The “excepted” employees that work when the government doesn’t
WASHINGTON DC – The government shut down Jan. 19 amid all the discussion for Congress passing the new funding bill. When things like this happen the government doesn’t altogether shutdown – that’s where the excepted employees come in.
According to NOAA excepted employee, Steven Wilson, being “excepted” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“I basically work for free for however long the government stays shut down,” Wilson said. “No one loses money but it’s worrying if you depend on that paycheck to come in on time to pay bills.”
Wilson is the Deputy Director of the NOAA Fisheries Seafood Inspection Program. He has over 30 years experience working for the government, and in all that time has experienced three shutdowns. The first one Wilson experienced was during late 1995, early 1996 with Bill Clinton.
“There were two shutdowns right after each other,” he said. “I think it ended up being a total of 27 days, but there were different furloughs for each. I had to get a loan the first time because nobody was sure if we would even get paid as usual or had to wait until the shutdown was over.”
Another excepted employee, Lawrence Biondo, works as the Supervisory Consumer Safety Officer in the New England area for NOAA. Biondo has 30 years of experience working for Fisheries Inspection and bases himself in the Gloucester, Massachusetts area. Biondo says working during a government shutdown is business as usual, just with fewer people doing the same amount of work.
He also experienced the 1995-96 shutdown and remembered how different it was. “Everyone got a letter indicating you may be furloughed, no matter if you were furloughed or not. Even though we weren’t, it gave everyone an uneasy feeling knowing they could be furloughed.”
The latest government shutdown only lasted a few days. Now everyone is worried, wondering if the government will shut down again on the 8th of February. Wilson says “it doesn’t look like [there will be a shutdown] now, but we will get a better feeling next week. Right now the agencies are working on updating their furlough lists.”
*photograph courtesy of NOAA