Hundreds of TSA agents still owed backpay after government shutdown: report

Hundreds of TSA agents still owed backpay after government shutdown: report
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About a thousand agents with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have not yet received all the backpay owed from the 35-day partial government shutdown that ended in January. 

CNN reported Friday that the delay is partially due to the TSA’s issuing partial paychecks during the shutdown to help keep workers on the job while hundreds of agents called out, many citing financial difficulties. 

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“Of TSA's 60,000 employees, approximately 1,000 throughout the country require some sort of pay correction,” the TSA said in a statement to CNN, adding that it is working to pay all agents the money they are owed. That number could change, however, as more agents come forward with complaints.

The TSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

A TSA official who told CNN he is “frustrated with the situation” blamed the current delay on the administration’s decision to issue a partial paycheck.

“It appears as though their effort to partially pay people screwed things up and they are still getting their act together,” the official said.

The TSA defended its decision, saying it made the best decision it could given the situation at the time and that the payment was coincidentally processed the day the shutdown ended.

"This partial payment was complicated by a payroll process that goes from TSA to the National Finance Center (NFC). TSA leadership assumed this risk and made the best decision given the circumstances and information at the time.

TSA has contacted employees with known issues to ensure they are resolved," Michael Bilello, the assistant administrator for public affairs at TSA, said in an email to CNN.

TSA headquarters held a conference call with field offices across the country Wednesday to address the issue, according to CNN. Officials said they have been overwhelmed with complaints.

"Our timing ... could not have been poorer in terms of when we executed partial pay. We actually got approval to do that almost simultaneously with the time funding was restored," Karen Shelton Waters, who runs human resources issues at TSA, said in a partial transcript obtained by CNN.

The issue has caused an administrative crisis at TSA, with a TSA official telling CNN that the agency has to work backwards and fix the issue manually.

“The administrator used FY18 money to partially pay TSA employees. This cheated the purpose of the shutdown. They were scrambling to keep people on the job because you had a number of sick outs taking place, but in fact, they created more problems for employees. And they're dealing with it one month after the shutdown is over,” the official said.