Bonus Holiday Deadline Nears

Thursday - 10/23/2008, 4:00am EDT

The White House could give millions of federal workers, and millions of down-in-the-dumps merchants, a major Christmas gift. The gift:

The day off after Christmas which, this year, falls on a Thursday.

Giving millions of feds the day off on Friday, Dec. 26 (which is also the start of Kwanzaa) could be the gift that keeps on giving, and it could give the economy a shot-in-the-wallet in dozens of cities, big and small, where Uncle Sam has a large presence.

Now that $4 a gallon gasoline is behind us (at least for awhile) the new worry is the economy in general and our 401(k) plans in particular. Many people's TSP accounts are down 20 to 30 percent. Some have concluded they will have to work until they drop. All these factors, plus the election-campaign-that-never-ends has put a crimp in pre-Christmas spending.

Numerous feds have told us they would happily give up a day of work to help boost the economy. It might put them in the mood to spend more, eat out or take a trip. And by taking just a few extra days of their own annual leave, many could stretch their Christmas week vacation into the New Year.

We've been quietly nagging the White House on the Dec. 26th issue since August. So far no word. And no guarantee that it will happen. Still it has been the habit of past presidents to give feds an extra day off when Christmas fell on a Tuesday or a Thursday.

For instance:

Christmas day fell on a Thursday in 1952, 1958, 1969, 1975, 1980, 1986, 1997 and in 2003. In each of those years the President gave feds a full day off on the following Friday. They were Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and most recently President George W. Bush. Thanks to a quirk of the calendar, the President again this year will have another opportunity to give feds a bonus holiday.

Giving feds the 26th off would permit many of them to have an extended Christmas through New Years time-off period (Saturday December 20th through January 4th) by using up only a small number of annual leave days. For many feds that's essential because of the use-it-or-lose it rule for carrying over excess annual leave from one year to the next.

As we noted earlier this year, a very long weekend over the Christmas holidays could do wonders for cities and regions that have a large number of feds. That includes places you would expect like the D.C.-Baltimore region (with more than 350,000 who would benefit from a bonus holiday), New York, Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles and Dallas-Ft. Worth to places you might expect, like Austin, Tex., Honolulu, Hawaii, Ogden, Utah, Huntsville, Ala., and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho that have large (compared to their populations) concentrations of federal civil servants.

Timetable: When Will You Know?

The sooner the President announces the bonus holiday (if he does) the better for everyone, but there is no rule on that. President Truman issued his Executive Order on December 6. President Clinton did it on Nov. 25. Last time he had the chance, in 2003, President Bush made it official on Dec. 9th.

Nearly Useless Factoid

In honor of October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we pass along this from Unnecessary Knowledge: every year the Pentagon survives approximately 50,000 hacker attacks.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com