions. You may only perform this work once you have been authorized to do so. You may conduct any additional orderly shutdown activities on any date and time convenient to you as relevant circumstances arise, so long as during normal business hours. Please limit your time spent on these activities to the minimum time required, and be sure to record this time in your shutdown time log.

Ongoing Client Activities – Exempted Employees: As you may be aware, some components of the Department of the Interior currently are funded, either fully or partially, and are engaged in normal business activities. Bureau employees whose activities currently are funded are referred to as “exempted.” Because some of those activities require legal counsel, several bureaus have offered to provide limited funding to SOL, allowing us to designate certain SOL attorneys as exempted. We currently are working with several bureaus to compete arrangements for a limited number of SOL attorneys to be exempted. These arrangements typically will require SOL to enter into a Reimbursable Support Agreement (RSA) with the bureau to secure the necessary funds to pay an attorney’s salary, benefits, and indirect costs during the lapse in appropriations. SOL attorneys to be exempted for this purpose will be separately notified once arrangements are completed.

Please note that “exempted” status differs from “excepted” status. SOL’s current process of identifying ongoing litigation with court-ordered deadlines and other matters that involve the protection of human life and property refers to “excepted” status. Excepted personnel are authorized to work only on the specific excepted activity approved by SOL, whereas exempted personnel may work on any funded matter.

Federal Court Status: On December 22, 2018, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) issued a notice stating that it has sufficient funds to continue operations through January 11, 2019. On January 7, the AO issued an updated notice that extends their funding estimate to January 18, 2019. That notice further states that after January 18, the federal Judiciary’s resources would be exhausted, and only work that supports “the exercise of courts’ constitutional powers under Article III” would continue. Each court will determine the staffing necessary to support such work. Should the lapse in appropriations continue past January 18, we anticipate that there will be some curtailment of judicial activity. Attorneys who plan to seek extensions/continuances/stays of current court-ordered deadlines should file such motions as soon as possible, so that courts have time to act on the motion prior to January 18.

Additional Guidance: As the lapse in appropriations continues, you may have questions and concerns about a wide variety of shutdown-related topics. As these questions arise, you are encouraged to review the documents that we have included in the Google Drive SOL shutdown folder. The OPM Guidance for Shutdown Furloughs is especially helpful in answering questions you may have regarding benefits, including FEHB, FEGLI, FSAFEDS, FLTCIP, FEDVIP, and TSP. This publication also addresses unemployment compensation and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

3 Attachments [I spare you those and I have no intention of reading them.]

Vaughn, Grant
8:37 AM (1 minute ago)
to _________

I'm not authorized to work so I don't see how I can do my Quicktime (or even remember my password, hints for which I have on my desk in the office that I am locked out of!) One of the "essential, important" employees, maybe one of our "political" appointees of this excellent administration is going to have to enter it for me. Do you want me to start to swear now? because I think HR is shut-out too so I don't think you can discipline me.

With much love,

P.S. I'm eligible to retire and I can't even retire - although I hope to do it effective June 29 this year. This is MADNESS and it is not of my doing.

Addendum, later, same day:

Yeah. My boss saw my response and made me apologize.

1 comment:

  1. Holy sh-t. Pardon my Swedish. You're furloughed?! Keep us informed.


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