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2-hour Delay for Federal Workers; OPM Head Defends Wednesday Early Closure

OPM Director John Berry, Photo: opm.gov

John Berry, the director of the federal Office of Personnel Management, said his decision to close the federal government early yesterday — in anticipation of the wet winter storm that coated the D.C. region — was “just right.”

Meanwhile, federal workers today are operating under a two-hour delay. And, because of the telework bill, passed late last year by Congress,  federal employees have the option for unscheduled telework.

Berry told The Washington Post the two-hour early departure decision was made “without a flake in sight,” and he, at first, worried OPM would be accused of overreacting.

“As late as 4 p.m. I was worried with nothing happening if the exact opposite was going to occur, [becoming] a laughingstock story of over reaction,” he told The Washington Post in an email.

“This is never easy,” Berry said, “but I’d say we called it about right,” because, with the early departure, most employees were on their way home before the snow, ice and rain really began falling.

In an interview with Federal News Radio, Berry also had praise for the National Weather Service, which “nailed” the forecast, he said, making the decision that much easier.

Even so, he said the storm was still surprising.

“I’ve lived here my whole life . . .  and I think it’s the fastest I’ve ever seen a storm accumulate,” he added.

The Post reported that last night’s wintry weather led to one of the “worst evening commutes in recent memory,” with some commuters stranded for up to 13 hours.

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  1. this guy should be fired now! what weather station was he listening to,somewhere in guam? seriously what was he looking at? idiot he is!

  2. Dumb Dumb Dumb… they let everyone out right into the heart of the storm. As early as 1pm you could see what was coming on radar… Move the early release back or tell people to “shelter in place” — they are at least partly or entirely responsible for sending tons of people out into the heart of that storm… stranding federal workers all over our highways… then to top it off… what do they do… they only have a 2hr delay this morning… when probably half their workforce is still sleeping on highways or just made it home… I believe this was a money decision… afraid to take the heat for the cost of closing the government… Money or Safety here — you decide?

  3. No, Mr. Barry, many federal workers are not permitted to telecommute, even when their jobs could be performed at home. The Social Security Administration has resisted this and continues to do so.

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