Federal Employees News Digest

OPM pushes telework for feds, agencies affected by DC-area project

The Office of Personnel Management has called on federal agencies affected by an extensive public works project to “utilize various workplace flexibilities”—highlighting telework—to work around the disruption brought about by the project, according to a memo issued by OPM.  

Work on the Washington, D.C.-area Metro rail system—a system long neglected and in recent years therefore undergoing massive repairs and upgrades—is expected to cause prolonged road traffic and other transportation problems in certain areas that are heavily trafficked by federal employees on their commutes to and from their federal workplaces.

“OPM has the best interest of the Federal workforce in mind,” Acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert said in a statement. “While this project will be an inconvenience for the time being, streamlined communications between WMATA and OPM will help ensure Federal employees are able to keep up the same level of service to the American people.”

Specifically, all of the Metrorail system’s Blue Line and Yellow Line operations south of Reagan National Airport—including several stops on the rail approach to Springfield, Va.—will be closed throughout the summer months. Six stations initially will be affected—and in the end some 20 Metro stations will be renovated and substantially rebuilt.

An OPM memo providing guidance on the issue notes that individual agencies are best informed on which flexibilities are most suited to the needs of their own employees.

“Ultimately, individual agencies are best positioned to determine the impact that the project will have on their workforce and to provide guidance to their employees on potential workplace flexibilities that may be available,” the memo states. “Workplace flexibilities made available during the Project will assist agencies in retaining their workforce during this time period and will provide stewardship of taxpayer dollars by maintaining continuity of operations.”

Commuters will be able to continue to use alternatives to the existing Metrorail trains while the work is ongoing. Metro’s parent agency will start work on platform work on May 25th to six stations south of the airport—and from the work’s debut, Metro will offer free shuttles “to affected riders to metro stops just north of Reagan International, where riders will continue on rail lines from there,” the authority said in the statement.

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