OPM Updates Weather Closure Procedures

OPM recently announced revisions to its bad weather policy statuses and procedures.

The Office of Personnel Management held its annual briefing on dismissal and closure procedures for the Washington, DC area ahead of the coming winter months in which it announced revisions to status messages as well as a new policy addition.

The previous “Federal Offices are Closed to the Public” status message has been changed to now say “Federal Offices are Closed – Emergency and Telework-Ready Employees Must Follow Their Agency’s Policies” based on feedback from agencies and employees during Hurricane Sandy.

A new policy addition instructs employees to stay off of the roads until a certain time when weather conditions are unsafe. This option was informally implemented last winter to help ensure employees’ safety when preparing to commute to work.

“The concern in deciding the operating status of federal offices in Washington, DC, is to ensure the safety and well-being of the federal workforce community during emergent events and continuity of operations while continuing critical services the American people depend on. As we saw last winter, it can be important to advise employees as early as possible to stay off the roads until it is expected to be safe,” said OPM Director John Berry. “We’re also counting on each of you, our employees, to proactively plan what each status will mean for your workday and commute. Take the opportunity now to review the status updates and speak to your supervisors about telework options and requirements. Do not wait for an emergency to find out what to do.”

Additionally, OPM reviewed the process for making dismissal decisions, and emphasized that the dismissal decisions are made in conjunction with many other partners in the region, including DC, Maryland and Virginia governments and WMATA. This collaboration ensures that Director Berry has all of the information necessary before announcing the status of the federal government in the National Capital Region.

The current dismissal and closure status options are:

  • Open
  • Open with option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework
  • Open – XX hour(s) delayed arrival – with option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework
  • Open – Delayed Arrival – Employees should remain off the roads until XX:XX. Federal offices will open to the public at YY:YY. Employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework
  • Open – XX Hour(s) staggered early departure
  • Open – XX Hour(s) staggered early departure – all employees must depart no later than XX:XX at which time federal offices are closed
  • Immediate Departure – federal offices are closed
  • Federal Offices are Closed – Emergency and telework-ready employees must follow their agency’s policies
  • Shelter-in-Place

OPM updates the public on status changes through television, radio, print and social media. As in previous years, to the maximum extent possible, OPM will continue to make dismissal and closure announcements prior to the beginning of the workday.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.