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Posted at 2:39 PM ET, 01/27/2011

When did you leave the office on Wednesday?

By Ed O'Keefe

As the snow starts to melt, tempers are still hot about Wednesday's historically awful commute home, and many are wondering if the federal government made the wrong decision about when to allow workers to leave.

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, who decides when to close federal offices early or open later than normal, said Thursday that the dismissals are designed to allow employees who report as early as 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. to head home starting by 11 a.m., ahead of colleagues who leave later in the afternoon.

"We've worked this out with the experts" at the Transportation Department, Berry told reporters. "By allowing people to go home early two hours before they would normally go home, hypothetically workers should have been departing as early as 11 right through 4 p.m."

Is that what you did? When did you decide to go home Wednesday? Why did you leave when you did? How long did it take you to get home?

Please post your thoughts in the comments section below or send extended comments to fedworker@washpost.com, and we may use them in Friday's Washington Post.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 27, 2011; 2:39 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Next: OPM chief John Berry says he made the right call on letting fed workers off early for snow

Comments

I guess this proves the value of all-knowing government "experts."

Best and the brightest indeed.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | January 27, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I guess this proves the value of all-knowing government "experts."

Best and the brightest indeed.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | January 27, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

In theory, OPM's logic works, since federal agencies are all on different work schedules. But many private sector employers follow the lead of the feds, and most end the work day at 5:00, hence the gridlock yesterday at 3:00. Rather than announcing that federal offices would be closing 2 hours early, they should have announced that all federal offices will be following a staggered departure schedule beginning at 11:00, with a mininum 2 hour early departure.

Posted by: cconstan | January 27, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

In theory, OPM's logic works, since federal agencies are all on different work schedules. But many private sector employers follow the lead of the feds, and most end the work day at 5:00, hence the gridlock yesterday at 3:00. Rather than announcing that federal offices would be closing 2 hours early, they should have announced that all federal offices will be following a staggered departure schedule beginning at 11:00, with a mininum 2 hour early departure.

Posted by: cconstan | January 27, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I left two hours early, at 3:30 pm. It took me three hours to get home - one hour and 40 minutes just to get out of the Metro parking garage.

Posted by: Jamie13 | January 27, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I left two hours early, at 3:30 pm. It took me three hours to get home - one hour and 40 minutes just to get out of the Metro parking garage.

Posted by: Jamie13 | January 27, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I live two miles from work, can take metrorail, metrobus, walk or bike. I left work a bit early, went to the movies with a friend, then walked home. No problem!

Posted by: lmjs63 | January 27, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I live two miles from work, can take metrorail, metrobus, walk or bike. I left work a bit early, went to the movies with a friend, then walked home. No problem!

Posted by: lmjs63 | January 27, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I think the biggest problem is that many people chose not to leave as early as they should have. Early the day, the 4 PM arrival of the storm was known and CWG had a great article warning people to avoid being on the roads after that time. After that, it comes down to choice- the people that left early were at home watching the snow fall, while so that waited until it was here were stuck in traffic and wishing they HAD left earlier. People around here just don't sufficiently consider driving conditions.

Posted by: NatinFallsChurch | January 27, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"hypothetically workers should have been departing as early as 11 right through 4 p.m" Really now Mr. Berry. You'd think something as major as an early release of the Federal workforce would require something more than hypothetical suppositions. How about this, stagger departures based on commuting distance or, better yet, ask the administration to find someone who can capably advise you on this issue so that you don't have to make thin excuses about your contributions to yesterday's disaster. And please, stop blaming your poor management of yesterday's release on a failure of employees to telework.

Posted by: humorlessfed | January 27, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I live in West Virginia, so I’m very fortunate to be allowed to telework from home once weekly -- and that day usually is Wednesday. So I did not even need to step out of my front door yesterday, and was very grateful for it. Furthermore, because of the new OPM rule permitting unscheduled telework, I am able to telework today as well. (I am a MARC commuter, but MARC cancelled service for West Virginia today.)

Because the State Department has “offices” (embassies and consulates) literally all over the world, as well as around the United States (regional passport agencies), it has spent considerable human and financial resources to have a secure but user-friendly network to transmit and share information among its far-flung workforce. Because of it, I have access at home to the same unclassified electronic files and e-mails that I do in my office. Furthermore, I have also used this system to do my work while in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Posted by: 1952dad | January 27, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I left at 3:00 pm and had no trouble.

Posted by: Epigon | January 27, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

getjiggly1, sometimes this site blocks me from posting "too frequently" when I post twice in a week. You posts your inane observations every twenty minutes, and they always seem to get through the abusive posts filter. So, jiggly, now Berry was supposed to stop snowstorm-related traffic jams as part of his job. Can you imagine what it would have been like if he hadn't given up the two hours? Or maybe your point is that he should have closed the Government, but then you would be complaining about feckless, overpaid Feds. You are such a total troll. Creep back under your bridge.

Posted by: finserra | January 27, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

i left around 4PM. more importantly, i expected the traffic nightmare so I caught the train to work instead of driving.

Posted by: simplewords999 | January 27, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

J had no problem...I left my office in Greenbelt at 2:30pm amd got on the Beltway to my home in Bethesda. I took me about 30-40 minutes. Just as i got home in started to come down hard,

Posted by: rusty6 | January 27, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

The real question should be... Why is OPM allowing admin leave (free leave) to thousands of workers in the DC area and causing a ultimate pile up... when they could have granted LIBERAL LEAVE for the whole day. I work at a Navy base outside the beltway... We DO NOT get to stay home, go home or anything OPM says. But we are in the same region! When a major storm hits us... all we get is LIBERAL LEAVE... And that means... use your own leave to take off.

WHY isn't OPM pushing that? That would have allowed agencies and offices to stagger departures and PLUS keep many continuing to work that don't feel like sitting in 2 hour traffic jams...

C'mon Ed... do some REAL investigative reporting and find out WHY do military and many fed office outside the beltway ignore the OPM ruling, when many do. There is a Navy Cpt that makes the decision on our naval base.. and he LIVES on the base. So he don't give a sh*t about workers driving or saftey... he doesn't have to drive in it... he is more worried about production... the cop out... grant libreal leave and MAKE them use their leave if they want to chance dangerous travel. I have seen counties and bridges close... and you will get arrested if caught driving.. but this base granted liberal leave. RIDICULOUS!

have their OWN

Posted by: darbyohara | January 28, 2011 6:41 AM | Report abuse

OPM is not to blame for the gridlock. the 2 hour early leave would have worked for a large number of feds who are on work schedules that end at 5pm or earlier. If individual workers felt the need to leave earlier than 2 hours prior to the end of their work day, they always have the option to request annual leave. To expect OPM to be able to take into account the unique circumstances of where people live, what roads they drive to/from work, etc. is not reasonable. Nor is is reasonable to expect the government to cover the full amount of time needed - people need to take individual responsibility and do what they need to do to plan to get home safely and orderly.

Posted by: BillD4 | January 28, 2011 7:16 AM | Report abuse

I live in Baltimore and work in Silver Spring. With the roads completely untreated in the morning, I-95 was shut down, and US29 wasn't looking very good either. Only two inches of snow at that point, but the single lane traffic was barely moving.I gave it up and went home. I missed the afternoon mess completely, and glad for it, even though it did cost me a day of annual leave.

Posted by: dave270 | January 28, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I agree with simplewords999, plan ahead people. Think about it the night before, yea it might take longer in the morning to ride the bus but deal with it. Granted I live 5 miles from my workplace, but I know my options; drive (rarely), bike (usually), 2 different bus routes are available, metro and of course I could walk home if needed. I know others don't have as many choices, but make the problem yours to solve instead of blaming the federal government or VDOT.

Posted by: abean1 | January 28, 2011 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I heard and read weather reports and expected bad traffic, so I had put in for leave the day before. I departed at 12pm to beat the snow and traffic. Anyone who waited for the snow to start coming down before they left work deserves what they got. Traffic is always bad around here in any snow. Why do people think they have to be told when to leave work? Cleaned my car, sidewalk & driveway of snow at 9pm. Was at work the next day without problems, one of only a few at my office that came in.

Posted by: dccont6683 | January 28, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I work for City of Fairfax and live in the city, 3 miles away. No early dismissal at all. Left at 5 PM and took 3 hours to get home. My problem was not the roads or my car or ability to drive, just clogged roads and intersections because too many other people had were having problems driving. A bus would've been even slower - I used some back streets and parking lots to avoid some blocked intersections. I saw people walking - in the streets because the sidewalks were blocked by snow and fallen branches - dangerous as could be! There were no reasonable options - I'm just glad that I chose to work close to home. And a pet peeve - people blocking the box in intersections!

Posted by: merribanks | January 28, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I left work at 3:15. I took Metrorail to Oldtown Alexandria. I caught the bus just as the snow was starting to come down hard. I was home by 4:00. No problem. And before the storm, I made sure I was stocked up with snacks and Hot Pockets (important stuff).

Posted by: Livelongandprosper | January 28, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Now don't get me wrong, I love my President, but you can't just be keeping the city fully operational when we dont have the means to function as other states (who have more experience with the type of weather) do.

Posted by: JamesCE | January 28, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The early dismissal message went out from OPM at 11:13:36 (according to the time stamp on the e-mail I received through my chain of command). I left my office on Indiana Ave NW around 3:00, and other than lots more riders on the Green Line making for a cozy commute to Greenbelt, the trip was uneventful. My wife (who's a Fed as well) and I got home safe and sound around 4:30, well ahead of the Big Snow.

Posted by: dstreet208 | January 28, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I was at a conference all day, so I missed the call for an early dismissal. I stayed in DC till 8:30. The drive home was slow, but I made it home in about the same time as I would during a normal Wednesday rush hour. Facebook posts from friends warned me off of RT 50. I ended up on 395S to RT7. One advantage to waiting was the slow plow had already been through my community and plowed out a parking spot. Since I arrived home after the bulk of the snow ended, I had no shoveling the next morning. All was not perfect though...I lost power till 3am Thursday night. Brrr.

Posted by: smeyers1 | January 28, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

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