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Federal government closed on Wednesday

By Ed O'Keefe


A jogger runs on the Mall in Washington on Tuesday evening. (Ricky Carioti/Post)

Federal government offices in the Washington region will close on Wednesday for a third straight day, the longest run of snow days for the region's federal workers since 1996.

The decision means non-emergency federal workers will be granted excused absences, the Office of Personnel Management said. 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.

The last three-day weather shutdown occurred in Jan. 1996, just a few days after the federal budget impasse that kept federal workers locked out for three weeks. Federal offices also closed for two consecutive days in Sept. 2003 when Hurricane Isabel hit the region.

Safety is the chief concern when OPM Director John Berry decides to close government offices, a factor reinforced when a top White House official fell and dislocated his jaw in the storm's aftermath on Monday.

But three straight days of closings and Friday's half day will cost taxpayers an estimated $350 million in lost productivity by federal employees. The estimate was calculated by career OPM employees, Berry said.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect through Wednesday. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts the storm will begin later tonight and last until tomorrow morning with accumulations ranging from 6 to 16 inches. (Need something to do on Wednesday? Here's a look at what's open and closed.)

As we all prepare for Wednesday's storm and Thursday's digout let's ponder: What should the government do on Thursday?!

Sign up for federal government closing E-mail alerts

Researcher Alice Crites contributed to this report

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 9, 2010; 6:53 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Comments

As a Federal employee, I don't see any reason that work shouldn't be offered to those who can make it on Thursday.

I enjoy the days off (I can't bring my work home due to sensitivity issues with it)....but I also think that enough time will have passed that Thurs will see the Metro working and Buses going for the most part

Maybe some won't make it but I figure the high majority will be able to make it.

Offer leave if need be to those that can't

Posted by: Bious | February 9, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Second! Now, that's my idea of a Capital HatTrick!!!

Posted by: Sulphide1 | February 9, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

It is the right call. The roads are still crap and Metro has already said they are only running underground tomorrow. There is no way for people to get there safely. I commend John Barry for making the right decision and for making it early.

Posted by: happydad3 | February 9, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Mr. O'keefe - thanks so much for the consistent and timely updates....you're doing a much better job of letting us know than OPM has done!

I do have a question, though. While I don't work for the Federal Government I, like many in private business here in DC, do work for a company that adheres to the Feds' inclement weather policy as their own. And like many comments I have read from those federal employees, I too actually do work during said periods; I telecommute and am able to do almost (I'd say 95%) of my work from home; the remaining 5% being the face-to-face meetings that, for whatever reason, cannot take place via conference call.

So my question: While I've seen many posts making potentially valid and solid arguments against your repeated "100 million $ in lost productivity per day" stance, I've yet to see you respond to it. Would you? Because if that is the case I'd really like to see substantive data supporting it; if not, the same. Even perhaps dedicate an entire story/post to it? Just something that I and I'm guessing others would welcome.

Thanks again for the outstanding and immediate updates!! Have really come to rely on them in this past Snowpocalypse!

Best regards.

Posted by: lolaindc | February 9, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Smart decision. And before anyone chimes in about this "$100 million" loss--let me tell you folks, the work doesn't go anywhere. Most people are working from home on their Blackberrys. There will be some long days again--but THE WORK ALWAYS GETS DONE. That dollar amount is the the biggest fallacy I've heard in months.

Posted by: CBone | February 9, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

And at a minimum it needs to be unscheduled leave the rest of the week so people with child care issues can stay home and take care of their kids without recourse. Virtually every school district in the region is closed through Friday.

Posted by: happydad3 | February 9, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I work for the Fed govt and if they hadn't closed tomorrow, I definitely still wouldn't have gone in. Far too risky since I rely on public transportation.
If Metro above-ground stations reopen for Thurs, I'd look forward to getting back to work. But as long as Metro is not at 100%, I don't see how the Fed govt can truly reopen safely.

Posted by: dalrympj | February 9, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Only in the epicenter of "something for nothing" could this legalized theft from the taxpayers occur! Maybe by next Tuesday (Monday of course is an ENTITLED Holiday) some of them will return to "work"?

Posted by: dmedman50 | February 9, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Also Keep in mind, many federal workers have to shovel and/or move the snow that's falling, many are fatigue, and managers really need to consider this, especially for blue color workers, you don't want to risk on the job injuries, that most likely will be a result of all the physical labor being performed at home this week.

Posted by: pmiller2 | February 9, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Also Keep in mind, many federal workers have to shovel and/or move the snow that's falling, many are fatigue, and managers really need to consider this, especially for blue color workers, you don't want to risk on the job injuries, that most likely will be a result of all the physical labor being performed at home this week.

Posted by: pmiller2 | February 9, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Lost productivity? That's assuming that the government is a productive entity that produces wealth.

Posted by: fwillyhess | February 9, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

As a contractor in a federal office, I'm not allowed to report to the office without the feds being present, even though I'm perfectly able to get there (I live in the city). I'm unfortunately unable to do what I do via telecommute. Furthermore, my major defense contractor employer expects me to use my personal leave for all this missed time (or not get paid).

So yeah, this pretty much sucks.

Posted by: whitman22 | February 9, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

My job follows the federal government but I don't get paid for time off. I think the roads have been too terrible to drive and WMATA has not provided any type of service so it makes sense for the Feds to be off.
Pressure needs to be put on WMATA to at least have the buses running and in order to do that roads must be PLOWED. What are we paying taxes for if Montgomery County and DC are not doing their job. I want to work.

Posted by: mmad2 | February 9, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

The roads are not going to be drivable tomorrow, no doubt

But, by Thursday? I just don't see the roads being THAT bad by then.

Will it be tough to get to work? Yes. Will the buses/metro be backed up? Yes....but nothing should be completely shut down by then (Just my opinion).

So, let's get back to work Thursday and those that really can't? Give them leave

Posted by: Bious | February 9, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

100M dollar loss is a bunch of baloney. Most people do work from home and if that's not the case, we all do long hours to get the job done, as the deadline creeps up.

Posted by: ffarooq84 | February 9, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

No big deal if the slackers get another day off, it's not like a lot of work would get done anyway. =)

Posted by: coloradomike | February 9, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

GOD forbid we should expect any PHYSICAL labor our of these pampered princes or princesses! No doubt some of them have already pulled sopmething reaching for their TV remote!

Posted by: dmedman50 | February 9, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with CBone; all the work gets done.

This idea of "lost productivity" certainly doesn't apply to MY government position. It only means that I'll have to work more (uncompensated) hours during fewer days to finish whatever needs to be done.

Hopefully the big snow and aftermath will light a fire under the Executive Branch to truly embrace teleworking.

Posted by: joe_b_stanley | February 9, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I like snow. Snow is my friend.

Posted by: millerroberta | February 9, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I can't speak on the $100M figure, but I would imagine that loss is accountable to the Admin Leave they have to pay everyone for not coming to work. I am a contractor who gets paid by the DOD through a private company, and I assure you I am most definitely getting paid for these days and unfortunately cannot do any of my work from home, and everyone in my office is under the same circumstances.

Posted by: evild37 | February 9, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

The government is really dependent on Metro. If VA is cut off from DC because Metro is underground only, then it's impossible to expect people to get to work.

If it costs the government $200 million/day to shut down, and I find that figure dubious, then maybe the government should just write Metro a check every year for $400 million to weatherproof and upgrade the system. That would solve problems year-round, and not just a couple days every winter.

Posted by: AxelDC | February 9, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

No big deal if the slackers get another day off, it's not like a lot of work would get done anyway. =)

Posted by: coloradomike
______________________________
Ahh, the voice of ignorance, as with all the anti-govt.-employee types making ignorant comments and/or lies.

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

@dmedman50:

Many people in the government are over 50 years old. Do you expect a 55 year old woman to shovel 24" of snow off her driveway to get to work on time?
_____________________________
GOD forbid we should expect any PHYSICAL labor our of these pampered princes or princesses! No doubt some of them have already pulled sopmething reaching for their TV remote!

Posted by: dmedman50

Posted by: AxelDC | February 9, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

loss? what is the USGOV making? the paper will be there to push when federal workers go back, maybe just piled up a little.

Posted by: sideshowmel1 | February 9, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

how can anyone make a decision on Tuesday? Lets just wait and see how bad this new storm is and if the roads have been cleared up by Thursday morning. Unlikely though.

Posted by: sideshowmel1 | February 9, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

I am a Federal Employee and would have gone in on Tuesday had they been open. Due to the sensitivity of my work, I am limited in my teleworking options. Due to the fact that my agency won't pay to provide me with either a laptop, or Blackberry, there is next to nothing I can do at home. I can't access my email, all I could do is listen to voicemails or make a few calls. That being said, I'm not certain that my "lost productivity" is really costing the taxpayer anything. The work is waiting for me, nobody else is going to do it. As somebody posted above perhaps in snark, but none-the-less true, I don't "produce" anything. We contract with industry who does. If there is any lost "productivity" it is in the delay in providing approval or guidance to industry. But not much is of such a time sensitive nature that our failure to act today could be costing the taxpayer. But that's just my agency.

Posted by: psubman | February 9, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Productivity is not the most accurate measure of government activity. Government employees don't produce widgets. They ensure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. None of these rights are endangered by a snow day.

Posted by: millerroberta | February 9, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Productivity is not the most accurate measure of government activity. Government employees don't produce widgets. They ensure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. None of these rights are endangered by a snow day.
_________________________________________________

Now there's a laugher. I'd be able to pursue LIBERTY and HAPPINESS a lot better if I could keep the federal government out of my LIFE.

Posted by: stratman1 | February 9, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Don't break the law and they won't be

Posted by: Bious | February 9, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I read everyones comments, I think Fed Govt should be closed on Thursday too....Really all week, not just because I like being able to be home and spend time with family, but because NOT ALL PEOPLE HAVE LEAVE!!!!!!! I am one of those employees who have only been in the federal govt for 4 months, and I have a toddler and do not have enough leave on my 4 10 schedule to be able to take full 10 hour day off, nor do I have anyone to watch my toddler since the day care will likely be closed. I hope OPM has people like me in mind when he makes the decision thursday, and I think FED GOVT should be CLOSED on Thursday! Its already pretty bad where I live. Its too much to ask to try to make me go to work and bust my butt on the ice and snow. CLOSE!

Posted by: guilty_witch | February 9, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Here's a suggestion for those who work in Federal procurement... If you have any proposals from industry due on Friday, would you kindly provide a deadline extension to next week ASAP? Next Tuesday or Wednesday is fine. There is just too much uncertainty with weather, transportation, etc on Wednesday and Thursday to produce, package and deliver bids that are due on Friday.

Posted by: chambers14 | February 9, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Please update your productivity lie to $400 million. They forgot to include the fact that people came in Friday morning for the sole purpose of waiting for the snow before running back home.

Posted by: member8 | February 9, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Maybe now BlackBerries and FOBs for remote access will be considered as legitimate work tools for all, instead of prestige items for some privileged direct hires.

Contractors could be doing real work with access to agency networks (unclassified,of course - but for many, that's the bulk of their work). I could have done a lot of forward planning and document revision so that when we are back in the office, we could make real progress. Working from home means getting those tasks done with far fewer interruptions.

Posted by: PamB2k3 | February 9, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

All you gov't employee/contractor bashers can kiss my a$$.

I am contractor. I feel the work I do IS important. Because I am a contractor and I deal with sensitive documents, like others have said, I cannot do much work from home. Further, as a contractor, I do not get access to telecommuting as the access is reserved for federal employees only, at least at the agency I contract for.

So I am stuck at home, taking leave without pay. When I get back in I will have no leave and a ton of work.

Posted by: keithrjackson | February 9, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

How about doing what many school systems are planning - the Federal Government should be open on Monday, President's Day.

Also, let's wait to late Wednesday to determine where things stand. But there is no good reason why workers who can report to work should not do so.

Posted by: RUinVA | February 9, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to liberal leave? If you can't get to your workplace, take a personal day or vacation. If you don't have either, you don't get paid. It's the price you pay for living too far from your workplace. OPM needs to get a spine.

Posted by: mhammel22 | February 9, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Too many complaints here about federal employees not breaking their necks. I applaud OPM's decision however, as OPM also knows, employees will do their work, for those who can accomplish it online come rain, shine, on vacation, while traveling, while in training, and even snow, etc., etc., so the "loss of $100 million" is kind of iffy.

For those contractors that work for the government, why blame the government, it is the company who hired you that should be addressing these issues. On the other hand, it is a real shame that employees working for state and local governments or private firms do not get paid for days lost due to weather conditions, it is not as if people danced under the moon to create the blizzard, or bad traveling conditions.... and two...

Should federal employees be forced to go to work on Thursday if roads are not safe? Only if the Federal government is willing to be liable for injuries. In addition to that, schools are closed, who do parents leave their children with if they are not even sure they will make it to work or back home....people are still shut-in in a great majority of areas, not because they want to either.

Maybe it is time for all agencies to really put an effort in making telework a reality for most employees who can accomplish their work online. The rules are there but most supervisors go into a spin if employees request it; must be the "insecurity of losing control" issue. In this time and age where even President Obama and agency chiefs conduct business with other offices -public and even the media- through advanced technology, that shouldn't even be a concern.

Posted by: venusita | February 9, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Ok Okeefe,

Do you realize how much the government and commercial companies will have to pay in injuries if people are forced to go to work on Thursday. Maybe you haven't been out on the streets of Fairfax, Falls Church and DC (disaster central). The Green way is the only really dry road in town, but of course that is a commercial enterprise. If the streets can't be made passable and you can't keep people off the road that can't drive in snow, then close everything until the weather gets better.

Posted by: Xcalibar | February 9, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Um, it's only Tuesday night. Maybe we should wait to see what conditions are actually like tomorrow afternoon before predicting or opining what should be done ...

Posted by: tango1 | February 9, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

This is EXACTLY why OPM encourages ALL organizations to have telework policies in place. But 'no', management continues to shun telework because they feel it is some privilege to the employee. While many employees cannot perform their duties away from the office, there are many more that could have. If there is lack of productivity blame the stubborn, old-school managers in government service that refuse to embrace what modern technology has made available to the workforce.

I believe OPM is doing the right now. Leave the roads and streets clear for them to be plowed and cleaned up properly. Also, it leaves first respondents and emergency workers available to deal with real emergencies versus those created by too many people being on the streets. John Berry is doing the right thing, and I don't think many can rationally argue with that.

Posted by: trinity212 | February 9, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Correction in my typo, I meant to say "doing the right thing"

Posted by: trinity212 | February 9, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Is Friday, February 12th a half-day (according to the article above)? If so, has there been an Executive Order that was issued?

Posted by: hidalgocohen | February 9, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

dmedman50, you are an idiot!

Posted by: jax24985 | February 9, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

WOW guilty_witch. You want hundreds of people to go without pay because you did not plan enough to have child care when you chose to have your child.
If I look up selfish in the dictionary will I see your picture?
I should have a choice to work.

Posted by: mmad2 | February 9, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

It's clear that Wednesday snow will be as heavy or worse than last Saturday. DC will be unable to clear out the main streets on Wednesday and under the best of circumstances will clear out the main streets on Thursday. Residential side streets will still be largely impassable on Friday throughout the DC Metro area. OPM should close the Federal government on Friday as well and open for business as usual on Monday.

Posted by: joy5 | February 9, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

sure, i'd gladly go to work on thursday -- if VDOT would afford my street the courtesy of a snowplow. It is unrealistic to expect federal employees to get to work when VDOT won't even plow the streets in falls church!!! so much for 6K in property taxes paid.

Posted by: spgorman97 | February 9, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

FWIW the federal government shutting down today was a complete joke. Metro was running and all major roads I saw were in decent shape into the early evening. Nice work, OPM.

Posted by: mhammel22 | February 9, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

One last point for all the contractors who complain that THEY don't get paid when the federal government closes...tough nanners! You probably get paid 20-30% more than government employees for the same work based on pay parity studies. Why work for a contractor when you can, if qualified and good enough, work for the federal government. You knew the conditions when you accepted the job and shouldn't have the temerity to complain about conditions being 'unfair.'
If you don't like it, walk or unionize but kwitcherbellyachin'.

Posted by: joy5 | February 9, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Another day off?

I've seen many cooks go to work for the last 2 days and I am forced to sit around and be a lazy gov't worker! It's not even an option to come in even though I live within a mile of work and could walk there.

Posted by: randers001104 | February 9, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I think if it's not snowing and Metro is running above group that liberal leave is the way to go.

A lot of the work of the Federal workforce is done by contractors and they can't all telecommute. Since they often don't have lots of leave and need the money like anybody else they'll show up on Thursday and get to the business of answering phones and processing things.

Posted by: RedBird27 | February 9, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Joy, It's not all dollars and cents. "Pay parity studies" probably don't take into account other benefits of Federal employment that mitigate against (sometimes) comparably higher salaries, namely job security, extra holidays, availability of AWS/4x10 scheduling for many, substantially subsidized mass transit benefits, and (drum roll please) defined benefit retirement plans.

It's not all milk and honey for the majority of the workforces on either side, but anecdotal info about private sector compensation is far from the whole story.

Posted by: chambers14 | February 9, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

joy5 you are are wrong about contractors being paid more. If the pimp charges the government $60/hr for a contractor the contractor will only get about $20/hr. It is the pimps that are making the money

Posted by: mmad2 | February 9, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't aware of any 1/2 day on Friday either. Although, I bet it will be recinded considering all the days off.

Some work cannot be done via Tele-work from home. Now, if someone wants to build a "secure" telework facility closer to home, the do it! Until then some of us are unable to work from home.

Depends on conditions. I know if above ground metro stays closed, I can't get in. So if I have to use leave, I guess I'll use leave.

I know it costs $100 million in non-productivity. How much does it cost the government to open buildings and only be 1/4 to 1/2 staffed because people still can't get in.

If all the county and city governments are encouraging people to STAY OFF THE ROADS, should the FEDERAL government go against that?

Its a tough call. I wouldn't want to be Mr. Barry. Either way people will complain!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | February 9, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Any special cases, i.e., small children, old age, bad back, etc., are irrelevant. If you are a federal employee you have plenty of benefits and job protection to compensate you for these eventualities.

If you live far from work it is your choice. The money you lose by taking unpaid leave are compensated by your cheaper housing.

If you are an uncompensated contractor, you knew it when you accepted your job.

So what matters for making the decision on Thursday? If WMATA is running, the government should be open. If the Beltway is moving at least at half capacity, the government should be open. If some streets are not cleared by Thursday, those who live there will take unscheduled leave.

Oh, and if power is out in government buildings no reporting to the office should be required.

Posted by: vfine11 | February 9, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

The Friday half-day mentioned in the article is a reference to the 4-hour early dismissal that was granted LAST week to federal employees who reported to work.

Posted by: DB_Fed1982 | February 9, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

@mhammel22

You apparently didn't drive through much of the city. Many streets/corners are still almost completely covered by snow

Posted by: Bious | February 9, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Telework should be the normal way to operate in weather conditions such as what we've been hit with this week. Those federal professional who would be doing work in their office have blackberries or have taken work home with them - so they're still working. Those that would be standing around the windows watching the snow - won't be working. So for the sake of a life - keep the professionals that serve out country safely at home working. By the way - how many millions of dollars are being spent overseas!!!! Aren't US lives just as important.

Posted by: ginalynch | February 9, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

If metro and the buses are not running on Thursday, then I do not see how the government can open (and I fully expect that the buses at least will not be running, considering that WMATA could not get them running today, before the next storm hit). As many others have pointed out, the work will still have to get done when employees return to work (and at least some government employees, such as my husband, have been working from home during the snow). It's an easy target to ridicule government employees but many of them work hard, with little thanks.

Posted by: lgp2 | February 9, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

"If it costs the government $200 million/day to shut down, and I find that figure dubious, then maybe the government should just write Metro a check every year for $400 million to weatherproof and upgrade the system. That would solve problems year-round, and not just a couple days every winter."

Well said. Maybe now the Federal government will invest in DC's public transportation system? I doubt it, but it'd be nice.

Posted by: dc_attorney | February 9, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

If Metro is running above ground on Thursday morning, and can guarantee a schedule that will keep the majority of federal employees off the roads, then I'm all for returning to work. I must admit, I've not been horribly productive at home (I seem to spend all of my time either shoveling or recovering from shoveling) and my computer is slow. At this point, I'd welcome a return to work. However, those of you employed in 1996 will remember that we only reported to work one day that week - Thursday, and Metro proved so unprepared for the task that many of us were forgiven our extra commute time. (And believe me, no one wants to see all of us drive to work - not that there are parking spaces for all of us!)

Posted by: sduk | February 9, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I think the most important thing is safety. I telework so I don't benefit from the government closure at all (I am still expected to do work no matter what the weather). The roads were still horrible today and with Metro having issues and bus routes still not returned to normal, how do you expect people to make it in without serious injury? Also, what about the people who live places that were not plowed (I know people in Arlington whose road was only just partially plowed today. Forget getting an SUV on that road- the snow was too high)? They haven't been able to drive anywhere, let alone get to the bus, since the bus can't make it down their road. I think it was the right call to close Mon-Wed (and hopefully, Thurs). You can't put a price on human life. Besides, I know people who still did work and went into work, voluntarily, today, so I don't know where the "amount that it is costing the taxpayers" comes from. Some people I know voluntarily went into work today and those that work from home also did work today (and yesterday), so I think that this BS that people are posting about government workers not doing anything don't have a clue. It is a common misconception that government employees don't take their jobs seriously and are lazy. Try getting a job in certain sectors within the government and see how easy they are. I can assure you that many of the jobs are very difficult and stressful. I commend the decision to put human life and well being above all else.

Posted by: ac39 | February 9, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

The person in the best position to make the call about when the federal government should reopen is Dr. Gridlock (assisted by the other transportation & transit team). He has a realistic sense of road conditions and how dangerous it would be to put thousands and thousands of federal workers on the road and on public transit.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 9, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for including the source of the $100 million price tag. Now if Mr. Berry could just elaborate on how the career employees arrived at that figure...

Posted by: icemachine79 | February 9, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

The Virgnia rails are not going into DC tomorrow. DC Metro above ground is not running. Maryland buses are not going into DC as of 8:11 tonight. Sure, if you are can drive in and get home, then that is a great viable option. However hundreds of thousands of people don't have that option. These people will be stranded or without transportation to go to work and get home.

The federal government is showing prudence in closing because it's necessary. It is in the best interest of the workers and for the infrastructure of DC.

The DC metro system will not be operational to actually service the people properly. Many people still can't even get out of their neighborhoods. The roads are not clear, thus there is roadway dangers.

I applaud the Feds closing!

Posted by: Shylah | February 9, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Live closer to your office. If more people thought this way, it would be a great trend. I know, I know... easier said than done. Still, it paid off for me in many ways. Our family can reach their office in this weather.

Posted by: bkshane | February 9, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Liberal leave. This on-site contractor will be pretty much out of work to do from home after tomorrow. I don't have a government laptop, so I can't access servers. Just let me come in for a couple hours to get more work to do, and I'll gladly let you lock the door behind me.

I refuse to have to take leave just so the same people I prop up (sorry...support) and make look smarter than they actually are get another day off on my tax dollar. I am ready and willing to work despite the treacherous commute I will have to make. Just keep the 2WD SUVs, RWD sports cars, and H2s or Escalades on a power trip off the road.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | February 9, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh and I don't work for the government because every listing I've seen for my line of work (some with the EXACT same job description I currently fulfill) are the "fake" kind that are only posted to check the box. They are posted for the minimum amount of time, and are written in a way to make it extremely unclear what the government actually wants in return. No, its not just "go on a website and fill in the answers". Requests for clarification to the POC go unanswered, and then the closing date passes. Those jobs were never "available" in the first place.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | February 9, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

As a contractor in a federal office, I'm not allowed to report to the office without the feds being present, even though I'm perfectly able to get there (I live in the city). I'm unfortunately unable to do what I do via telecommute. Furthermore, my major defense contractor employer expects me to use my personal leave for all this missed time (or not get paid).

So yeah, this pretty much sucks.

Posted by: whitman22
-------------------------------------
Don't blame the feds, blame your contractor employer for not knowing the requirements of his/her contract. All government contracts specify that in the event of government closure, the contractor shall determine if his/her employees will report to work; if the contractor employee does not report to work then the leave shall be covered by the contractor "unless" the federal government facility is not open to access by the contractor employee...in which case the government is responsible for reimbursement of lost hours.

Posted by: Beingsensible | February 9, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

The vast majority of federal empolyees do care about their jobs. They aslo have families- with schools closed- how many of the critics are offereing to help with child care? And everyone should stay safe and head local safety warnings. Many feds- will do work from home as best as they can. The weather is not an excuse to bash the wonderful people that serve our country and citizens.

Posted by: lancepcope | February 9, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

@randers001104 | -where do you work? I'm a fed and was in my office today despite the shut down because I could physically get here (not dependant on the Metro). Its not like a budget-driven shut-down where non-essential employees are prohibited from working, what's stopping you from walking in? (And I work for one of the intel agencies; non-contractor, career).
I agree with a large number of the posters that this week points to a need for better telecommuting policies and infrastructure (for gov't and private sector) to minimize the impact on weather or other related events. Not all jobs can be done by telecommuting but having effective telecommuting practices would lessen traffic/mass-transit volume to allow those who cannot telecommute to get into their work or approved off-site locations and maintain some level of operational ability during the event.

Posted by: fedwkr | February 9, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

P.S Beingsensible is accurate-your issue is with your employer not the federal government.

Posted by: lancepcope | February 9, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

GOD forbid we should expect any PHYSICAL labor our of these pampered princes or princesses! No doubt some of them have already pulled sopmething reaching for their TV remote!

Posted by: dmedman50
----------------------------------------
This one just closed down her access to her office system after putting in 8 hours of work from home preparing a critical briefing for my agency...no princess, just a hard working employee much like many of the people I work with every day!

Posted by: Beingsensible | February 9, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

The half day was LAST Friday the 5th. We were dismissed 4 hours early.

Posted by: happy_clam | February 9, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Kinda like the gummint of Haiti, iddn't it?

Posted by: mftill | February 9, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

To all the angry little people whining about "entitlement" and "stealing from the taxpayer" I just want to let you know that there is plenty of uninhabited territory in Antarctica you can settle since you seem to have no trouble with winter weather yourselves. Obviously you don't think getting 3 or 4 feet of snow in an area that rarely sees 1 foot in the entire YEAR and therefore is paralyzed is cause for the government to worry about the safety of its workers. Civil servants work hard EVERY DAY for YOU and everyone else in this great country, and the only thing you can do is moan and whine about your taxes. If its not helping you and you alone, you just don't care. Well, here's some news you should hear: you are a very small yet incredibly loudmouthed and moronic group that spends all of its time complaining while doing nothing to help, and it is hindering the rest of us in the country who are trying to move forward and get things done. So go build an ark and lead your people to the promised land of penguins and ice. You won't be missed.

Posted by: icemachine79 | February 9, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Stay closed! The commute is not worth people's lives. Yes, some people live in the city but the majority live in the suburbs. My neighborhood was finally plowed this morning - just in time for the new snow..oh goody!

Posted by: ladywkids | February 9, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

The poll seriously needs an option for 'Depends on exactly how much more snow we get.' If we get closer to 6" tonight and tomorrow, 2 hour delay and unscheduled leave for Thursday. If it is closer to the 16" max I have seen, well, we might still be digging out on Friday, so no go on Thursday. We really need to see how it looks tomorrow night to judge Thursday.

Posted by: pete20 | February 9, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

These remarks about federal employees are ignorant. People are generally unaware of all the times federal employees put in overtime and are not compensated for it,,,either with time off or additional pay. Especially people in the Washington, D.C. area who are higher grade professionals. When they have to travel to attend a meeting, they have to do it on their own time more often than people know. I sure 99% of the career federal employees have put in more than 40 hours of free overtime over the years,,,,so who cares if they are given a few snow days. They've earned it.

Posted by: AnnsThought | February 9, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

@dc_attorney -do you live in DC? If not, have any problem paying a D.C. income tax for working in DC (rather than paying tax for whereever you reside e.g. VA, MD, W. VA), then that money could bolster the DC transport system -or supporting voting rights for DC residents to better control where their federal tax dollars are distributed?

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

@icemachine79: Standing and applauding (from my home office)!

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

How can anyone possibly know on Tues night with a storm in progress what the roads will be like on Thursday? If they are ok, I'm happy to go into work. I've got a horrible case of cabin fever anyway. But if they're not, then the govt should remain closed. I've been working from home like just about every other fed I know but I'm anxious to get back to the office because there are things I can't do from home. However, I don't want to risk my life to do it and when I ventured out briefly today MD 210 was still covered in ice in PG county. I was afraid to drive on it and turned around and went home. This is a major highway. If it's not clear on Thurs, I hate to think what the commute would be like.

Posted by: js2225 | February 9, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

The governmen doesn't pay me enough to cover breaking my neck getting to work. I can barely get out of my complex, much less get to the Metro for a 30 minute wait. I understand everyone is overworked, exhausted, etc. The work will wait. Just shut us down for the week so we can all stop blabbering on about this. This day to day crap is driving me crazy. I wish they could be proactive like the school districts. No one should be out in this mess.

Posted by: blueotto | February 9, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

@fedwkr: my point is that the FEDERAL government should pay most of the costs for Metro, as it was created for (and mostly used by) people commuting to federal jobs, contractors, etc. When the Metro shuts down, the Feds have to. If there is really a $100 million cost for a lost day, then it would be an economic no-brainer to use fed funds to buy Metro more snow removal equipment.

Same could be said for the DC arteries as well.

Posted by: dc_attorney | February 10, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

I live on 16th Street in DC, about 2 miles from the Maryland border. Since Saturday, 16th Street, as far up and down the street that I can see, has had only one lane clear in each direction, and those lanes aren't even entirely free of snow. I can't see a real possibility that all four lanes will be clear for a Thursday morning rush hour. This morning, when firefighters came to check out a problem nearby, a firetruck sat in the one semi-clear northbound lane for about 20 minutes. Northbound traffic was totally stopped for those 20 minutes and must have quickly backed up for miles. As a work-from-home entrepreneur, it's been a really productive few days. As a former federal worker, I can attest that most federal employees put in plenty of overtime for which they are not compensated - because they have pride in their work and want to make a difference by serving their country. Losing federal work hours is a problem, but it's not federal workers' fault. And the simple truth is that getting them all into the district to work on Thursday just isn't going to happen. If the federal government has to shut down because of snow storms, it should be considered a national shame, not the shame of federal workers or DC. And the situation should be rectified. DC is short on resources because we pay taxes to the federal government (and to echo other comments, we don't have voting representation in Congress), but the federal government doesn't pay taxes on all the DC land and resources they use. Here's to more federal resources to keep our nation's capital in good working order.

Posted by: dcobserver18 | February 10, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

@fedwkr:
"@icemachine79: Standing and applauding (from my home office)!"

Ditto. And laughing too.

Posted by: geerue | February 10, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

I think about 50% of federal employees have blackberry access or laptops and a lot of people have been going in. The problem is the side roads are horrible. In fact, I had to shovel out on I-395 yesterday (I-395!) I was almost killed. Roads are still very bad. We don't need a large number of cars on the road when metro buses can only run on main routes and metro rails can only run underground. Folks don't have any transportation options. I say close it on Thursday, since this is the worst snow season in the regions history. What's four days when folks are still working from home. Friday should be liberal leave, everything should be in good shape by Saturday. But please don't put all of those cars on these horrible roads on Thursday, we will see so many accidents.

Posted by: madstamina | February 10, 2010 1:23 AM | Report abuse

I thought this vote on closing was a joke until reading some of the post. I can not imagine a private company making the decision to close for 2 days or the rest of the week when snow has just started falling. Would it kill you to actually have to get up in the morning to find out about cancellations? Only uncle sammy would do this. As for feeling sorry for all the poor underpaid government workers, the most current stats show an almost 30k difference in the average pay for a government job and the private sector.

Posted by: rickyv | February 10, 2010 1:23 AM | Report abuse

We should open. I have work I need to do and it's a pain to try to do it from home. Actually we probably should have been open today and closed tomorrow.

Posted by: thomsen256 | February 10, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

"Do you realize how much the government and commercial companies will have to pay in injuries if people are forced to go to work on Thursday."

No, how much?

You REALLY think your employer is liable if you are injured on your way in to work?

I had to go to CVS today to get some meds my wife needed. I guess if I crashed on the way there CVS would be liable huh?

In the end if you feel you can't get to work safely, then you can't get to work. In most cases the worst that will happen is you lose a day's pay.

If you are so worried about your safety, eat the loss of a day's pay, and don't expect the super nanny gov't to cover your every step.


Posted by: BEEPEE | February 10, 2010 2:18 AM | Report abuse

The half day off mentioned was last Friday when the offices closed 4 hours early.

Posted by: thomsen256 | February 10, 2010 2:24 AM | Report abuse

"It only means that I'll have to work more (uncompensated) hours during fewer days to finish whatever needs to be done."

How is this (uncompensated)? 16 hours work (Monday & Tues off, so far) is 16 hours work. You got 16 hours off. That may mean that your next few days are longer to make up those hours, but it is by no means uncompensated.

You can't have it both ways. Don't claim that the work will still be there and still get done, and then cry about lack of compensation.

Posted by: BEEPEE | February 10, 2010 2:25 AM | Report abuse

rickyv- your stats are wrong also not knowlegable about how federal employees really work. As long as electricity and cable were available-most could work from home today, assuming they have a computer. They do because they are commited to their work. They stayed home because their children had no school. And many had no heat in their homes. They are good responsible public servants.

Posted by: lancepcope | February 10, 2010 2:58 AM | Report abuse

Hey DC, wake up. Those of us sitting here in Detroit with no job, no future don't like hearing about your snow vacations at our expense. I'll throw a four letter word at you, a word you've heard before, but may have forgotten the meaning. It's called "WORK!" Look it up.

Posted by: mesquite1 | February 10, 2010 4:12 AM | Report abuse

Some of you clowns posting on this site are obviously not Federal Government workers nor live anywhere near the DC metro area so you don't know how it works. A few things to clean up: (1) Federal workers are not pampered princes/princesses; we are actually productive--just as an example, did you realize your mailman is a Federal employee?; (2) Federal workers, in most cases, are not paid more than the private sector. We do, however, enjoy, more job security; (3) Those who are Federal contractors (they are not Federal employees for those who can't tell the difference) make MORE than Federal employees; and (4) Metro is primarily used by Federal workers and tourists so if it is not running aboveground that eliminates a substantial amount of employees from being able to work. Why? 80% of workers in DC are Feds and 80% of them live outside the area (housing costs in DC are high and only a little less so in outlying areas), alot near the end of Metro lines where there is parking. If they try to drive instead, guess what? They can't(the ommute is terrible here without snow). Snow is everywhere, even on the interstates. Let's not talk about side streets. After getting 24+ inches of snow, having a 3-day reprive and getting another 12 inches I don't see how things are going to magically get better for people to come to work. I hardly snows a foot in a year so 3 in a weeks' time? That $100 million figure seems high. Oh yeah about that comment concerning the Presiden't Day being an entitlement (or something approximating that), it is a FEDERAL holiday. If your company of State does not recognize it and allow you the day off why get mad at the Feds? What would you do if you had the day off? Probably complain that your mail wasn't being delivered.

Posted by: rated_r | February 10, 2010 4:17 AM | Report abuse

And what happens if they decide to make it a 'liberal leave day' on Thursday? Half of an agency shows up while the other half keeps digging? Sorry, naysayers - that's a sure sign for another non productive day and/or wasted efforts. And what happens if there are fatalities - whole divisions could close down later because of memorial services.
And please, fed contractors, stop. I was once a contractor many lifetimes ago. It's your choice in your career path.

Posted by: MDL7 | February 10, 2010 6:16 AM | Report abuse

CBOne. Thanks for informing us the "work always gets done" and implying there is no $100 M loss. The valuation is on the labor supply side. Why is the federal government, which we know so well, chronically late in so many things. The land of slipped deadlines and manana in the majority of programs, I daresay. Is this unfair, or reality?

Posted by: axolotl | February 10, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

To rated_r: thanks for entertaining the out of towners with a lobsided, subjective commentary. U look thru wrong end of telesccope, fella. You say in passing feds have more security. What is that worth in today's environment? Priceless, would you not say? Ask a contractor; they get axed right and left in downturns. Pension? You have one that is better than 95 percent of the taxpayers who pay it Accountability for performance? Perish the thought. Subsidized commuting and even free parking in many cases? Of course, only the best for our civil servants. Automatic promotions to and through GS-13; certainly the rule here in our Nations Capital; this is a painful stab in the heart to non-headquarters people. Snow days, early dismissals--hey; those things are unheard of at many companies if the employer is paying. Nice buildings; in DC some of he finest commercial real estate is occupied by agencies. Companies tend to be cost-conscious. Telecommuting? It is interesting so many think they can do the whole job at home. Great, why do we have government offices? Or even government agencies? Why do feds work in teams--or don't they, or is it a problem? Congress and GAO continuously unearth government FUBAR incidents where one hand did not talk to the other, or better yet, did not care. Working at home in yo jammies is not the way to fix this problem. And, how can we be sure work gets done? That is hard enough to determine when people are in the office, eh? All the meetings, conference calls, one-hour lunches. Yeah, we taxpayers pay for all that. It is not an entitlement. BTW, I really appreciate what the government does in many areas, e.g., environmental, law enforcement, but am appalled in others, e.g., wastage and sloth in homeland security. But hey, nobody's perfect, and my partner is a fed, so I enjoy every buck of advantage. But we are on a dangerous slide of effectiveness in government and in government contracting. (And please do not blame this on Congress.)

Posted by: axolotl | February 10, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

I am federal worker. As far as the roads are concerned in Virginia a lot of side streets have not seen plows at all. I think we should be closed for the rest of week. If all the schools are closed, airports, metro and so on.. why risk the adults trying to get to work. We need to look out for safety of adults too and money is just a secondary issue. We have worked through this before. PLEASE CLOSE DUE TO THE SAFETY OF THE FEDERAL WORKERS!

Posted by: lvanimals | February 10, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Close for week, let cities and homeowners catch up .. but open all federal offices Monday (ie, cancel the Presidents Day holiday) so that federal workers can make a dent in the missed work, projects, etc.

Posted by: tslats | February 10, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

When it rains, snows and sadly when our country is under attack, the Feds send themselves home with pay--Why because No Work No Pay does not apply to Federal Civilians--EVER-- If the Feds had to work to get paid like the private sector I guarantee you they would be a their office every day

Suprised that the Government is open on Monday--I guess OPM does have some financial responsibility

Posted by: syoung29 | February 10, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that its the "feds" that get the abuse for free days off. I hate saying it, but its the city that dictates whether feds work or not. The roads are a mess. Granted, so what. Just a traffic jam, but where to park when you get there. Parking is a premium on a good day, the current situation has drastically cut down on available sites. Park n Rides are not open yet 'cause the trucks are cleaning the streets. (not well I might add). The metro is not working. Amtrak is delayed or shut down. Are the sidewalks in DC ready for foot traffic? If they can't keep the streets plowed, Do you think they have taken the time to bucket the piles of snow of the sidewalks so people can get around? I don't think so. The issue is not whether feds want to work, it is a question of whether the city can handle the additional cars and 300K-400K people. Face it, this is a once in a lifetime event and as others have stated, much work in getting down behind the scenes for "free." (like always) Let the city recover. The feds will get their jobs done.

Posted by: rmweb1 | February 10, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

What about lost productivity when numerous people are injured or die in their attempts to reach the office? Is there a dollar valuation for that?

It is no doubt too late, but perhaps the extension of Metro to Dulles should all be underground. And yes, I think the Federal government should pour money into the entire Metro system to make it more functional and safe.

And let us be grateful to all those assorted government (city, county, state, federal) employees who are involved in keeping the roads plowed, trying to keep us safe. My street was plowed at 2:30 a.m. yesterday but that didn't make it safe for me to venture out on. Still I appreciated the plower's efforts.

The storms wreaked havoc on most other forms of travel as well and will have an economic impact beyond purported lost work of federal employees. In my entire career, nearly everyone was dedicated and worked hard. Federal employment is not a sinecure. And the work gets done.

Posted by: MKW22201 | February 10, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

If the VRE and the aboveground Metro are not running, there is no way the federal government should open. Where would all the workers forced to drive park once they got to the city--if they got to the city? How many more hundreds of abandoned and wrecked cars would need to be towed?

As for relying on liberal leave: some workers may not have leave, due to not having worked for the government for very long, or having had a family crisis that required lots of leave. Asking people to risk their lives because they do not have a fat bank of leave is outrageous.

If you are dissatisfied with the weather policies of your employer, take that into account when deciding whether to stay with your employer. And if you think the work is blowing away with the snow, you are wrong. The work is waiting, and will all be completed through late nights and uncompensated overtime until it is done.

It's just not worth the loss of life and limb, and the setback in the storm cleanup, to pontificate with tired lines about how weak it is to be affected by D.C.'s stormiest winter of all time.

Posted by: homeschool4joy | February 10, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

WHY is everyone so angry? WHY do we continue to promulgate the stereotypes of Feds, contractors, private sector, DC Govt? WHY do we feel our day is not complete unless we "win" an argument or make someone else feel bad? WHY does everyone have a different definition of "fair"? WHY can't we marvel at what Mother Nature has thrown at us, deal with it like adults, and move on? And WHY will someone inevitably make some sad comment on this post?

Posted by: russellr1 | February 10, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, it would have been a great idea throwing a million more commuters into this blizzard. Believe it or not the sun will still rise in the east after this necessary 3 day government closure.

Posted by: Axel2 | February 10, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

The government is not working, why are they still getting paid? Nan Pelosi can spend $100,000.00 of our money to fly across the nation, how much will it cost us to get her scrawny behind into work on a snowy day? I submit that as long as DC is shut down that the people get a tax holiday and that we pay no taxes to support the government until the government gets back to doing their jobs.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 10, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

For all of those who bellyache about bad road conditions as an excuse to stay home, I live in KY, we have a fairly heavy snowfall as well, the local municipality has far less money to spend on snow removal than does the DC area, yet my entire family managed to get to work, so get off your tails and go earn what we are paying you. Otherwise send your paychecks back to the treasury to lower Obamas out of control debt.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 10, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

For all of those who bellyache about bad road conditions as an excuse to stay home, I live in KY, we have a fairly heavy snowfall as well, the local municipality has far less money to spend on snow removal than does the DC area, yet my entire family managed to get to work, so get off your tails and go earn what we are paying you. Otherwise send your paychecks back to the treasury to lower Obamas out of control debt.

Ha, that is a really funny comparison. Wherever you live in Kentucky, it does not have anywhere close to the second worst traffic congestion in the country on a GOOD weather day - care to venture a guess as to what happens when you throw in not one but two major snowstorms (the 2nd one a blizzard no less) in 4 days? Get a clue.

Posted by: Axel2 | February 10, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Several here are whining about public transportation being stopped... Here's a clue. Look at the opening of the article. Specifically the picture. A person jogging outside the capitol. If you cannot ride a train, Bus, of street car, WALKING AIN'T CROWDED. The whining here about not being able to get to work is nothing more than a further demonstration of the DC elitist attitude that says they cannot go to work unless they are wearing their Armani suits and Gucci shoes. Hell, throw on a sweatsuit, and some sneakers, and get to work. Or are you so snobbish that you feel you should be paid for sitting at home? Oh wait that is Obama's plan after all, isn't it?

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 10, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Ha, that is a really funny comparison. Wherever you live in Kentucky, it does not have anywhere close to the second worst traffic congestion in the country on a GOOD weather day - care to venture a guess as to what happens when you throw in not one but two major snowstorms (the 2nd one a blizzard no less) in 4 days? Get a clue.

Nice try Axel, but your story doesn't hold water. If the snow is so bad there ISN'T GOING TO BE ANY TRAFFIC! Now get your behind to work or return your paycheck to the taxpayers.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 10, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone care about safety first? Or is that just some slogan that people use to sound like they actually care about people? The government is closed because its too dangerous for many to get to work safely. The loss in productivity will pale in comparison to the loss if lots of folks get seriously injured or killed just trying to get into work. Bottom line here is, rather than whining and moaning about whether or not you get paid for doing nothing on snow days or have to take leave, maybe we should all just be glad that we have power when others don't. People here in the beltway can be so cynical its no wonder we can't get anything accomplished at least in the eyes of those who are paying our salaries (taxpayers). Go to work when the government opens back up and stop attacking each other for being government or contractors. We need each other to get the jobs done.

Posted by: contractor2 | February 10, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

The Federal Government should have been open and on unscheduled leave for Tuesday. There was no reason for the Federal Government to be closed on Tuesday, who is making these decisions?

Posted by: questions7 | February 10, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

"Does anyone care about safety first? Or is that just some slogan that people use to sound like they actually care about people?"

Yes, I care about safety, I also care about getting value for my taxes, which does not seem to be the rule in DC these days. During my time in government employ, (22 years Army) I don't recall anyone looking at safety as a top priority, the rule was "GET TO WORK, and we'll decide then whether or not it is too cold to stay there." But as I said, for the elitists in DC, NOTHING is more important to them than their safety and comfort.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 10, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

contractor2 is absolutely correct. Safety must be the primary consideration when deciding whether to close the government. All news media were reporting that road conditions ranged from dangerous to poor, and only a few roads were actually good. Putting thousands and thousands of drivers and commuters on the road and in Metro would be just plain stupid and dangerous. And it would inhibit the ability of road crews to improve the roads. Let's apply a little common sense here.

And any federal worker who WANTS to work from home on a snow day should just go ahead and do that. Your supervisor will be impressed with your initiative and dedication.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 10, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

What is wrong with some of you that you think everyone is in the same position to get to work. my street was just now getting plowed and now it is covered again. Under that snow was ice! If one gets hurt are you going to pay for my injury? I do work for the gov but even then they do not pay for most of hospitalization if I get hurt. I also pay taxes, state, county, etc. I also take offense that you think I do not work. I have to listen to some of you complain about the government should do this or that and are not doing enough. Safty should alway be everyones concern.

Posted by: jhm55 | February 10, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

As I said, I live in KY, we get the same weather that DC gets, we just get it a day earlier, I live near a military base, the soldiers are all going to work in spite of the snow. How sad it is that the DC crowd considers themselves to be so much more valuable than the men and women who defend them. The government segment that inhabits DC is a joke, and far less worthy of their bloated pay than any of the soldiers I live next door to who risk their lives for far less of the taxpayers cash, but suffer the brunt of any initial phases of budget cuts.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 10, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Nice try Axel, but your story doesn't hold water. If the snow is so bad there ISN'T GOING TO BE ANY TRAFFIC! Now get your behind to work or return your paycheck to the taxpayers.

Thank you for proving my point. There is less traffic because the Fed Govt is closed! Now imagine how bad things would be in this snow if all the fed workers were also trying to get to there offices - it would be total gridlock. Even the major roads are not at full capacity due to snow banks on the shoulders, turn lanes, etc - and that was BEFORE today's storm. Kentucky is not DC in terms of traffic, average commute time or population density. Oh, and if you want to blame someone for the feds shutting down, blame metro. No above ground service Monday or today, and yesterday trains were still running 20-30 min apart. Do you have any idea what a madhouse metro would have been under those conditions had all the feds tried to get to work?

Posted by: Axel2 | February 10, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I have to wonder, if, say... Virginia, were to be hit my a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, this morning, how many people on this forum would say, that their safety was more important than going in to work and facilitating aid to the victims of the quake? And if the quake would spur them to work, where do they draw the line on the lower end of the definition of "emergency", to which they would respond? If a natural disaster would spur you to work, why is the snow such an obstacle in non emergent times? And if the emergency would not spur you to work, why should we as tax payers support you, when you refuse to do your jobs...which are to support us?

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 10, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and if you want to blame someone for the feds shutting down, blame metro. No above ground service Monday or today, and yesterday trains were still running 20-30 min apart. Do you have any idea what a madhouse metro would have been under those conditions had all the feds tried to get to work?

As I said earlier, walking isn't crowded, drive until you hit gridlock then park and walk. You are merely making excuses for laziness of the DC elites.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 10, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Hey jonweiss...quit your whining and jealousy. Just because you are a high school drop out who cant make it in the Feds quit spouting your mouth about an area (DC) you have no idea about. Kentucky ain't no DC. Its like comparing Idaho to NYC.

Oh yeah Federal employees pay taxes as well, in case you didnt notice.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 10, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

To these individuals from Kentucky and other areas claiming they've had the same wintry weather that we have so "toughen up," can I ask them if they now have nearly 40" of snow on the ground? We had just under three feet of snow from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon. The roads in my neighborhood were barely passable up until the time this latest storm started. Now we have seven more fresh inches (and counting) atop a layer of several inches of thick frozen rutted crud lying in the travel lanes of streets that are still waiting for a snow plow; people were cross-country skiing in the streets. If you want to be angry at anyone for nearly a week of chaos be angry at your fellow REPUBLICANS who dominate Virginia and, in an effort to keep taxes low to save face to the staunch fiscal conservatives here, SEVERELY under-budgeted our state for snow removal. As a Democrat I would have been very willing to have paid higher taxes as a "safety cushion" in order to ensure that roads were passable 72 hours after a snow storm. You get what you pay for. The Republicans in Virginia took a gamble, and this winter it backfired on them because now most people can't get to work all week. Now you very same Republicans are whining because you can't accept that your own lack of preparedness is causing this collapse in transportation?

For those saying "it's your own fault for not living close to work" have you checked the rent prices in DC lately compared to a GS-5, GS-6, GS-7 pay scale? I moved to Reston, VA under the assumption I'd be able to walk a mile to work in Herndon, VA. I pay nearly $1,200/month here for a 1-BR, and I can just barely afford that. Just weeks into my tenure I was relocated to McLean, VA, much further away and only accessible from my home via car. I don't have front-wheel drive. As I said our roads weren't plowed yet from the last storm, so how do you expect me to drive into work tomorrow to McLean? I can walk in the streets to my alternative office in Herndon (and will gladly do so if we are open tomorrow), but how can you expect single people making $40,000/year working for the Feds to be able to comfortably afford $1,500/month rent prices for a 1-BR apartment in DC's outrageously overpriced housing market? Obviously most of you commenting are NOT familiar at all with Northern Virginia.

Posted by: Restonian23 | February 10, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm amazed at how many nasty, mean-spirited comments have been posted. Let us remember that:

-These storms are the worst that DC has seen in 14 years, and possibly ever;
-DC does not have the ability to deal with this kind of snow in the same way that Buffalo or Cleveland does;
-DC roads are some of the worst commuter routes in the nation, even in good conditions;
-Metro, MARC, and VRE have not been able to operate at full capacity, if at all, meaning that many people who take public transportation to their workplace have had no way of getting there;
-Many people's roads, including my own, have not been plowed and still have 30+ inches of snow on them;
-There are still (and will be even more) power outages across the area;
-Kentucky is NOT DC, and the comparison is ludicrous.

As a federal employee, I would WELCOME the opportunity to get out of the house after having been cooped up for 5 days. Even if my road got plowed, however, it might not be worth the dangerous 2+ hour commute it would probably require to get to work. (If I could afford to live in DC, I would gladly walk, even jog or run, to work.)

Posted by: MDultrarunner | February 10, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"The government segment that inhabits DC is a joke, and far less worthy of their bloated pay than any of the soldiers I live next door to who risk their lives for far less of the taxpayers cash, but suffer the brunt of any initial phases of budget cuts."

Actually, our military does pretty well financially. In addition to their housing allowance, COLA, and privileges at the commissaries, etc., they only get taxed on the small portion of the salaries they bring home each month. In fact, I would bring home MORE money each month doing the same job in the military that I do as a federal civilian. So, jonweiss1, please spare us the lecture.

Posted by: MDultrarunner | February 10, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Just wanted to repost this from someone earlier. Really a nice comment in these tough times. Who amongst us can judge someone that they don't know? Whether they be conservative, liberal, a federal worker, or someone in private industry, we're all God's people just trying to do the best we can. Hope everyone stays safe through the storm!


"WHY is everyone so angry? WHY do we continue to promulgate the stereotypes of Feds, contractors, private sector, DC Govt? WHY do we feel our day is not complete unless we "win" an argument or make someone else feel bad? WHY does everyone have a different definition of "fair"? WHY can't we marvel at what Mother Nature has thrown at us, deal with it like adults, and move on? And WHY will someone inevitably make some sad comment on this post?"

Posted by: chmick50 | February 10, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Let's be realistic, the earliest that the Federal government will be open is Tuesday. Snow removal will take all of Thursday and most of Friday, and Metro, VRE, and MARC won't be up to full speed before Monday at the best.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 10, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Jealous unqualified teabaggers swarm to this story like flies to sh!t.

Posted by: sbhaskar002 | February 10, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

sbhaskar002, please stop teabagging yourself.

I have traced your IP. Your death will occur shortly.

Thank you.

Posted by: member8 | February 10, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

@axolotl: My view is not lopsided and subjective. I LIVE here. I speak from an informed position. It seems as though you are on the periphery of correct info. You must be getting some half truths from somewhere. I n an extreme weather event I think your employer would make some accomodations as far as getting paid and not being able to come to work. I am an essential employee. I have to come to work no matter what. If I am unable to come I must use my own leave--no freebie there.

@jonweiss1: To suggest that we drive until we can't leave our cars and walk from there is just inane. There isn't a lot of available real estate here (open fields) to just cut and run. I'm from Cleveland and I KNOW about snow; this here would be even difficult for my city to handle. Why don't you come here with your John Deere tractor and assist us pampered Feds? Very few live within walking distance of their jobs like I do. That jogger you all saw is emblematic of the fitness-minded folk we have here. Nothing will stop them from working out. Who is to say that person did not also go to work? The comments about the military going to work in spite of weather--that's what they do no matter what. Rain, hail, sleet, snow, nuclear attack. When no one else can, they do, and are expected to. I see it now--trying to explain how things work to some of you out of town, government haters is like trying to explain astrophysics to a wino.

Posted by: rated_r | February 10, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

sbhaskar002,
Hey jonweiss...quit your whining and jealousy. Just because you are a high school drop out who cant make it in the Feds quit spouting your mouth about an area (DC) you have no idea about. Kentucky ain't no DC. Its like comparing Idaho to NYC.

I'm not the one whining, we have snow here and no one is in the "I can't work" mindset. As a retired 20+ year military veteran I find your "can't make it in the Feds" comment quite laughable. You are correct that "Kentucky ain't ('ain't'??, are you sure you actually attended High School? Let alone graduated?) no DC", Kentucky residents are not the whiners that DC residents seem to be, as I said we have the same weather you do, we just get it earlier, but we don't duck out of work, (yet demand to be paid) just because we got a bit of snow, unlike the immature DC crowd.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 10, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

OK jonweiss1, I've had enough of your mouth. I am also a 20+ year veteran of the armed forces and am now a federal worker. I am considered essential personnel and reported to work on Monday. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania where we know about snow and I've never seen anything like this. I wouldn't wish that my worst enemy go to work in this mess. My job required that I go through all this crap and drive to Newark, New Jersey up I-95. I EARNED my salary as do 99% of my federal colleagues. As one veteran to another I advise you to keep your mouth shut. Just because you served doesn't make you Superman. In your case it sounds more like you are just an a**hole.

Posted by: kettke1 | February 10, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and by the way jonweiss, walking from Washington to Newark with 7000 lbs. of cargo is more than a little difficult. Maybe you'd like to try it.

Posted by: kettke1 | February 10, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

In answer to a previous thread (below):
I am a 66 year old widow, and I have shoveled far more than 24" of snow off my driveway and sidewalk. (It keeps blowing back in.) However, clearing my driveway hasn't helped me a bit because I live in PG county. Today, a fire engine (with chains on its tires) tried to come down our street. About 25 feet in, it got stuck in the snow and it took several firemen about 30 minutes to dig it out.
Sure, I can get to the end of my driveway, but I can't reach a "major" road. Not that it would make much difference -- I walked up to the nearest thoroughfare a couple of days ago, and I don't think it had been plowed either. If so, PG did a really lousy, one-pass job. Unfortunately, this is not unusual in our neighborhood. Our street is never plowed until the night before schools return to operation -- and by then we usually don't need it any more. I'd love to get back to work, but where I live, our roads aren't even walkable yet. And I think I must be the only person in the world who is shoveling a sidewalk.
And, yes, I'm pretty sure I've pulled something this week -- but it was not reaching for a TV remote. The weather has messed up reception by my converter box, and there is nothing but storm coverage on anyway. I'm out fighting the storm and trying to protect my house from the weather -- I don't need to watch the utterly stupid minute-by-minute news of every new inch that falls.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Many people in the government are over 50 years old. Do you expect a 55 year old woman to shovel 24" of snow off her driveway to get to work on time?
_____________________________
GOD forbid we should expect any PHYSICAL labor our of these pampered princes or princesses! No doubt some of them have already pulled sopmething reaching for their TV remote!

Posted by: dmedman50

Posted by: smischke | February 10, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Contract employees working at a Federal facility that is closed due to bad weather or other causes are susposed to be paid and their time charged to the contract. This has been upheld by Federal auditors and a court decision.

Posted by: Bbellin247 | February 12, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

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