The Washington Post

Federal workers to be surveyed about benefits

The government soon will ask some federal employees what they think of their benefits, a survey that in the past has shown that they most highly value their retirement and health insurance programs and in general think those programs meet their needs and provide good value.

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The Office of Personnel Management will send e-mails to a random sampling of employees to participate in the Federal Employees Benefits Survey, last conducted in 2011 and before that in 2006 and 2004.

“The main purpose of the survey is to measure the importance, adequacy and value of employee benefits to ensure that available benefits align with best practices and employee needs, said an OPM memo to agencies last week. “The FEBS will also help to evaluate whether or not Federal employees understand the flexibilities and benefits available to them.”

Employees are to be allowed to use work time to complete the anonymous online survey, which should take about 15 minutes, OPM said.

In the most recent sampling, more than 90 percent of respondents said they consider important or extremely important the 401(k)-style Thrift Savings Plan, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, health benefits in retirement and their civil service defined benefit retirement programs.

In contrast, only slightly more than half had the same view of the flexible spending account program that lets federal workers put aside pre-tax money for certain dependent care and health care expenses.

The TSP and the FEHBP programs each were rated as “extremely important” by 86 percent of the nearly 1,300 respondents, for the health-care program an increase of 11 points over 2006.

Similarly, more than nine-tenths said the FEHBP and TSP programs met their needs to a moderate or great extent, and about four-fifths said the same of the retiree health benefits, life insurance and defined benefit annuity programs.

Four-fifths considered the TSP a good or excellent value. Seven-tenths said the same of flexible spending accounts, health insurance and retiree health benefits. Only the long term care insurance program and the dental and vision insurance program scored that rating from fewer than half.

OPM recently conducted a separate survey of virtually the entire workforce asking for views on job satisfaction, agency management and a host of other job-related issues. Results of that annual survey have not been released yet.

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