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News Release

Friday, August 15, 2003
Contact: Chad Cowan
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director James Issues Federal Personnel Guidance in Response to Blackout Affecting Northeastern and Midwestern U.S.

Director issues guidance to departments and agencies on establishing dismissal or closure procedures

United States Office of Personnel Director Kay Coles James today issued guidance to heads of executive departments and agencies regarding the power outages that are currently affecting the northeastern and midwestern United States.

"The Office of Personnel Management urges departments and agencies, Federal Executive Boards, and the Federal Executive Association to work with State and local jurisdictions in establishing dismissal or closure procedures, as warranted," Director James said in a memo sent to the heads of executive departments and agencies and chief human capital officers. Noting Federal employees' "proud record of volunteerism," James also encouraged those who are unable to report to work "to volunteer services to assist the community in this time of need."

The memo contains information on actions that are being taken to respond to these widespread outages. Actions available to department and agency heads include excused absences, which allow department and agency heads to excuse from duty without charge to leave or loss of pay, employees who are affected by the power outage and who can be spared from their usual responsibilities; allowing agencies to make exceptions to the biweekly premium pay limitations; teleworking from home or a telecenter during the power outages if power is available at home or the telecenter.

Also included was information on the availability of emergency guides for Federal managers, employees and their families that are available on OPM's website at which may be useful to those affected by the power outage.

"Since yesterday afternoon OPM staff worked diligently with the Federal Executive Boards responding to the power outage problem," Director James said. "I am proud that the FEBs, during this blackout, worked proactively to solve the problems it posed to our employees. We know the FEBs are there every day serving the needs of our nation, and we are well served by their presence. The FEBs are such an important conduit not only to the Federal agencies and employees around America, but, through them, to the American people."

Established in 1961, Federal Executive Boards link Washington and Federal employees nationwide on Federal policy and initiatives. Roughly 90 percent of Federal employees work outside the nation's capital.

For more information, contact the OPM Office of Communications at 202-606-2402.

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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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