The Office of Personnel Management released a memo last week reminding federal workers in the Washington, DC area to make sure they follow stated procedures when announcements are made about emergencies or special events that disrupt the normal workday.
Although no changes were made to the dismissal and closure procedures from last year, acting OPM director Beth Cobert said federal employees must follow dismissal procedures to maintain safety and productivity.
“In order to enhance safety and productivity, it is essential that covered Federal agencies and employees follow the Procedures for Government-wide emergencies or special events that create a disruption in the Washington metropolitan area,” wrote Cobert. “Following OPM’s operating status announcements and policies will allow for coordination with municipal and regional officials, and will reduce disruption of the highway and transit systems. This will both reduce traffic congestion and ensure that affected employees are treated as consistently as possible.”
For federal employees located outside of Washington, Cobert said they should follow procedures established by their agencies when events arise that disrupt the normal workday. Employees should always check their agency’s operating status which includes the agency’s procedures concerning telework, arrival and departure times, and leave requests.
Government offices in the DC area experienced several weather related closures last winter due to snow. OPM provides instructions to affected employees when these events occur.
Washington’s practice of closing offices due to snow is frequently controversial. Earlier this year, for example, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) called federal leaders in Washington “wimps” for closing offices due to snow. However, as the Washington Times noted, snow is a complicating factor for a city that is not well equipped to deal with it compared to other cities that receive regular snowfall throughout the winter.
The latest dismissal procedures from OPM can be found here: Washington, DC, Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures