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Eye Opener: Snow days cost $71M each

By Ed O'Keefe

Remember this weather? Shivers!

Eye Opener

Happy Big F-@#!-ing Wednesday! Last month's snow days that kept the federal government closed for almost a week cost taxpayers much less than initially feared.

The government lost $71,074,495 worth of productivity for each snow day, according to updated estimates released Tuesday by the Office of Personnel Management. The figure dropped from an estimated $100 million because roughly 30 percent of federal workers in the Washington area teleworked during the storm, OPM Director John Berry told members of a House subcommittee.

OPM bean counters recalculated the losses by reviewing each agency's remote network usage during the storm, analyzed savings from the employees who teleworked and emergency personnel that were on duty and then assumed that part-time employees were scheduled to work 80 percent of the time during the closings.

"We believe that this is a conservative estimate and that the actual amount of employees working during this period may have been higher," Berry said.

As colleagues Jonathan Mummolo and Ann Marimow write today, Berry said he is trying to increase the number of federal workers eligible to telework by 50 percent from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2011.

"I believe we can move telework forward to the point where snow emergencies are a relatively small disruption, and instead of 'closure' we simply have a 'mobile work day,'" Berry said.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Question of the Week: There's been a lot of talk -- and action -- lately regarding health insurance reform for the nation. If you're a federal worker, are you satisfied with the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program? What changes, if any, would you propose? E-mail your answers to and include your full name, home town and the agency for which you work. Your answers might be used in Friday's Washington Post.

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Census data: More job-seekers are coming to Washington: In the two years preceding July 1, 2009, the region added 163,000 people, bringing the total to almost 5.5 million residents. That growth rate of 3 percent is faster than that of any other Eastern Seaboard city.

CIA official's rape case headed to June trial: It looks like the increasingly lurid case of Andrew Warren, the CIA’s station chief in Algeria until he was removed under a cloud of rape charges in October 2008, is heading for court.

Muslim American soldier battles prejudice after Fort Hood shootings: Zachari Klawonn, 20, the son of an American father and a Moroccan mother, had been called worse in the military. But the fact that someone had tracked him down in the dead of night to deliver a specific message sent a chill through his body.

Stimulus plan for rail line shows system of weak links: The drive from Orlando to Tampa takes only 90 minutes or so. Despite the short distance, the Obama administration awarded Florida $1.25 billion in stimulus money to link the cities with a fast train to help kick off its efforts to bring high-speed rail service to the United States.

EPA to seek more data on emissions: The agency already requires 31 industries, representing 85 percent of the annual production of climate-altering gases in the country, to track and report emissions.

Fed cracks down on gift card abuses: It issued new rules on Tuesday to protect Americans from getting stung by unexpected fees or restrictions on gift cards.

National Parks waive park fees next month: Parks will be open to the public free of charge from April 17 to 25, to coincide with National Park Week and the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Justice Dept. accuses Daimler of paying bribes: prosecutors said Daimler made improper payments between 1998 and January 2008 to officials in countries including China, Egypt, Greece, Nigeria, Russia, Montenegro, Turkey, Thailand and Vietnam.

NASA to devise new spending plan to placate Congress: Members of the appropriations subcommittee have told the agency in recent weeks that they won't support the White House's proposed budget.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | March 24, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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LOL. Ben Bernanke prints that much money every 5 seconds.

Posted by: hz9604 | March 24, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

The snow was pretty bad for this area, given the lack of snow removal and the poor transit alternatives. The bean counters need to move on to more important things.

Posted by: blackforestcherry | March 24, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Even the lower number reported here isn't valid. The work that didn't get done during the snowstorm didn't magically go away. The work got (or is getting) done, the snow just required federal employees to do more each day, take work home and/or work longer hours once we did all get back to work.

OPM needs to come up with a formula for measuring how much the government earns in productivity when employees do work at home or stay at the office working long after their scheduled work hours ended.

Posted by: CJMARTIN04 | March 24, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I have been an employer for 40 some years...
If I am not on the job there is no cash flow to pay my bills...
For my employees it is the same... No work, no pay - no excuses...

dr. o

Posted by: ad4hk2004 | March 24, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

It is still a complete farce. The govt did not lose $71 million in productivity each day. The next few weeks after the storm all the work from when the govt was closed got done along with the work required for those few weeks. Employees worked longer and harder to make up for the lost time. Maybe OPM should calculate how much extra productivity it got for the week after the govt was closed. I am guessing it was about an extra $71 million per day so there really was no lost productivity. The government does not make widgets, it is not a factory. Most of the work is intellectual in nature and it all gets done.

Posted by: happydad3 | March 24, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm certain that the author of this article, Ed O'Keefe, thought it was funny to begin with "Happy Big F-@#!-ing Wednesday!" which adds absolutely no value to what would otherwise have been a decent and serious article. The Washington Post should strive for better copy than this. Whether it was Ed's pen, or that of his editor that decided to include this wholly inappropriate opener, it reflects badly on the reputation of the Washington Post, unless of course the intent is to become more like the New York Post, just one step above the National Enquirer.

Posted by: bullitt1317 | March 24, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

But how much did America save? By not having the Federal government in session and government employees not working hard to screw average americans we probably saved at least a billion dollars a day. Maybe we should have them stay home more often and thus eliminate the national debt.

Posted by: KevinAF | March 24, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I absolutely love the idea of TeleWork IF an official edict is generated across the government board....I work for a government agency where there is no established policy regarding Telework, therefore it's up to the discretion of frontline managers. While us "workerbees" have proven a solid case as to the benefits of allowing us to telework, without an official directive from upper management to allow it, we cannot work it (at least OUR manager won't allow it), even though her peers allow it.

Posted by: amclay07 | March 24, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The work did not "go away". So true.

And how much snow removal equipment and service can the area buy for $71 million?

Posted by: joe_b_stanley | March 24, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

You can change the number, but it's still a lie. "Work" that wasn't done during a few closed days was made up within a week or two.

If anything, closing the government saved the real of the economy money.

It's another Big F-@#!-ing Lie.

Posted by: corrections | March 24, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Too much work lost to snow? the answer is simple. Obama and the Democrats can pass a bill to redistribute the snow from places that have too much to those that don't have any. Perhaps if humans give up use of all electricity, gas, and oil and eat only leaves and berries all global warmning will stop and with it snow will be redistributed as our psuedo=god Obama and his Democrat minions would like it. They could have only the red states dumped with snow.

Posted by: LuKuj | March 24, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Ed, I bet you were giddy writing about this. You always seem to stress these numbers day in and day out

Posted by: Bious | March 24, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

You have to be kidding! No "productivity" ever comes out of the US Government. Throwing taxpayers money away is NOT "productivity". Please, wake your dumb**s up.

Posted by: markypolo | March 24, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

You did good John Berry/OPM. Keep it up. Now for the second half of my suggestion, using the same data domain you need to keep score on every agency including their subagency orgs. This way you can issue reports and a scorecard on agencies that are failing to use telework. Don't rely upon agency reports to self-certify or report on themselves - you have the data use it! It's time for our government to start operating as if they were in the 21st century...

Posted by: NotAJoke | March 24, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

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