Federal Employees News Digest

Study: DHS needs to improve employee morale

Some agencies get poor reviews in employee engagement surveys—and the sprawling Department of Homeland Security, sadly, is a perennial member the low morale club.

Recent events in a presidential transition marred by violence in Washington, D.C.— along with concomitant added burdens placed on DHS—likely have not helped improve matters. But a new Government Accountability Office study reports on the issue of low DHS morale, identifies problems and offers a handful of recommendations to improve matters.

“The Department of Homeland Security has had low employee morale and low employee engagement—an employee's sense of purpose and commitment—since it began operations in 2003,” the report’s summary states, noting the long-term trend. “Greater employee engagement results in better performance, studies show.”

The GAO report discusses DHS’s department-wide engagement initiatives—various efforts on the part of key units of the behemoth, including the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Yet, to date, many of these efforts are lacking outcome-based performance measures. The GAO document, entitled simply DHS Employee Morale, offers a number of ways these could be improved.

“DHS has made some progress in this area, but data from the 2019 OPM FEVS show that DHS continues to rank lowest among similarly-sized federal agencies,” the report states.

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