The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has released dismissal and closure procedures in anticipation of the winter weather months.
OPM has announced a new policy addition to the list of dismissal options that instructs employees to stay off of the roads until a certain time because of unsafe conditions. This option was informally implemented during the 2011-2012 winter season to help ensure the safety of federal employees preparing to commute into work.
Further, OPM encourages agencies and employees to discuss telework policies and agreements to ensure government operations continue even if government offices are closed.
Additionally, the previous “Federal Offices are Closed to the Public” option was edited to “Federal Offices are Closed – Emergency and Telework-Ready Employees Must Follow Their Agency’s Policies” as a result of feedback from agencies and employees during Hurricane Sandy.
OPM Director John Berry said: “The concern in deciding the operating status of federal offices in Washington, DC, is to ensure the safety and well-being of the federal workforce community during emergent events and continuity of operations while continuing critical services the American people depend on. As we saw last winter, it can be important to advise employees as early as possible to stay off the roads until it is expected to be safe. We’re also counting on each of you, our employees, to proactively plan what each status will mean for your workday and commute. Take the opportunity now to review the status updates and speak to your supervisors about telework options and requirements. Do not wait for an emergency to find out what to do.”
The current dismissal and closure status options are:
· Open with option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework
· Open – XX hour(s) delayed arrival – with option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework
· Open – Delayed Arrival – Employees should remain off the roads until XX:XX. Federal offices will open to the public at YY:YY. Employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework
· Open – XX Hour(s) staggered early departure
· Open – XX Hour(s) staggered early departure – all employees must depart no later than XX:XX at which time federal offices are closed
· Immediate Departure – federal offices are closed
· Federal Offices are Closed – Emergency and telework-ready employees must follow their agency’s policies
Additionally, OPM reviewed the process for making dismissal decisions, and emphasized that the dismissal decisions are made in conjunction with many other partners in the region, including DC, Maryland and Virginia governments and WMATA. This collaboration ensures that Director Berry has all of the information necessary before announcing the status of the federal government in the National Capital Region.
The National Weather Service reportedly predicts a typical winder for the National Capital Region.
OPM updates the public on status changes through television, radio, print and social media. As in previous years, to the maximum extent possible, OPM will continue to make dismissal and closure announcements prior to the beginning of the workday.