The Washington Post

OPM hit snags with new inclement-weather alert Monday


(Scott Sharpe/AP)

The Office of Personnel Management updated its inclement-weather procedures in November with an option to allow federal employees to start work later than usual when morning road conditions are dangerous.

OPM first used its “delayed arrival” announcement for the D.C. area on Sunday night, when forecasters predicted icy roads for the next morning,

But the christening came with a few snags for the agency, which ended up sending mixed messages with its online status alerts.

OPM first posted an alert late Sunday evening, saying federal employees should stay off the roads until 10 a.m. and that government offices would open at noon — meaning they would start work at that time. So far, so good.

By 6 a.m., OPM had changed the online status to say federal employees should stay off the roads until 10 a.m. and that government offices would open at the same hour. It also bucked protocol by saying the offices would open for the public at noon.

The new status seemed to tell federal workers they were supposed to hit the roads at 10 a.m. and be at work at the same time. As for “open to the public,” OPM nixed that language in November because the line caused confusion in the past.

The agency reverted to its original Sunday night message online after a “brief period” Monday morning, according to spokesman Thomas Richards, who said e-mail, social media and phone alerts were correct and stayed the same throughout the day.

Federal News Radio reported that OPM fixed the times but had failed to take down the “open to the public” language by noon on Monday.

Richards said the agency recognized its errors and doesn’t expect to make them again. “For future announcements, we expect to have clear, consistent information that doesn’t change.”

OPM changed its closure and dismissal procedures in November because of confusion about status alerts following Hurricane Sandy in October. The main problem that time around seemed to be the use of the phrase “open to the public,” which the agency decided to eliminate.

Federal workers also received a variety of evacuation orders after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake hit the D.C. region in August 2011. OPM didn’t issue recommendations until two hours after the event, leaving some agencies to make their own calls as to what they should do.

E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

For more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics.

Follow Josh Hicks on Twitter or subscribe his Facebook page.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Quoted
We'll have half a million voters in South Carolina. I can shake a lot of hands, but I can't shake that many.
Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to a group of reporters about his strategy to regain support after a poor performance in the last debate
Fact Checker
Sanders’s claim that Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies’
Sanders said that Clinton was critical of Obama in 2008 for suggesting meeting with Iran. In fact, Clinton and Obama differed over whether to set preconditions, not about meeting with enemies. Once in office, Obama followed the course suggested by Clinton, abandoning an earlier position as unrealistic.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

federal-eye

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.