Lawmakers Looking Into Back Pay Problems

Three lawmakers want information on what is being done to resolve problems in giving federal employees their full back pay from the recent shutdown.

Reports of federal employees not getting their full back pay and/or running into problems have been circulating since they got their first paychecks after the recent shutdown. Apparently, it has gotten the attention of some in Congress as well.

Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) sent a letter to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and OPM Acting Director Margaret Weichert expressing their concerns about the back pay problems and asking numerous questions they want answered by February 26. The trio of lawmakers represents districts that are home to many federal employees.

“Although we commend your offices for urging the impacted federal agencies to act promptly, we have concerns over the guidance the Office of Personnel Management issued in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget on January 27, 2019, directing payroll providers to ‘make some simplifying assumptions,'” wrote the Congressmen in their letter. “…we ask you to provide an update on the progress made by each agency that was shut down in ensuring prompt and accurate issuance of back pay to employees…”

Among the questions they want answered are:

  • How many federal employees are still owed back pay?
  • What specific plans are in place to ensure that retroactive pay for furloughed or excepted employees is processed as soon as possible?
  • For instances in which paychecks were issued in amounts less than that owed to federal employees, what steps will be taken to ensure that all remaining amounts owed to workers will be paid in full?
  • What options do federal workers have for retroactively paying wage garnishments which were halted by payroll processors because of the shutdown?

A copy of the letter is included below.

Letter Re: Back Pay by on Scribd

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.