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Eye Opener: Another delayed start

By Ed O'Keefe

Traffic backed up on Massachusetts Ave. NW last Friday night. (Deb Lindsey/Post)

Eye Opener

Happy Tuesday! The federal government will slowly ramp back up to full operating status today, but not before enduring another two hour delay and unscheduled leave for those who can't make it into work.

"After three more days of clean up, things should hopefully go better, but repeating Friday['s operating status] will also give us a good baseline to see if the system is ready to return to 100 percent, which we will hopefully be able to do Wednesday," Office of Personnel Director John Berry said in an e-mail to The Federal Eye on Monday night. He was harshly criticized on Friday for his decision to issue a two hour delay and unscheduled leave.

And amid an already shorter week thanks to Monday's federal holiday, we're wondering: Do you agree with today's decision? Will you work longer hours this week to make up for lost time? Or did you successfully complete tasks last week while working from home? (Or did you have to work through the storm regardless?) E-mail us your thoughts:

Or leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Chat With The Eye!: We'll talk Evan Bayh, bipartisanship (or the lack thereof), federal government operations and anything else. Submit your questions and join the chat LIVE at 11 a.m. ET.

Cabinet and Staff News: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton fears Iran is becoming a military dictatorship and gets the royal treatment in Saudi Arabia. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is honing his political ear. The White House communications team is revamping the communications strategy. The White House and Congressional Democrats trying to woo an Energy Department official back to Miami to run for Congress. Obama taps a White House lawyer as envoy to the Muslim world. Ex-special prosecutor Kenneth Starr named Baylor University president. The White House executive and pastry chefs appeared on Monday's "Martha Stewart Show" to celebrate President's Day.

U.S. Marine walks away from shot to helmet in Afghanistan: On the one hand, he was shot in the head. On the other, the bullet bounced off him. In one of those rare battlefield miracles, an insurgent sniper hit Lance Cpl. Koenig dead on in the front of his helmet, and he walked away from it with a smile on his face.

Civilian agencies help fuel growth in translation contracts: A large part of the recent increase was in Defense Department contracts. The Army went from spending $260 million on language contracts in 2007 to $834 million in 2008.

Democrats target stimulus critics who sought funds: Democrats are targeting Republicans who have attacked the program and then lobbied to get money for their districts.

Biden: NYC estimates for 9/11 trial exaggerated: Both Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly put the estimate at $200 million a year for five years, saying it would be an expensive proposition for the City. Biden, however, disputes the numbers.

DEA agent wounded in Afghanistan: Shot multiple times and wounded on Sunday while on a mission, according to people familiar with the incident.

DOT snubs DOJ in approving airline alliance: The Transportation Department granted immunity to British Airways, American Airlines, and Iberia to jointly schedule and price flights without running afoul of any antitrust laws.

Charges in web video bring unusual rebuttal from FDIC: All week long, agency officials watched with growing dismay as a YouTube video ricocheted around the Internet.

Space station's $27 million lookout attached: But astronauts will have to wait a few more days before gazing out the domed lookout, expected to provide unprecedented 360-degree views of Earth, outer space and the space station itself.

U.S. safety agency reviewing more crashes: The cases, among 26 such Toyota incidents reported to the agency, are based on complaints that drivers and their families have filed with the NHTSA since Jan. 27.

Spain to accept five Guantanamo detainees: It's the largest commitment by a European country and a boost for the Obama administration's dragging effort to close the military detention center.

10,000 TSA staff to get secret intel: The agency's plan aims to help its officers spot terrorists by giving them more detailed information about tactics and threats, officials and security experts said. It hopes to empower its higher-level workers as part of an effort to professionalize airport security.

UK airport scanners may violate laws-rights group: The use of full-body scanners at British airports may breach human rights laws, the country's equality commission said on Tuesday, potentially undermining the latest weapon against terrorism.

White House, Congress resist Postal Service goal of cutting delivery days: More discussion, if not begging, will be needed before officials are convinced that five-day delivery is the strong, albeit distasteful, medicine that the ailing postal operation needs.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 16, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
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Liberal leave...2-hour delay. All fine. But we do need to change the government mentality from the school-like "snow days" to professional work-at-home days (at least for salaried employees). Then it wouldn't matter so much what OPM declares.

Posted by: Section315 | February 16, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

I got in to work in ok time. I left at 530AM for a 7AM start time. I-295 north from Hwy 210 is still down to 2 lanes-shockingly. Around the Naval Research Lab and several of the exits north on to 295, its 2 lanes and that is causing a dangerous situation because you have merging that is trying to occur in to the middle lane because the right lane is not plowed STILL. Of course 295 was really backed up..I think it took me 45 minutes just to get through there. Once I was off of 295 in to DC, it was smooth sailing along the tidal basin. Luckily my husband is home today otherwise to get my son to daycare that doesnt open till 6AM. Had I had to take him, I would have really been in a painful backup.

Posted by: IGotLotsToSay | February 16, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I am originally from NY and now work in the federal civil service. Unfortunately the transportation system cannot endure such weather. It was the right decision to allow delayed openning on Friday. I live in DC and it took me 2 hours to get home AFTER work -- and I had to walk part way. The gridlock with traffic was so bad, an ambulance was stuck in it for 45 minutes and you had to feel bad if someone ill was inside listening to the sirens blare that whole time. We also had a train derailment. I am lucky, most fed workers live in VA or MD, which are longer commutes. Yes, OPM made the right call. Unfortunately, it got politicized.

Posted by: KyzlOrda | February 16, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

The only problem with this is that many local school districts decided to open 2 hours late so that the buses wouldn't have to contend with rush hour conditions on still difficult roads. Also many bus stops are not cleared so students may be waiting in the street. All this did was put more cars on the road at the time when students are going to be trying to get to school.

Posted by: debs125751 | February 16, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

This whole thing is totally blown out of proportion (except for the snow!). Every Federal Government Agency has a work-at-home policy to varying degrees. Where I work, it's called Telework and allows us to work from home using a FOB that connects to our own personal computer. I worked last week as if I was at the office. So, please stop bashing all government workers for being like "school kids" and enjoying four days frolicking in the snow! Please use some common sense (for a change)!

Posted by: amckenz | February 16, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

At the agency I work for, I am not allowed to work from home. They have not put in place any provisions for telecommuting and part of that is for security reasons (according to what I have heard). In any case, I would have been happy to work from home if that were an option.

Posted by: acn75 | February 16, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Berry made the right call as he did for today. Practicality- employees with children have to put them first. And the safety of employees trying to get to work. Ignore the razzies John you did the right thing.

Posted by: lancepcope | February 16, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

When the Federal Government closes due to weather, as a federal employee I take full advantage of the snow day and spend quality time with my family. I make no apologies for it. I work hard when I'm at work. But my personal time is mine. And if I get additional personal time because of a snow day, it's still personal time and my family benefits from it. On my death bed, will I have regrets? "I sure wish I would have worked on that snow day rather than spend time with my wife and child." Absolutely not. But when I'm dead and gone, my child will have wonderful memories of Daddy spending snow days with her.

Posted by: feasors | February 16, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

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