Government Shutdown: Frequently Asked Questions

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Below are frequently asked questions about the current government shutdown. Do you have questions you need answered in regard to the government shutdown and its impact on the Air Force? Post them in the comments below. We will research and try to find the answer(s) for you and respond to the post(s) here.

Government Shutdown Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Will the military be paid? Will civilians receive back pay?

A. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) released the following statement: "We are aware the President has signed the Pay Our Military Act. We are awaiting further guidance from the Department of Defense to ensure we accurately implement all elements of the Act. We will update you with additional information as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience." (http://www.dfas.mil)

Q. Are commissaries open?

A. Stateside commissaries that closed due to the government shutdown will resume normal operations effective Monday, Oct. 7. Stores normally closed on Mondays will reopen for business on their next scheduled operating day. Commissaries are back to their normal operating schedules today, but it may take three to five business days to get the shelves fully stocked depending on store size. For specific information about your base commissary and its operating hours, visit the store's website, which you can locate by searching for it by name at http://www.commissaries.com.



Q. Are child development centers (day care centers) open?

A. Contact your local CDC/installation for details/guidance.

Q. Are Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools open?

A. Yes.

Q. What is the difference between an administrative furlough and shutdown furlough?

A. There are two types of furloughs - an administrative furlough is a planned event by an agency which is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by downsizing, reduced funding, lack of work, or any budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations. Furloughs that would potentially result from sequestration would generally be considered administrative furloughs. A shutdown furlough (also called an emergency furlough) occurs when there is a lapse in appropriations, and can occur at the beginning of a fiscal year, if no funds have been appropriated for that year, or upon expiration of a continuing resolution, if a new continuing resolution or appropriations law is not passed. In a shutdown furlough, an affected agency would have to shut down any activities funded by annual appropriations that are not excepted by law. Typically, an agency will have very little to no lead time to plan and implement a shutdown furlough. More info about furloughs is available athttp://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance/.



Q. What about Public Affairs offices?

A. Since we don't have an FY-14 appropriation, existing guidance remains in effect; both military and civilian PAs should only support and perform excepted activities, and current restrictions on community engagement still apply. PAs will provide trusted counsel to leaders, communicate to Airmen through all news and information channels, and enhance morale, readiness and operations through a steady flow of information and imagery -- making PA an "all hands" operation over the coming days and, possibly, weeks.



Q. Will Air Force public websites be updated?

A. Yes, but only with shutdown-related information. Once the furlough/shutdown is over, public websites will resume posting of other Air Force information.

Q. Will the shutdown affect the Military OneSource website?

A. The Military OneSource website and call center will remain fully operational. Military OneSource is a Defense-wide program that promotes the quality of life of service members and their families by delivering information, referrals, confidential counseling and other services in-person, online and by telephone. The service is available worldwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost to the user and regardless of the service member's activation status. Visit their website at http://www.militaryonesource.mil or call (800) 342-9647.

Q. What about the Military and Family Life Counselor (MFLC) program?

A. This program will continue uninterrupted. The MFLCs will perform routine functions. If an MFLC is unable to access the installation during a shutdown, they will work offsite until they are able to access the installation.

Q. Will military Exchanges be open?

A. Yes.

Q. Will Airman and Family Readiness or Family Support Centers be open?

A. Staffing will be determined by installation commanders.

Q. Will Family Advocacy Program offices be open?

A. Each service will determine staffing at each installation.

Q. How does the shutdown affect Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs / nonappropriated fund activities?

A. Operations necessary to support "excepted activities" (i.e., activities/programs that will not affected by furlough/shutdown) will continue. Examples of these excepted activities include operation of dining facilities, physical training and child care activities required to support readiness.

Q. Will Education Centers be open?

A. Education Centers will be closed during the shutdown. This includes counseling services, testing centers, learning centers and computer labs. Tuition assistance will not be authorized or granted for new classes.

Q. What happens with "My Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA)"?

A. No financial assistance requests will be approved until further notice. However, all spouses with an already approved financial assistance request prior to Oct. 1, 2013 will have their approved requests honored so they can attend class. Spouse Education and Career Opportunities counselors will continue to be available to provide comprehensive education and career counseling services. Please call the SECO Career Center at (800) 342-9647 or visit the SECO website at http://www.militaryonesource.mil/seco and continue to monitor the MyCAA portal for updates regarding when financial assistance will once again be available for approval.

Q. I need financial and legal services. Where do I go?

A. Financial and legal services are available to federal employees through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Services' Employee Assistance Program. Please call (888) 222-0364 or visit FOH4You.com.

Q. What happens to my Thrift Savings Plan account?

A. TSP information is available at https://www.tsp.gov/index.shtml. The TSP will continue its normal daily operations during the Federal Government shutdown. A government shutdown fact sheet is available at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/oc11-5.pdf. The fact sheet covers impacts and emphasizes that your agency should not send a Form TSP-41, Notification to TSP of Nonpay Status, to the TSP during a Federal Government shutdown. A shutdown is a rare

occurrence and is typically of short duration. The Form TSP-41 is intended for participants who are being placed on extended leave without pay, e.g., due to illness, military furlough, maternity leave, etc.

Q. Why is the Air Force recalling most nearly 104,000 civilian Airmen placed on emergency furlough?

A. In accordance with a memo Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released Oct. 5, the Air Force will recall most of the nearly 104,000 Air Force civilian Airmen placed on emergency furlough due to government shutdown. However, a significant number will not yet be able to return. In his memo, Hagel stated that immediately after President Barack Obama signed the Pay Our Military Act into law, he directed DoD's Acting General Counsel to determine whether he could reduce the number of civilian personnel furloughed due to the shutdown. After consulting with attorneys from the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense, the secretary said the Pay our Military Act does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians. However, he said, DOD and DOJ attorneys concluded that the law does allow the DOD to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members. Read the entire memo at http://www.defense.gov/pubs/Memorandum-Pay_Our_Military_Act_Guidance-FINAL.pdf or view the entire news release at http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/467253/most-af-civilians-to-return-to-work.aspx.




Q. Why are there no television broadcasts for Airmen overseas?



A. American Forces Network returned to service Oct. 6, but it will take a couple days to get the full channel lineup on the air. AFN will broadcast each additional channel as it becomes available. (http://www.facebook.com/myAFN)





Q. Can people still join the Air Force?



A. Yes, we are still processing qualified applicants.





Q. How does this shut down affect PCS assignments?



A. Currently, only those who have PCS orders in hand, prior to 1 October, will be allowed to proceed with their PCS, since their move has been funded by the FY-12 budget. For all others, they should continue with the PCS process, but must wait for funding to be authenticated before they are able to complete their move. PCS orders coded "A" for accession and "S" for separation are authorized to continue.



Q. How is the Civil Air Patrol affected by the shutdown?



A. Members of the Civil Air Patrol, the U.S. Air Force auxiliary, will continue to perform emergency and disaster response missions authorized by Air Force officials during the federal government shutdown.



Q. Will the active duty Air Guardsmen come back to work too?



A. Active duty Air Guardsmen were still working throughout the shutdown.



Q. Are civilians coming back to work without pay? Will civilians be paid retroactively?



A. Once a bill is signed by the president, civilians will be paid for the days they were furloughed at the beginning of FY-14. This Friday, civilians will be paid for the first six days of the pay period before the furlough started.






Government Shutdown Websites / Points of Contact

· Office of Personnel Management: http://www.opm.gov

· Department of Defense: http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2013/0913_govtshutdown/

· Defense Finance and Accounting Service: http://www.dfas.mil/pressroom/govtshutdown/crafaq.html

· Air Force: http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/GovernmentShutdown.aspx

· Total Force Service Center: (800) 525-0102

· Air Force Aid Society: http://www.afas.org

Read the full DOD Guidance for Implementation of Pay Our Military Act memo here.

For current government shutdown information, visit AF.mil's Government Shutdown page, the Air Force Portal and/or contact the Air Force Personnel Center Total Service Center at (800) 525-0102.