Calling the ongoing government shutdown a "very frustrating time for all of us," Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. issued a letter Thursday to U.S. Department of Justice employees to try to boost morale.
To keep employees informed, the Justice Department plans to update a special section on its website to include information about pay, ethics and other shutdown-related issues, Holder said in the letter.
The attorney general addressed both furloughed and non-furloughed employees, and reiterated "how important each and every one of you is to the Department of Justice's mission."
More than 1,000 Justice Department lawyers across the country were sent home without pay starting October 1, while those remaining at work will be paid when the government reopens. Government lawyers sought to put hundreds of civil cases on hold.
The Justice Department expected to furlough 17,742 employees, or about 15 percent of its workforce, according to a contingency plan.
"To those of you who are excepted from furlough, thank you for continuing to work through this difficult period, even though most of you are doing so on an 'IOU' basis," Holder wrote. "To those of you who are furloughed, I wish you were on the job furthering the mission of this great institution, instead of wondering when you will be able to return to work and if and when you will be paid.
"Please understand that I believe every Department employee, whether excepted or furloughed, is essential to ensure that justice is served on behalf of the American people," Holder said.