Federal agencies in D.C. reopen Wednesday

Federal agencies in the Washington, D.C., area reopened Wednesday with unscheduled leave and telework options available to employees, the Office of Personnel Management announced.

The announcement came after two days of shuttered federal offices as superstorm Sandy ploughed through the East Coast.

On its website, OPM said:

Non-Emergency Employees must notify their supervisor of their intent to use unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework (if telework-ready). In accordance with their agency’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements, non-emergency employees have the option to use:

  • Earned annual leave, compensatory time off, credit hours, or sick leave, as appropriate;
  • Leave without pay; or
  • Their flexible work schedule day off or rearrange their work hours under flexible work schedules.

Telework-Ready Employees who are regularly scheduled to perform telework or who notify their supervisors of their intention to perform unscheduled telework must be prepared to telework for the entire workday, or take unscheduled leave, or a combination of both, for the entire workday in accordance with their agency’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements.

Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksites on time unless otherwise directed by their agencies.

Many agencies detail only minor impacts

Before OPM made the announcement, several agencies contacted by Federal News Radio detailed only minor impacts from the storm and said they would be ready to open if OPM made that decision.

Spokesmen for the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Homeland Security, as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA and the Small Business Administration said their headquarters were not damaged or didn’t lose power from the hurricane.

A DHS official said one tree fell at the Nebraska Avenue Complex, but it didn’t cause any damage and one storm drain became clogged and caused some parking spaces to be inaccessible. But otherwise, DHS came through the storm unscathed.

A NASA spokesman said the Wallops Flight Facility off the Virginia coast reported the initial assessment looks good with “a lot of trees down, but no significant damage to facilities, launch pads or the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket first stage, which has been undergoing testing at one of the pads. Engineers will make more detailed assessments in the next few days.”

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., suffered very minor damage with some leaky roofs in a handful of buildings, according to a spokesman, who said, overall, the center is ready to open.

The National Archives and Records Administration reported some minor leaks at its College Park, Md., campus.

A spokeswoman said the agency “took several precautionary steps prior to Sandy’s arrival by pumping down sump pits and pre-deploying the flood gates … Other fixes put into place following the 2006 flooding (coffer dams and watertight doors) seemed to limit water leakage to a minimal amount.”

She said the power flickered but it wasn’t lost and the building is ready to open when appropriate.

Federal News Radio reached out to more than two dozen agencies with headquarters or significant number of employees in and around Washington.

The Federal Executive Board in Baltimore has recommended that federal offices there reopen Wednesday with unscheduled leave and telework options available to employees.

(Federal News Radio’s Jack Moore contributed to this report)


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