Chairman Carper Responds to Record Low Federal Employee Morale
WASHINGTON – Today, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) reacted to the annual “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” rankings released by the Partnership for Public Service. Each year, the Partnership for Public Service releases federal agency rankings based on surveys conducted by hundreds of thousands of federal workers. This year, the report shows that employee morale across the board has dropped to its lowest point since the organization started conducting the survey.
Chairman Carper: “This Partnership for Public Service report confirms the hard reality that federal employee morale continues to drop and is now at the lowest point since we began keeping track 11 years ago. We know all too well that far too many federal workers are feeling demeaned, unappreciated, and under siege in the workplace today. Year after year, these public servants are used as political targets or to prove a political point. On top of the attacks, the sheer dysfunction of Congress makes a challenging work environment even worse. Federal employees are the first to suffer from Congressional gridlock, short-sighted budget cuts, and government shutdowns. Along with the instability of politics, federal workers feel the impact from our nation’s fiscal challenges and are increasingly charged to get better results with fewer dollars. Compounding the lack of morale is what I call ‘Executive Branch Swiss Cheese’ – too many branch positions are left vacant under the Senate’s watch. Permanent leadership is key to the success of any agency and without it, results and morale suffer. While our Committee has worked hard to fill key leadership vacancies in our jurisdiction, the Senate must do a better job confirming strong and steady leadership for our federal agencies in a timely manner.
“While the report shows that a number of agencies have improved morale since last year, I was disheartened to see that employee morale at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) remains the lowest among major federal agencies. The Department still lacks a strong sense of cohesion and a sense of team. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with the DHS Employee Engagement Steering Committee to learn more about what Department leadership is doing to improve morale. I am encouraged by the steps Secretary Johnson, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas, and other top managers at the Department are taking to make DHS a better place to work for current and future employees. I am hopeful this effort will soon yield results. But Congress too has a responsibility to help morale. That includes providing the large and complex agency with full fiscal year funding, the clearer authorities it needs to more effectively carry out its missions, and a work environment at a consolidated headquarters that will improve coordination and communication across the various components.
“In order to have a government that works well and sees results, we need good people. That’s why it’s so important that we work together across party lines to the make the federal government a better place to work. Today, President Obama announced a few new initiatives dedicated to supporting the professional development of public servants and finding ways to improve the recruitment, retention, and assignments of our senior executives. The Administration will also put together a program to properly recognize outstanding federal employees and the hard work they do to serve the people of this country. Like turning an aircraft carrier, improving morale at our federal agencies will take time. Some issues may be easy to address, while others may be more deeply rooted. But in order to right this ship, Congress, the Administration, and the public need to work together.”
Earlier today, President Obama announced three initiatives to recognize outstanding federal service and provide additional opportunities for federal employees:
• White House Leadership Development Program for Future Senior Career Executives.
• White House Advisory Group on Senior Executive Service (SES) Reform.
• Customer Service Awards Program.