Growing up it was the school superintendent with the power to decide if you were going to spend the day learning the multiplication tables and eating mystery meat or racing down snow covered hills and drinking hot chocolate.
For federal government workers in the nation’s capital, that decision currently rests with John Berry. As director of the Office of Personnel Management, Berry made the call each day last week to grant most of the 270,000 federal workers in the Washington, D.C., area a snow day, The New York Times reported.
The D.C. area already broke snowfall records last week with more than 55 inches this winter. And a few more inches arrived yesterday.
The extended break for D.C. government workers started Friday, February 5 when Berry allowed employees to go home four hours early. Offices were closed nearly all of last week with workers having the option Friday (February 12) to either come in two hours late or take unscheduled leave. Add that to today’s President’s Day holiday, and it’s been one long vacation.
Still, not everyone stayed home to make snowmen. Many employees had to report to work because they perform essential functions. And some had to go because their boss said they were expected to show up, such as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. Others worked from home.
While the final decision to close down is made by Berry, he first consults more than 100 area officials. If the weather is questionable, Berry participates in a nightly call set up by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments with representatives from highway patrols, police departments, utilities, schools and others.
Those in the D.C. area who weren’t sick of the snow this weekend took to Capitol Hill. For the first time since 9/11, the Hill’s lawn was open to sledding for the weekend.