All federal workers to be quizzed on satisfaction

January 26, 2012

Have a gripe with your boss? Want to praise the management of your agency? If you haven’t before, now you can.

In what Obama administration officials are calling a first, all permanent, full- and part-time federal employees will have the chance to participate this year in the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the federal government’s only way of assessing worker satisfaction on a wide scale.

The data, compiled by the Office of Personnel Management every spring, are released by OPM and later analyzed and tabulated by the Partnership for Public Service, for its popular “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” report. (The Partnership maintains a content deal with The Washington Post.)

Satisfaction among federal workers dropped last year for the first time in four years, according to survey results. Concerns about pay, agency leadership, and the missions of federal departments and agencies appeared to most sway respondents, the Partnership’s analysis said. President Obama’s decision to freeze salaries for two years and Republican efforts to cut government programs also appeared to contribute to growing displeasure.

In years past, OPM has distributed the survey to what officials called “a highly representative sampling” of full-time federal employees. In 2011, more than 560,000 federal workers received the survey, according to agency figures.

But OPM Director John Berry told agency officials late last week that an increased interest in the survey results compelled his staff to open it up to more than 1.8 million federal employees. The move will more than triple the number of eligible respondents, he said.

“While a Governmentwide census will not be conducted every year, having large numbers of respondents will allow agencies the opportunity to analyze results and develop action plans at lower levels in the organization this year,” Berry said in a memo.

The next survey is scheduled to begin in April, and federal workers should have a few weeks to complete it. If history is any guide, the full results should be published by late summer.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
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