I was perplexed by a report on yesterday's Fox News.com that "The Office of Personnel Management estimates that the shuttering of the federal government due to the snowstorms in Washington, D.C., is costing taxpayers about $100 million every day in lost productivity." Now measuring productivity in business is relatively easy. In its basic form productivity is measured by the ratio of output to input. But since none of us can be quite sure about what government actually produces in aggregate, how in the world was this number calculated? Fox didn't question the calculation but rather decided to weave a story about "what does $100 million buy?" along with partisan politics. No surprise there.
This claim by the OPM offers valuable insight – if also an oxymoron – in that it appears to be a rough measurement of daily input of dollars required to run the D.C. federal bureaucracy. But it would be far more interesting to know how much productivity is lost in the Capital City on a clear day. I'll attempt to discover how this "lost productivity" was measured and report back in the coming days.