US government employees ordered back to work on Thursday

WASHINGTON - The White House moved quickly early on Thursday to get the US government back up and running after a 16-day shutdown, directing hundreds of thousands of workers to return to work.

The White House budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, issued a directive to employees minutes after President Barack Obama signed legislation that ended the shutdown and raised the US debt ceiling.

Her message: Get back to work on the next regularly scheduled work day, which for most workers is Thursday.

"All employees who were on furlough due to the absence of appropriations may now return to work. You should reopen offices in a prompt and orderly manner," she said.

Burwell said that in the days ahead the White House would work closely with departments and agencies to make the transition back to full operating status as smooth as possible.