OPM Changes Snow Policies for Gov't Workers

Government Faced Criticism After Traffic From January Storm

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Government officials can't change the weather, but they are changing how they react to it -- in hopes of preventing another snow-related "carmageddon." (Published Friday, Dec 2, 2011)

    Staggered dismissal times of federal workers would include a "leave no later than" guideline under a new plan from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

    A January snowstorm now known as D.C.'s version of "carmageddon" led to hours-long commutes for some workers, and stranded others on roads.

    The federal government was criticized for letting out workers en masse during that event, and again after August's earthquake. Although the government has used staggered dismissal times in the past, OPM has now added new policies to ease the struggle.

    One is an end time frame ("leave no leaver than"), while another is an "immediate departure" order for non-essential workers.

    "It took me seven hours to get home," one employee said about January's storm. "...I didn't leave when they said we could; I stayed and worked, and that was a mistake."

    Another option would be not leaving at all, under a "shelter in place" provision for unexpected events. Workers would be given kits with water, food, a flashlight and more.

    Closure policies would still largely be based on on a 3 a.m. conference call, with a decision posted no later than 5 a.m.

    "The best thing we could do would be to not bring them into the city in the first place," said an OPM official.

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