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Federal government closed on Tuesday

By Ed O'Keefe


Victor Zabielski cross country skis past the White House on Monday. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Here we go again: The federal government will close Tuesday, as the region continues to clean up after the weekend snowstorm and prepares for another round of the white stuff.

The decision means non-emergency federal workers will be granted excused absences. Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time, and some employees who telework may be expected to work from their telework sites, as specified in their individual agreements.

This is the third time the federal government has shut down due to the weather during the Obama administration. It's the first back-to-back shutdown since Hurricane Isabel hit the region on Sept. 18-19, 2003.

Official estimate that closing the federal government for a day due to the weather costs roughly $100 million in lost productivity and opportunity costs, meaning this weekend's storm will have potentially cost taxpayers at least $250 million, for last Friday's early dismissal and Monday's and Tuesday's closures.

Interest in Tuesday's operating status swelled throughout the day. The Eye received several phone calls, e-mails and Tweets from concerned feds and OPM's operating status Web page has been unavailable for some trying to access the site.

(This poll's questions have been fixed -- so vote again!)

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 8, 2010; 7:17 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Next: Eye Opener: For the feds going to work today

Comments

Woot!

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | February 8, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Maybe now the Feds and other area employers will take telework more seriously.

Posted by: the_moo | February 8, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for just typing it. Had trouble with the video. Thanks again. I come here because the Fed's OPM page always seems overwhelmed.

Posted by: MBA2005 | February 8, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm very happily suprised at this. But I do wish I had the option to telecommute. Unfortunately it's not ever going to happen for me, but it would be nice.

Posted by: lisamarie2 | February 8, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Pretty much a virtual certainty that if this next storm pans out as forecasted - with the worst of it happening overnight and into early Wednesday morning - OPM may have no choice but to close on Wednesday as well.

Posted by: map408 | February 8, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Could someone please explain to me why this article has such a decidedly negative tilt AGAINST we Federal employees? Personally I was willing to walk into my alternative office tomorrow, about a mile away from my home, and just e-mail my supervisor to let her know where I was and that I was still going to be productive---just not at my usual location due to the road conditions. However, MANY of my co-workers live in Winchester, Harper's Ferry, Frederick, Manassas, and other outlying areas. This article, with its "here we go again", sounds nothing but vindictive, petty, and, dare I say...jealous? If we get another foot to a foot-and-a-half Tuesday night through all day Wednesday then we won't have work Wednesday or Thursday, either. I'm a devoted Federal worker. I love trying to save taxpayers money through what I do. However, the negativity towards us gets to be very grating at times. Uncle Sam is still hiring. Instead of spouting hatred apply YOURSELVES!

Posted by: Restonian23 | February 8, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Right. How many times will the $100M number be put into articles like this? We got it the first 50 times it was mentioned.

Posted by: Bious | February 8, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the $100 million lie is now the $250 million lie?

No work was done Friday morning. Please upgrade your lie to $300 million.

Posted by: member8 | February 8, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

"Federal government closed Tuesday"

The best economic recovery plan to date.

Posted by: NoWeCant | February 8, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I think your poll is messed up. Yes, I agree, it is too dangerous (not no).

Posted by: lasp1 | February 8, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Also, the poll questions don't make any sense. You give yes justifications to nos and no justifications to yesses.

Please, supervise your interns.

Posted by: member8 | February 8, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your comments, restonian23. People just don't realize what a mess this country would be without a federal (or local or state) government. So thank you for your service.

Posted by: habaneronegrito1 | February 8, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm also really getting annoyed at the focus on "this is a waste of taxpayer money."

Instead of the Post continuing to make these gov't closures look like reckless spending, why doesn't the Post counterbalance the amount lost in productivity against the amount taxpayers would likely have to pay in the extra emergency services, highway and neighborhood repairs, and lawsuits that will have to be done due to horrific accidents if the Fed called people in to work. Not to mention the incalculable cost of losing even a few workers' lives to dangerous roads.

I have been on the roads briefly today in the DC metro area and they are nightmarish. It would be completely irresponsible for the Fed to call people in to work tomorrow. If they did, they'd be doing it for appearance only, to counterbalance unfairly angled comments like the one made above.

I'm glad the Fed cares more about their employees' safety than the Post appears to. And I'm fine with my taxpayer money having to be lost if it means people don't have to die to get to work.

Posted by: dea17 | February 8, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

You can get the OPM status here: http://www.data.gov/opm_status.html

Posted by: danpeake | February 8, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Good grief! The storm won't start until Tuesday afternoon, if that. Why close tomorrow when you know the Feds are definitely closed on Wednesday (unless the new storm is a hoax). So now it's going to be three days in a row. Might as well close for the rest of the week and President's Day.

Posted by: bmendoza1961 | February 8, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

O'Keefe-- Just out of curiosity, what's the cost to the taxpayer when the federal gov't in DC is shut down for the day? I can't seem to find that number anywhere....

Posted by: jacket96 | February 8, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Maybe now the Feds and other area employers will take telework more seriously.

I agree, I telework as well as most of my customers, we got a lot done today and will do the same the rest of the week. The Feds need to stop talking around teleworking and do something about it

Posted by: tgaither1 | February 8, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

With many Feds commuting long distances to their jobs and metro still not having their act together, this was the right move. Throw in the possibility of another 12-16 inches of snow starting midday tomorrow and not sure why people are so angry at this decision. BTW, that $100 million dollar figure that everyone throws around is complete BS. Do some digging and you will find out that it is based on no real research and was "calculated" over 20 years ago.

Posted by: Axel2 | February 8, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me or do the first two choices to this question not make any sense?

Posted by: richs91 | February 8, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Now I see the questions randomly change places after the browser is refreshed. Nice work! About as good as Fairfax County snow removal!

Posted by: richs91 | February 8, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

It's just dumb to keep citing that $100 million dollar figure without qualifying it with some reality. Unless, of course, the point is to do a little baiting.

I am a federal worker and like all the others on all the teams I work on in my job, was occupied most of today in work phone conferences, working on technical documentation at home, and so forth, and I don't even telework.

I'll spend extra time at work when we return getting caught up.

I get no overtime (I get comp time but can never really take it so I don't record my overtime), nor do I mind. I like my job.

All my friends work in various agencies, and we checked in with each other tonight to say hi and all of them reported carrying on with work from home.

I see no point in citing that figure as Federal Eye keeps doing unless it is just to provoke the angry crowd out there. Or maybe get some clickers on this newspaper, which I used to love, and which has gone into such sad decline.

Posted by: grahll | February 8, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I didn't really get the first two questions either =P

Posted by: lizzybeths | February 8, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

The first two choices appear to be reversed; someone needs to edit them.

To bmendoza, there is no Metrobus service to my Arlington neighborhood, and side roads are still impassable. The closest Metrorail is almost 3 miles away and above ground.

Unless one lives downtown, getting to work would be very difficult even if using public transit, which could become very unreliable by late tomorrow afternoon.

OPM made the right call.

Posted by: TeersFan | February 8, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

There is a typo in the poll! Editor's please correct.

The government has made the right choice about shutting down for a second day. You can't put a price tag on people risking their lives to get to work.

Posted by: nevillepw | February 8, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

the street workers will get the roads and sidewalks more easily if they don't have to fight traffic and parking.The rivers and lakes might come back to normal with all the runoff this will cause. And parents will get to spend a day with each and their children.

Posted by: janwhite30 | February 8, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to disagree, but this is weak. Most major roads are reasonably clear, metro should have their act together by tomorrow, etc.

Go to work.

Posted by: mhammel22 | February 8, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I feel as though I have been productive telecommuting with this weather. I achieved all of my goals today. Plus I was able to reschedule all of my meetings without missing deadlines. I have enough work to last through Friday.
I'm not afraid of the roads, but I am afraid of the ignorant drivers. My husband saw three cars spin out and crash on his way to work this morning.

Posted by: beachin6 | February 8, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you Restonian. It's too bad the bottle is half empty to so many people.Traffic is wicked between the states and D.C. Enjoy whatever day/days you have and ignore the pessimists.

Posted by: janwhite30 | February 8, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Well frankly since the counties are still buried and most Federal employees don't live in DC, it makes no sense to take 4 hrs to maybe get to work, only to leave a hald day anyway since they say the snow will start around 3p.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | February 8, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Another opportunity for more bashing of Federal employees by jealous private sector workers. How are you enjoying your 39 percent increase in health insurance premiums (google Anthem BCBS raises premiums by 39 percent in California) and offshoring of your remaining jobs by greedy CEOs?

Face it...getting into the Feds is like getting into Harvard Business School nowadays. Who wants to deal with no job security, crappy health insurance and no pay raises in the private sector. Unless you are in the C-suite.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 8, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

$100 million a day in lost productivity.

How about the federal government pays 1/10 of that, and hires more plows. We could bring in plows from other states that weren't hit by the storm.

I know that will never happen. I guess some people would rather have another paid day off.

Posted by: willm2 | February 8, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Well frankly since the counties are still buried and most Federal employees don't live in DC, it makes no sense to take 4 hrs to maybe get to work, only to leave a hald day anyway since they say the snow will start around 3p.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | February 8, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

time to take telecommuting seriously. so many of us could work from home and save the taxpayers $$$.

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

I echo some of the comments here- the evil, lazy fed routine is getting old. I rely on bus and metro to get to work. Unfortunately, the nearest below ground station is at least two stops from me and until metrobus comes back on line, I am nowhere near any of the bus lines actually running now. So I really have no way of getting to work. That doesn't mean that I won't work because even though I don't officially "telework" I am usually sending emails throughout the evenings (as late as midnight sometimess) and weekends, I work well past official closing time many a night....but like the earlier poster, I love my job. As many of my colleagues in the federal government do. But what makes it harder is the total and complete lack of respect for the public. Cut us some slack, ok? We work for a living just like anybody else.

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

I work for the government and enjoy every bit of it. I work from home because I have a telework agreement. Even when I don't have to, I will work on weekends to complete a project or set up appointments. We care about our jobs and take it seriously that we are working for our government. It makes sense to offer telework for employees in these circumstances. Many of us commute and cannot get out of our neighborhoods with no plowed roads or roads that are near impassable. Those relying on public transportation have a similar situation. Not endangering commuters by driving in tomorrow or home is a reasonable option, in my opinion.

Posted by: aetatis | February 8, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey, with the whole Green Line open, I could *get* to my federal job. Why not open the place, and let people who can't get in stay home?

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

Get off your rearends and get to work. Most people haven't even got out to clean their sidewalks, much less do the nation's work.

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

They could take the rest of the year off and fw people would notice.

Posted by: maphound | February 8, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Ditto to the error with the poll. First response should start with "Yes". Second should start with "No".

Otherwise, I agree with those who feel that it's not so useful to keep citing the $100m figure. It's just not right to put a monetary value on people's lives and there is no doubt that there would be loss of invaluable lives by forcing people out onto these treacherous roads.

Posted by: Harambee | February 8, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

My husband is a Federal Employee and spent his day off working. He will do the same tomorrow. With laptops and cell phones, he is always teleworking. Not just for the snowstorms, he does plenty in the evenings and weekends throughout the year.

Please Washington Post, don't perpetuate the lazy-government-employee meme with these ridiculous stories. Many of them work very hard at what they do to serve the people of this country.

Posted by: Lisa123 | February 8, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

If the feds WERE to go to work tomorrow, it would just create additional havoc for the work crews who are still trying to clean up the mess from the last storm in prep for the next storm. It would have been totally irresponsible to send these people out on the roads (considering many of the roads are still impassable).

Posted by: qazwsxedcrfv | February 8, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

@dea17

Completely agree.

Posted by: saiti34 | February 8, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Your poll questions are somewhat confusing, but as a retired Federal employee I agree that they should shut down. Actually taxpayers will probably save more money if the people who are constantly attempting to raise our taxes and increase our national debt are busy at home shoveling snow.

Posted by: ExPatYankee | February 8, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I dont work for the Federal Government but I agree with this decision.

Also, I dont understand the bitterness being expressed towards the civil servants. Yes, the offices are "closed" but that is such a relative term. It doesnt mean nobody is working.

The federal government in our country works a hell of a lot better than in most countries. The "employer" is just looking out for its employees and the region as a whole by shutting the office. No need to go on tangents about how this is "costing money." That is absurd and a horrible way to paint the picture of an employer keeping their employees safe.

Posted by: m1ke3i6 | February 8, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Why don't all the Feds grab a shovel and work on all the side streets. 100M well spent! Plus most of them are big fatties that could use a little work out vs. sitting on their duffs all day!! Finally add some value to the taxpayer.

Posted by: freemarketeddy | February 8, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I think the Feds should institute a "make-up" day. When I was a kid in Missouri and we had too many school days taken away by snow, we came in on select weekends to make up the days. (Do they do that here?) As a federal employee, I wouldn't have a problem with this. Either this, or institute make-up hours, say an extra 30 minutes of work every day for a month.

Posted by: prokaryote | February 8, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

The poll is worded in a way that's really confusing.

Posted by: elizestrada | February 8, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Stay home Tuesday, it's too risky to have all you folks on the road. But: please show up for work on Saturday. We can't afford to have all you "critical" Fed employees miss work

Posted by: dave518 | February 8, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: freemarketeddy | February 8, 2010 9:02 PM

Federal employees are not to be confused with members of a "chain gang." If the government is closed because of snow, we don't have to shovel snow off the sidewalk as a form of community service.

Posted by: millerroberta | February 8, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

How much money is the obstructionist republican party costing the country?

Posted by: paul37 | February 8, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I work for the federal government. I worked all day Friday, 4 hours on Saturday, 6 hours on Sunday, and all day today getting a review done. At home with my laptop. I plan to be busy all day tomorrow on something else for work. Just because the offices are closed doesn't mean the work necessarily stops.

Too bad the poll doesn't have a "I worked anyway despite the storm."

Posted by: risandy | February 8, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I've been trying to access the OPM website for hours and it's been down all this time. OPM needs to upgrade that software so we feds can find out what's happening and plan accordingly.

Posted by: AdventurerVA | February 8, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

What the heck is wrong with you people down there??? It's been 3 days since the storm. Do you have no ethics at all? Go to work!

The rest of the world doesn't get paid time off for days and days after a storm (or cushy pensions, either), so it puts on the chains, pulls up its boots and figures out how it's going to get to work.

No wonder Washington is such a mess. You all need to grow up!

Posted by: Itzajob | February 8, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Pretty much my whole office is equipped to telecommute and from the email traffic I've seen, many people are working from home. What the numbers don't indicate is that its not all lost productivity- what people don't do remotely they'll make up for with long hours once they're back in the office. Lots of govt employees have blackberries, too, you know!

Posted by: gnat824 | February 8, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

"Good grief! The storm won't start until Tuesday afternoon, if that. Why close tomorrow..."

Why? Because many of us can't yet get out of our houses yet.

"Why don't all the Feds grab a shovel and work on all the side streets. 100M well spent! Plus most of them are big fatties that could use a little work out vs. sitting on their duffs all day!!"

Actually, I and my non-fed neighbors were out shovelling the *street* today (because DOT still hasn't gotten to it), in a vain attempt to make the road passible.

That didn't work, and so we *walked* to the nearest store for groceries and essential medicines.

As for the $100mm in lost productivity -- how much in lost productivity for a tremendously h3llish rush hour and accidents tomorrow? How much lost productivity due to, say, DOT road crews not being able to salt, plow, etc., due to clogged roads, thereby causing even more delay to plowed streets for everybody else?

Closing really is a no-brainer -- except for those who like to complain about government for everything.

Posted by: ADCWonk | February 8, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

It's ridiculous. No business owner could afford to do this, These people need to make up the work this weekend. That's how it works in most companies.

Posted by: Keesvan | February 8, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

some of the comment on here is totally screwed up and having this poll... as an essential fed employee worker i take great offensive to some of these comments... most of you on here probably dont even live in the DMV area to be commenting at all.. if it wasnt for the fed. gov... state and local what the heck would any of you do?.... insulting fed. gov workers is like insulting our soliders...

Posted by: AllforOne | February 8, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Metro is not running above ground trains on the red line tomorrow. So how exactly are people supposed to get to work? More cars on roads already missing lanes everywhere?

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | February 8, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

I say shut the government down for as long as possible. Maybe something positive will come out of this action. After all, nothing worse could happen. We don't need these jerks screwing up our lives. TFL, Ken

Posted by: kentigereyes | February 8, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I say have all federal workers report for work on President's Day to make up for the lost weather days.

Posted by: loughlin44 | February 8, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I think everybody in this discussion is missing main the point regarding the debate about federal government closing. There is no argument here that this storm is of historic proportions, the roads are in miserable condition and effectively unpassable, or that with the Metro shut down and other reasons there is NO WAY many federal mployees can get to work. Allt hat is a given and the SAME....for government and NON-government workers. Why should a person who works as a dedicated civil servant who can't get to work be compensated by the taxpayer when his equally disadvantaged neighbor who is employed by CVS or a movie theatre have to go without pay? What if a crippling snowstorm struck and Midwestern manufacturing town and no one was able to get to work due to the severity of the weather? Should the taxpayer also compensate these unfortunate workers? My point is (if not already obvious), why is it that when FEDERAL workers (and federal workers only) are unable to get to work the taxpayer must step in and pay their salaries. I work in the private sector--and I live in the DC suburbs so I'm in the same situation as our civil servants--and I can choose to either go to work or take a day's leave. One or the other. Why is different for the Feds??

Posted by: danlarson | February 8, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I do not work for the Federal government and I am not even a US citizen, but I find comments against Fed employees offensive.
Why don't you people complain for the inadequate cleaning of streets and highways of the region due not to employees' laziness but to poor resource planning and lack of contingency plan in unusual situation like this?
The closing of Fed offices means that most large agencies (ie. World Bank) in DC will be closed. I don't see another solution for a town that has not been able to clear most of its streets and having public transportation running normally. It is true that private business owners cannot afford to stay home, but it is also a fact that the largest employers of this area are not private ones. And this is a matter of damage reduction.
Blaming employees for poor planning by administrators or expecting employees to give up on their weekends or leaves is really hypocritical. Somebody else should have been on the streets shoveling during the storm so that employees could go to work safely. It did not happen, these are the consequences. And if the District cannot afford to budget more than 8mln $ for snow removal, it is gambling with whether. Well, this year everybody lost...

Posted by: sf2126 | February 8, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Danlarson, I totally get your point. I personally think it is unfair that you have to go to work when conditions are hazardous for all. But there are two questions. The first is that this is a systemic issue: in other countries the government may decide when also private business have to close down for emergencies, and the state may cover for costs that private business have to undertake. I don't think this would be welcomed in the US.
The second answer is that the federal capital, in a situation like this, may perhaps afford a limited commuting but not a regular one. What an administration can do to avoid the total collapse, since it is not possible to order CVS to shut down, is at least taking out of the roads the majority of commuters to ensure better conditions for the others. Yes, it is a cost for the community, but as I said before that cost does not come from nowhere. Better planning and/or contingency plans could have made commuting safe for everybody.

Posted by: sf2126 | February 8, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting that we focus on the opportunity lose without deducting the savings of not paying all the contractors for a day. There are many contractors in the government and most end up taking leave on snow days or no pay at all. I wonder what the real numbers are??? We might find that by closing the federal government we actually save money... dare we think that way?

Posted by: jason33 | February 8, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe now the Feds and other area employers will take telework more seriously."

I'm sure the many Federal healthcare providers, facilities and logistics managers and security personnel will take that under advisement. Ask your own doctor how much teleworking he or she does.

Not every Fed sits behind a keyboard all day.

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

To jason33:
You must be a federal worker. Otherwise I can't see how anyone would otherwise willingly employ you. YOur logic stating that "we might find that by closing the federal governemnt we actually save money" is so incomprehensible as to defy explanation. So I suggest following jason33's suggstion that we shut down the government until our deficit is balanced. Oh wait. We'll still be paying our civil servants (damn storms) but will balance the budget by having contractors use leave or take time off without pay. What a selfless (and self-serving) suggestion! Bravo.

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

"why is it that when FEDERAL workers (and federal workers only) are unable to get to work the taxpayer must step in and pay their salaries."


It's called "benefits of membership." It's what you sign up for. Ever think of applying? There are jobs--go to opm.gov.

Oh, wait, you say you don't want to take a pay cut by going Federal? I guess you'll just have to take an unpaid day when it snows, then.

Posted by: NoWayNotNow | February 8, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

No, I am not a federal worker, but since you mention it, maybe we should shut down the federal government until we balance the budget. including no pay for anybody.

Posted by: jason33 | February 8, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

O'Keefe-- Maybe with your populist rhetoric, you should join hands with the folks we have in the White House. Seems like that might make a good fit.

Posted by: jacket96 | February 8, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

WaPo, I agree with commenters who are embarrassed that you can't do a simple survey without mixing up yes and no... sigh.

*If* this weather trend continues into next year, as if we were Minneapolis, local govts will have to pony up for clean up. In the meantime, how are our puny staff supposed to clear roads if they are full of commuters?

Any fed worker who has access to broadband, has electricity, and who is worth his or her paycheck will be online despite the closure, keeping up as best possible while digging out with limited local govt help. And that will be most of them.

Posted by: chesapeake38819 | February 8, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

I got it--maybe Mr. O'Keefe interviewed for a fed job and didn't get it. Just like the rest of these people on this blog who are just jealous b/c their employer doesn't have the alternatives to reporting that the federal government provides. B/c of this, we are considered lazy, dumb, and whatever other negative words that can be attached to being a Fed. Nevermind that it's incredibly dangerous for anyone, regardless of their employer, to venture out in these conditions.

Posted by: emvs01 | February 8, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I am tracing the IP addresses of all the anti fed commentators and forwarding them to another Fed agency for investigation. We might have another Tim Mcveigh lurking on these boards...can't take the chance.

And to all Federal employees out there...God bless you for serving our country. Stay warm and stay safe.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 8, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

to NoWayNotNow:

Are you stating for the record that an unwritten benefit of federal employment is to be granted paid-days-off-when-there's-snow-on-the-ground? Sure would be nicer and make a more compelling arugment for government employment if that would just be included in the OPM employment guide.

As for yoru contention that Fed salaries are below the national average, I'm afraid you're completely mistaken. According to a recent Pew report: Avg (non-govt)American salary per annum....$42k. Fed salary per annum....$71k.

PS: Try going thru the OPM website to get a job. It's much harder than you think.

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

Kudos to John Berry for a series of wise decisions. I am not a Fed (though I once was), and in the interest of full disclosure I have worked with John in a couple of our previous incarnations in the public and private sector. After POTUS' disparaging statements last year that DC residents are winter lightweights, the easy political call for OPM is to bring the feds in no matter what the situation (remember for reference the '96 storm fiasco, or the false starts after Isabel, etc, etc.). I think that OPM under John Berry has shown independence and sound judgment. In fact, I have so much faith in OPM under John that now that I run an NGO operation with 35 DC-based employees, I just defer my own decision on closure to what OPM decides.

Keep up the good work, John. And FWIW, Fed-knockers need to get a life, or at least walk in their shoes for a few (dozen) years.

Posted by: TomG4 | February 8, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

"PS: Try going thru the OPM website to get a job. It's much harder than you think."

Actually, it's not. Perhaps you lack marketable job skills. Or perhaps it's easier to take swipes at what you know very little about.

Posted by: NoWayNotNow | February 8, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Your poll choices are seriously screwed up.

Posted by: oxhead1 | February 8, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

usajobs.gov...... for any unemployeed people you know.... there are many jobs at all levels available!

Posted by: AllforOne | February 8, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I can smell the jealousy of private sector wage slaves on this board a mile away. No job security, wage freezes and cuts so execs can pocket millions more in bonuses, healthcare premiums doubling, jobs getting offshored etc.

No wonder they are one here all day dissing Federal employees.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 8, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

I think that since the government was closed down for at least 2 days this week and maybe one or 2 more that Monday should be considered a work day and not a holiday. That would be the right thing to do.

Posted by: miccull | February 8, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Wow...alot of bitterness directed towards Fed. workers. Get over it and just go into work if you have to and enjoy the day if you don't. BTW $100 million figure is skewed greatly by the inclusion of opportunity cost (please look it up if you don't know what it means before posting about it). E.g., see how much it costs to own a car if you include the opportunity cost.

Posted by: trriver2 | February 9, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

"Wow...alot of bitterness directed towards Fed. workers."

Its jealously...pure and simple jealousy.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 9, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

If the Federal government spent just ONE DAY of lost productivity (assumed to be $100 million) on improving the DC Metro system, maybe it would have the equipment it needs to clear the snow and re-open.

Posted by: dc_attorney | February 9, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

The reason the Federal Govt closes is not because its workers are lazy. It's to keep tens of thousands of people off the roads and rails so crews can clean them of snow and ice. It'd be no different if Pepsi employed 200,000 people in DC. They would be the first to close in any serious weather because they would be the sole source of all commuter traffic. So please, stop with the bitter "lazy government worker" bit. It's just not an intelligent argument.

Posted by: tristesse27 | February 9, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree w/OPM to close the Fed Govt Monday, Tuesday and any other day necessary. I am very happy for my daugther and friends who are federal workers. As for me I've done my time (38 years) and am now retired.

Posted by: CeCeFlorine | February 9, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

sbhaskar002's IP has been traced to Pakistan and will soon be visited by a large but careful application of explosives.

Thank you for your patience.

Posted by: member8 | February 9, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

sbhaskar002 says it better than I could ever hope to:

"I can smell the jealousy of private sector wage slaves on this board a mile away. No job security, wage freezes and cuts so execs can pocket millions more in bonuses, healthcare premiums doubling, jobs getting offshored etc.

No wonder they are one here all day dissing Federal employees."

So much for the myth of private sector employement, where one needs to worry about things like "job security" and those pesky "wage freezes" (why shouldn't private sector folks get salary increases every year indepedent of the economy?) when compared to government. Thank you for making what was so obvious to so many so clear for those who were unsure. And get this feddies: you get paid days off when it snows-- just like school kids!! Why would anybody not want a fed job??

Posted by: danlarson | February 9, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

to tristesse27:

You make my point exactly!!

"The reason the Federal Govt closes is not because its workers are lazy. It's to keep tens of thousands of people off the roads and rails so crews can clean them of snow and ice. It'd be no different if Pepsi employed 200,000 people in DC. They would be the first to close in any serious weather because they would be the sole source of all commuter traffic. So please, stop with the bitter "lazy government worker" bit. It's just not an intelligent argument."

Yes, I agree with everything you wrote but do you believe the American taxpayer would then need to pay the Pepsi employees for their day off? That's exactly my point during this entire discussion thread. I have no problem with companies shutting down as they see fit (to keep the roads clear, their employees safe, etc.) but WHY should the working stiff in Montana pay the government workers salaries if they won't the Pepsi employees' salaries??? That is the simple question I've been asking. And FWIW, NO ONE has addressed this issue directly.

Posted by: danlarson | February 9, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

danlarson, to follow your Montana example, all of the federal offices in that state were open. While DC offices were closed, field offices of every single department and agency were still open today. Federal workers across the country were working as usual (weather permitting). Why is it that everyone cares so much about offices being closed in DC, but no one was upset about federal offices closed in other states during weather hazards and power outages?

Posted by: DCProgressive | February 9, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Hey Danlarson you moron Federal employees pay taxes as well.

Don't like it here, move to UAE where they pay no taxes.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 9, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

danlarson:

What the HECK are you talking about... u are just on here politically posturing... do you have do you know how many federal government agencies that are in DC???? seriously? if you dont go to opm.gov... Im a fed. gov worker and just like people with non-gov. jobs WE PAY TAXES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: AllforOne | February 9, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Friggin teabaggers are out of the woodwork...

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 9, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Stupid flyover state teabaggers are always posting on east and west coast news sites.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 9, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

sbhaskar002 :

i agree with you! they dont know what the heck they are talking about! I hate to say this but people that are posting ignorant stuff are simple morons. they need to go educate themselves before they speak/type on a issue they no nothing about

Posted by: AllforOne | February 9, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Such anger from Fed employees! And you'd think that after a (at least four-day holiday) they'd be in good moods. My point is ...
"danlarson, to follow your Montana example, all of the federal offices in that state were open. While DC offices were closed, field offices of every single department and agency were still open today. Federal workers across the country were working as usual (weather permitting). Why is it that everyone cares so much about offices being closed in DC, but no one was upset about federal offices closed in other states during weather hazards and power outages?"...why is only Fed employees who get paid by the taxpayer when they can't get to work. I don't care where they are. There are private and public sector employees in every jurisdiction throughout this great country but it is only the public sector who is granted (taxpayer-sponsored) days off due to inclement weather.

By the way for all the haters out there, I grew up in NoVa and both my parents were life long fed employees. I respect the work they did and I equally respect the work you do. That's not my issue at all! It's just that I don't understand why if YOU can't get to work and I also can't get work that your salary is paid by the taxpayer but mine isn't and I need to take a vacation day instead. It's that simple. Nothing personal agaisnt fed workers. You guys do a great job.

Posted by: danlarson | February 9, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Private sector employees tend to make more so they don't enjoy the same benefits. Plus I've worked in private industry as well where I was paid my salary when the the office was shut down due to inclement weather. So there.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 9, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Danlarson, actually, I've spent a decade working for a corporation and whenever we've had to shut down our office building several times due to snow, such as the snow storm of 2003. Since the office was closed, all employees were reimbursed for the full duration of their shift without taking any personal time off. That's a common business practice among larger employers. Employers who are less competitive and don't have a problem finding employees may not see that as a required benefit, however. It is something you should take up with your employer rather than resent others for having that option. Since you put so much value into that benefit, I would also suggest that you find an employer who offers it next time you choose to change employers (should that happen).

Posted by: DCProgressive | February 9, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Danlarson,
the answer is very easy: because the government is Fed Employees employer. Who else should pay for an administrative leave if not the employer?
Additionally the government, as opposed to Pepsi or CVS, is a non for profit institution.
Finally, it has the duty to consider issues of public safety, the minimum they can do is reducing the potential damage from a regular commuting in this situation (in an extreme situation, the government would have the power to shut down the access to a given area of the city).
If there is a problem, in my opinion, is corporations caring about the profit and not about their employees, if this is the case.

Posted by: sf2126 | February 9, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

danlarson: we pay taxes on everything thats what your not getting.. do you realize that people are snowed in thier homes...my development hasnt even been touched yet!... not everybody has 4 wheel drive or live next to metro. the majority of DC fed. gov workers live in the suburbs you know.. its just funny how people can make politics out of the stupid things..i know plenty of people that are non-gov workers that were off today and last week do to the wheather.

Posted by: AllforOne | February 9, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Hey danlarson, you are correct. You do pay my salary. I appreciate it to. I will be thinking about you when I wake up around noon tomorrow and watch TV all the while still making my nice salary with nice benefits for the year.

Thanks for your payments and keep up the good work.

There is no hate here. Not only does me not having work piss you off but you are paying me to not go to work tomorrow.

Posted by: Bious | February 9, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

What lame brain wrote this survey? I figure the question is do I agree with the OMB decision to close the Federal Govt and its a no brainer - its dangerous out there and in the face of 10-20 inch snow storm to start around noon Tues it would be irresponsible to clog the streets with commuters. The questionnaire below gets an F. The last ? says No I don't agree with keeping feds home becauses its too dangerous to go to work on Tues. Hmmm

Do you agree with OPM's decision?
No -- sending the feds back to work will save taxpayer's money
Yes -- I'm so bored and sick of my kids/spouse/roommate that I'm ready to go to work!
Yes -- we need another day to clean up!
No -- it's too dangerous to go to work on Tuesday

Posted by: brianc10 | February 9, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Last comment and then I'm done.

Consider this hypothetical situation:
Three people share a group house in Loudoun County. One works for DoE and the other two support it as contractors. A huge snowstorm hits DC and creates road conditions such that none of the three (they live together after all) can get to work. Everything is even at this point.

Until...the single worker who--while no different from the other two with the exception that his employer is Uncle Sam--is given the day off with pay. Her other two unfortunate contractor roommates are forced to take LWOP or a vacation day. If someone on this thread can give me a good justification for this dicrepancy I'd be very grateful.

Mostly what I've received is "stop bashing fed workers you must be a tea party'er" or "you're not able to get a fed job you loser" but no direct rebuttal to my fundemental question: Why should fed workers who are unable to get to work be paid while all non-gov't workers who equally can't get to work (see my above example) are not?

Please. A simple explanation without anger is all I request.

Thanks.

Posted by: danlarson | February 9, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Uh, CWG-WERE YOU ALL DRUNK WHEN YOU PUT THOSE POLL QUESTIONS TOGETHER, OR AS USUAL AT THE POST, NO ONE BOTHERED TO READ ANYTHING THROUGH BEFORE YOU PRINTED IT? THE QUESTIONS ASKED, THE "NO" "YES" AND THE STATEMENTS THAT FOLLOW, DON'T MAKE A D AMN BIT OF SENSE!

Posted by: arrabbiato | February 9, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

danlarson, you keep asking for no anger with anger found in your own comments. See how that works? Just calling others angry doesn't really make it so. You are mocking federal workers than wondering why people are fighting back. Who exactly is the lost one in that situation?

If you want an actual conversation, try responding without sounding like you are in high school with petty jabs and idiotic comparisons.

Posted by: Bious | February 9, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

I hope they get rid of all these contractors soon...all they do is overcharge by 3 times for work which anyone else in my office can do the same if not better.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 9, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

well, feds like every other big corporation or nonprofit have admin leave policy - at the discretion of the upper management every employee can be excused without tapping leave/sick bank.
I think someone else already mentioned it.
It is a standard practice and state/county/city governments and other entities do it all the time as well as corporations.
If commuter trains are shut down,metro is not working above ground, streets are not plowed and icy, there is no way for anyone whether fed or not to get to work.
No need to put blame for employees - OPM should be commended for not making feds go to work - not unlike DC Government that mandated everyone to show up without regard for basic safety and well-being.

Posted by: yusifaze | February 9, 2010 1:27 AM | Report abuse

danlarson
Why should fed workers who are unable to get to work be paid while all non-gov't workers who equally can't get to work (see my above example) are not?

Please. A simple explanation without anger is all I request.

Thanks.

___________________________________
The answer:
Bottomline as everybody else told you on this blog you need to take that up with your employeer... like i said i know plenty of people that are non-gov workers that were off today and recieved paid leave. i am sorry you have to go through that with your employeer. but you need to face your management with that clearly its just thier policy... not all companies are the same.

Posted by: AllforOne | February 9, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Agreed that the poll needs an edit:

#1 looks like it should read "NO" not "Yes".

Btw, road conditions in the area are an absolute mess. Days after the storm secondary roads are sheets of snow and ice. People should not be on the roads unless they need too. Also public transit is not running in many areas.

As far as the commentator's question about whether or not people should be paid for leave:

First a caveat, I'm not an expert in Federal payroll rules. However, my sense is that salaried employees are going to be working overtime when they do get back (without extra compensation). Just because people are away, it doesn't mean that the work load disappears -- it just means that they're going to have to work late and on the weekends to catch-up. So effectively they are just getting an advance on salary. They'll still have to pay the piper when they get back to the office. I also agree with the commentators who talk about telecommuting -- some of the work likely can and should be done at home.

Posted by: JPRS | February 9, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

UH, WHO THE HELL WROTE THIS POLL QUESTION, UH, ED O'KEEFE? AS USUAL AT THE POST, NO ONE BOTHERS TO PROOFREAD ANYTHING, SO YOUR POLL, AS IT WERE, COMES OUT AS A BUNCH OF GOBBLETY-GOOK-IT DOESN'T MAKE A D AMN BIT OF SENSE!

I MEAN, HOW HARD IS IT TO ASK WHETHER PEOPLE AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THE FED DECISION TO CLOSE, HUH? YOUR YES/NO, AND THE STATEMENTS THAT FOLLOW, DO NOT FOLLOW-DUMMY! GEEZ!

Posted by: arrabbiato | February 9, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

danlarson,

Simple answer: Because the two contract employees' employers just don't see fit to provide paid administrative leave. You may not like this, or think that it should be legal for it to work this way, but there really just isn't another answer. I think the contractor roommates should quit and find better jobs with more benevolent employers.

Honestly, consider another scenario. Two contractors are bidding on a government contract. One of them is generous with administrative leave, the other is stingy. The stingy contractor underbids the generous contractor and gets the contract. Simple, right?

The only way this goes wrong is if the stingy contractor can't find qualified people to hire and retain to work the job. Thus, if the two contractor roommates don't walk out on this job, then they become part of the problem.

Glad I could help.

Posted by: bob11 | February 9, 2010 1:52 AM | Report abuse

The $100 million quoted as a cost in lost productivity is very misleading. The work still must get done; deadlines are never extended just because the government is closed. In addition, there is a variable cost for opening the government (utilities, added security, and so forth) that will be avoided for the short time that the government is closed. Keeping cars off the road will help up recover from the snow faster. It makes sense to close teh government. expect it to close on wednesday too as the next snow storm hits.

Posted by: stevenb-cpa | February 9, 2010 2:41 AM | Report abuse

With the rest of the Country suffering 10% unemployment it is nice to know Federal workers get 2.5 days off (WITH PAY) to play in the snow.

Enjoy yourselves (at our expense).

Posted by: cautious | February 9, 2010 3:24 AM | Report abuse

Another example as to why this federal government contractor longs to be a real federal employee.

I'll be on the road to go to to work by 6am today as "'s offices in the NCR are open and operational on Tuesday. Employees are encouraged to take Leave if they cannot make it to work." But I can agree that it's not my company's fault that it snowed 20 inches (with possibly 20 more).

I will put money on the Fed Gov being closed again tomorrow (Wednesday) and maybe even Thursday. A third (fourth) day of deciding to risk 1) losing my parking spot I spent 4 hours digging out b/c stupid Metro isn't running to my stop and 2) getting in an accident, to avoid using the very limited leave I get.

I'm just ranting though... I have no beef with Feds for closing, not going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

Posted by: stacyd1 | February 9, 2010 3:26 AM | Report abuse

Stop crying about the snow and get to work. Other cities have long cleaned up from this storm and were back in business on Monday, if not Sunday. Get real, DC.

Posted by: niksiz | February 9, 2010 4:31 AM | Report abuse

It's a good time to evaluate how closely our lives match our values and priorities and to identify a healthy balance between personal safety, family needs, and work life.

Posted by: moreincommonthannot | February 9, 2010 4:38 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I'm bored out of my mind. Yes another day to clean up (shovel snow for another 8 hours) would be most desirable. And yes--not no--it is crazy to drive to work with another blizzard coming and starting about noon.

Posted by: ralph6941 | February 9, 2010 4:58 AM | Report abuse

Good grief, why not just go to work. When Chicago has a big snowfall, everything is still open. Obama said so.

Posted by: mesquite1 | February 9, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

To all those who say "Other cities get more snow than fell on DC, and they don't miss a beat in clearing out the snow", please consider this:

The snow that fell in the Mid-Atlantic this past week IN A SINGLE STORM was 50% MORE than the average annual snowfall for the area. As an example, Syracuse in upstate New York state gets an average of 118 inches of snow per year. Ever have a single snow storm that dumped about 175 inches over the city in a short period of time? How would you and/or the city and area handle such a storm? How long would it take for anyone to be able to get to work, whether they worked for the government, for a private business, or other employer? How long would it take for the corner grocery store to receive material from the distributor to stock the shelves with essentials? Do you think no one would lose power, and if so, how long would it take for the local utility to restore that power?

And also remember, this was the SECOND such storm for the Mid-Atlantic this winter, and another storm is coming that is predicted to drop the annual average on the city AGAIN.

I grew up in an area that gets an annual average snow fall that is almost 3 times the Mid-Atlantic average. They are MUCH more prepared to handle it on a yearly basis, though, as they get it year after year after year.

DC DOES NOT get that much snow, and thus is NOT prepared for such an event. In fact, NO jurisdiction could afford for such an event.

Want the area government to have enough equipment to handle a historic snow fall within 24 hours? Expect your taxes to increase to cover the bill. Don't want the taxes to increase? Don't bi*** and moan when the streets don't get plowed 'fast enough'.

In other words, suck it up. You'll pay one way or the other when an historic weather event occurs, as is happening in the Mid-Atlantic multiple times this year.

Posted by: critter69 | February 9, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

"As for yoru contention that Fed salaries are below the national average, I'm afraid you're completely mistaken. According to a recent Pew report: Avg (non-govt)American salary per annum....$42k. Fed salary per annum....$71k."

This is a very misleading comparison. The federal government doesn't have many low-wage employees like burger flippers or janitors on the payroll. (Those jobs are handled by contractors, for the most part.) The Federal ranks are filled with professionals like doctors, lawyers, and scientists.

If you compare job-for-job (secretary v. secretary, physicist v. physicist), Federal salaries are usually lower.

There are benefits that make up for the difference (job security, etc.), but to compare the $42K and $71K numbers is misleading.

Posted by: chrisny2 | February 9, 2010 5:59 AM | Report abuse

THOROUGHLY CITE YOUR $100 MILLION FIGURE please or stop using it until you can! It is getting embarrassing! You're falling below Wikipedia standards here.

Posted by: icemachine79 | February 9, 2010 6:01 AM | Report abuse

Danlarson,
you are talking about private sector and public sector, which are subject to different rules. I do believe the government is doing the right thing here: the employer (or the state) should take the risk in a situation like this. I think it is ethically questionable that the burden is placed on the employee, the weaker part of the equation. what the gov't does is implementing a good practice. If the private sector does not do the same, there lies the unfairness in my opinion. Another situation is the one of the self-employed: they take every decision on their own business and take 100% of the risk for their decision.
Now the question becomes political: should the state impose their policies and take the burden for lost profit? Should union negotiate better benefits to be covered by the employers? I cannot say.
What I would say is that if I have to chose between a good practice (employer taking the loss) and a bad practice (employee taking the loss) I will always defend the former.

Posted by: sf2126 | February 9, 2010 6:14 AM | Report abuse

My prayer is that, whoever you work for, you will remain safe throughout this weather ordeal.

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | February 9, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

O'Keefe - the Post is getting their money's worth with your muckracking, anti-fed sentiment. You must be a political wannabe, using your pulpit to bash the feds.

Try using something that seems to have disapppeared from this area.....hasn't been seen much in decades - "common sense." In the private sector time is money. You don't open the facility, you don't make money. You don't get to work, you miss customers, you don't get paid. Simple concept, right.

In the public sector, the opposite holds true.....the work is always there when you get back to the job. You don't lose customers; their requests, etc. are still there waiting for your return. The bad guys will still get caught, the science and innovations will be completed and developed, and essential services will still be provided when needed. In most cases, Feds work late hours to expedite emergency requests, and I can assure you that practice will be commonplace after these "$100 million in lost productivity" days end. In the end, the net loss in productivity will be something closer to $0.00. But then, that kind of news won't stir up your blog, will it?

Posted by: Staffordonian | February 9, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey danlarson, Fed employees all over the Washington area will be enjoying their morning coffee even more, knowing that you are busily at work, enriching corporate coffers and paying taxes so they can stay home. I'm sure the coffee tastes even sweeter knowing how much all of this p!sses you off.

Posted by: NoWayNotNow | February 9, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

to tristesse27:

You make my point exactly!!

"The reason the Federal Govt closes is not because its workers are lazy. It's to keep tens of thousands of people off the roads and rails so crews can clean them of snow and ice. It'd be no different if Pepsi employed 200,000 people in DC. They would be the first to close in any serious weather because they would be the sole source of all commuter traffic. So please, stop with the bitter "lazy government worker" bit. It's just not an intelligent argument."

Yes, I agree with everything you wrote but do you believe the American taxpayer would then need to pay the Pepsi employees for their day off? That's exactly my point during this entire discussion thread. I have no problem with companies shutting down as they see fit (to keep the roads clear, their employees safe, etc.) but WHY should the working stiff in Montana pay the government workers salaries if they won't the Pepsi employees' salaries??? That is the simple question I've been asking. And FWIW, NO ONE has addressed this issue directly.

------------------------------------------Tne government doesn't own Peps1. If they did, the government would be paying the Pepsi employees' salaries.

Perhaps the costs to the taxpayer would be greater if government workers were put on slippery and icy roads increasing the risk of accidents. Perhaps the government can help the local governments better, and reduce the risks to the thousands of their own employees, if they don't have thousands of employees on the road at the same time, increasing the risks to safety. May be a good idea to read about a certain very bad day in Washington (one of the worst until 9/11) when they had an air crash on the Potomac, a derailment in the Metro, and traffic that took hours to get home.

Posted by: Paladin7b | February 9, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

"As for yoru contention that Fed salaries are below the national average, I'm afraid you're completely mistaken. According to a recent Pew report: Avg (non-govt)American salary per annum....$42k. Fed salary per annum....$71k."


What that political cesspool Pew fails to note is that there are nowhere near as many low-to-mid-range wage earners in the federal workforce anymore. Those jobs have been farmed out to contractors, so your "data" is seriously flawed and devoid of actual facts.

Posted by: NoWayNotNow | February 9, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

My agency put the highest importance on ALL of us being "cyber warriors," that is, we can work from anywhere, at any time. I believe more agencies are moving in that direction, and for good reason. However, this is such a fluke, random event, but it's a good wake-up call to everyone that we need to have contingency plans to keep government running.

As for "wasting tax dollars," I'm not a fed (just work for them), but, unlike private business where money lost is only important to the CEO and Board of Directors, the government's money lost is important to their board of directors, US Citizens. It is important to note what the money lost is, and that weighs heavily in the decision by OPM.

Finally, those who are telling me to "get to work," how about you come down here to Fairfax, clean the ice off of my car, slip out through my parking lot, try not to get into an accident on the unplowed road, inch through traffic, get to work, and then turn around and do it all again at the first sign of snow at 1pm this afternoon. Please, though, if you do wreck my beloved Beetle (the ultimate snowmobile), please try to total it, so I can buy a new car. THANKS!

Posted by: whitneyuevans | February 9, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm another Fed who has been teleworking through all this (even though it's not in my telework agreement). My workload and deadlines haven't changed, and the rest of the country is at work and emailing me.

With Metro only running trains every 30 minutes today, you don't want all us Federal worker bees trying to get to work. I'm a regular on the Orange Line and there is no way the system could handle a normal rush hour today.


Posted by: waltraud82 | February 9, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

I don't disagree with the safety of keeping you at home What I hate is the fact that it's another completely FREE day; full pay, no leave used up, just another spoiled Federal Employee entitlement! After all, it's ONLY taxpayer $$$, right?

Posted by: dmedman50 | February 9, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

This is Gods way of showing us we do not need so many lazy government workers.

Posted by: metroman76 | February 9, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I too am a proud Federal worker and am getting a little tired of the negativity when we are closed.

Aside from the fact that MOST Federal workers I know are some of the hardest working people you will see, the simple fact is that road crews need to be out preparing and maintaining the roads, and since the Federal population is one of the largest employers in the area, they need to be off the roads so the crews can do their job.

I remember once when the call was made to bring workers in and streets were blocked of weeks because cars were stuck in the middle of the roads and crews couldn't get the trucks through to clear the snow. Imagine if you needed a fire truck or an ambulance.

Posted by: mjevans3 | February 9, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

"This is Gods way of showing us we do not need so many lazy government workers."

Ahhh, the rank jealousy of those who worship at the altar of corporate profits and the bottom line is out in force this morning. How's your 401K doing?

Posted by: NoWayNotNow | February 9, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Get a frakkin' life. I paid my dues, and almost starved, on a GS-4 salary in the late 80's to get in the door with the Federal government. Even on a GS-12 I still find it hard to keep my head above water in the DC area. I bust my butt, often 60 or more hours a week, to bring services to haters and whiners like you; and my agency isn't even supported by your tax dollars.

I would have gone in today if the government was open, and fought my way home in the snow. I would work from home if they would give me a laptop-- but they can't afford to. I will surely be working WITHOUT pay this weekend to make up for lost time.

People who criticize "The Government" and the people who work very hard for little pay are ignorant, selfish and envious. You couldn't recognize and give credit where it's due if your life depended on it. God, make the stupid people shut up.

Posted by: entropy_happens | February 9, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

As a federal worker I would be happy to go to work today. However, the county I live in has not cleared the streets sufficiently for me to be able to get out of my neighborhood to get to work. Most other storms I have gone to work, even those with liberal leave options. I resent the snide comments. Do we hear how much much the counties lose when they close? Not a word!

Posted by: jackdmom | February 9, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

We should all be thankful that the Feds were closed today - the rest of us would not have made it into the city with all of them on the roads and metro.

As a private sector employee, I've been paid when the office had to close for some reason. Hourly workers might be out of luck, but salaried workers should ask for this "benefit" from their employers.

Posted by: dc_attorney | February 9, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

entropy_happens, thank you for your service. I am one of many who recognize the sacrifices many federal employees make. Many feds have high levels of education, yet still have to bust tail to meet benchmarks for promotion, despite the false popular sentiment that it is all just automatic.

Perhaps more Feds should have jobs like some of these complainers who can apparently sit around all day and blog and b!tch about lazy federal employees.

Posted by: NoWayNotNow | February 9, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

What a bunch of cry babies we modern folk are. Now I know this comment is going to get your back up, but I'm telling my tale anyway.
We have an association with a county in the country two hundred miles from DC. In the local paper an article was re-printed about the worst snow storm that ever hit that county. Of course this was 75 years ago, but still valid.
A snow storm hit and the folks there were house bound for three weeks. The snow was so high that it meet the tops of the fence post. It was frozen sub degree temps, so their horse was walking on top of this snow as high as the fence posts. The narrator of this story was a kid at the time. His family ran out of food, which up to this point was only grain, so he took the horse and rode to the grain mill miles away, got caught in another storm but managed to get more grain for food.
There was no electricity in the county at this time, heating by wood was the only option, and no plumbing so going outside to the facilities must have been fun also.
So, I sit here in my warm house and think, we'll be just fine.

Posted by: riswest | February 9, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

"so he took the horse and rode to the grain mill miles away,"

And I bet it was uphill both ways!

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

Who misses the federal government being closed? No one. It's a shame we have to pay all of these non-productive, lazy employees. I say fire them all except for essential services. Make 'em get real jobs!

Posted by: freepost | February 9, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

It is dangerous to put a 5 year old on a school bus It is IRRESPONSIBLE for the federal goverment to close
WHEN YOU CAN VOTE YOURSELF A PAY RAISE AND WORK SCHEDULE YOU NO LONGER HAVE A DEMOCRACY

Posted by: syoung29 | February 9, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

DEFINITION OF A PERSON WHO HAS A FEDERAL POSITION

LAZY LAZY LAZY LAZY INCOMPETENT LAZY LAZY PAY IS NOT TIED TO PERFORMANCE LAZY LAZY LAZY I CAN GET PAID FOR DOING NOTHING AT HOME JUST AS WELL AS GETTING PAID FOR DOING NOTHING AT WORK LAZY LAZY LAZY

I'M A HARD WORKING--HA HA HA FED--JUST SHUT UP AND PAY ME LAZY LAZY

Posted by: syoung29 | February 9, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm a federal employee, and even on this "day off," I'll be working. Much like I was yesterday (but a bit more, actually). And so will my co-workers.

My colleagues and I have no control of John Berry's decision to close the government, nor of Metro's mediocre job of getting the system running again, nor of the weather. So please stop treating this as if we elected to take a day off. And please stop with the assumption that we won't be working and productivity will be lost. It's simply inaccurate.

Posted by: matt731 | February 9, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

"It's just dumb to keep citing that $100 million dollar figure without qualifying it with some reality. Unless, of course, the point is to do a little baiting."

Yep, that does seem to be the point and it certainly seems to have done the job well. Why not start estimating how much productivity *isn't* lost these days now that so many telecommute? My whole group pretty much is never "off" - not even on weekends. Why not start estimating how much work the taxpayers get from federal workers for "free?" None of us is paid overtime, yet we never are without our Blackberrys and seem to always be connected to the office these days.

I worked in the private sector for a long time before becoming a fed and my co-workers are among the most hard-working, intelligent, and dedicated people I've ever worked with. There were many years I could have been making a higher salary in the private sector - and in fact took a major salary cut when I moved to the public sector - but feel that it's all been worth it for the job security and other benefits. It's unfortunate that our work is so little appreciated.

I'd write more but I've got a teleconference I've got to call in to. So much for this lazy federal worker's day off. ;-)

Posted by: eerickso1464 | February 9, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Definition of a person taking a federal pay check
LAZY LAZY INCOMPETENT LAZY LAZY PAY IS NOT TIED TO PERFORMANCE LAZY LAZY IT IS DANGEROUS TO PUT A 5 YEAR OLD ON A SCHOOL BUS IT IS IRRESPONSIBLE TO FOR THE FEDS TO CLOSE WHEN YOU CAN VOTE YOURSELF A PAY RAISE WORK SCHEDULE WE NO LONGER HAVE A DEMOCRACY LAZY LAZY LAZY
SHUT UP AND JUST PAY PAY PAY ME FOR NOTHING

Posted by: syoung29 | February 9, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I wish The Washington Post's headline to the story can be changed to "Federal goverment OFFICES in the D.C. AREA are closed on Tuesday." The Federal government is not "closed." Myself and many of my office colleagues have been working online, not only this week, but over the weekend as well. The work still gets done.

Posted by: kschlem1 | February 9, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

syoung29, it must suck to be you, you jealous half-wit.

Posted by: NoWayNotNow | February 9, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I don't fault the workers but I do think the government offices shutting down for so many days is a disservice to the public. As a former federal employee, I think more should be done to implement and encourage telework. Furthermore, yes, there are people who live far from D.C. who might find it impossible to get into D.C., but people who are able to get in should be required to do so. The policy of closing all offices and letting everyone stay home seems skewed only towards fairness to the employees not to the taxpayers. Receiving one's full salary for the job you're employed to do is fairness enough. Most of my co-workers when I was a federal employee were incredibly hard workers so I have no argument with them, but the government needs better a contingency plan than closing all offices.

Posted by: ankazobe | February 9, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

What's the deal with all the entitled 'crats out here teabagging each other?

They'll get the "work" done next week. Lost productivity is a vicious lie.

Posted by: member8 | February 9, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

-Some of us cannot telework because of the material we work with.

-I second the statement that lots of times we work way more than the 40 hours a week shown on our pay stub. Work is cyclical, but things always balance out in the end. So chill out haters.

-If I was in the category of people who have to work today, I'd be grateful for the enormously reduced number of cars I have to deal with today.

-Finally, I would be OK with not having President's Day off this year, for DC-area feds only, of course. Maybe even another Federal holiday later. It's not the end of the world (despite the stupid term "snowmageddon"), it's just a temporary bout of really bad weather; no reason to turn all hater-ish towards your neighbors.

Posted by: carloz0 | February 9, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

sbhaskar002, you should really get out more. Government employees doing my job make 20% more than I do, not even counting the benefits. Just about everyone I know would rather have a federal government job, but we don't live in privileged DC.

We don't get snow days, either. For the rest of the world, it's no work, no pay. A few years ago, I left 2 hours early and drove to work in a bad storm. Halfway there, I had an accident and limped, with a broken steering rod, to the next exit, where I abandoned my car in a parking lot and stuck out my thumb.

Because that's what you do when you need your paycheck and are not a pampered civil servant. You do the best you can, take your chances, and hope it doesn't wind up costing you more than you make.

Posted by: Itzajob | February 9, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I took a $15K pay cut when I took my Federal job. Was it worth it? You betcha! That said, not everyone would have made the same choice. To me it was worth it for the benefits and the job security. Sure, it hurt watching friends make lots more during the dot.com boom. That's what you trade. Seems, though, like some in the private sector want it all.

As has already been pointed out, Feds are significantly more highly educated that the public sector work force it's most often compared against. So yeah, as an entire group, we get paid more.

BTW, a friend who had to get to the airport this morning just emailed me that it's down to one lane on the GW Parkway and the conditions are terrible. Doesn't sound to me like putting a lot more people on the road would be a really smart idea. OPM can't win at this. If they opened the offices and then everyone got stuck in a major ice and sleet storm during the evening rush hour hey'd be slammed even harder than they are now for closing the offices. (And yeah, the "government" is not closed; only the offices in the DC area are. My co-workers are hard at work - as are many of us in this area.)

Posted by: eerickso1464 | February 9, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

More should be done to encourage teleworking. What needs to be done also is teleworking for government contractors. I know of one tech company that tries to get brownie points by showing up on Tuesday and Wednesday, just so that they can improve their (read: the owners and higher-ups) bottom line. They seem to get an incentive in the form of my tax money, for showing up even if there are no federal employees to serve. Matter of fact, the federal workers that they support today are teleworking! Tech support can be done from anywhere, especially when fed employees are working from home. These contracting companies, not federal workers, are fleecing America.

Posted by: habaneronegrito1 | February 9, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Mr. O'Keefe:

I read your blog posting and the comments relating to your blog this morning. Afterwards I spent a total of 3 hours in my neighborhood supermarkets ( 1 hour in line at Safeway; 2 hours in line at Harris Teeter) thinking about how purposely misleading your blog post is. The most glaringly misleading information in your blog is that the Federal government is closed, which gives the impression that the entire Federal government in the United States and in the US Terrorities are closed. This is not true. What is true is that Federal agencies located in the DMV area are closed and only these agencies located in this particular geographic region are closed. Your blog should be very clear on this however it is not. Secondly, where are your references and data to back up this $100 million dollar figure in lost productivity due to Federal agencies in the DMV area being closed due to extreme weather conditions come from?

And why is there a picture of the White House instead of OPM to lead your story?

I like the idea of blog that wants to function as a watchdog of the Federal government but it seems to me, Mr. O'Keefe, that your blog is motivated by spreading mis-information than actual facts. I guess we are in a new age of journalism where facts are irrelevant to a story.

Posted by: Kaynice | February 9, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

carloz0, Amen to your 40 hour comment

I work closer to 55 hours a week (with no overtime) and still am just fine with what I do.

It's comical hearing people mock what I do when chances are good that I do work that runs circle around them both in complexity and importance

Posted by: Bious | February 9, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I work for The Department of Education and I'm teleworking today, even though my office is closed. I think we all should--if we can. I want to promote telework and this (today) is a great way to prove its worth. This would make it easier for OPM to call snow days when it's too dangerous to commute.

We are fortunate to have good-paying Federal jobs, especially in this economy. Let's be mature professionals. That means not jumping up and down like school kids on a snow day. Instead, let's put a dent in that $100 million figure we keep hearing about.

Posted by: Scubaquad | February 9, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

All: sbhaskar002's IP has been traced and will be dealt with shortly.

Thank you for your patience.

Posted by: member8 | February 10, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I am a federal contractor (in IT) in the DC area. We are required by the govt to telework during this storm.

I am grateful that they allow this. I don't have to take time off. However, the real reason they are allowing it is so we can keep their agency afloat while they are not working at all.

Posted by: skoorb1 | February 11, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

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