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Amid Partial Shutdown, FDA Forced to Furlough Employees

October 1, 2013

2 Min Read
Amid Partial Shutdown, FDA Forced to Furlough Employees

WASHINGTONFDA employees who oversee dietary supplements are among the up to 800,000 workers who face potential furloughs thanks to a partial shutdown of the U.S. government.

Of the agency's 14,800 employees, 8,180 individuals would continue working for FDA, according to a contingency budget plan the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released before the partial shutdown took effect today.

As of the second day of the funding hiatustomorrowFDA would have to put 6,620 employees on furlough, according to the plan. That figure represents about 45% of the agency's workforce.

FDA's remaining staff would include 869 employees dedicated to protecting property and involved in the safety of human life, the document states.

In addition to engaging in "limited activities" related to programs funded by user fees, "FDA would also continue select vital activities including maintaining critical consumer protection to handle emergencies, high-risk recalls, civil and criminal investigations, import entry review, and other critical public health issues," HHS notes.

It's unclear how many employees working in the dietary supplements program will remain at the agency during the funding impasse.

But HHS has made clear that a lack of government funding would deprive FDA of the resources to fund most of its cosmetic, nutrition and food safety activities.

"FDA will also have to cease safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making," the agency explains.

Unlike USDA, FDA continues to maintain its website but warned that information may not be up to date. FDA has provided information to its employees on furloughs including guidance related to pay, leave, and other matters. According to guidance from the U.S. Office of Personnel, Congress will decide whether furloughed employees get paid during the period they are on furlough.

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