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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Contact: Edmund Byrnes
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Issues Memo on Dismissal or Closure Procedures - Emphasis Placed on Telecommuting

OPM Director James said: "Agencies should look closely at their Telework programs to ensure that it is being fully utilized. One of the major benefits of the telework program is the ability of telework employees to continue working at their alternative

worksites during a disruption of government operations. In the age of e-government and technology, there is no reason why agencies cannot maintain their delivery of services."

Washington, D.C. - In order to prepare federal agencies for unexpected weather conditions, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has issued its annual memo Washington, DC, Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures.

Specifically, the memo outlines the procedures agencies should apply during situations that prevent significant numbers of employees in the Washington, DC, area from reporting for work on time or which require agencies to close all or part of their activities due to major disasters and other natural and man-made emergency situations. It also outlines guidance on procedures that will be followed in the event of disruptions of government operations.

"The safety of the federal family is extremely important to me," said OPM Director Kay Coles James. "With this memo, I am taking the important step of outlining what agencies should do during times of inclement weather or a natural or man-made emergency situation."

The memo also gives agencies information on the importance of designating "emergency employees" who are critical to agency operations in dismissal or closure situations, and identifying a cadre of "mission-critical" emergency employees who might be activated during emergencies involving national security, extended emergencies, or other unique situations.

In recognition of the growing importance of teleworkers in maintaining the continuity of government operations, the memo outlines how agencies may modify their current policies concerning their Telework programs and emergency closures. During unforeseen circumstances, an agency may wish to require that some or all of its teleworkers continue to work at their alternative worksites or on any of their regularly scheduled workdays during emergency situations when the agency is closed.

"Agencies should look closely at their Telework programs to ensure that it is being fully utilized," said James. "One of the major benefits of the telework program is the ability of telework employees to continue working at their alternative worksites during a disruption of government operations. In the age of e-government and technology, there is no reason why agencies cannot maintain their delivery of services."

The emergency procedures were developed over a period of many years in consultation with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and they are based on the principle that the business of the federal government is vital to serving the public everywhere and that we must do so without compromising the safety of our employees.

Announcements of the current weather status and/or the status of Government operations will be available at http://www.opm.gov/status/. Recorded messages on operating status also will be provided by OPM's Office of Communications and Public Liaison on (202) 606-1900.

You may download a copy of the "Washington, DC, Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures" at http://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/dismissal.asp. In addition, pay and leave guidance for federal employees affected by governmentwide dismissal or closure may be found at http://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/dismissalQA.asp.

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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.


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