WASHINGTON D.C. - The federal government is back open for business.
The Obama administration changed the government's status to "open" early Thursday, more than two weeks after a partial shutdown took hold when funding from Congress ran out.
Minutes after President Barack Obama signed a hard-fought deal struck in Congress, the White House directed all agencies to reopen promptly and in an orderly fashion. Furloughed federal employees across the country are expected to return to work Thursday.
"In the days ahead, we will work closely with departments and agencies to make the transition back to full operating status as smooth as possible," said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Unless they are told otherwise, all employees should return to work on their next regularly scheduled work day, the Office of Personnel Management said. For most workers, that means they'll be expected to clock in Thursday morning.
But the administration also said agencies are strongly encouraged to be flexible where they can, including by allowing telework, flexible scheduling and excused absences in cases of hardship. Many federal workers may be unable to return to work on such short notice.
The White House encouraged federal workers to check OPM's website for additional instructions about returning to work.
Hundreds of thousands of workers have been furloughed since the shutdown started Oct. 1. The measure Obama signed Thursday restores government funding through Jan. 15. It also extends the nation's borrowing authority through Feb. 7, averting a potential default.