When the bill ending the federal government shutdown was signed into law, some state employees were able to breath a sigh of relief since they would not be furloughed due to lack of federal funding. Employees of the Department of Rehabilitate Services Disability Determination Division and some employees at the Oklahoma Military Department were to be furloughed if an agreement was not reached. These employees were more at risk of furloughs due to the high percentage of federal funds that pay their salaries and their agencies had already submitted furlough plans to state.
OPEA was in frequent communication with agency leaders and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to determine how the furloughs could be accomplished with as little impact to the employees as possible. The association and the agencies discussed how employees who worked during the furlough could be reimbursed despite the shutdown. OPEA staff also met with the Oklahoma State Employees Credit Union and Oklahoma Employment Security Commission staff to see what resources they might have to assist employees in the event of a furlough. OPEA was able to connect affected employees to those resources.
These recent events demonstrated the need for state agencies to have contingency plans that would permit employees to continue to work and be paid in the event of a similar situation. Even though the furloughs did not come to pass, this impasse demonstrated the need to plan for potential disruptions to federal funding in the future. OPEA is willing to work with state officials and employees to ensure that state agencies are prepared and state employees can continue to provide valued service to Oklahomans.]]>