Update on Legislation to Reopen Government

Friday, January 25, 2019 — The House and Senate have now approved the continuing resolution funding the government through February 15.

The legislation will now head to the President’s desk for his signature. Earlier today the President announced the agreement to end the shutdown and stated he would sign the bill to open government for three weeks.

We realize that FSA employees are concerned about timelines for processing and receiving their back pay, and we expect that there will be guidance provided to all employees on Monday when they return to work. Our understanding is that payroll processing will be a priority and processed as quickly as possible.

BREAKING NEWS FOR NASCOE’s MEMBERSHIP

We are hearing the White House is preparing to announce an agreement to temporarily end the shutdown. At this point, the House and Senate are expected to pass the proposal and send it directly to the President for his signature.

The rumor is a clean continuing resolution through February 15 or 28. This would allow President Trump to salvage a State of the Union appearance and allow federal workers to receive back pay.

NASCOE will be providing more details as we receive them.

NASCOE News Flash – January 24, 2019

Dennis Ray, NASCOE President

On January 22, 2019 the National Office held a teleconference with all Employee Associations in an effort to update them on Agency furlough activities to date. 

The call also included Q&A’s. 

Attached to this NASCOE News Flash are teleconference notes from the “All Employee Association Furlough Teleconference”

NOTES: 
The notes are not official agency policy / directive, but rather taken from handwritten contemporaneous notes created by a participant on the reference call.

Many of the items in this document were covered with the NASCOE State Association President’s on the January 23, 2019 call with the NASCOE Officers.


If there are any questions regarding the topics contained in this document, please contact your state association President. They will refer your questions or concerns to the NASCOE Officers through your Area Executives.

Furlough All Employee Association Conference Call notes (PDF)

All-Employee-Association-Meeting-01-22-2019

NASCOE Congressional Contact Toolkit & NASCOE Positions on FSA Employees’ “Excepted On Call” Status

Attached are two documents:

  1. “NASCOE Positions on FSA Employees’ ‘Excepted on Call” Status”
  2. NASCOE Guide for Contacting your Congressional Representatives

Since most FSA employees are out of the office today (Wednesday), we should use this opportunity to get busy making these congressional phone calls. 

DO NOT USE YOUR GOVERNMENT POSITION, GOVERNMENT TELEPHONE, GOVERNMENT COMPUTER, OR DO THIS FROM YOUR GOVERNMENT OFFICE. 

We realize that everyone is extremely concerned about getting paid for providing our services. This is an excellent opportunity for each member to take action to help NASCOE secure equitable and fair working conditions for our employees. 


Thank you,
Neil Burnette & Donny Green
NASCOE Legislative Committee Co-Chairpersons


NASCOE-Guide-for-contacting-your-Congressional-Representatives-v.012219FINAL

NASCOE-Position-Paper-on-FSA-Employees-Excepted-on-Call-Status-v.012219FINAL

NASCOE News Flash – January 20, 2019

Dennis Ray, NASCOE President

Fellow NASCOE Members,

NASCOE leadership believes it is possible that all County Office Employees may be called back as “excepted” employees.  Excepted employees would be required to perform limited duties if approved by OMB and to work without pay until shutdown ends. The negative employee impacts that are the most concerning to NASCOE are the potential loss of unemployment benefits and the loss of the ability to utilize outside employment to make ends meet.

NASCOE fully understands that the negative impacts of the current agricultural economy are compounded by the additional loss of FSA benefits.  While NASCOE is sympathetic to the burdens our farmers face, NASCOE cannot support sacrificing the financial security of Farm Service Agency County Office Employees by subjecting them to a callback without pay.

As fellow employees, we are dealing with the same financial stress and fully understand the situations that employees are facing.  NASCOE is in constant communication with Administration leadership in an effort to discuss ways to minimize the impact on FSA employees.

NASCOE is deeply concerned that the callback could force some employees to leave the agency and force others to make the decision to retire. These actions will have a negative long-term impact on FSA’s ability to provide quality service to our producers when they need us the most. Trained, experienced and committed employees who leave the agency will not be easily replaced.

NASCOE has been very disappointed in the lack of clear direction and instructions from the very beginning of this historic furlough.  NASCOE has diligently made an effort to keep members up to date. Keep in mind this is not official notification.  As details continue to emerge, NASCOE will be sharing information with our membership as quickly as possible.  Please continue to look for email correspondence and website updates with the latest news from NASCOE.

NASCOE Legislative News Flash – Update on Update on Furloughed Employee Benefits Legislation

As we approach the 30-day mark in the Government Shutdown, federal employees are feeling more repercussions and stress due in large part to the absence of a full pay check and the overall uncertainty of when the government will reopen.  It is our desire to communicate with NASCOE’s members to the maximum extent to provide accurate and timely information.

In this report, we hope to provide information pertaining to available benefits, proposed legislation, as well as recently passed legislation regarding our pay and benefits during this shutdown. We want to express our appreciation to Clint Bain, Southeast Area Legislative Chairperson assigned benefits legislation, for compiling the following information in this report.

2018 W-2s are available on the Employee Personal Page
NFC is in the process of mailing out tax year 2018 W-2s. The mailing process will continue through Thursday, January 31, 2019.  Of the approximately 705,000
W-2s to be issued, all but about 9,000 are expected to be available on the Employee Personal Page (EPP).  If an employee’s W-2 is not there, they are among the 9,000 in suspense and will require manual intervention by NFC.  As they are released from suspense, they will be mailed and updated to EPP and the reporting center.


Presidential Signed Legislation

2019 Government Employee Fair Treatment Act
The President signed into law on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 the Act that will allow all federal employees who have been furloughed to receive back pay once the government has been funded. It also specifies that federal payroll providers begin to process checks as soon as the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of the next scheduled pay date.  While furloughed government employees do not accrue leave, Congress and the President have authorized a retroactive accrual of leave in the Jan. 16 back pay bill.

Sponsor: Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD] (Introduced 01/03/2019)
Latest Action: 01/16/2019 Signed by President.  
Roll Call Votes: There has been 1 roll call vote




Proposed Legislation

Financial Relief for Feds Act (H.R. 545)
This piece of legislation if passed will allow Federal Employees to withdraw money from their TSP account without penalty.  The Financial Relief for Feds Act allows furloughed federal employees, “essential” federal employees working without pay to make a withdrawal from their retirement savings accounts without the 10% penalty that normally applies. That includes not only Thrift Savings Plans (TSP) but also accounts such as IRAs. Individuals will be able to make multiple withdrawals from their retirement accounts without penalty and will be allowed to recontribute the money to their accounts once the government reopens.

Sponsor: Rep. Olson, Pete [R-TX-22] (Introduced 01/15/2019)
Committees: House – Ways and Means; Oversight and Reform
Latest Action: House – 01/15/2019 Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

To provide loans to employees of the Federal Government and the government of the District of Columbia affected by a Government shutdown, and for other purposes (H.R. 657) introduced by Representative T.J. Cox, D- California
This piece of legislation willgive Federal employees access to a $6,000 loan which would be withdrawn from their pay check once government has reopened.

Sponsor: Rep. Cox, TJ [D-CA-21] (Introduced 01/17/2019) Cosponsors: (84)
Committees: House – Oversight and Reform
Latest Action: House – 01/17/2019 Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The End Government Shutdown Act (S. 104) introduced by Senator Rob Portman, R-OH
This piece of legislation will allow government to run on previous spending levels, an automatic continuing resolution, in the event Congress fails to approve a spending package. 

Sponsor:Sen. Portman, Rob [R-OH] (Introduced 01/10/2019) Cosponsors: (10)
Committees: Senate – Appropriations
Latest Action: Senate – 01/10/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

The Government Shutdown Prevention Act (S. 147) introduced by Senator Rand Paul, R-KY
Would prevent government shutdowns by keeping the government open but instituting a one-percent cut to then-current funding levels for any agency, program, and activity that Congress failed to fund by the start of the fiscal year (October 1). Funding would be reduced by another one percent every 90 days thereafter that an agreement is still not enacted.

Sponsor:Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY] (Introduced 01/16/2019) Cosponsors: (2)
Committees: Senate – Appropriations
Latest Action:Senate – 01/16/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act
Would prohibit landlords and debt collectors from taking action against federal employees unable to pay their bills because of the shutdown.

Sponsor: Sen. Schatz, Brian [D-HI] (Introduced 01/09/2019)
Committees: Senate – Finance
Latest Action: Senate – 01/09/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

NASCOE fully understands the concerns of FSA employees and we will continue to do our best to serve our membership by providing factual and timely communications as developments in this situation occur.

NASCOE News Flash – January 15, 2019

The past few days have been very active in preparation of a temporary limited employee call back. This has been a very fluid process and plans have been modified multiple times. Below is the most current information NASCOE has been able to obtain. Also listed below is the latest information regarding situations where a partial paycheck for PP26 was not received.

1. The employee “call back” is intended to protect FSA collateral and assets and to close out 2018 FLP business so that accurate 1099’s can be provided to producers timely.

2. There are a limited number (2500) of employees approved to work during this temporary call back. Original list sent in exceeded this number and states had to cut back.

3. SED’s had the ability to determine who would be called in using this emergency authority. There hasn’t been any consistency from state to state on how that was determined.

4. Employees will be working under the “excepted” status meaning they will not be paid until the shutdown is resolved.

5. This is not expected to be a recurring process at this time .

6. Deadlines for various programs will have to be reviewed once the shutdown is resolved.

7. A communication package announcing the limited availability of staff is being developed and will be provided to states. The National Office and State Offices will deliver this communication to the public.

8. Time spent at work will have a limited scope of approved activity, mainly focusing on FLP, MAL and FSFL servicing. County Offices will be approved for intermittent/incidental activities, meaning they will be able to accept documents for other programs from producers but will not be able to process anything.

9. The initial NFC PAYE salary sweep paid about 90% of the employees that were due a partial payment. They are continuing to run sweep to get the remaining 10% paid. An employee shared this response from the FPAC Business Center regarding not getting paid.

“FPAC HRD had almost all of its exempt employees validating and certifying PP26 T&A’s last week. We were able to get just over 90% certified before the last run of PAYE on Friday. We have been and will continue to run reports and use them to continue to get T&A’s certified. Getting employees paid is always our top priority.”

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President

NASCOE Shutdown Furlough Page Updated January 10, 2019

As noted in President Dennis Ray’s update of Friday, January 4, 2019, a Shutdown Furlough Information page has been created on the NASCOE website. The Furlough Information page will be updated throughout the shutdown as NASCOE leadership receives information.  The page is NOT intended to replace agency guidance, but will accumulate information received by NASCOE Leadership regarding the shutdown and furlough. The button can be accessed at www.nascoe.org.

Members are asked to refer any questions to their state association President, who will forward to NASCOE leadership through the Area Executives.

Information that has been updated / added to this page:

  • National Finance Center Bulletin – Employee Personal Page (EPP) Password Resets During the Government Shutdown.

To view this information and other previously acquired information, please visit the Shutdown Furlough information page on the NASCOE website.

The page may also be accessed directly at:
https://nascoe.org/furlough-guidance-for-nascoe-members/

If you haven’t done so already, please follow the NASCOE website by visiting www.nascoe.org and entering your home email address in the “Follow blog by email” box.  On Facebook, enter @NASCOENews in the search box to find and “Like” the Nascoe News page.

NASCOE News Flash — PP26 Concerns

Dennis Ray, NASCOE President

Good evening everyone,

I received the email below a few minutes ago from Deputy Administrator of Field Operations in WDC.  The email was distributed to state offices earlier today and addresses PP 26 concerns. 

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President





SEDs/AOs/EOs –

Guidance was emailed to FSA State and County level staff this morning by the FPAC Business Center.  We have had several questions related to the ‘Partial Exempt Employees’ portion of this document and how it relates to FSA CO non-federal employees.  As you are aware FSA CO non-federal employees were funded for the first week of pp 26 and on ‘furlough’ for the second week of pp 26.  Prior to shutting down, FSA CO non-federal employees were directed to complete their work-hours for the first week of pp 26, but not to input anything in WebTA for the second week of pp 26. 

At this time, despite confusion with the interpretation of the attached T&A Submission Guidance, FSA CO non-federal employees should NOT be accessing the WebTA system or loading any transaction codes (TC) into their T&As.  No action is needed by FSA CO non-federal employees, their supervisors, local timekeepers or State master timekeepers for pp 26.  FPAC-BC-HRD staff is taking necessary actions to complete PP 26 coding and processing for FSA CO non-federal employees.  It is our understanding that FSA CO non-federal employees will be paid, via NFC, for their work-hours the first week of pp 26 and it is anticipated this will occur within the normal payroll cycle.

Thank you,

Peggy S. Browne

Deputy Administrator of Field Operations
USDA FSA

*New* Furlough Information Page

As noted in President Dennis Ray’s update of Friday, January 4, 2019, a Shutdown Furlough Information page has been created on the NASCOE website. The page is NOT intended to replace agency guidance, but will accumulate information received by NASCOE Leadership regarding the shutdown and furlough. The button can be accessed at www.nascoe.org.

Information that is referenced on this page includes:

  • Link to the Office of Personnel Management website
  • OPM’s Shutdown Furlough Guidance Page
  • FAQs on Emergency Furlough
  • Department of Labor resources on Unemployment Benefits
  • SF-8 Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees form with USDA Information
  • USDA Ops Center Website
  • All NASCOE Communications on Shutdown and Furlough

The page may also be accessed directly at:
https://nascoe.org/furlough-guidance-for-nascoe-members/

The Furlough Information page will be updated throughout the shutdown as NASCOE leadership receives information.  Members are asked to refer any questions to their state association President, who will forward to NASCOE leadership through the Area Executives.

If you haven’t done so already, please follow the NASCOE website by visiting www.nascoe.org and entering your home email address in the “Follow blog by email” box.  On Facebook, enter @NASCOENews in the search box to find and “Like” the Nascoe News page.