Falling federal employee morale unfortunately is not new news.
But a new Government Accountability Office report quantifies and more sharply defines a drop in what officials call the employee engagement index (EEI). It basically confirms what feds have long known.
The Office of Personnel Management’s index dropped to 63 percent in 2014 from a high of 67 percent in 2011, according to the report. The index reflects the way employees perceive agency leaders, the workers’ supervisors and the work experiences of the staffers.
“The recent government-wide downward trend in employee engagement levels coincided with external events–such as sequestration, furloughs, and a 3-year freeze on statutory annual pay adjustments from 2011 to 2013–that OPM and others contend negatively affected federal employee morale,” according to the report.
The drop in morale is not uniform. In fact, most agencies didn’t see morale decline. But the minority of agencies where it did drop employ a majority of the workforce.
“The decline in the EEI that began after 2011 is the result of several large agencies bringing down the government-wide average,” the report says. “For example, we found that 13 out of 47 agencies saw a statistically significant decline in their EEI score from 2013 to 2014. While this is 28 percent of agencies, they employ nearly 69 percent of federal employees and include the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Veterans Affairs. Meanwhile, the majority of agencies sustained their EEI levels and a few improved them… Between 2013 and 2014, of 47 agencies included in our analysis of the EEI, 3 increased their scores, 31 held steady, and 13 declined.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said, “This report confirms a correlation between Republican attacks on the pay and benefits of federal employees and a decline in employee morale…. Congress must stop these attacks and reverse the damaging cuts to employee benefits and pay so that these public servants can effectively and efficiently carry out their jobs for the American people.”
Added Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.): “The Federal Government must strengthen its efforts to engage with the dedicated men and women of America’s civil service.”