For 40,000 federal employees, this has not been a happy Friday.
The reason: They didn’t get paid.
Because of problems at the Interior Business Center (IBC), which handles payroll processing for numerous agencies outside of the Interior Department, paychecks that were supposed to be direct-deposited today didn’t go through, spokesman Michael Fernandez said in a statement later posted on the center’s website. Paychecks will now be deposited Tuesday, he said. The affected employees work in 23 of the 42 agencies served by the business center. They represent about 17 percent of the 240,000 workers paid through the IBC, according to the statement. Affected agencies include the Securities and Exchange Commission, NASA, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Labor Relations Board.
According to Fernandez, the problem resulted when the payroll file sent from the business center to Treasury contained the official pay date of Sept. 17 for the electronic funds transfer, not the expected date of Sept. 13. “Efforts to process a new payment file were unsuccessful,” he said.
The center is working on a plan to prevent this from happening again, Fernandez said. Although most of its customers are not affected, he added, center officials know that this is a “serious matter” and sincerely regret “any inconveniences the error may have caused.”
Joe Ward, the center’s director, referred questions to Fernandez’s office. The snafu highlights the fact that to ‘facilitate processing of payroll in a timely manner,” the center in at least some cases routine deposits payroll money early to banks. As some commenters have noted, the employees are still ostensibly being paid on time, but that may not mean much if–for bill-paying purposes–you assumed that the money would be in your account by Friday. As they say in politics, it’s all about expectations.
The Interior Business Center has begun contacting about 1,800 financial institutions to let them know about the mistake and asking them to work with customers, according to Fernandez’s statement. “Some banks have already agreed to recognize the payments” as if they had been actually made on Friday, the statement says.