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Napping Census workers: Are feds simply overworked?

It certainly didn’t do much for the already tarnished perception of government employees when a memo from the Census Bureau urging workers to stop sleeping during work hours in public areas of the office became the focus in The Post’s Federal Eye blog.

According to Federal Eye’s Ed O’Keefe, the memo came from the bureau’s HR director Ted A. Johnson, directed at employees at the agency's Maryland headquarters.

“Sleeping on the premises is not acceptable behavior,” Johnson wrote in the memo. “It is manifestly unprofessional and creates an impression of carelessness, which unfairly impugns the hard work of the entire Census community. Moreover, such behavior can lead to safety problems in the event of an emergency.”

A Census spokesman later confirmed that “a handful” of Census workers had recently been found napping in the proximity of the agency’s Suitland Federal Center location.

While some Post readers were quick to jump to conclusions about the dozers as lazy, others expressed their irritation over how this memo even made the news, one reader asking, “Why does this article sensationalize the story from an internal Census memo intended for employees and contractors working for the Census Bureau?”

Other readers brought up the advantages of afternoon shuteye, and one said it’s too bad most offices don’t have a designated place where “people can [nap] without everyone worried about unprofessionalism or a gas leak or something.”

While we all have stories about coworkers, bosses or former college professors falling asleep on the job, very few question why it actually happens. In this case, could it be that feds are just overworked? Do they have too big of a workload? Or are some Census employees just not getting enough rest before coming to work? What do you readers think?

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Sep 29, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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Reader comments

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 Larry Rolph Seattle

I work for the Census Bureau and we have been in leased spaces at several downtown Seattle office buildings. I see non Census workers sitting in chairs sleeping all the time. It is something many workers do on their breaks and it is not a government thing. I see it all over. Most of it is power napping and sometimes people may need to do that to get through the day for many reasons.

Sun, Oct 16, 2011

Some fooks may sloeeop on the jo because of illness, especially diebetics whose sugar may have dropped to a very low level. In this case provide more help for healthy diets and eating habits, like provide a cafeteria that serve health food.

Fri, Sep 30, 2011

Sounds like the Census Bureau has provided an attractive nuisance where employees can take an ill-timed nap. Sounds like a better solution than a press release would be to remove the sofas -and lend a tap on the shoulder (or a pink-slip) to the few employees who don't get the message. Makes you wonder why an email to 5,000 employees was needed to remedy the behavior of a handful.

Fri, Sep 30, 2011

It should be allowed. Especially since Congress wants to cut federal staff, they're not cutting the workload. Fewer people are left to do the jobs of many & still expect the same results. Federal Employees are people too & definately not overpaid, like the private section. A nap is in order while on a brake. If arrangements can be made for smokers, which harms the health of humans, than provisions of a nap should be allowed to help federal employees be more rejuvenated and productive. Again, Europeans have been doing this for years. Work gets done more efficiently and attitudes improve. Cuts out stress and hostility in the work place.

Fri, Sep 30, 2011

@Smokey--Please educate yourself. The Census Bureau does a lot more than just the Decennial Census!

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