Congress launches tip line for feds as it takes 'worst' agencies to task

Federal News Radio

The head of the House panel that oversees federal workforce issues is inviting federal employees to share their work-related concerns through an email "tip line." TellMark@mail.house.gov

The emails will be treated as anonymous resources for congressional investigations of workplace satisfaction at agencies. The information will help the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations monitor agencies' efforts to improve employee engagement and morale, according to the office of the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).

Meadows announced the tip line, TellMark@mail.house.gov, after concluding a hearing entitled, "The Worst Places to Work in the Federal Government." The panel hauled in leaders of three low-ranking agencies — the Homeland Security Department, National Archives and Records Administration and the Chemical Safety Board — to testify about efforts to improve employee satisfaction.

The three agencies had received some of the lowest scores on the most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which the government administers to all federal employees to discern their opinions about their work environments and leaders. The officials characterized their agencies' ratings as problems that had grown over many years and would take months, if not years, to fix. Yet they assured members of the subcommittee that they were working on ways to boost their ratings in this year's survey, which begins on April 28.

"I take the results of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey very seriously and personally," said National Archivist David Ferriero, whose agency ranked 23rd out of 25 mid-sized agencies in the annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government, which is based on the survey results.

"What is most distressing to me is that many staff feel that they've been undervalued and overworked for years," said Ferriero, who has been in the position since 2009. "They are rightfully frustrated by the simple fact that over three decades, our holdings have tripled. Customer expectations have changed dramatically and electronic records require new resources while, at the same time, our workforce numbers have declined. We're far behind finding efficiencies to do more with less. The very nature of our work has changed to the point where employees of 30 years ago wouldn't recognize it."

DHS' morale problems also have been duly noted by the department's leader, but he suggested that he was sick of hearing about them from outside sources.

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