Democrats call for study of declining federal-worker morale


Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP).
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Three Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have asked the Government Accountability Office to examine recent declines in federal-worker morale and how to reverse the trend.

Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who is the panel’s ranking member, along with Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), said in a letter to the GAO last week that pay freezes and furloughs caused by across-the-board budget cuts and last year’s government shutdown have taken a toll on the federal workforce.

“Stakeholders, including federal employee organizations, have noted that federal workers have become increasingly dissatisfied with their employment, and that this may be compromising the federal government’s ability to serve the American people,” the letter said.

Results from the annual federal-employee viewpoint survey and the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report, which ranks federal agencies based on their survey scores, show that government-wide job satisfaction has declined for the past three consecutive years.

The letter calls on the GAO to report on root causes of worker discontent and how dissatisfaction affects retention, performance and productivity. It also asks the watchdog to identify the best practices that have helped certain agencies buck the trend and improve morale in recent years.

The lawmakers emphasized engagement as a key to improving work conditions, echoing recommendations from good-government groups such as the Partnership for Public Service, which publishes the annual Best Places reports.

The letter calls on the GAO to determine ways of improving engagement between managers and rank-and-file, in addition to asking the agency to show how the Office of Personnel Management is addressing the matter.

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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