Although wide swaths of the Washington DC area remain powerless and sweltering after Friday night’s derecho storm, the federal government will be open tomorrow, the Office of Personnel Management just said.
However, non-emergency essential employees in the DC area will have the option of taking unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework if they choose, OPM said.
(But speaking for myself, I can’t imagine why anybody without power would want to stay home this week. Even the worst job sounds pretty good when outdoor temperatures are hovering near 100 and the office has AC.)
You can check Dominion Power’s work schedule here. If you’re without power, we hope you stay cool and hydrated. And remember, if you come up on a powerless traffic light, treat it like a four-way stop sign.
Federal employees in the Washington area will be able to take unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework Tuesday, the Office of Personnel Management just announced. Forecasters say Washington could get a “light wintry mix” tonight. That may not sound like a lot, but OPM seems to want to get way out in front of this storm. (Last week’s flash snowstorm and epic gridlock showed just how much havoc a little poor weather and lack of preparation can wreak on the capital.)
“Now is the time for managers and employees to discuss the possibility of working from home on Tuesday,” the notice said. OPM also said the government could have a delayed opening tomorrow, and that uncertain weather conditions could extend through Wednesday.
[UPDATE: The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang is forecasting a "double ice threat" between now and midday Wednesday.]
Chicago, on the other hand, is expected to get smacked beginning at noon tomorrow by a “life-threatening” blizzard (which may include 18-foot waves from Lake Michigan). The Chicago Federal Executive Board just told me that their Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee — a 12-member panel that includes leaders from OPM, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the General Services Administration — will meet at 4 p.m. CST today to decide whether to close the government or make any other operational status changes.
Feds in and around Chicago should monitor their FEB’s Operating Status page here as your storm develops.
And speaking of the government’s response to snowstorms, the Onion has the scoop on FEMA pre-positioning supplies for New Orleans:
Washington-area feds may want to get ready to telework on Thursday. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch that says snow could hit the nation’s capital, starting in the late afternoon Wednesday, and we could see five or more inches drop when all is said and done.
We won’t know until very early Thursday whether the snow will be enough to throw a wrench in the government’s operations. So it wouldn’t hurt feds who can telework to bring their laptop or a few files home Wednesday night just in case the Office of Personnel Management declares an unscheduled leave/unscheduled telework day.
OPM Director John Berry last month touted the new telework option as a way to keep the government operating as much as possible during moderately bad weather — for example, when some snowy roads are dangerous, but not snarled badly or widespread enough to warrant a complete government closure. The alternative for feds who can’t telework, but feel they can’t safely make it in to work, is to take a day of unscheduled leave. OPM’s already done this once this winter, and Berry said it worked out well.
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):