By Joe Davidson
If the homeland’s security were dependent on employee morale, we’d be in big trouble.
Fortunately, the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security are committed to the agency’s mission, even as the agency fails to inspire them.
You know things are bad for workers when a bipartisan congressional hearing is called to examine a department’s drooping spirit. It ranks 31 among 33 large agencies in The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey published by the Partnership for Public Service. (The Partnership has a content-sharing relationship with The Washington Post.)
“Why Is Employee Morale Low?” asked Thursday’s hearing by the House Homeland Security panel’s subcommittee on oversight, investigations and management.
“DHS employees strongly believe in their work and mission,” said Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.). Citing a federal employee survey, he asked: “But what does it say when only 37 percent of DHS employees believe senior leaders motivate them and only 37 percent are satisfied with their senior leaders’ policies and practices?”
It says there is a problem with leadership.
Insight on those questions could have been provided by rank-and-file employees, or their representatives, but, curiously, none apparently were invited to appear. The only current federal worker among the five witnesses testifying in person was the department’s top personnel officer, a career employee representing management. The National Treasury Employees Union did submit a written statement.
“The solution must come from the top,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.), the ranking Democrat on the full committee.
“Unfortunately, the position responsible for establishing human capital priorities, recommending program improvements and implementing corrective actions — the chief human capital officer — has seen one of the highest turnover rates out of all department leadership positions.”
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