The Presidents and Vice Presidents of the employee organizations (NACS-FSA, NADD, NASE, NAOFEC, and NASCOE) were on a conference call with the Administrator and his staff from the National Office late this afternoon (January 22, 2019). We were updated on the call back of FSA employees to provide program services to our customers.
We were told that FSA employees were changed from a "non-excepted" status to "excepted on call" status under the guidance of OMB to provide available program funding to our customer. This work was determined to be necessary to avoid an impact to the producers and maintain the integrity of the program while protecting government assets and property. For those employees who have chosen to seek unemployment compensation during this period, the National Office is having more calls tomorrow to see how this call back may or may not affect this benefit.
The news release has been issued by the Secretary's Office to notify producers that our offices will be open to provide greater, yet still limited, services. We were told that support services would be available to us through the Business Center, National Finance Office, and KCMO. However, the services of OCIO/CTS were a bit uncertain.
I specifically commented that FSA employees are dedicated to providing service to our customer but this call back to work without pay was creating an undue hardship on many of our employees in the form of commuting costs, day care, and routine work related costs. I truly believe that Mr. Fordyce recognizes the strain this is creating and the sacrifice employees are making and he is directing state offices to provide guidance to local managers to be as flexible as possible during this period. He stated that, while employees are needed at work to provide coverage in the offices, no employees can be charged to take leave during this furlough period if they have appointments or schedule conflicts that will cause them to be away from the office.
As I have said before, I fully recognize and appreciate your hard work and dedication. LeAnn and I voiced our concerns and will always be your advocate. This is not great for anyone and know that we are in your corner. Please contact us if you have any questions.
LeAnn is a Farm Loan Chief from New Mexico. She was elected NACS President at the June 2019 Convention.