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Washington, DC, Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures

Thursday, November 29, 2001
MSG 2001-108
MEMORANDUM FOR: 
Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies
From: 
KAY COLES JAMES OPM Director
Subject: 
Washington, DC, Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures

Attached are the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM's) newly revised "Washington, DC, Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures." 

These procedures will apply in situations that prevent significant numbers of employees in the Washington, DC, area from reporting for work on time or which require agencies to close all or part of their activities, including adverse weather conditions (snow emergencies, severe icing conditions, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes) and other disruptions of Government operations (air pollution, disruption of power and/or water, interruption of public transportation, etc.). Federal Executive Boards and Federal Executive Associations have established similar dismissal or closure procedures in other major metropolitan areas.  

You may download a copy of the newly revised "Washington, DC, Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures" from OPM's web site at http://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/dismissal.htm.

"Delayed Arrival" and "Early Dismissal" Policies 

We have simplified the procedures associated with disruptions both before and after the workday begins. A "delayed arrival" policy will be announced in those situations that require Federal agencies to open later than normal, and employees will be directed to plan to arrive at work not more than a specified number of hours later than they would normally arrive. An "early dismissal" policy will be announced when Federal agencies must close for the remainder of a workday.

Need for Coordinated Action 

These procedures were developed over a period of many years in consultation with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. As in the past, the attached procedures are based on the principle that the business of the Federal Government is vital to serving the public everywhere. Agencies should avoid independent action in the event of area-wide work disruptions because any changes in the working hours of Federal employees in this area must be coordinated carefully with municipal and regional officials in order to minimize disruption of the highway and mass transit systems.  

Communicating Announcements 

Announcements of the current weather status and/or the status of Government operations will be available on OPM's web site at http://www.opm.gov. Recorded messages on operating status also will be provided by OPM's Office of Communications on (202) 606-1900. 

For More Information 

For more information on OPM's announcements on the status of Government operations, please contact OPM's Office of Communications on (202) 606-1900 or by FAX on

(202) 606-2264 or email at oc@news.gov. For more information on excused absence, leave, and work scheduling policies, please contact OPM's Office of Compensation Administration on (202) 606-2858 or by FAX on (202) 606-0824 or email at payleave@opm.gov

Attachment

WASHINGTON, DC, AREA
DISMISSAL OR CLOSURE PROCEDURES

Introduction

The following guidelines apply to situations that prevent significant numbers of employees in the Washington, DC, area from reporting for work on time or which require agencies to close all or part of their activities, including adverse weather conditions (snow emergencies, severe icing conditions, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes) and other disruptions of Government operations (air pollution, disruption of power and/or water, interruption of public transportation, etc.).  

These procedures apply to employees (including employees telecommuting from an alternative worksite) in all executive agencies located inside the Washington Capital Beltway. These procedures do not apply to employees of the U.S. Postal Service, the government of the District of Columbia, or private sector entities, including contractors. Facilities outside the Beltway may prefer to develop their own plans, since they are subject to different weather and traffic conditions than those inside the Beltway. In unusual situations, however, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may issue guidelines affecting facilities outside the Beltway, as well. 

It is essential that Federal agencies in the metropolitan area comply with this area-wide plan and the announced decisions on dismissal or closure. Agencies should avoid independent action because any change in the work hours of Federal workers in the Washington, DC, area requires careful coordination with municipal and regional officials to minimize disruption of the highway and transit systems.  

Agencies that find it necessary to exclude certain offices or activities from this plan should notify OPM of such exemptions and update such notices when necessary. Application of this guidance must be consistent with the provisions of applicable collective bargaining agreements or other controlling policies, authorities, and instructions.  

OPM'S RESPONSIBILITIES  

1. In the Washington, DC, area, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the Federal Government's point of contact with municipal governments and regional organizations, such as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (METRO). OPM officials will consult with appropriate municipal and regional officials before making a decision on closure, dismissal, or special leave treatment and will brief the Director of OPM on highway, transit, and emergency conditions.  

2. The Director of OPM will then make a decision on whether to curtail Federal operations. This decision is based on the need to keep Federal operations functioning as normally as possible and on concern for the safety of Federal employees.  

3. We will notify human resources directors of any decision to close Federal agencies, any announced "unscheduled leave" or "delayed arrival" policy, or any decision to dismiss Federal employees before the close of the normal workday using the "early dismissal" policy. Information will be available on our web site at http://www.opm.gov. We request that all agencies making a different decision notify our Office of Communications at (202) 606-2166, FAX (202) 606-2264, or by email at hrmc@opm.gov.

AGENCIES' RESPONSIBILITIES  

1. At least annually, agencies should provide written procedures for dismissal or closure to employees working in the Washington, DC, area. The notice should tell employees how they will be notified and include the text of the media announcements to be used and a detailed explanation of their meaning.  

2. Agencies should notify their employees of the procedures for requesting leave when an "unscheduled leave" policy is announced. When an "unscheduled leave" policy is announced, employees should contact their agencies to request annual leave, leave without pay, and/or the use of previously earned compensatory time off or credit hours under an alternative work schedule. 

3. At least annually, agencies should identify personnel who must report for work and continue Government operations during a disruption of operations and notify them in writing that they are designated as "emergency employees." The notice should include the requirement that emergency employees report for or remain at work when operations are disrupted and an explanation that dismissal or closure announcements do not apply to them unless they are instructed otherwise. (Agencies may designate employees who telework from an alternative work site as "emergency employees.") If an agency determines that a situation requires employees not designated as "emergency employees" to report for or remain at work when operations are disrupted, the agency should establish a procedure for notifying them individually.  

4. Agencies are responsible for determining closure, dismissal, and leave policies for employees on shift work and alternative work schedules (i.e., flexible or compressed work schedules) and for informing employees of these policies.  

Excused Absence  

Agencies are encouraged to follow these procedures. However, agencies will continue to have discretionary authority to grant a reasonable amount of excused absence for individual hardships or circumstances unique to an employee. For example, factors such as distance, availability of transportation, or available alternatives to childcare or eldercare may be considered.  

Agencies generally look to OPM to coordinate any decisions to dismiss Federal employees from work with local and Federal agencies, transportation authorities, and the media so as to reduce traffic congestion and ensure that affected employees are treated as consistently as possible. Therefore, all employees are expected to report for work or remain at work unless specifically excused by their supervisors.  

DISRUPTIONS BEFORE THE WORKDAY BEGINS  

The Office of Personnel Management will provide one of the following five announcements to the media when a disruption occurs before the workday begins. These announcements do NOT apply to individuals who are designated as "emergency employees." Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time unless excused by their supervisors. 

Announcement

What Announcement Means

1. "Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are OPEN; employees are expected to report for work on time."

Employees are expected to report for work on time.

2. "Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are OPEN under an UNSCHEDULED LEAVE policy." Employees who cannot report for work may take unscheduled leave for their entire scheduled workday.  

Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time.

3. "Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are OPEN under a DELAYED ARRIVAL policy. Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than xx hours later than they would normally arrive." Employees should plan their commutes so that they arrive for work no more than xx hours later than they would normally arrive. Employees who arrive for work more than xx hours later than their normal arrival time will be charged annual leave or leave without pay for the additional period of absence from work.  

Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time.

4. "Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are OPEN under a DELAYED ARRIVAL/UNSCHEDULED LEAVE policy. Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than xx hours later than they would normally arrive, and employees who cannot report for work may take unscheduled leave." Employees should plan their commutes so that they arrive for work no more than xx hours later than they would normally arrive. Employees who arrive for work more than xx hours later than their normal arrival time will be charged annual leave or leave without pay for the additional period of absence from work.  

Employees who cannot report for work may take unscheduled leave for their entire scheduled workday.  

Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time.

5. "Federal agencies are CLOSED." Federal agencies are closed. Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time.

 

DISRUPTIONS AFTER THE WORKDAY BEGINS 

The Office of Personnel Management will provide the following announcement to the media when a disruption occurs after the workday begins. This announcement does not apply to individuals who are designated as "emergency employees." Emergency employees are expected to remain at work unless excused by their supervisors. 

Announcement

What Announcement Means

"Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are operating under an EARLY DISMISSAL policy. Employees should be dismissed by their agencies xx hours earlier than their normal departure time from work."

Employees should be dismissed by their agencies relative to their normal departure times from work. For example, if a 3-hour "early dismissal" policy is announced, workers who normally leave their offices at 4:00 p.m. should leave at 1:00 p.m. Employees who must leave work earlier than their official dismissal time will be charged annual leave or leave without pay from the time of their departure through the remainder of their scheduled workday.  

Employees on pre-approved leave should be charged leave for the entire day.  

Emergency employees are expected to remain at work.