The U.S. Department of Education is back up and running—and employees have returned to a mile-long to do-list, according to an email from U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan that was sent out to employees (and reporters) Thursday morning.
Duncan thanks the “ED family” for all of its hard work and patience during the 16-day partial government shutdown. And he acknowledges that employees are returning to a mountain of work:
I appreciate that these next few weeks won't be easy. I know that you're coming back to even more work than you already had on your plate before the department had to shut down. Emails have piled up. Voicemails will be waiting for your callback. Projects are falling behind schedule. It may be hard to prioritize what needs to get done first. If you're unsure, talk with your supervisor and teammates and figure out a manageable work plan that gets everyone caught up.
And he gave a special shout-out to the folks who worked during the shutdown:
I want to thank the small group of our colleagues who continued to work on excepted activities while the agency was closed for normal business. They kept our building and IT systems secure. They kept key grant competitions running (and even chased down delivery trucks to ensure applications arrived on time). They made grants and loans that allow students to attend college. And they answered questions from worried colleagues for whom the lack of a normal paycheck was a serious financial burden.