With the possibility of a government shutdown looming, federal offices in Oklahoma have been drafting contingency plans and preparing to furlough workers.
Several federal agencies employ Oklahomans, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Tinker Air Force Base.
“In accordance with these plans, all military personnel would remain on regular duty status, but all civilian personnel paid by appropriated funds would be furloughed, except for exempt employees and for the minimum number necessary to accomplish excepted activities that are essential to national security and safety,” Tinker Air Force Base officials said in a statement.
James Schmidt, president of the American Federation for Government Employees Local 916, said many of the Tinker employees he represents have already seen 20 percent of their work days furloughed in the last six weeks, and the possibility of missing more work leaves them in financially tough situations.
He added that many more may be required to report to work and will not be paid until the situation in Washington is resolved, which could take weeks.
“That's going to be a really tough time for those folks because they'll have to pay for their gas and their lunch and all the things, the expenses, you incur to get to work everyday,” Schmidt said.
Kelvin Droegemeier, vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma, said federal employees at the National Weather Service in Norman may not see a change in duties as long as the shutdown is resolved in a timely fashion.
“Although each federal funding agency has its own procedures for dealing with a shutdown, overall we're being told that we can continue to conduct research on federally funded grants that already have been approved, though no disbursements will be made during the hiatus, nor will program officers be available for consultation,” Droegemeier said.