- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Much has been said about the 100-member shadow government ready to take over if Washington is hit by a major terrorist attack. But what about the 330,000 federal civilian workers who aren't hunkered down in a bunker?
Actually, Uncle Sam has thought of them, too.
Civil servants who are evacuated from Washington (or New York, Los Angeles, Detroit or Oklahoma City) because of war, a terrorist attack or even natural events like flooding or earthquakes will be able to carry on or, at least, get paid.
"Returning to normalcy, to the extent possible, is important after a major event," an official said. "Getting paid on payday is one of those regular life events that need to continue."
The so-called Evacuation Payments program applies to U.S. citizens who are federal or postal workers ordered out of an area because they can no longer do their jobs there. It authorizes the heads of federal agencies to make advance payments that include pay, allowances and differentials for 30 to 60 days. In extreme cases the payments can continue for a total of 180 days.
Salary payments, where possible, are to be made on the employees' regular pay day. Workers whose offices are destroyed or unusable can also get per diem payments to cover food, travel and lodging, just as if they were traveling on official business.
After 180 days, the employees must be returned to their duty stations or reassigned.

Air marshals and contractors
Congress forced the Bush administration to federalize rather than privatize the expanded corps of baggage and security screeners at the nation's airports. But that doesn't mean contractors won't get a big share of the action.
The government has hired FPMI Communications, a Human Resources speciality company based in Huntsville, Ala., to screen the 150,000-plus applicants for air marshal jobs. It's a division of Alexandria-based Star Mountain Inc.
The initial contract is for $3.5 million, but that could be worth more if, as expected, the vetting process takes longer. Security officials say it could take a minimum of six months and more likely a year to make sure the people hired as armed skymarshals are the right people.

Hiring: Net vs. Gross
We recently reported that the government hired only 12,000 people during fiscal year 2001, and that more than 9,000 of them were Hispanics, minorities and women. But the Office of Personnel Management says those numbers cited in its report on progress in minority hiring were intended to show that there was a "net" gain in federal employment of 12,000 jobs, and that 9,000 of them were minorities. In fact, the government hired 94,000 people (outside the U.S. Postal Service) in fiscal year 2001.

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