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Government Employees Catch Up With Lost Work After Shutdown

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Franklin Percival, a government employee who was out of work because of the partial shutdown earlier this month, is back to work after a 16-day vacation he never wanted.

“Today’s work, tomorrow’s work, plus the last two weeks worth of work to put on top of that — those are the kind of things we need to do,” said Percival, a unit leader for the Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

He had to put his work on hold during the partial government shutdown that occurred when Congress failed to reach an agreement to fund the government.

“It’s not so measurable in terms of immediacy, like today’s impact on veteran’s benefits, or treatments or access to national monument, but certainly in terms of time,” Percival said. “Time is something you can never totally recapture.”

Fortunately, many of his Ph.D. students were able to continue working on their research while he was out of the office, he said.

In Gainesville, employees for the United States Geological Survey weren’t so lucky. More than 90 employees there were on furlough.

USGS research examines how natural resource management affects the environment and native species. While employees returned to work Thursday, there is no telling whether the research will suffer due to the government shutdown, said Rachel Pawlitz, the outreach ecologist for the Gainesville branch of the USGS.

Although USGS was unable to continue conducting experiments in the lab during the shutdown, Pawlitz said, their facility manager came in on a part-time basis to keep their animals alive.

For Percival, the lack of work for almost two weeks meant a preparation for the retirement he plans in 14 months.

“My wife and I decided, ‘Well, this is going to be a practice session because of what’s facing me in 14 months'” he said. “(We) kind of wondered what I’m gonna do.”

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