D.C. feds hunker down for another blizzard

Government readies emergency procedures as another snowstorm heads for Washington

Feds in the Washington, D.C., area will have their eyes on the skies as yet another big winter storm threatens the capital region.

According to a winter storm warning the National Weather Service posted on Feb. 4, Washington-area feds can expect to see anywhere from 16 to 24 inches of snow falling between 6 a.m. EST Friday and 10 p.m. EST Saturday. The weather is expected to deteriorate as the afternoon progresses on Friday, causing a near-certain rush-hour mess.

Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area will operate Friday under an unscheduled leave policy, which means employees who cannot report for work may request unscheduled leave for the day. Employees must tell their supervisors if they are taking unscheduled leave.

Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time.

DC snow day could be telework learning experience

Telework is throwing a new wrinkle into storm events now. Advocates of telework say that major snowfalls can serve as tests of telework policies. When OPM issued its order closing the government for Dec. 21, 2009, it specified that most employees would get paid leave. That's standard. However, this time OPM added that telework employees might have to work, depending on their individual telework agreements.

While most feds in the region could have their work schedule interrupted by the storm, dismissals and delays are of little import to others, such as emergency employees, who have to report to work anyway, and “mission-critical emergency employees,” who have to be ready to report during closures if needed. Other rules, varying by agency, govern the fate of teleworkers who typically report at telework sites.

Also — feds inside the Beltway may have different rules than those just outside the Beltway. According to OPM, facilities outside the Capital Beltway “may prefer to develop their own plans, since they are subject to different weather and traffic conditions.”

In this case, with the size of the storm, that may be less of an issue. But Washington-area feds, whether inside or outside the Beltway, should be able to find answers to any dismissal-related questions in a detailed 13-page guide, “Washington, DC Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures,” issued by OPM in November. The guide is available here.

And for a one-look status report, click here.

About the Author

Explore the latest federal employee news and get perspective on the sometimes funny, sometimes crazy, world of federal employment. The "Gov Career" blog is written for those in public service by Phil Piemonte, editor of Federal Employees News Digest.

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