Cherry blossom time for OPM employees

Photo courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival

Photo courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival

Office of Personnel Management employees in Washington will get a treat later this week: an hour off to view the cherry blossoms and squeeze in a little exercise.

OPM Director John Berry issued a memo March 26 to the nearly 1,500 employees at the agency’s Washington headquarters granting them an hour off from April 1 to 4 to walk down to the Tidal Basin and see the blossoms. Those four days will be the blossoms’ peak blooming days.

Berry has made promoting wellness initiatives and encouraging federal employees to be healthier a major part of his agenda. This excused absence — and the nearly mile-and-a-half walk he hopes will accompany it — fits in with that drive.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual springtime event in Washington that commemmorates Tokyo’s 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the United States.

Full text of the memo can be found after the jump.

FEDS GET FIT….Go for your Goal!

The big thaw is over and Spring is in the air.  As we continue our campaign to raise awareness and commitment to health and wellness as part of a healthy worklife balance, I want to encourage OPM employees’ efforts to get/stay fit by allowing time off from duty to walk to the Tidal Basin to view Washington DC’s magnificent cherry blossoms. 

If workloads permit, from  April 1-4 — the peek [sic] blooming period — supervisors may grant up to one hour of administrative leave in addition to the normal lunch period, for TRB [Theodore Roosevelt Building] employees to view the cherry blossoms and start or continue a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Walking Directions (approximate one-way distance is .7 miles):

  • From the Virginia Avenue Lobby – walk out to Virginia Avenue and take a left
  • Walk several blocks and turn left onto Constitution Avenue and continue in the direction of the Washington Monument
  • Cross Constitution Avenue (right turn) in crosswalk at 17th Street and keep walking down 17th Street past the World War II Memorial
  • The sidewalk next to the World War II Memorial will take you across a bus lane crosswalk
  • Diagonally cross 17th street in the side walk adjacent to the bus lane crosswalk
  • Continue across the triangle-shaped median to crosswalk across Independence Avenue
  • You can go right or left on the Independence Avenue sidewalk – either way will lead to crosswalks across Independence Avenue (again) over to the Tidal Basin

John Berry


Please be advised that there is the possibility of physical injury when participating in any exercise program.  To reduce the risk of injury, it is recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program.  If you have been told by a physician that you have any cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, or metabolic disease such as diabetes, obtain permission from your doctor before beginning or changing your exercise program.


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  1. Is this “hour” in addition to the days of admin leave granted to DC federal employees when they couldn’t get to work due to snow storms that wouldn’t have stopped work for government employees in other parts of the country?

  2. I am delighted that the government is encouraging employees to walk and see the cherry blossoms, but what about those of us who do not work in the D.C. area? Can we get an hour off this week, too?

    Also, why is it that my fellow employees are allowed to take a 10 minute smoking break but I can’t take a 10 minute walk? We enable addicts but not wellness.

  3. Fed Employee on

    This is for OPM employees only – what about the rest of the Federal workforce in DC and outside DC? I don’t think any of us (even OPM) should be getting this time off but if they are going to do it – they might as well do it for ALL Federal employees, not just a select few that happen to work for OPM…

  4. Pingback: Fedline » Bike share program for feds on the way

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