One of the oddities of this summer’s partial Federal Aviation Administration shutdown was that the agency would never say exactly how many employees were furloughed as a result. “Nearly 4,000” was the stock phrase used by FAA officials, who refused to provide a more precise figure.
Not clear why they were so coy (this is supposed to be the most transparent administration in American history, after all), but FedLine’s curiosity was piqued, a Freedom of Information Act request was filed and the answer came back late last month: 3,750. The estimated cost in lost payroll for the two-week furlough (and the FAA, to be fair, had previously released an approximate figure) was $20.2 million.
The partial shutdown occurred in July and August after Congress failed to approve a short-term funding extension and then left town for its August break. After taking a pounding from administration officials and in the media, lawmakers soon got the agency fully back to work; the latest extension now runs until the end of January. And while Congress never acted on legislation to provide back pay for those furloughed employees, that turned out to be a moot point after Transportation Department lawyers decided that no congressional approval was needed.