While hundreds of thousands of federal workers were frantically frantic about how they would pay bills at the partial halt of the government, the missed salaries turned out to be particularly cruel to nearly three dozen employees at a dark government agency.
Their checks slid through their hands, or at least through their bank accounts.
Due to a manifest administrative error, a federal department that processed wage slips for a large proportion of government staff has accidentally paid about 30 employees to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. The district administration investigates industrial chemical accidents, but almost all employees of the board have been thrown away during the government's abandonment.
The payroll of the chemical safety bank is processed by the Interior Business Center, which handles payments for 240,000 employees at 42 agencies. On Friday morning, the center accidentally paid the employees of the chemical safety bank, as well as two employees of the Ministry of the Interior, according to an employee from the higher department.
Within a few hours the Interior Business Center recognized the error. The leaders of the chemical security council quickly sent an urgent e-mail asking the employees not to spend the money.
"PLEASE DO NOT ACCESS THE FUNDS", read the e-mail. "We work with IBC to determine how we can remedy this situation and it is best if you do not have access to the money."
An employee from the Ministry of the Interior, who spoke about the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters, said that an employee of the chemical safety bill has submitted an inappropriate salary code that caused the mistake.
Leave federal employees, who do not work during the shutdown, would be assigned a payroll code of 105, the official said. Excluding employees – who work during the shutdown but may not be paid before it is resolved – would receive a code of 107. Exempted employees, who work during the shutdown and expect to be paid, are coded 010, the official said.
"To the best of our knowledge, the coder for the board was a new person who did not understand how to properly do the coding," the official said.
On Friday, officials from the Interior Business Center spent the morning recovering the payments by freezing the deposits after being sent to banks.
"There are three banks involved, and we have called on the banks to find and work on that money," the official said, adding that the department called for the payments to the two other employees of the interior department.
Despite the error, the official said that the process of deducting salary payments to hundreds of thousands of federal workers largely functioned as planned.
Before 2002, the federal government had 26 salary systems for federal employees. The systems were limited by President George W. Bush, which consolidated them into four shared service providers managed by the Pentagon, the General Services Administration, the Agriculture Department and the Interior Department.
Three years ago, the Interior Business Center became a source of outrage for federal workers after it failed to pay 40,000 of them on time. The error forced the agency to contact banks to persuade them not to punish federal employees who were afraid of bounced checks and late mortgage payments – exactly the kind of fear the US government is now facing.