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News Release

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Contact: Brendan LaCivita
Tel: 202-606-2402

Federal Government Managers and Employees Told to Prepare to Assist With Hurricane Ivan

OPM Director Kay James issues federal personnel guidance

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James issued a memorandum (attached) to the heads of executive departments and agencies on flexibilities available to federal agencies and personnel with respect to Hurricane Ivan and its aftermath, and to reiterate various human resource authorities already available.

"The Southeastern portion of the United States is bracing for Hurricane Ivan, the latest in a series of storms that has devastated Florida and the East coast," wrote James in the memorandum. "As you know, many people in the Southeast continue to suffer from the aftermath of Hurricanes Charley and Frances, and now are faced with additional potential loss and destruction from Hurricane Ivan and its aftermath. Many parts of the federal government already are being mobilized to respond to this disaster and to assist you in those relief and recovery efforts."

Director James strongly encouraged managers to:

  • Grant excused absence to employees who are requested to assist in emergency law enforcement, relief, and clean-up efforts in affected communities authorized by federal, state, or other officials having jurisdiction, and whose participation in such activities has been approved by their employing agency;
  • Additionally, Director James has asked that excused absence be granted to employees who are prevented from reporting for work or who are faced with a personal emergency because of the hurricane and its aftermath and who can be spared from their usual responsibilities.

"President Bush and the federal work force team are deeply concerned about the families and communities that may suffer from this hurricane," stated James. "Federal workers are highly talented and compassionate individuals, and stand ready to assist agencies and communities as requested.  The anticipated severity of Hurricane Ivan, coming so closely as it will on the destruction caused by Hurricanes Charley and Frances, makes it absolutely essential that our federal managers have available the full range of human resources flexibilities to produce the most effective response."

Available personnel flexibilities include:

  • Premium pay for employees performing emergency overtime work thereby waiving the biweekly premium-pay limitations; emergency leave transfer at the direction of the President; emergency critical hiring; Direct-Hire Authority; and other personnel flexibilities including private-sector temporary employment and temporary competitive service appointments. Agencies also may request authority to conduct special solicitations for charitable contributions in support of victims of such emergencies and disasters.

James suggested agency Chief Human Capital Officers contact their OPM Human Capital Officer for needed assistance, and agency employees should contact their agency human resources office if they have questions or concerns regarding personnel matters.

It is predicted that Hurricane Ivan will strike the Gulf Coast of the United States, affecting Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Northwestern parts of Florida. There are approximately 1,600 federal employees in Mobile, Alabama, and 17,000 federal employees in the greater New Orleans area, and based on the city's recommendation to voluntarily evacuate Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard Parishes, the Federal Executive Board Emergency Committee recommended dismissal of non-emergency federal employees at noon yesterday.

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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