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Cost to shut federal offices due to snow: $71 million a day

The cost of shuttering federal government offices for five days during this winter's historic back-to-back blizzards was an estimated $71 million a day.

The new estimate from John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management and the man responsible for making the decision to shut down government, came during a congressional hearing Tuesday that examined the response to the storm by the region's emergency management officials.

The figure Berry provided during a House subcommittee meeting chaired by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is smaller than the previous $100 million estimate, in part because of the growing number of federal employees who are able to work remotely.

Berry defended his closure decisions, saying: "I think we made the right decision each and every day. You're going to get flak no matter what you do."

-- Ann Marimow

By Washington Post Editors  |  March 23, 2010; 4:15 PM ET
Categories:  Ann E. Marimow , Budget , City Life  
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I'm not totally buying this. What is the cost if people come to work but no actual work is done because they are worrying about their house, their kids, their commute, or just staring out the window at it? Isn't that the alternative?

Posted by: didnik | March 23, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

While the federal government officially was closed, there were plenty of federal employees who unofficially worked remotely (via a home computer, Blackberry, etc.) to make sure that operations still continued smoothly. Cost estimates such as those above do not seem to take this into account -- justifiably so since it is likely very difficult to assess off-the-timesheet hours worked. Nevertheless, it might be interesting to analyze how many workers were logged into the system remotely and for how many hours. This could help show what tends to be an overly critical public the dedication of many federal employees!

Posted by: lemkee | March 23, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

But think of all the harassment to the public that it saved. That's got to be worth something.

Posted by: jy151310 | March 23, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

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