Washington, DC - Today, during a briefing on dismissal and closure procedures for the federal government, U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director John Berry announced three new policies to promote the continuity of government, and to ensure the safety of federal employees and the general public. The new options are a direct result of lessons learned this past year and are expected to be used in only rare circumstances. Director Berry also emphasized the need for eligible employees to make sure their telework agreements are in place so they are prepared for any dismissal or closure.
The three new options include:
· Staggered Early Departure/with Final Departure Time - Federal employees should depart XX hours earlier than their normal departure times and may request unscheduled leave to depart prior to their staggered departure times. All employees must depart NO LATER than XX:XX.
· Shelter-in-Place - Federal offices in the Washington, DC, area are under shelter-in-place procedures.
· Immediate Departure - Federal employees should depart immediately.
"We take seriously both the safety of our employees and the continuity of the government during emergency situations," said OPM Director John Berry. "However, we learned new lessons from the various weather incidents this year. Whatever dismissal or closure decision we make, success depends on our shared responsibility to make the commute as smooth and safe as possible."
During the past year, the Washington, DC, metropolitan area experienced a late-afternoon snowstorm, a tropical storm that caused flooding in localized areas and a highly-unusual and significant earthquake. In addition to OPM's own review of these events, Director Berry asked Chief Human Capital Officers and representatives from national labor organizations, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and FEMA to reflect on lessons learned and to recommend steps to better position the federal government to respond to future events.
Director Berry discussed the resulting recommendations at the briefing, the new operating status definitions and how OPM decides what status to follow during emergency situations, including severe weather.
When emergencies arise, OPM keeps the public updated through TV, radio, print and social media.
To the maximum extent possible, OPM will continue to make dismissal and closure announcements prior to the beginning of the workday. This will not only reduce morning traffic, but also lessen the commuting burden later in the day if weather conditions deteriorate and OPM announces a staggered early departure.
For the 2011-2012 winter season, the National Weather Service projects a similar forecast to 2010-2011. They expect a drier than normal season, but a higher chance of mixed precipitation and icing events.
For more information on our Dismissal and Closure procedures please see: http://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/dismissal.pdf.