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DFAS cannot promise pay in government shutdown

Mar. 28, 2011 - 11:58AM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 28, 2011 - 11:58AM  |  
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The Defense Finance and Accounting Service is mum about what will happen to military and civilian pay if the government shuts down at midnight on April 8 — but they are not promising people will be paid on time.

"We do not have a position at this point," said Steven Burghardt, a DFAS spokesman. "We will wait for guidance before telling anyone anything."

Service members were paid on time during past government shutdowns, but Burghardt said no promises are being made about what might happen this year if funding runs out.

"Everything is undetermined," he said Monday.

But Pentagon draft guidance prepared in the event that government funding lapses says service members will be expected to report to work but will not be paid until funding is restored. The memo, which defense officials said was prepared as a contingency plan so that the Pentagon would be ready if funding dried up, has not been signed and will not be distributed unless a shutdown occurs.

Congress has passed six temporary funding bills since the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 to keep the government running. The most recent stopgap bill is due to expire at midnight on Friday, April 8. The short-term spending bills have become necessary because lawmakers are still arguing about details of a plan that is expected to include a combination of new limits on federal spending and cuts in some programs.

House and Senate leaders acknowledge they are facing increasing resistance to approving temporary funding, making a shutdown more likely in April if an agreement cannot be reached.

Since the guidance memo was first reported March 11, several Military Times readers have claimed they contacted DFAS and were told military pay would not be affected by a government shutdown. But Burghardt said DFAS representatives are not in a position to make such a promise because policy has not been set.

"I would like to know who is telling them that," he said.

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