OPM's Berry shares lessons learned from snowstorm

Tuesday - 2/1/2011, 5:17pm EST

John Berry, Director, Office of Personnel Management

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The lessons learned from last week's storm in the Washington, D.C., area are informing the decisions by the Office of Personnel Management this week as the region faces a round of icy weather.

OPM Director John Berry said he will be on a conference call with the Council of Governments at 3 a.m. Wednesday to make a determination about whether or not to delay or close government.

In making this decision, Berry told the DorobekINSIDER that he must balance safety and the continuity of government.

"The safety decision applies to everything, not just car commuters but also our commuter rail, our metro, our bus and our pedestrians. So we do look at all of those factors," Berry said.

In hindsight, Berry added that he would have let feds leave three hours earlier -- instead of two hours earlier -- last Wednesday, Jan. 26. The snow came down much heavier and faster than he expected, Berry said.

Ultimately, the decision is based on "probability and a lot of luck," he said.

Berry also acknowledged the public animosity toward federal employees, and how an announcement of an early dismissal, delay or closing could feed into that sentiment.

"These are not decisions made in a knee-jerk or light fashion," Berry said.

In an interview with the DorobekINSIDER on Monday, Berry said the weather underscores telework as a "very important and very powerful tool."

"My goal in this is to eventually live in a day when we don't need to have me ever say, Government offices are closed to the public today," Berry said.