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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James today issued a memorandum (attached) to heads of agencies and departments recommending they limit the number of non-emergency federal employees in the New York City and Boston areas during the forthcoming political conventions. The conventions are scheduled to last four days.
"As we approach the Republican National Convention in New York City and the Democratic National Convention in Boston, it is essential that federal agencies prepare for possible disruptions in traffic and commuting patterns as a result of security precautions," James wrote in the memorandum. "Reducing the number of federal employees traveling to or through restricted areas also will assist those agencies charged with providing security for the conventions."
The impact of security arrangements on normal federal operations will differ in each city. In Boston, the principal convention venue is adjacent to the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Federal Building, and public access to that building will be restricted during the convention. Only specially credentialed federal personnel will have access to the building. In addition, commuter trains and highways will be disrupted during certain hours, affecting federal employees in many locations.
In New York City, most federal offices are not located in the restricted access zone around the political convention location, Madison Square Garden. However, many federal employees commute through Pennsylvania Station, located beneath the convention site. Increased security in this area could result in commuting delays for employees.
"OPM has been working with the Department of Homeland Security and New York City and Boston Federal Executive Boards to ensure agencies in the area continue to provide full service to their customers while providing security to the federal work force," James stated. "Emergency planning and preparedness training has been conducted in both cities to ensure the readiness of federal agencies, and we will continue to provide leadership in assessing the need for additional training and preparation."
To further minimize traffic congestion, James has asked federal agency heads in New York City and Boston to use the many personnel scheduling flexibilities available to reduce the number of employees working in or commuting through areas impacted by the conventions, while continuing to provide essential federal services.
Some of the options agencies may use include:
-Teleworking from home or an alternate worksite
-Alternative Work Schedules, with off days scheduled during the conventions
-Creative use of flexitime and credit hours to complete work schedules prior to road closures and transit peak hours
-Scheduling necessary government travel during the conventions
-Encouraging employees to schedule vacations during the conventions
-Having calls to offices in affected buildings rerouted to other agency locations
"Because the conventions are scheduled to occur over a four-day period, I strongly encourage affected employees to utilize appropriate telework arrangements, at the discretion of agency heads and human resources managers," stated James. "This also is an ideal time for agencies to test their continuity of operations plans. It is my highest priority to ensure that every agency is thoroughly prepared to react to any situation involving the safety of the federal work force."
OPM will continue to provide agencies with appropriate flexibilities to help maximize employee safety and continuity of operations.
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.