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Back to work for the feds on Friday

By Ed O'Keefe


National Park Service employees David Looney and Ira Lonon dig out the Lincoln Monument on Thursday. (Linda Davidson/Post).

Washington area federal offices will open on Friday with a two-hour delayed arrival and with unscheduled leave policy in effect, following a week of record snow fall. Tomorrow's forecast calls for higher, yet chilly temperatures and high winds and sun.

The decision means Washington area federal offices will open and workers should plan to arrive no more than two hours later than normal. Employees who cannot report to work may take unscheduled leave and must inform their supervisors of the decision, the Office of Personnel Management said. Telework and emergency employees are expected to report for work on time.

Monday's President's Day holiday will also happen as scheduled despite this week's closings, OPM Director John Berry said earlier Thursday during a washingtonpost.com live chat.

In a statement sent earlier Thursday, Berry defended his decision to close federal offices for four straight days this week and said OPM will soon recalculate its estimate that a federal snow day costs taxpayers about $100 million in lost productivity.

"The decision to close government buildings in the National Capital Region has two components: first, the safety of our employees and the public," Berry said in the statement. "Second, maintaining government operations to the greatest extent possible. As director of OPM, this decision rests with me, and I will always accept responsibility for it."

Berry said that more than 87 percent of federal workers live and work beyond the District "and the vast majority of them are functioning normally," he said.

"We are still digging out from a blizzard of historic proportions, and some work has doubtless been delayed, but all the work will get done," Berry said. "Some buildings have been closed, but the people who do the work have been open for business. We've equipped many of them with tools like notebook computers, Blackberries, and secure Internet connections that allow them to work from almost anywhere."

But Berry also admitted that this week's reported wide use of teleworking options means OPM will need to recalculate its loss estimates.

"The new cost calculation will be one component of a larger assessment of lessons learned that we are already working on," he said.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 11, 2010; 6:52 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Next: Senate confirms 27 nominees after Obama threatens recess appointments

Comments

It sounds like it's safer out there. Let's give it a go!

Posted by: CBone | February 11, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Time for all of you tax dollar sucking leeches to get back to wasting our money.

Posted by: metroman76 | February 11, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I have a feeling this will be one of the biggest commuting nightmares we've ever had!

Not counting the innumerable amount of streets unplowed, Metro isn't fully operating yet - and will they still be single tracking w/ 24-30 minutes in between trains? I'm sure metro and the majority of parking lots are so full of snow they can't put anywhere that those who can get out won't have anywhere to park.

It's going to be ugly!

Posted by: kasdc | February 11, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

New York Times is reporting the the Fed's are closed tomorrow. WTF??

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/us/politics/12berry.html

Posted by: unix_md | February 11, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

As a Fed myself, I'm honestly ashamed the government shut down for 4 days this week. Luckily I have a laptop issued to me and have been able to keep up with the work.

Posted by: Chuckled | February 11, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

When nearly all of the Feds have remote access to work from home why were they given the free vacation days?

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | February 11, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

But it sounds like we won't know if the rails will actually be running till tomorrow....

Posted by: clarkjerome | February 11, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your thoughtful, intelligent contribution to this discussion, metroman76.

Posted by: DEFPOTEC1 | February 11, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Federal workers should have been at work all week. It might have been a good thing for some of our lazy federal employees to shovel snow and actually do some work.

Posted by: cctsbuddy | February 11, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Unscheduled leave policy is ridiculous. It's just a way of saying that it's not safe to go to work but we don't want to shut down for another day. What about those who have little or no leave and are forced to go into work under unsafe conditions? Either open or close, but get rid of this unscheduled leave policy.

Posted by: md150 | February 11, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

NYT has posted an article saying that Federal government is closed on Friday, proving yet again that NYT lives in alternative universe not inhabited by normal people.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 11, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Hey metroman you and your teabagging ilk are a leech and a drain on the entire US. Do everyone a favor: find a rope and the nearest tree. The IQ of the country will go up a few notches.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 11, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey cctsbuddy...how is Walmart treating your pathetic @ss? Are you all psyched up for this weekends teabagging orgy?

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 11, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Classy comment, metroman76. I'm sure it was appreciated by all of the federal law enforcement officers and U.S. military stationed in the DC area. Also by me and the other civil servants I work with, who have been working from home all week even though we've officially been on "admin leave." But please, keep enlightening us with your clever thoughts.

Posted by: swinglow99 | February 11, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

lol People like "metroman76" are funny. For some insane reason, they forgot that we actually pay taxes also. I'm assuming you didn't know that. You thought we went to work, and worked hard for unappreciative, blame the government for all my problems losers, for salaries, but that we don't pay taxes on those salaries. The NEW American way, "It's not my fault that anything is the way that it is, it's Washington's fault."

Posted by: nsu1203 | February 11, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Are all above-ground Metro stations expected to be open tomorrow morning?

Posted by: bdeco | February 11, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

NY Times article says the following about tomorrow: "Mr. Berry decided Thursday evening to allow government workers to come in two hours late or take unscheduled leave on Friday."

Posted by: mnwillett1 | February 11, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Freeloading
Every
Day

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | February 11, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Don't feed the trolls!!! If you don't give them fuel for their fire, they'll eventually grow bored and disappear.

Posted by: kasdc | February 11, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

The WMATA website is down. Any word on Orange line above-ground trains? I see Green line and Red line, but no Orange line. If the Orange and Blue lines' above-ground stations aren't open in time for the late opening, uh oh.

Posted by: DEFPOTEC1 | February 11, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

@mnwillett1 That is hilarious! I read the same article at 6:45 and it said that he decided to close on Friday. Hmm... I guess he buckled under the pressure.

Posted by: kasdc | February 11, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

The teabaggers swarm to these articles like flies to sh!t...

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 11, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Well, they certainly edited that NYT article quickly.

I look forward to returning to the workplace tomorrow. The IT infrastructure at my Department couldn't handle the telework demand and I haven't been able to accomplish much of what I had hoped for. It will be a commuting challenge for sure, but I will be up and out at 0 dark 30 to not add to the chaos!

Posted by: JOKR715 | February 11, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

As a 25-year Naval officer, with over 12 years at sea deployed to every corner of the world, and now currently stationed at the Pentagon, I take offense to being called a "lazy government worker". I've done some dangerous things in my life, but never as dangerous as trying to drive in this weather. I'm thankful that OPM considers safety first.

Posted by: perrysub | February 11, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the NYT changed the article after posting it. That is amazing, I have a before and after shot of the same article on two different tabs of my browser one saying closed and one saying open. No retraction or correction mentioned. Nice ethics NYT.

Posted by: unix_md | February 11, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

@PowerBoater69, while telecommuting is an option for many, the majority of the federal workforce does not have the IT infrastructure at home to get access to the files and systems needed to work. Many of us can bring home files, access email and use our personal computers to work on things, but because of security constraints and lack of funding to provide dedicated computers for our use at home (some agency policies prohibit using personal computers for government work), many employees cannot fully access the systems we need to work. What these storms will hopefully do is convince agency officials and managers that we need better telecommuting policies, procedures and IT systems so that many of us can continue to work in these situations. I, for one, have the technology I need with me, and have been working and plan to put in a full day of work at home tomorrow.

Posted by: sophiamaria | February 11, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

The 95% of federal workers who are lazy and worthless make a bad name for the rest of them.

Posted by: member8 | February 11, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Just to clear something up, teleworkers are NOT granted leave for the 4 days this week. It (the closing) only applied to people who have to show up for work at offices around DC. That being said, I was able to drive around perfectly fine on both Monday, Tuesdays and today, so I don't know why the government was closed.

Posted by: Chuckled | February 11, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Hurray! I am definitely ready to go back.

Posted by: kateg1 | February 11, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

metroman76, I will be proud of my country the day my country engages in the practice of tracing your posts and having people like you thrown in the gulag just like it used to be done in the former Soviet Union. You do more to violate the constitutional rights of the rest of us just like the way the former Soviet Union did to its dissidents.

Posted by: andycyber | February 11, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

member8, government workers, whether they be federal, state, county or municipal, don't give a crap what you think. They don't owe idiots like you anything. Government workers have to make a living, just like non-government workers. They are no less human than people like you. Only people like you have such a chauvinistic attitude towards government workers. People like myself should not have to work in the private sector to appease morons like you.

Posted by: andycyber | February 11, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Too bad metro's web site has crashed tonight. Hopefully its trains and buses will not be doing the same.

Posted by: qwert4 | February 11, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Did I not see that metro is not running trains above ground north of Medical Center (out to Shady Grove)? So not all the rails have been cleared. I'll be working from home myself.

Posted by: tonia0803 | February 11, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm more than ready to go back to work, but I don't think the roads are. Most non major routes are down to 1 lane, some not even that. And, many side streets aren't even plowed. On Columbia Pike in Arlington, it's 1 1/4-1/2 lanes all the way. None of the bus stops are cleared, so it should be fun waiting behind the buses and all Friday. But, I guess the folks at OPM will just have to see the CF Friday to find out. Best bet would have been to remain closed thru the holiday and clear all the roads off.

Posted by: ideabook | February 11, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks the roads and rails are clear is brain dead. Our local roads have not been plowed since the first blizzard, the snow is simply ground down by vehicles and pedestrians. Metro says trains are runing every 30 minutes. Does that sound like normal service???? The bus stops are totall blocked by snow; commuters will have to stand in Georgia Avenue. Does that sound safe? OPM is a pathetic, moronic entity that could not bear to admit that it and the regional governments, and Metro, are incapable of providing the snow clearing services that are found in EVERY other major city of the western world. Who ever heard of a metro system that was designed to collapse when there is more than 8 inches of snow? Requiring Feds to work tomorrow is: dangerous; stupid; counter-productive.

Posted by: NotOvertheHill | February 11, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

To my knowledge, the Fed gov has not been closed for weather related reasons for at least 6 years in the DC area...until this winter.

Posted by: Digitalman08 | February 11, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

If you can't make it to work safely, then take leave. What am I missing?

Posted by: Axel2 | February 11, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

The nature of the jobs at our agency don't permit teleworking. So I was unable to do any work at home.

But I have a 35 mile commute each way. I'm usually out by 6:15 am and on the road to arrive by 7:30 if traffic isn't too bad. I normally don't leave until 6:00 pm arriving home about 7:00 again, if traffic isn't too bad. There are no public transportation options to where I work. The things I support contribute to keeping us safe.

I'm a lot of things but lazy isn't one of them.

Posted by: seriouslywondering | February 11, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I would not worry too much about comments from people like metroman76. They usually are just pathetic souls who have accomplished nothing with their own miserable lives. No need to be concerned about the opinions of gutless hacks who act big behind the curtain of anonymity afforded to them by the internet.

Posted by: dlpetersdc | February 11, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

andycyber, et al, if you don't give a crap what regulat Americans think, why do you freak out and respond?

Wimps.

Posted by: member8 | February 11, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Member8...our resident teabagger comes out of the caves to troll here. Since when did trailer parks have internet access? And since when did you learn how to operate a PC?

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 11, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Friday Metro service info: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/getthere/2010/02/metro_to_expand_service_on_fri.html

Posted by: bmp246 | February 11, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

The Orange Line is stopping at Ballston, and the Red Line is stopping at Medical Center. There leaves out a big portion of the federal workforce. Too bad there's no parking at Medical Center - people will have to drive to Bethesda station if they want to take Metro from that end. It's going to be a mess out there, and that's why I'm working from home!

• Red Line limited service: Medical Center to Glenmont
• Orange Line limited service: Ballston to New Carrollton
• Blue Line all stations open: Franconia-Springfield to Largo Town Center
• Green Line all stations open: Greenbelt to Branch Avenue
• Yellow Line all stations open: Huntington to Fort Totten

Posted by: sophiamaria | February 11, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree with md150. Unscheduled leave makes 2nd-class citizens out of new employees. Long-time employees (who in some cases just carried over the maximum allowable amount of annual leave) will not be out risking their lives tomorrow. I am new, and I will.

Posted by: blueeyedrose | February 11, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

in case nobody cared to check, Frederick County is still under a local state of emergency. It's unlawful to operate a motor vehicle on city or county roads until the emergency is lifted.

Posted by: bobiv | February 11, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I'd have been happy to telework this week, but was unable to do so because taxpayers won't spring for laptops. Yes, that's right... our budget does not include laptops and the necessary IT infrastructure to suppose widespread telework.

If you're bothered that Federal workers weren't working this week, then let your Reps know that you want laptops and other IT support services added to the budgets of all agencies.

If you're not willing to fund actual equipment for Feds to do real work, you can't complain when they have a week off.

Oh, and for the record, I know many Feds that work 60-80 hour weeks every week. I took a huge pay cut from my private sector job and I work just as hard as I did there. So, before you attack every Fed as being worthless or lazy, or doing work that's not important to you, actually meet with some real Federal workers, see what they do, and how they do it. You'd be surprised at how hard we're working. For you.

Posted by: jay_em_gee | February 11, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Member8 you are no regular american. More like a deranged lunatic.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 11, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I've been out and about throughout the storm. As of now, the state of the roads ranges from totally clear to impassable without 4WD. Many roads downtown are plowed single lane only. For this reason, the Fed gov should give it a rest and come back Tuesday.

Posted by: Digitalman08 | February 11, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I smell fear.

Your time is coming.

Brown people will murder you back.

Posted by: member8 | February 11, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the decision to open tomorrow is dangerous. The streets are nowhere near safe enough to handle rush-hour traffic. Sidewalks are not adequately cleared, meaning people have to walk and wait for buses in the street or attempt to trudge through 5 feet snow drifts. This is a poor decision by OPM; the conditions are not any better than they were Monday and it seems the decision was made without real consideration for public safety. I only hope it doesn't result in the loss of lives.

Posted by: dc121 | February 11, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm an ex-fed, who served in the military and worked as a civilian here in DC for a few years. When we had the occasional snow day I enjoyed it just as everyone else did.

Still, this has really gotten ridiculous.

Grant people liberal leave? Absolutely. We don't want people doing unsafe things to get to work.

But as for all these people who work in DC and *choose* to live far outside the city, and now complain that it's hard to commute in... well, they made their choices. They wanted a less urban environment, or a bigger house. They wanted the good pay and near-100% job security of a career with the federal government.

Fair enough, but they should live with the occasional consequences.

The rest of us shouldn't have to subsidize them, to the tune of $100 million a day.

Posted by: willm2 | February 11, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I am one of the so called lazy, do nothing leech of a government worker. I SERVED 21 years in the Air Force, I currently SERVE as a civil Servant. I like most of the civil service workforce take pride in the hard work we do. I come in early, I stay late, I even work from home. I also pay taxes. I take pride in what I do, so do most of my coworkers. I am so sorry that you cannot take pride in what you do. I am not political, so I don't care who you vote for. Please don't make accusations that you know nothing about. Remember what comes around goes around. One day you will need something from a Government Worker, and I am sure that they will greet you and treat you with respect that you do not show. I feel very sorry for you.

Posted by: riichie | February 11, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Just to make sure--in my comment I'm not suggesting federal workers are lazy. Metroman76 or whatever he called himself here is definitely not someone I want to associate with.

In my experience there are some who are lazy of course, but most are very smart, dedicated, capable people.

Posted by: willm2 | February 11, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Actually feds who work from their homes had to work this week. That includes a lot of field employees for many agencies. Bosses and all the other important management and national office types got the week off while for those employees who are field employees and work from home it was business as usual. So yes the lazy desk bound crew got a break again. They should have been trucked in and made to shovel or do something to earn their keep. But they will all get their superior performance awards for dedicated service. I wonder how many of them got out of town early and went somewhere warm without having to take leave.

Posted by: cctsbuddy | February 11, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

I am a fed. Where we work, it does not matter we take the days off or not. The work needs to be done, and we are responsible for it even if hell freezes over!

Posted by: infrequentposter | February 11, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

DC won't permit the density required to hold the population of a normal city. People don't live in the so-called suburbs because they like being far away, they live there because there is no alternative.

But they're bureacrats, so they must be living there due to stupidity.

Posted by: member8 | February 11, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

OPM is just caving into political pressure from idiots outside the beltway who don't understand how ill prepared and ill equiped DC is to handle snow. I wonder, how is OPM expecting people to get to work when Metro is not operational and the streets and sidewalks are not safe? By making people go back to work now, the snow removal process (if anyone is still doing it) will only be hindered. Good going OPM, you got it right for 4 days, thank you for your utter lack of concern for people's saftey and well being for the 5th.

Posted by: emily_v66 | February 11, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

If the government is open, then the daycare at my federal agency is open. I go to work, and the kids go downstairs to daycare. When the government closes, then so does the daycare. I'm out $130 a day in daycare. I stay home, so do the kids, and I can monitor email and make some phone calls. Sustained work has to wait til after rodeoing the kids to bed. On a slightly different angle, and noting the $100 million loss for every snow day, can I make a suggestion? How about buying snow plows commensurate with the need demonstrated by the snow days over the last 10 years?

Posted by: Prairie75 | February 11, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like f4ck you to feds who have to live in the suburbs.

Posted by: member8 | February 11, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

In my federal office, only the managers have laptops, blackberries, and secure internet connections. The remaining 90% of the office has desktop computers and are not allowed to telework. I don't have heat to my house, the repairmen can't make it down my street, and we had to hike out of the neighborhood to stay with family out of town. And I live in Fairfax County! And I somehow have to make it to work tomorrow?

Posted by: highlander12 | February 11, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

powerboater69, it's not true that "nearly all" federal employees have random access to their work. There's a long security procedure involved and only a certain amount of approved and cleared equipment is available for use. My office has requested permission to get telework status many times and always been turned down because of the extended hassle and expense involved.

Posted by: angelcat | February 11, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a federal employee but I get sick of hearing people slam all federal employees as lazy. I know that many, if not most work, very hard and are dedicated to public service. Most people in private employment wouldn't even qualify for most government jobs and would be overwhelmed by the work if they had the opportunity.

Posted by: PepperDr | February 11, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Our suburban street has not been plowed yet at all, and it took 7 of us with shovels to make 2 blocks passable enough for SUVs and emergency vehicles. (We're a mile from the main road.) I still can't get out. I tried this afternoon and got very stuck. I am now parked halfway down the street at a neighbor's house, and it took a group of us 2 hours to get it half a block. The busses aren't running, let alone the metro from Springfield, which is 6 miles away. Call us lazy if you want, but there is no way we can make it in tomorrow....

Posted by: momof3g | February 11, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

---agh, sorry. Meant remote access, not random.

Posted by: angelcat | February 11, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I for one realize that the Government is full of fine people who do the best job that they can and expect no thanks for what they do. I also realize that process and policy has a way of tying up requests for service which leads to the impression that it must be the employees themselves that are responsible for the feedback and response we generally receive. For when each question is met with a form or a redirect perceptions build. And then, when we are met with publicized cases of waste and neglect for the matters of state, such as Passport delays and FEMA ineffectiveness in the face of national disasters, our perception is justified through the results of the actions of those who are working hard to do their job. It's a tough arrangement we all have. So I say take Friday off, enjoy the break. Then, as I have been told, Work hard and Pray, for it's all we have left. 'nough said.

Posted by: jralger | February 11, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Berry said in today's chat that people could e-mail him directly. I wonder if his inbox is full yet...Echoing some of the comments above, I don't mind having to go to work; I mind the commute, which is going to be ridiculous thanks to treacherous roads and a less-than-fully operational Metro/local transportation systems.

Posted by: MHontheMall | February 11, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Im taking off tomorrow.

No need for me to go back until Tuesday, what I got to work on can wait 5 more days

Posted by: K2007 | February 11, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Since the above-ground Orange Line Metro stations will be closed, thousands of people will not have a way to get to work tomorrow. I think OPM made this decision purely as a PR move, because many federal workers are on the compressed work schedule with Fridays off anyway.

Posted by: Restonmom | February 11, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Let Friday, February 12, 2010, go down in history as the official day that the federal government will work! --Let the record show, that no one has any idea why it has not been working for the last few decades.

I suppose, better late, than never.

Debra...
Informing Christians

Posted by: DebraJMSmith | February 11, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm a fed worker who lives in Fairfax near Chantilly. I drive to Vienna metro and park to get into the District. If SophiaMaria is right (and I have no way to confirm because it appears the wmata.com is overwhelmed right now and I can't get on), I am left with only 2 options: 1.wait until after HOV restrictions are lifted and drive into the District and hope for parking and then leave before the HOV starts for the evening rush back or 2. Do the same but drive to Ballston and try to find parking somewhere in Arlington (which I don't think exists, especially with all the snow). Other suggestions?? I'd really like to go in to work, but I'm not sure how. Maybe metro will get things cleared overnight? Anyone think that's likely?

Posted by: VAmax | February 11, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't drive, I have to take a bus. Metro had 47 routes up running today(not the one I use) Metro has 319 routes, according to a .pdf on there website. The low tonight is suppose to be 22 in Bowie. If you think Metro will have all the routes running tomorrow.. Before this last snow storm, my bus stop had at least 18 in. on it, andthe lane next to it was also full of snow. I for one won't even try to go to work.

Posted by: minerdude | February 11, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Just in time to pick up their paycheck for a hard weeks work ???

BTW: I wonder how many of the NO votes on the Survey were from Govt. workers ???

Posted by: thgirbla | February 11, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

We live in Rockville, and my office is by Union Station. I normally commute by MARC, but the Brunswick line will not be operating tomorrow. Metro also will not be open to Rockville. How does OMB expect me to get to work? Because MARC was operating on Wednesday, I could have worked that day. However, expecting us to get to work with no public transportation is totally unreasonable.

Posted by: AFisherADS | February 11, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Heckova Job Berry!

Posted by: member8 | February 11, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

send those wimp government workers back to work, good grief, how long do they think they can make this excuse last. On second thought, looks like things are running just fine without them, maybe they should just look for other jobs.

Posted by: rcr1 | February 11, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I just checked the metro website and the orange line is still only running underground from RFK (every 30-40 minutes??)

John should have been a man and made a decision solely based on the safety of federal employees and the public. Too bad for both groups. No worries... the federal employees will still be headed out at 6:00 to make it to work by 9:00, two hours late, looking for parking spaces in DC by our office buildings or close to an underground metro. Of course they will also be slowing down snow plows attempting to plow out streets and emergency vehicles responding to calls.

Don't worry about the federal employees injured in accidents or members of the public who may suffer personal or property loss because of his politically motivated decision. He will be able to smile in front of Congress to sell his story of how much money he artificially "saved" the taxpayer at the cost to federal employees and DC residents.

Good job John!

Posted by: crlyq | February 11, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

It's a budget shell game. Being told to go back to work tomorrow is one of the government's strategic cost-shifting budgeting. They got hammered for cost of the days they closed, and now, by calling tomorrow a workday, but allowing workers to take unscheduled leave, they cost-shift the financial burden of lost productivity to workers who understand it's still not safe to go to work.

Part of our public/private partnership...we lazy public employees helping subsidize the public cost of these snowstorms...and still we get no respect from the likes of the trolls who love to insult government workers...sigh...

Posted by: las100 | February 11, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Among the asinine aspects of this is that the government has to come up with a single policy for everyone in the DC area. It is relatively routine that storms hit hard on one side of town but not the other. For whatever reason, they are incapable of telling people unable of getting in that they are excused for the day while telling others that they still have to come in. As for tomorrow, if you live in northern Montgomery County and use public transportation to commute, you are screwed out of a day's annual leave. I live in Gaithersburg -- MARC won't be running, the Red Line will stop at Medical Center, and there is no effective bus service between Gaithersburg and Bethesda. I have a car but have nowhere to park it downtown. Thus, for circumstances out of my control I'm forced to burn up a day of annual leave. Yeah, I know it's better than LWOP, but it still is offensive.

Posted by: reader178 | February 11, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I find it funny that the same people that blame us federal workers for everything that is wrong in the world today are the same ones that complain when we aren't at work?

Agree with the posters that are new feds...I'm not new, but having been at home for 4 days, I'm not itching to burn vacation time just to avoid being at work for 6 hours.

Posted by: natsfan76 | February 11, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

It isn't a matter of who should go to work, its a matter of who should get paid to stay at home. Liberal leave is perfect. You stay safe at home, but don't get paid while doing so.

Posted by: JaredBSmith | February 11, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

@crlyq - I'm not sure where your expectation that commuting has to be perfect in order to open the government comes from. I would love to stay home, but in my county, most of the community roads are 'passable.' I understand there are some people whose road still isn't passable. Just because Joe Fed in Rockville hasn't had his street plowed doesn't mean the government should be shut down for the day.

I don't disagree with the decisions for any day this week. I think John Berry has done a fantastic job. In the past, we wouldn't be hearing about the status for tomorrow until we woke up tomorrow morning.

Posted by: natsfan76 | February 11, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

If someone is dispensable fire them, if someone is indispensable keep them; the govmt is like a soap opera while you're on vacation; when you come back it's the same as when you left it

Posted by: houston123 | February 11, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

This snow has been a real hardship on federal employees who have been shut up in their houses since Friday afternoon.

But, I don't see what one more day to stay home would have hurt. My guess is that more federal employees will be out tomorrow than in.

Posted by: millerroberta | February 11, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

The population of DC is 400,000 people; the federal government employs at least 200,000 people in the DC area, not to mention all of the private companies that do government contract work. There is simply not enough housing in DC for all of the people who work here. Many of us live on the Metro, inside the Beltway, and can't do much if the roads are unplowed and the trains aren't running above-ground. Yes, some live in the boonies for the sake of low taxes and more space, but the fact that they choose to spend their *personal* time driving to and from work should be nobody's business but their own.

After the 1996 blizzard the feds were closed for 11 days before it was safe to return, and by all (official and unofficial) counts this is much worse.

Posted by: NML_dc | February 11, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

@PowerBoater69: When nearly all of the Feds have remote access to work from home why were they given the free vacation days?

>>>>
I'm not even a Fed, but can tell you this has been anything but a vacation, and like most Feds, I was tied down to a computer and VPN through the whole thing. Trust me when I say I can't WAIT to get back in the office! These were anything but 'snow days' in the classic sense of being able to enjoy the snow.

Posted by: ArlingtonMiller | February 11, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

@crlyq - I'm not sure where your expectation that commuting has to be perfect in order to open the government comes from.

_____________
My only expectation was that he truly meant that the safety of federal employees and the public came first. Why is your expectation less than what John publicly stated?

Commuting to DC every day is never perfect; not do I expect it to be. But as a relative of a DC EMT (also disheartened by the political motivation of his decision) it's clear that the safety federal employees and DC residents still living unplowed streets were not at the "forefront" of his decision. Again, too bad for both groups. I guess we should all lower our expectations.

Posted by: crlyq | February 11, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if the S1 (bus) is running tomorrow? The metro website has been down for awhile and is still not back up...I know the S2/S4 is running, but in the interests of not having to hike 15 in. from Foggy Bottom in the slush, I'd prefer to take the S1 as usual...? Thanks!

Posted by: Eleiana | February 11, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

pointless having the gov't open tomorrow... all those 'hardworking' federal employees will be talking about how bad the weather was and whine about their commute and will be planning on leaving early... lazy turds.

Posted by: joethefarmer | February 11, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

My car has been buried not once but twice by snowplows, I've been shoveling like everyone else the 40+ inches of snow in Howard County (which by the way has NO/limited bus service and NO MARC train service near me tomorrow) and frankly I'm exhausted and frustrated...my neighborhood streets are still under at least a half foot of snow. Unless I walk to DC tomorrow, work will have to wait until Tuesday.

Posted by: PMSJL1 | February 11, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Willm2, I think you make an excellent point on the upside of urban living. However, this argument would be remiss without also highlighting the abysmal state of the infrastructure of transportation in the metro area. Metro DC needs to have an adequate public transportation system. DC is an expensive city, and for new employees, it just is not possible to afford living in the city.
The average daily commute for this area is one of the worst in the nation. Do not blame the workers, blame the poor system they are a part of. Add the worst weather that the region has seen in a century?? What was the other option? To the few employees who could "drive", just deal with the unplowed roads? waste their time and money getting stuck en route to work? Not to mention the safety risk! Then there are the people who are stranded due to metro closings...

To the people who think the area needs to designate the funding for resources to handle this better annually: Look at the average snowfall for this area, it would be fiscally irresponsible to set money aside for the snow that will not fall in this volume again every year.

ALL non-essential workers were encouraged to stay off the roads this week to allow for snow removal efforts to operate without disruption. Roads are overcrowded during summertime, I can only imagine how crowded they will be with snowdrifts taking up entire lanes designated for traffic for tomorrows commute. If we have a public transportation system that works and actually serves the metropolitan areas needs, then we wont run into this issue again!

Posted by: fishyfishy | February 11, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Somebody e-mail these comments to John Berry.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 11, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Ignore the trolls,everyone. LOL.

For anyone who's interested, I was finally able to access the metro site on my phone (still down on my computer), as of right now these are metro's service plans for tomorrow:

Red Line: Medical Center to Glenmont
Orange Line: Ballston to New Carrolton
Blue Line: All stations open
Green Line: All stations open
Yellow Line: All stations open

Trains will operate only @ 20 to 25 minute intervals, though.

Buses: the following bus routes will be running, though only on snow emergency routes:

DC: 31, 32, 86, 34, 52, 54, 64, 70, 71, 79, 80, 82, P6, S4, U8, X2, V7

MD: J2, P12 (will bypass United Medical Center), Q2, Y5, Y7, Y8, Z8, Z9

VA: 1C, 2C, 16 line, 28A (will bypass Seven Corners and Southern Towers)

Posted by: Eleiana | February 11, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

The bashing of Federal employees in this comment string is unfair and uncalled for. They are a convenient target but not the main cause of the government's ineffectiveness and waste. I know this from decades of data collection. The civil service, yes, has its share of losers, but the percentage is similar in private industry, as well (to be sure) in universities and other nonprofit entities. The problem is, we all pay directly for the Federal government's ineffectiveness. Think of that next time you vote.

Posted by: axolotl | February 11, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Very few people are actually "bashing" federal workers here. A few are, but they're just being trolls, stirring up the pot and getting you all riled. Everyone needs to quit falling for it.

Someone above said this is a burden-shifting game. That's entirely accurate, and it's entirely fair and legitimate.

If you live outside the city and can't get to work safely or reasonably tomorrow, you should take leave. It's a liberal leave policy; that's the point.

But that doesn't mean the entire government should shut down because you *chose* to live in Frederick, or Chantilly, or Gaithersburg, or Sterling or wherever, despite the fact that your job is at Metro Center.

As for people saying that it's impossible to live in DC on a federal salary, that's silly and kind of insulting. I was a fed for four years. I started at entry level for someone with a graduate degree in my agency. I still live in the same DC neighborhood I did then-albeit I'm in a nicer house, since I left the government and make a lot more money now.

There is a TON of affordable housing in DC, and tons of vacant land. It's just that people think they're entitled to a 4 BR home on a half-acre lot in Chevy Chase or Georgetown. Or else, maybe think they're entitled to pay lower taxes or whatever. Or frankly, in a minority of cases, they don't just don't want to live in a majority black city. (There, I said it. We all know it; I said it.)

Once again---I don't begrudge you if you want to live way out in the 'burbs because you want that kind of lifestyle. It's a free country, and there are times when it's appealing even to a committed urbanite. But it's silly to think that the rest of us should subsidize you when you want a free day off because the roads are bad or metro isn't running. Stay home by all means. Just take annual leave for it.

I'll quit posting now, because frankly all the feds reading this should be getting to bed so they can get up in time for work tomorrow! I respect feds; I just wish more of the people posting here would show some respect for themselves.

Posted by: willm2 | February 11, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Cry to your Senator, Congressperson and President. Gov. employees Work.
This country works hard but yet many in the country and the country are Broke.
So much for Hard Work!
That's gov and private :)

Posted by: SOLVBACK | February 11, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

That's the whole issue here: the poor state of snow removal plans by local governments. Our ability to return to work is only as good as their ability to clearn roads, Metro and bus stops. This isn't an issue about fed workers, and how it became that here just shows how people blame us for everything. It's not our fault that the roads aren't plowed well. Again, OPM made a bad call here. They should have waited until Tuesday.

Posted by: ideabook | February 11, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, due to the lack of bus service tomorrow, I will be walking to the Metro and I can only hope the sidewalks have been somewhat shoveled, as I really don't feel like being out on the street in rush hour traffic. I wonder how John Barry gets to work...

Posted by: Meg827 | February 11, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

OK, I couldn't stay away: It is in fact "your" fault, indirectly, if you choose to live outside the city. You pay no taxes in DC, nothing to help the city do things like clear the roads. Then you complain that the roads aren't clear, or metro isn't running. (My favorite is to read the people whining here that if they drove into the city WHERE THEY WORK they'd have to pay for parking. No kidding. This is a CITY. Parking is at a premium.)

But again, you're entitled to feel that way, you're just not entitled to more cost-free days off. You can have days off; just take leave so that it's on your dime, not the taxpayer's.

Oh, as for the person above saying she was "screwed" out of annual leave. You're not being "screwed" out of anything. This is what annual leave is for. You need a day off because you can't get to work? Take a day of leave.

I certainly don't let my employees simply take days off at my expense if they choose to live somewhere far away from where they work. That's just goofy.

Besides, you should be in bed, you have work tomorrow.

Posted by: willm2 | February 11, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I just want to thank everyone who works for the government, did work for the government, is in the military, civil servant, etc. I am honored every time I meet one of you, or consider you one of my friends. I also think everyone involved in the recent snowescapade did an amazing job...who was prepared for something like this? Great job given the circumstances.

I think people need to just relax and reflect on the once in a century opportunity to have an excuse to just "hang." I do feel badly for those without power or heat and my prayers are going out to you.

Try to enjoy the beauty out there, think of the glass half full (things could be SO MUCH worse), and focus on bettering someone else's day rather than griping on your own.

All the best to all of you!

Posted by: sara5209 | February 11, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I sent this in as a letter to editor so as it was not "selected" I guess I can voice it here.
I often wonder how they come up with the one million dollar cost for a day off (days off recently). However, be it as it may, if the $1 million is valid, I had a 1 million dollar suggestion. OPM instead of "allowing" Monday's holiday to stand, it should have issued statement that as the holiday is a "Movable Holiday Event" (i.e., it varies as to date unlike, say, Thanksgiving) the day observed (and off)should be Friday and Monday, a work day. was shifted to Friday instead of Monday. A Sensible alternative as by Monday it would be better, for roads could continue to be cleared.
The Friday day of work for govt workers as planned? It'll be a chaotic situation unless many of them are smart enough to stay home. Good luck!

Posted by: what4gives | February 11, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I've posted this question for four days now and have not received a satisfactory reply...
We hear from all the Feds how dangerous it is to get to work and because that's case they shouldn't be required to go to work. Safety first, right? However, I don't hear the Feds demanding that other, non-Fed-empoyees, who also are "risking their lives" driving to work should be allowed to stay at home and have their salary paid by the American taxpayer. It has nothing to do with safety or federal employment at all. My question is, Why should Federal employees who can't get to work be given a paid day off when equally disadvantaged workers (CVS, Safeway, Golds Gym, movie theaters, etc etc) either take leave or go without pay???

PS: Yesterday at the gym at lunch when it is generally pretty empty it was a full of fed employees who were unable to get to work.

Posted by: danlarson | February 11, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Someone posted above that the boonie dwellers choose to spend their personal time driving the extra distance. Hardly. I have worked at many agencies around this city and these types are out the door at 1:30-2:00 pm everyday regardless of what may be going on. They might come in early but all they are usually doing is eating their breakfast at their desk and surfing the damn internet. They also make constant snide remarks about people "coming in so late" because some of us live close and work a normal 9-5 type schedule and handle the work they are not around to do in the afternoon.

Posted by: dcvtss | February 11, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

All of the above-ground Red Line Metro stations in the direction of Shady Grove are scheduled to be closed on Friday. The MARC Brunswick line is also scheduled to be closed. The only way people can commute from the Rockville, Gaithersburg and Germantown areas is to drive downtown.

I can and will telecommute, so this does not affect me. But one questions the wisdom of shutting down for four days in the first place if workers ability to commute was irrelevant to the decision.

Posted by: Tenmile1 | February 11, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

It's sad that some of you think we're tax leeches. Having just returned from Afghanistan, that sort of hurts.

Either way, I have to question OPM's decision for several reasons.

1. Most neighborhood roads aren't plowed (mine included). My car and several others are stuck and cannot move. I've pushed out 11 cars in the last 3 days.

2. Much of the metro--including the majority of large commuter-lot above-ground stations--is still closed. How will far-away commuters come into the city?

3. The initial snow fell on the weekend when NO cars were in the spots in DC. Moreover, parking lots weren't the snow-plow priority.

The combination of these three: stuck cars in unplowed neighborhoods, limited metro, and limited parking spaces in the city makes me think tomorrow's commute will be unbelievable.

I, for one, have a stuck car and my closest metro is closed. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do...

Posted by: ethan2 | February 11, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

What about Pentagon or Patent Office employees, or employees in satellite branches?? Those account for a large number of federal employees who do NOT work in DC. This is a metro issue.

This should be a wake-up call for the feds to be able to allow more employees to telecommute, and to taxpayers to let us be able to afford to. Go ahead and present all your arguments for ineffective spending done in the past. Bad decisions have been made with tax dollars but thats not an excuse not to rally behind a worthwhile investment so this does not have to happen again.

Posted by: fishyfishy | February 11, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

The federal government needs to create "telework SCIFs". If a bureaucrat can't make it into the Pentagon, they need to bring the Pentagon to the bureaucrat.

Posted by: reston75 | February 11, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Some of the posts are interesting.
Bottom line, the transportation system isnt ready to handle the workforce. That's pretty obvious to everyone. Even if you could easily get around, there are other parts of the system that are clearly experiencing troubles. I am not sure it's responsible to open the Federal Government.
This discussion should be held at a higher intellectual level. I would speak sternly to my kids if they posted content similar to what I've seen here. The governments of other countries probably download these posts and use them as an example of "American Idiocy".

Posted by: jleoxii13 | February 11, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

The population of DC is 400,000 people; the federal government employs at least 200,000 people in the DC area, not to mention all of the private companies that do government contract work.
---------------------------------------------

Wrong. According to the US Census Bureau DC has a population of 599,657. It had 572,059 people in 2000 and 606,900 in 1990. So DC is adding people again.

See:

http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFPopulation?_event=Search&_name=&_state=04000US11&_county=&_cityTown=&_zip=&_sse=on&_lang=en&pctxt=fph

Posted by: jiacinto | February 11, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Wilm2, I work for the federal gov't and I think you are right. If people choose to live far out there, and have trouble commuting in in bad weather, that's what annual leave is for.

More importantly than what I or, respectfully, you think, this is the gov't's position for tomorrow: people who can't make it in are taking leave.

I also agree with you that there is plenty of affordable housing within close commuting distance. People who work for the gov't shouldn't expect to live like kings.

So, I agree.

And, just for the record, I was officially off-duty Monday-Wednesday but, what with work popping up and my gov't laptop right here at home, I ended up doing a whole bunch of work anyway. I bet a lot of people did a lot of work even though the gov't officially socres us as "off."

Posted by: lacoatrack | February 11, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

PowerBoater69's way more than ignorant comments have been duly noted before. Don't get sucked in - this person loves to bait. Bet he/she hasn't been out there for days helping out those who due to health or age reasons have been unable to dig out themselves.

Posted by: seaduck2001 | February 11, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

"We hear from all the Feds how dangerous it is to get to work and because that's case they shouldn't be required to go to work. Safety first, right? However, I don't hear the Feds demanding that other, non-Fed-empoyees, who also are "risking their lives" driving to work should be allowed to stay at home and have their salary paid by the American taxpayer. It has nothing to do with safety or federal employment at all. My question is, Why should Federal employees who can't get to work be given a paid day off when equally disadvantaged workers (CVS, Safeway, Golds Gym, movie theaters, etc etc) either take leave or go without pay???

Posted by: danlarson | February 11, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse"


Great post. Why should the Feds get 8 hours pay for no work when no one else around here gets the same benefit? Shut down the government and pay them nothing for the day. Suddenly they'll all be able to dig themselves out with no problem.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | February 11, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to those who did the capacity planning to make sure that remote access to the NIH network would stay up in case we all had to work from home for some reason. Think it was meant for flu pandemics or other lockdowns - but it must have been thoroughly tested over the last week. Hope it worked for other agencies too.


Posted by: VApike | February 11, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering, teabaggers, where exactly in DC you would like to put another 400,000 people? The parks are already full of bums, any new building is condemned as too tall or gentrification.

If only someone would burn DC to the ground and start over we might make some progress.

Posted by: member8 | February 11, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

You think all the feds spent this week doing nothing? Feds have deadlines too. This week was a huge inconvenience to all of us. Just because we are told to stay home does not mean we are not working. I know I will be working through this weekend on my own time too....

Posted by: fishyfishy | February 11, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Folks, give metroman76 and the other teabaggers a break. How would you like it if you were limited to posting what someone else had written on your hand?

Posted by: lydgate | February 11, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

6 words per finger, right lydgate?

Posted by: member8 | February 11, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

I do not work for the government, but my company follows the federal government's decisions. I live in Arlington and I work in Arlington, so it is not like I live "far away in the suburbs," but I do take the bus to work. There are three buses I could take to work, but none of them are running tomorrow. I do not live within walking distance of a metro. I don't know what to do. As a "temporary" employee, I don't have leave or vacation, so if I don't go to work, I don't get paid (I haven't been paid for any days this week), but I don't have a viable way to get to work tomorrow, unless someone wants to give me a ride...

Posted by: koshka32713 | February 11, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Regarding:

"I do not work for the government, but my company follows the federal government's decisions. I live in Arlington and I work in Arlington, so it is not like I live "far away in the suburbs," but I do take the bus to work. There are three buses I could take to work, but none of them are running tomorrow. I do not live within walking distance of a metro. I don't know what to do. As a "temporary" employee, I don't have leave or vacation, so if I don't go to work, I don't get paid (I haven't been paid for any days this week), but I don't have a viable way to get to work tomorrow, unless someone wants to give me a ride...

Posted by: koshka32713 "

I think the taxpayer should pay your salary for the days you can't get to work. (And while we're at it, all others who also can't get to work.) Since that's what the taxpayers do for the Federal workers it's only fair they do the same for you. Right govvies?? Don't you agree?

Posted by: danlarson | February 11, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a PR move or an accounting gimmick. Major Metro stations are closed and entire lanes are filled with snow and ice. Metro's running trains on a post-disastor schedule. They can't expect more than 10% to go to work under those conditions. I feel sorry for the people who actually have to go in.

Posted by: fireball72 | February 11, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

As a person who owns his own business, I will tell you that if I didn't live less than three miles from my office I wouldn't have ventured to work. Wisconsin Ave was a nightmare up until today and still only has two lanes in each direction. I can only imagine what the secondary and neighborhood roads are like. Metro is not running above ground service and there are few buses running their normal routes. Tomorrow's commute can only be a nightmare. And, for those who say the roads are fine, you must live where the snow is not deep. At least here in Maryland, there are several feet of it. As for the teaparty people, why the hell are you ranting? Even most private businesses are shut down around here. It is simply a transportation nightmare pure and simple.

Posted by: fwillyhess | February 12, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

Come on folks, its all about choices. I choose to live outside of DC, work for the federal government, and work for an employer with great benefits, but lags behind the private sector regarding salary. I was one of the misguided that thought government workers did not work as hard as others. But from personal experience, I can tell you that my colleagues and I work just as hard as the next non-government person, plus we are unofficially "on-call" after hours and during weekends. Oh, and we are the higher-classified folks, GS14 and up.

Once, I did expect "special" treatment for living outside the DC area (e.g. telework), but my agency is not prepared or unwilling to support such a novel concept. So, I sit in traffic for at least 3 hours daily and pay up to $15 daily to park to get to my job -- yes, its still my choice to do such, but I do complain every now and then.

Now, the new White House's mandate on the use of government texting has restricted me from texting on the road during that long commute. A common sense mandate that will stay lives, but it does cut into my productivity.

So, life is a challenge. But we as stewards of our fate, have the leverage in most cases to choose how to manuever those choppy waters. My compass was higher education and a drive to succeed, coupled with a chosen profession that is somewhat recession-proof.

Choose wisely!

Posted by: xophers | February 12, 2010 4:59 AM | Report abuse

Considering the difficulties (and in many cases, impossibilities) a lot of people are going to face commuting it would seem prudent for OPM to have simply extended the shutdown one more day. This would provide effectively four days to bring things back to normal over a holiday weekend for the price of one additional day off.

Today is not a good day for people to experiment with alternative means of getting downtown, particularly when those alternative means entail driving their cars with unknown parking availability at the other end. The only reason the commute may not be a mess is that most people without transit options will be prudent enough to stay home and use a day's leave rather than drive into the District.

Incidentally, someone mentioned driving into Bethesda to take the Metro from there. I would advise against that--Bethesda does not have a great deal of parking available for this purpose--it is not like Shady Grove or Grosvenor. Also, a coworker who lives in Bethesda said the driving down there is pretty challenging because of piles of snow and conditions on side streets. Some of the latter is likely cleared by now but it seems it would be a bit of a gamble to head there today, and not a good idea for thousands of people to do so.

Posted by: Tenmile1 | February 12, 2010 5:06 AM | Report abuse

metroman76 and defpotic1 both exemplify an old saying: You can't fix stupid.

OPM's decision for today is poor.

OPM is directing that we flood a stressed transportation system and directing federal workers to take a day of vacation if they can't make it to work because of that stressed system.

My sense of humor and balance are more important to me than the hassle of getting to and from work today. Plus, I've been working all week here at home. I do have connectivity and access, and I am taking full advantage of it.

Maybe I'm stupid. I'm not a teleworker, yet I'm working.


Posted by: mikeinova | February 12, 2010 6:04 AM | Report abuse

I am on vacation in Flordia and just heard all my vacation time will be restored and all my time in the South is on the House

OPM isn't a 4 letter word

Posted by: syoung29 | February 12, 2010 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Well, I suspect a lot of fed employees were finally shoveling snow Thursday so they could get out of their suburbs Friday. No way they were going to take eight ours of leave in the winter when they want that time off during nice weather. Tell 'em they have to show up for work (or take leave) and they'll "magically" find a way to get in. It was silly to give everyone Thursday off, a majority of the federal workforce could have gotten in.

OTOH, I don't buy that $100 mil/day in "lost productivity." That work is still going to be done; albeit, late. For example, the people who process passport applications aren't going to just forget those applications which rolled in for the last four days. The work will be made up and no overtime will be paid. So the end result will be very little net productivity loss.

Posted by: Post17 | February 12, 2010 6:33 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why all this negativity about closings is focused at the US Government. They are doing the safe thing, it is really dangerous out there. The government made a prudent decision.

But, if you are looking for government agencies to complain about, I would focus on the school system, which closes schools on the basis of a snowy forecast. Closing schools is far more disruptive to family lives than closing government offices.

Posted by: tzebo | February 12, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Every federal worker who took this week off and didn't work from home should be fired immediately---it's clear the government can operate without them.

My office was closed this week too, but guess what? I put in a full day, every day, from home!

Posted by: arlingtonresident | February 12, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Interesting views, what a diverse lot we are. I'd like to point out that choosing to live far away from work isn't really a choice for a lot of my coworkers. Down here at GS-4-7 salaries don't really permit living close in to DC as affordable housing in the close-in communities is very limited. Other coworkers' jobs were phased out in other localities and they had offers to move here, so they took them, no matter what hardships that might cause. I've been wavering as to going in today, because I live very close to my office, but I've decided that a hazardous short commute home in the dark is too risky for my circumstances (a severely disabled family member). People have to pick among the not-very-good options and do what is best for them. In the process it's a good idea to try not to judge others.
Maryland feds, I'm thinking of you,you have it much tougher this round.

Posted by: jody43jody | February 12, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, putting 230,000 commuters on the roads and rails twice a day this week would have improved things for everybody.

Posted by: ronjaboy | February 12, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

"Every federal worker who took this week off and didn't work from home should be fired immediately---it's clear the government can operate without them."

Using his same logic, fire everyone who ever takes four days off from work for any reason. Vacation, death in the family, childbirth. Doesn't matter.

If your employer can operate without you for 4 days, regardless of the reason, then you must be fully expendable and should be fired.

Posted by: dc_attorney | February 12, 2010 7:17 AM | Report abuse

arlingtonresident - boy, that would create an interesting problem for many of us since we would be fired if we did work at home. Please remember that many federal employees work with classified materials and on classified computer systems Taking those materials home or accessing them from off-site would be a violation of federal law. Not only would we be fired, but we would lose our security clearances and possibly face criminal charges. But thanks for your understanding.
To those of you that seem to enjoy bashing government employees, please keep in mind that many of the government jobs exist only to either protect private citizens (think military, law enforcement, FDA) or fix the problems they create (Enron, drug trafficking). After years of moving my family, serving time overseas, missing holidays and family events for no pay, and attending memorial services for friends/coworkers killed in the line of duty, it bothers me to read the attacks on federal employees. As I've said before, I suggest those that think federal service is easy visit the various memorials around DC to include Vietnam, Korea, WW2, and the Law Enforcement Memorial.

Posted by: justanotherguy | February 12, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

fed employees receive 6 weeks of paid vacation, if you don't have any vacation accumulated well shame on you. I work for an agency in philadelphia and we had to report to work everyday and with more snow!!!!!!! Get back to work like the rest of US!

Posted by: crystaldavenport | February 12, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Federal Employees pay taxes too. All of you who think we have it so great may I suggest that you get a degree (clearly many people who have commented do not) and apply for a job. Otherwise stop complaining and go to your crappy job that I assume you drove through a blizzard to get to because your employer could care less about your safety. Otherwise you are the biggest hypocrite ever and should go back under the rock from which you crawled.

Posted by: happydad3 | February 12, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

"fed employees receive 6 weeks of paid vacation, if you don't have any vacation accumulated well shame on you. I work for an agency in philadelphia and we had to report to work everyday and with more snow!!!!!!! Get back to work like the rest of US!
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You are just plain wrong. If you are going to criticize at least have your facts right. The very most any GS level Fed gets is 26 days which is 5 weeks. And that is only for employees with mor than 15 years of service. Employees with 0-3 years only get 13 days (2.5 weeks). Did you forget about them. And if they have had any major illness or given birth they may have used that. And comparing Philly to DC is dumb. DC has infinitely more Feds and if you try to put them all on the roads at the same time in horrible weather people will die!

Posted by: happydad3 | February 12, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

metroman, cctsbuddy, and all the others of your ilk - I assume that, given your clearly stated stance on federal workers and wasted tax dollars that you'd just assume all federal workers just resign and stop being such a thorn in your side. I also assume, then, that you are not such a gigantic throbbing hypocrite that you also expect them to plow your streets, defend your rights on the firing line, process your social security and medicare payments, or assist you in getting a passport. Idiots who make such blanket statements and then don't back it up with action are nothing but two-bit, low-life blowhards trying to make attention-getting inflammatory statements to amuse themselves. Back up your words with the action of conviction, or clam up and accept that you readily accept the hard work of federal employees when it benefits your greedy, self-important, hypocritical selves. "The Ugly American" personified.

Posted by: PerfectlyCromulent64 | February 12, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Wow...based on the comments on this site, I see there is a lot of untreated mental illness out there.

Posted by: SF271 | February 12, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

"It was silly to give everyone Thursday off, a majority of the federal workforce could have gotten in."

Where are you posting from, Hawaii? Have you ever witnessed blizzard conditions?

During the storm on Wednesday the road crews in most jurisdiction were pulled because the blowing snow and reduced visibility meant even they could not be out working. After the snow stopped late Wednesday the drifting continued into Wednesday night and all day Thursday. The idea that the roads were clear enough by first light on Thursday to allow a normal commute is simply laughable.

By the way, my wife, whose office does not allow teleworking, just walked in the door. She tried to drive to a bus stop (to catch a ride to the nearest open Metro station 18 miles away) and didn't make it a quarter mile. The road was covered with ice several inches thick and she could not make any progress uphill. I suspect her experience is being repeated all over the metropolitan area.

Enough talk. I have to get back to work.

Posted by: Tenmile1 | February 12, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a federal worker, but know many folks who are. They take pride in their work, work long hours and show an enormous amount of patience for people who assume they work for the fed because they cannot get a job anywhere else. Conversely, I know of plenty of people who work in the private sector who look for any excuse not to have to go to work and won't work remotely even if the opportunity presents itself. There are hard-working dedicated people in every organization, just as there are lazy people who are only working to collect a paycheck in every organization. To assume an individual's work ethic based on where they choose to work is simply ridiculous.

Posted by: smith8 | February 12, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Can we all agree to stop using that "$100 million per day in lost productivity" figure? It has no basis in reality, but since one news agency reported it everyone else keeps repeating it as if it were fact. I have no idea what the "cost" of closing the govt. for a day is, but I know $100 million is just a nice, round easy-to-remember guess.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | February 12, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why all this negativity about closings is focused at the US Government. They are doing the safe thing, it is really dangerous out there. The government made a prudent decision.

But, if you are looking for government agencies to complain about, I would focus on the school system, which closes schools on the basis of a snowy forecast. Closing schools is far more disruptive to family lives than closing government offices.

Posted by: tzebo | February 12, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Federal employee TZEBO--Schools close because it is dangerous to put 5 year old on school buses--what is the Federal goverments excuse--all 5 year olds

Posted by: syoung29 | February 12, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

This $100 million figure is BS. I am a federal employee and I have been working all week from the comfort of my home. Teleworking is an extremely cost-efficient way to keep employees working no matter the conditions outside. MORE PEOPLE NEED TO TELEWORK. Room on the roadways around here is in scarce supply at all times and we need to ensure that trucks delivering goods, emergency vehicles, and people who have to physically be at their jobs can move around unimpeded. There is NO REASON that I need to go into an office every day. I cannot imagine how much money is wasted by having folks like me schlep into the office every day for a job that can easily be done at home. Between transit benefits and the cost of maintaining office space, the government could save BILLIONS of DOLLARS by having more people telework. I have been regularly teleworking 2-3 times per week for the past two years and it has been great. I actually work more hours and get more work done being at home, as there are no distractions. I don't have to get ready in the morning, pack a lunch, or do any of the other things necessary to get out the door. I just roll out of bed and walk over to my computer. I find that when I telework, I actually work about 2 additional hours each day, as there is no 1+ hour commute in each direction. I easily put in 10 hours days from home; when I got into the office, I cannot work more than 6 hours, partly from sheer exhaustion from my commute and partly because my commute is often delayed.

As for this recent snow storm, many of us federal employees continued to work from home. Even when some of my colleagues did not have power, they went to a local Starbucks or book store that was open and worked from there. Teleworking is what we ALL need to be doing.

Posted by: Stats | February 12, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

My family and neighbors have not needed the fire department at all this week. Guess we don't need them and we should fire all of them. Oh, and my fed friend who studies cancer treatments at NIH? I haven't needed her this week, either. Guess we don't need her. The logic here is just amazing.

Posted by: 1Reader | February 12, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget: telecommuting is not simply to help in cases of emergencies like this but to allow for alleviation of congestion, pollution, and fuel consumption during normal operations.

Posted by: Tenmile1 | February 12, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Berry, for bringing the experience of being on a concentration camp train to DC.

Posted by: fireball72 | February 12, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Every federal worker who took this week off and didn't work from home should be fired immediately---it's clear the government can operate without them.

My office was closed this week too, but guess what? I put in a full day, every day, from home!

*************************************

The person who posted this, is a M-O-R-O-N!!!

Posted by: TheChampishere | February 12, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

To all of you government hating Tea Baggers, perhaps you can leave this great country and find a goverment more to your liking. May I suggest: Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, or Haiti!

p.s.

Good riddance!

Posted by: TheChampishere | February 12, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Freaking brilliant - A red line train has now detrailed in Farragut North and K St/Connecticut is blocked. I pray no one was hurt. This is a TOTAL cluster!!!

Good job, OPM!

Posted by: kasdc | February 12, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The trains aren't the only thing not running very well. Metro's web site seems to have crashed from heavy use.

Posted by: Tenmile1 | February 12, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Metro just tweeted this: from @metroopensdoors

Red Line: Delays on the Red line both directions, due to a derailment at Farragut North station in the pocket track.

Posted by: Post17 | February 12, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

DebraMJSmith, you are an idiot

Posted by: gohogs | February 12, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Seriously messed up decision by John Berry. This is the weakest attempt to save face I have ever seen. Not only are they unnecessarily punishing the poor people of PG county who still have not seen a plow, to take leave when they should, OPM is also LOSING money by reopening all the buildings, electricty and snow removal overtime costs, etc. Plus, many buildings and areas are closed today because they just cannot accomodate people. STUPID STUPID STUPID decision.

Posted by: Alfy2009 | February 12, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@Tenmile1: "Where are you posting from, Hawaii? Have you ever witnessed blizzard conditions?"

How about from the Pentagon, a-hole. I've been in every day this week...some of us work in national security jobs that don't have the luxury of shutting down just because it snows. Defensive driving and a good dose of common sense + a 4WD with snow tires all around. Most of the shift workers in our division made it in as well so don't try to BS me with how tough the conditions are.

Blizzard conditions, sure, my home state is Alaska. I know cold weather and actual blizzards, not Metro "blizzards."

Posted by: Post17 | February 12, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

post17, it sounds to me as though you and your division are considered "essential workers." Part of the reason that the rest of us are taken off the road during an emergency is so that people like you can make it to work.

I think that you need to get a serious attitude adjustment.

Posted by: Tenmile1 | February 12, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

By this time, everybody knows it WAS NOT SAFE, IT WAS NOT READY. I have only one question, was OPM told by Metro, the Council of Governments that the city was ready; or, did OPM make the decision against better judgements?

Posted by: linda_521 | February 12, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

It was a commuting nightmare today as we are not used to the amount of snow we got over the last week public transportation has not been able to keep up. Also, if you do not live here or work for the federal government in D.C. and have no actual knowledge of work done this week and the weather then you should not comment based on assumptions.

Posted by: jewel8684 | February 12, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

this is such a comedic thread.

to those who think that because the nation didn't collapse that every fed who took the snow days should be fired....

point 1: it shows the strength of the infrastructure that nothing horrible happened.

point 2: many of my coworkers have been doing work at home, and were eager to get back to the offices because the work is piling up around their ears.

point 3: i am of a low grade, and i dont joke when i say i'm below the intern, but i do have 5 weeks + leave. and i have that because the people i work with are devoted to our work. we travel around the country an awful lot. this transportation to these other sits is often on our time off (so we get comp time), but it significantly eats into our Sundays and Fridays with our families and communities. We often drive hours to meetings that last all day, and then we have meetings among us that last until 1am in the morning eating crappalicious food from hotels and not having any real life at all- because we are committed and we know that our work is a resource and enhances our communities.

point 4: any ideas on the red line derailment? is it just a coincidence or is it because the transportation system wasn't ready for this many people to be commuting into work?

Posted by: happytoscruff | February 12, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Any word on when Berry will resign?

Posted by: fireball72 | February 12, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

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