OPM to begin survey of feds later this month

Monday - 4/14/2014, 5:36pm EDT

The Office of Personnel Management is preparing to take the temperature of the federal workforce.

The annual survey tracking federal workers' job satisfaction across an array of factors will be sent to employees later this month, according to a memo to agency heads from OPM Director Katherine Archuleta.

The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) has shown a drop in employee morale over the past two years. Last year's survey, which came amid the three-year federal pay freeze, revealed a five-point drop in satisfaction with pay, alone. Meanwhile, fewer than half of respondents said they had sufficient resources to get the job done.

But as gloomy as those results may have been, last year's survey actually predated many of the unpaid furlough days forced on federal employees by both sequestration and the 16-day government shutdown.

"In my visits with you, I know you are keenly aware of workforce morale and intend on using the results of the FEVS to improve the work experiences of all your employees," Archuleta said in the memo to agency leaders.

OPM will begin collecting feedback later this month and will continue to take responses through June. Initial results will be made available to agencies as early as late August. Full results will be published in the fall.

Archuleta: Survey now a 'powerful management tool'

In her memo, Archuleta cited the evolving role of the survey.

Since 2010, the annual survey "has been transformed from an interesting overview of departments and agencies into a powerful management tool capable of driving real change," she said. "Instead of providing a few hundred reports at the highest level, the FEVS can now pinpoint areas of strength from which we can learn successful management practices. It can also reveal challenges that need extra attention."

Last year, OPM produced more than 12,000 component-level reports from the survey. In 2011, the agency was able to offer office-specific results to only about 1,700 offices.

Agency management will be able to drill down even further into the data with the launch of an interactive management dashboard later this year, Archuleta said.

President Barack Obama's budget proposal for fiscal 2015 called for the creation of an employee-engagement dashboard coupling data from the annual survey with agency performance data.

There is growing concern on Capitol Hill about the morale of the federal workforce. Top Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wrote to the Government Accountability Office last month asking the watchdog agency to look into the "root causes" of the plunge in morale.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the chairman of the Senate subcommittee with oversight of the federal workforce, plans to hold a hearing in May that will examine ways to address declining federal morale.

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