The Office of Personnel Management just changed the government’s status in the Washington area to “open with unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework.” This means that if you want to leave early to beat the snowbound traffic, you’ll have to take leave, or telework once you get home to make up for the hours you’ll miss in the office.
UPDATE: Details from OPM’s announcement are after the jump (and it bears repeating that this does not include emergency employees, and unscheduled leave or telework is only an option people can take if they choose):
Right on cue, Washington’s first actual snowfall of the season has arrived, a day after Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry outlined a new unscheduled teleworking option. The National Weather Service has a winter weather advisory in effect and is predicting 1 to 2 inches of snow.
(Yes, all you feds in South Dakota, I can hear you laughing from here.)
This could affect the afternoon rush hour, NWS said: “Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities, and use caution when driving.” What NWS leaves politely unsaid is that DC drivers are legendary for forgetting how to drive during the slightest bit of snow. (In that respect, at least, Washington truly is a Southern city.) So be careful out there — with a bit of caution, there’s no reason to fear driving in the snow, but you never know if the driver one lane over has lost his mind.
This is the kind of scenario in which Berry said unscheduled telework could help. If an eligible federal employee’s kid’s school closes early — for instance, Fairfax County, Va. schools will close two hours early today — he could leave the office, meet his child at home, and telework for the rest of the day. (Feds who are concerned about lousy snowbound traffic could also leave early to beat the rush and make up the rest of their hours at home, he said.)
What do you think, feds? Does unscheduled telework sound like a good plan to you? Are you seeing any snow at your office yet?
Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry yesterday officially downgraded the government’s estimates of its per-day losses during last month’s snowstorms. Instead of losing $102 million per day, Berry now says the government only lost $71 million per day. But there is reason to take those calculations with a grain of salt.
Berry first threw out the $102 million daily loss estimate during a December press conference on snow closure procedures. That was a rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation of the total daily payroll for all 270,000 federal employees in the Washington area, and assumed total losses in productivity.
That estimate was clearly too high. The government didn’t entirely shut down, even if the empty streets made it appear so. Emergency workers still had to show up – the National Weather Service, for example, rose to the occasion and worked around the clock. And there were some telework success stories at places like DISA and the Patent and Trademark Office.
However, quantifying the actual success of telework is much trickier.
The Blizzard of 2010 is over, but piles of snow are still clogging some lanes in Washington and worsening the region’s already-abysmal traffic congestion. And agencies need to use workplace flexibilities to help ease that gridlock, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said yesterday.
In a memo to chief human capital officers and other human resource officials, Berry said agencies should continue to use telework as much as possible to take people off the roads. Berry also suggested agencies use alternative work schedules, or if possible, adjust employees’ work hours to stagger their arrivals and departures throughout the day.
“Be creative in helping your employees adapt to these unusual conditions while still doing the work of the United States government,” Berry said.
Did you telework during the snowstorm last week? Federal Times would like to talk to you and hear how well it went. Were you able to do some or all of your work without any major bumps? Were there tech problems that kept you from getting anything done? Or did your agency’s or manager’s restrictions on telework completely take that option off the table?
And managers, what was your experience managing your staff remotely last week? Was teleworking worthwhile, or just window dressing?
E-mail me at email@example.com if you’d like to talk. If you’d prefer we not use your name, that’s fine.
All federal employees in Washington will have their first full workday in nearly two weeks tomorrow. The Office of Personnel Management announced this afternoon that government offices will open on time Wednesday, and without an unscheduled leave option. So if you haven’t dug your car out yet, now may be the time.
The Merit Systems Protection Board said today it will grant deadline extensions to people who couldn’t file documents on time because of recent blizzards and government closures in Washington and other areas. MSPB Chairwoman Susan Grundmann said anyone filing a late petition for appeal, petition for review, case-related documents, pleading or other submissions will have to include a statement explaining that the delay was due to poor weather, closure of a federal office, or lack of access to MSPB’s e-Appeal Online Web page.
That last part is important, because there were tens of thousands of people in the Washington area who were without power for days after the blizzard.
MSPB won’t automatically grant leniency, however. The clerk of the board and regional and field office judges will review the statements and “exercise discretion” when deciding to accept a delayed filing. “Normally, when MSPB receives a late filing that does not include an explanation for the delay, it issues a show cause order,” the MSPB statement said. Grundmann’s “announcement allows MSPB to accept and acknowledge findings without issuing show cause orders in appropriate cases.”
The Office of Personnel Management just announced the federal government will open under a two-hour delay on Friday. Anyone who can’t make it into work can take unscheduled leave.
If you get to work any more than two hours late, you’ll be charged annual leave or leave without pay for the additional period of absence. But if you take unscheduled leave, you’ll be charged leave for the entire day — you won’t get the same two hours’ grace period other feds will get.
If you telework or are an emergency employee, you’ve got to start working on time.
OPM Director John Berry also issued a statement this evening that stressed most of the government is still operating, and many Washington-area feds are getting their jobs done through teleworking. Full statement after the jump:
The federal government isn’t going to make Washington-area employees come in to work on Presidents Day, Feb. 15, to make up for the snow days this week. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry refuted that rumor in an online chat this morning hosted by the Washington Post.
Berry also said there will be no furloughs to cover the cost of the government shutdown.
The government has closed all four days so far this week, as well as a half day on Feb. 5. Berry said he is going to consult with the National Weather Service and local government officials at 6 p.m. today to decide if he’s going to make it a straight flush and close the government for the fifth day this week. But even if the government opens tomorrow, Berry confirmed that OPM will allow employees to take unscheduled leave if their neighborhoods are still snowed in.
The Office of Personnel Management announced the federal government will once again be closed tomorrow in Washington. This will be the second snow day in a row, and the third this winter. This screenshot at data.gov announcing the closure is apparently all that is left of OPM’s decimated Web site.
The National Weather Service is forecasting more snow — anywhere from 10 to 20 inches — beginning Tuesday afternoon. That forecast, combined with the still-lousy conditions on many roads in the Washington area, led OPM Director John Berry to close the government. OPM hasn’t yet made any decisions on Wednesday. But considering that tomorrow’s winter storm warning is scheduled to run through Wednesday evening, it’s not looking good.
EDIT: Hat tip to Ben Bowman, a producer at Chicago’s NBC5 and proprietor of Ben’s Breakfast Blog, who made this awesome Snowmageddon video last year: