Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) arrive to speak to the media after meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the ongoing FY2011 federal government budget negotiations, in Washington on April 7, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, April 7 (UPI) -- While expressing hopes that a federal shutdown will be avoided, the U.S. Defense Department said it has plans in place in case the shutdown becomes reality.
"The department remains hopeful that a government shutdown will be averted," Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said Thursday in a message to Pentagon workers. "However, prudent management requires that we plan for an orderly shutdown should Congress be unable to pass a funding bill before our current funding expires on April 8."
Operations and activities essential to safety, protection of human life and protection of U.S. national security, are "excepted" from the shutdown, Lynn said. The Defense Department will maintain operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Japan; Libya-related support operations and "other operations and activities essential to the security of our nation."
Military personnel aren't subject to furlough and will report for duty as normal, he said.
Civilian employees will be briefed by their supervisors by Friday on whether "their work and responsibilities fall into excepted or non-excepted status," Lynn said.
"The fact that certain functions are not excepted or that certain personnel may be subject to furlough should not be taken as a statement that the secretary or I or the department do not value those functions or employees," he said.
If the government shuts down, the Defense Department "will have no funds to pay military members or civilian employees for the days during which the government is shut down," his message said. "However, both military and civilian personnel will receive pay for the period worked prior to the shutdown."
Personnel in excepted positions are entitled to be paid for work during the shutdown, and will be paid retroactively once funding becomes available, Lynn said. Congress would have to provide the Pentagon authority to retroactively pay non-excepted employees.
Retirees aren't paid from annually appropriated funds, so their benefits should continue uninterrupted, he said.