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The Nation | FAREWELL TO A PRSIDENT

Funeral May Be Pricey for U.S.

Federal workers, whose payroll is $423 million a day, will have Friday off to mourn Reagan. California is among states to be shuttered.

June 10, 2004|Warren Vieth | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Providing security for former President Reagan's funeral is likely to cost government agencies several million dollars, but a far bigger expense is the loss of a day's labor by most of the federal government's 1.8 million employees.

Under an executive order signed by President Bush, all federal workers except those needed to provide law enforcement, national security and other essential services are taking Friday off as part of a national day of mourning.

The Office of Personnel Management said Wednesday that a day's payroll expense for the entire federal workforce is $423 million.

Officials said it was not yet clear how many federal personnel would be required to work Friday.

The practice of allowing federal employees to participate in a national day of mourning began on Nov. 25, 1963, three days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, said Mike Orenstein, spokesman for the federal personnel office.

The day of mourning was repeated after the deaths of four other former presidents -- Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1969, Harry S. Truman in 1972, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973 and Richard Nixon in 1994.

Some states will also incur costs.

California is giving its workers the day off Friday, and state officials said a day's payroll ran about $59 million, the Associated Press reported.

New York state, with a daily payroll of $44 million, is doing the same, although New York City, by contrast, decided not to close its offices and schools, said Ed Skyler, spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

The National Conference of State Legislatures said state offices also would be closed in Kansas, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Texas, Connecticut, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Delaware, New Mexico and Wyoming.

The direct costs of this week's events appear relatively small in comparison. Municipal and federal agencies involved in this week's events said they expected costs to total less than $10 million, although they would not have solid figures for several days.

Robert Bobb, city administrator for the District of Columbia, said the cost to local officials had already reached $2.3 million and would rise.The District canceled scheduled days off for its entire police force, and officials hoped the federal government would help pick up the tab.

House Appropriations Committee spokesman John Scofield said he expected federal agencies to spend as much as $1.5 million to provide security and transportation services during the three days of observances.

The Ronald Reagan Memorial Foundation was expected to reimburse much of the cost, he said, and it appeared government agencies would be able to cover the rest by shuffling funds already appropriated by Congress.Scofield said Congress approved a special appropriation of $10 million to reimburse costs associated with providing security at the joint meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund two years ago.

The events drew thousands of anti-globalization activists to Washington for sometimes rowdy street protests.

Congress also ponied up $25 million for this week's Group of Eight summit in Sea Island, Ga., Scofield said, as well as $25 million each for costs associated with this year's national political conventions in Boston and New York.

At this point, it appears that expenses involved with this week's funeral observances will be considerably less than those amounts, he said.

"It's a nominal amount in the grand scheme of things," Scofield said.

*

Times staff writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and the Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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