State Department orders staff back to work, says they will be paid

The State Department is ordering its staff back to work next week, pledging that it will find the money to pay them despite the partial government shutdown.

In an “urgent message” issued on the 27th day of the shutdown, Deputy Under Secretary for Management Bill Todd told staff that “as a national security agency, it is imperative that the Department of State carries out its mission. We are best positioned to do so with fully staffed embassies, consulates, and domestic offices.”

“As a result, all State Department direct-hire employees and State Department locally employed staff are expected to report to work on their first work day in Pay Period 2,” Todd wrote. He noted that for most employees, that will be January 22, while for others posted in countries where the work week begins on Sunday, that will be January 20.

Todd wrote that given the “increasing hardship to employees caused by the ongoing lapse in appropriations, the Department is taking steps to make additional funds available to pay employee salaries.” He didn’t explain how the department will do that.

There was no immediate indication of how many employees will be affected by the directive, but as of September, agency figures show it employs 13,855 foreign service officers, 10,171 civil service employees and just over 49,734 locally employed staff in postings around the world.

Todd noted that while most personnel operations will resume, bureaus and posts will be expected to adhere to strict budget constraints when it comes to new spending for contracts, travel, and other needs.

Todd’s “urgent message” comes on the same day he issued a letter “to whom it may concern,” asking for patience and understanding as State Department employees “may have difficulty meeting their financial obligations on time” as they are not being paid at the moment.

“We extend our thanks in advance for your patience and compassion towards our employees during this time when they are negatively impacted by the lapse in appropriations,” he wrote.

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