LA federal workers not expected to be furloughed Monday

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By John Severance

Employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory and local offices of the National Nuclear Security Administration as well as the Department of Energy are hopeful they will be able to return to work Monday even if there is a government shutdown.

"Everyone is still hopeful that an agreement will be reached to avoid a shutdown," a source familiar with NNSA's and LANL's contingency efforts said Thursday. "It's prudent for everyone, including those at Los Alamos, to prepare for various scenarios. But LANL employees aren't expected to be furloughed on Monday. There is funding available that would keep us operating for some time in the event of a government shutdown." Energy secretary Steven Chu sent an email to all DOE employees that was obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor Thursday regarding the possible shutdown.

Depending on how quickly a new appropriations bill is enacted, some DOE employees could be furloughed and unable to work,” Chu wrote. “However, unlike most other federal agencies, the Department has no-year appropriations. This would allow us to continue operating for a limited time.  Therefore, if a new funding bill is not enacted Friday, all DOE Federal employees are still expected to report to work as usual on their next scheduled work day.

"Our contingency planning for the potential funding lapse includes determining which agency functions are excepted from a furlough.  Should it become necessary to implement our contingency plans, you will receive formal notice from your manager regarding the designation of your position and furlough status.  Again, we want to emphasize that it will not be necessary to furlough any department federal employees early next week as a consequence of the expiration of the current continuing resolution at midnight April 8, 2011.” Money from previous spending measures will allow the department to remain open even if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans can't get together on a fiscal 2011 spending plan by Friday night, a DOE official told POLITICO.

"DOE has some no-year funds that would allow us to continue operating even if there is a government shutdown," the official told POLITICO, although it's unclear how much they have.

DOE told POLITICO Thursday that the money won't last very long.

"There is a limited amount of time during which none of our programs are affected." But, the official said, "It's not as though nothing is changed; we certainly are impacted."

Bandelier National Monument, meanwhile, is prepared to close Friday at midnight if there is a shutdown, public information officer Rod Torrez said.

"We are still working on a contingency plan for a potential shutdown," Torrez said. "If there are people in the park, they can stay Friday night but they will have to leave Saturday morning and people in the back country will have to hike out as well."

Torrez said all the trails will be closed and the rangers will be on patrol. All national parks in the state will be closed if there is a shutdown, Torrez said.




LAmonitor.com will provide updates to this story as they become available.