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Homeland Security Rated Low by Workers

By BEVERLEY LUMPKIN
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 31, 2007; 7:47 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Homeland Security Department received the lowest scores for job satisfaction on a federal survey, "a clear and jolting message," the No. 2 official told agency workers.

The most satisfied employees worked at NASA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to the survey by the Office of Personnel Management.

The survey released Tuesday ranked 36 agencies on measures of job satisfaction, leadership and agency performance.

Homeland Security, as noted by Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, ranked:

_36th on job satisfaction.

_35th on leadership and knowledge management.

_36th on results-oriented performance culture.

_33rd on talent management.

"These results deliver a clear and jolting message from managers and line employees alike," Jackson wrote employees. His memo was obtained by The Associated Press from an aide who requested anonymity because it has not been released publicly.

Starting up the new department, Jackson said, "is clearly not a walk in the park."

He added that employees have "shouldered the weight of long hours, complex integration assignments, multiple reorganizations, and no small amount of criticism" since the department was created in March 2003.

Almost since then, criticism of the department, an amalgam of 22 different agencies with varied responsibilities, has been widespread, particularly on Capitol Hill.

"I read this report with grave concern, especially since OPM reported similar results in 2004 and not much has improved," said Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pa, chairman of the management subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee.

"Widespread dissatisfaction with management and leadership creates a morale problem that affects the safety of this nation," Carney added, saying he will hold hearings on the issue.

Union representatives were dismayed, too, by the new evidence of serious morale problems.

"I have told DHS leaders from the start that this department cannot succeed without listening to and respecting the voices of experienced, front-line employees," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

Jackson promised that he, Secretary Michael Chertoff and others will analyze the details of the survey and seek advice from the agencies that scored higher.

The government survey was intended to give federal managers insight into work force issues that need attention.

The top agencies for job satisfaction were the White House Office of Management and Budget, the NRC and NASA.

On the question of leadership and knowledge management, the first three were the NRC, NASA and the National Science Foundation.

For the category of results-oriented performance culture, the top three were the foundation, the Federal Trade Commission and NASA.

For talent management, the rankings were led by the NRC, the National Credit Union Administration and NASA.

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Associated Press writer Lara Jakes Jordan contributed to this story.

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On the Net:

Office of Personnel Management survey: http://www.fhcs2006.opm.gov/

© 2007 The Associated Press