Lights go back on at several D.C. agencies after 36-hour outage

The lights were coming back on at the General Services Administration building on First Street in Northeast Washington late Thursday afternoon, a spokesman said, more than 36 hours after damage to underground power lines cut electricity to the complex and several other federal offices, businesses and private homes.

Power was also coming back late Thursday at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to a spokesman for Pepco, Washington's main electric utility provider.

Pepco was restoring power in phases at the GSA complex and other major complexes in the affected area "to prevent a sudden overload of the system," according to spokesman Bob Hainey and to a company statement.

All the affected buildings are located within about 10 blocks of each other near First Street in Northeast Washington.

Employees of the affected agencies either worked from home or in temporary office space Wednesday and Thursday or were on administrative leave. Agency officials were unable to give an estimate of how many employees teleworked during the outage, but a 2010 Office of Personnel Management report on the status of telework in the federal government suggests 23 percent of GSA employees, about half of FERC employees, and nearly one-third of EEOC employees are unable to telework because of a job-related barrier. The report did not have figures for ATF.

GSA made arrangements for alternate work spaces during the outage at its 1800 F St. facility and at its National Capital Region headquarters in Washington. The agency also offered employees use of offices of the Federal Acquisition Service in Crystal City in Arlington, Va.

GSA said it was "following procedures and processes refined from experiences like the 'snowmageddon' snowstorms of February 2010."

Pepco missed several self-imposed deadlines to restore power because of new damage it found.

"Power was temporarily restored last night at 9 p.m. at both FERC headquarters buildings at 888 and 1100 First Street, NE," the agency reported Thursday morning. "However, it was lost again shortly around 11 p.m."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.