OPM: D.C.-Area Feds Should Consider Leaving Office Early to Avoid Frigid Temperatures

A pedestrian Tuesday on Constitution Avenue in Washington, where temperatures plunged to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. A pedestrian Tuesday on Constitution Avenue in Washington, where temperatures plunged to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. Luis M. Alvarez/AP

Federal agencies should allow their employees to telework or leave their offices early to avoid commuting during the most extreme temperatures today, the Office of Personnel Management said in a memorandum addressing the frigid weather blanketing the Washington, D.C. region on Tuesday.

The temperature dropped to single digits early in the Washington area Tuesday morning -- with the wind chill dipping below zero -- due to the “polar vortex,” a windy, cold weather pattern usually reserved for the Arctic.

“[OPM] reminds federal agencies of the workplace flexibilities available to employees, as an arctic air mass is projected to bring dangerously low temperatures and wind chill values into the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area over the next few days,” the memo from OPM Director Katherine Archuleta stated.

Several schools in the region were closed or delayed on Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to increase on Wednesday and return to normal later in the week. In the meantime, however, OPM is advising employees to take caution.

“As we prepare to experience the coldest temperatures since 1994, agencies should be proactive in protecting the health and well-being of our employees and take all available steps to ensure they are protected during potentially dangerous frigid weather conditions,” Archuleta said.

Employees with telework agreements should be able to work from home to “avoid frigid conditions” or address family needs, OPM said. Additionally, workers should be able to adjust arrival and departure times so they do not have to travel during the coldest times of the day. OPM suggested employees can take annual leave if they feel the weather threatens their welfare.

The freezing temperatures have spread from the Midwest to the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic, affecting nearly half the American population along the way. 

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 GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


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