Nuclear summit to alter downtown commute next week

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 9, 2010

Officials are urging nonessential federal employees who work in downtown Washington to take leave, work from home or work at an alternate site in the suburbs Monday and Tuesday when President Obama's nuclear safety summit is expected to snarl downtown traffic.

Federal agencies will operate as normal on both days, but the Office of Personnel Management is urging federal bosses to give options to workers concerned that they will not be able to make it to work in a timely manner.

"Employees who must report to work sites in downtown Washington, D.C., will likely need to allow extra time for travel to and from work whether by private vehicle or public transportation," OPM Director John Berry said in a memo to federal human resources officials sent late Wednesday. He urged workers to carpool and to use public transportation if they do not usually take the bus or subway.

If agencies cannot grant such flexibilities, Berry said, nonessential workers may request annual leave or leave without pay, or use other earned time off.

Berry's advocacy for telework is part of his efforts to earn greater flexibility for federal workers from Congress as the government attempts to retain employees and attract applicants. A House panel approved a bill last month that would allow more federal employees to work from home, either on a regular basis or as necessary because of major security events or inclement weather.

Next week's nuclear meetings will create the largest security operation since Obama's inauguration, starting Sunday evening around the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Thirteen bus routes will be detoured, Metro's Green Line and Yellow Line trains will bypass the Mount Vernon Square station, and portions of New York and Massachusetts avenues will be shut down.

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