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Federal government closes: Why can't they all work from home?

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Jason Reed / Reuters

(Read caption) Cars drive through the snow along Pennsylvania Avenue NW near the Capitol Building (L) in downtown Washington Monday.

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Talk about a budget freeze: The storm they call “Snowmageddon” has halted the federal government in its tracks.

With roads inside the Beltway impassable, and trains and buses running a minimum schedule, and schools closed, and crowds having snowball fights in Dupont Circle, and yeti wandering K Street (we made up that last one), all D.C.-area federal agencies were closed Monday. They might close Tuesday, as well.

There’s another storm due Tuesday night, so it is possible that the government shutdown will last until the D.C. government unveils its secret snow-removal strategy, otherwise known as “spring.”

But closing down the federal government costs $100 million a day in lost productivity. Why can’t bureaucrats, you know, telecommute? Like everybody else does in this Era of the iPhone.

The answer to that is, they do. At least, some of them do. About 9 percent of eligible federal employees have approved telework agreements that allow them to work from home, according to an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) report from August 2009.

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