January 31, 2007, - 10:19 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Why am I not surprised? If you think Bush’s approval ratings are bad, check out the numbers at Homeland Security. It’s a new concept: a nadir that knows no bottom.
The Department of Homeland Security ranks 35 or 36 out of 36 agencies in a number of categories: job satisfaction, morale, leadership, management, talent, performance, knowledge of/plans for what the agency actually does, etc. It’s very scary, since the agency is supposed to be our “first line of defense” in protecting the Homeland (a myth we’ve debunked on this site over and over).
Yesterday, the other Michael Jackson (no, not the bizarro pop star who just converted to Islam), Deputy Secretary of DHS, sent out the memo confirming the devastating numbers. I post it the fertilizer-encrusted missive, here:
January 30, 2007
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL DHS EMPLOYEES
FROM: MICHAEL P. JACKSON
SUBJECT: Federal Human Capital Survey Results
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) surveyed federal employees last summer about various measures of job satisfaction and agency performance, and the results will be released today. Over 10,400 DHS employees responded and, candidly, what you said shows that DHS is not where any of us wants to be.
The survey results will be posted on the OPM website (www.opm.gov) and our own DHS intranet, and I encourage you to review them in detail. In brief, of 36 peer federal agencies surveyed, DHS ranks as follows:
36th on the job satisfaction index
35th on the leadership and knowledge management index
36th on the results-oriented performance culture index
33rd on the talent management index
These results deliver a clear and jolting message from managers and line employees alike. On whole, it is not significantly changed since OPM’s 2004 employee survey. Secretary Chertoff and I discussed these results with concern.
Initial details indicate that we get low marks in basic supervision, management and leadership. Some examples are:
Promotion and pay increase based on merit
Dealing with poor performance
Rewarding creativity and innovation
Leadership generating high levels of motivation in the workforce
Recognition for doing a good job
Lack of satisfaction with various component policies and procedures
Lack of information about what is going on with the organization
I am writing to assure you that, starting at the top, the leadership team across DHS is committed to address the underlying reasons for DHS employee dissatisfaction and suggestions for improvement.
Standing up this new and vital Department is clearly not a walk in the park, but our employees bring a passion for this mission, great professionalism and outstanding performance every single day. DHS employees have shouldered the weight of long hours, complex integration assignments, multiple reorganizations, and no small amount of criticism. In some cases you’ve had to wait too long for tools you need to succeed.
These are not excuses to rationalize where we stand, rather an acknowledgement on my part of how much our team is doing. And there are good news items in the survey for DHS. As chief operating officer of DHS, I commit to improve results. We will need your help.
Several months ago, the Secretary asked the Homeland Security Advisory Council to study and suggest a strategy for creating a stronger common culture. This month, drawing on the experience of top executives in the private sector, the Council has delivered a set of recommendations for promoting a culture of excellence in DHS.
In the days ahead, our Under Secretary for Management, Paul Schneider, will join the Secretary and me in evaluating carefully the details of the OPM survey and the HSAC report. Our first steps will be to analyze thoroughly the survey data, including specific attention to those government organizations that are recognized for their high performance in these areas, and determine the specific steps to improvement. This process will include the leadership team in each operating component and every headquarters unit to discuss details of the survey with our workforce. We will do so with a sense of urgency and seriousness.
Strengthening core management is one of the Secretary’s highest priorities and the key elements are effective communications and proper recognition of our workforce. You deserve nothing less. We will build on some good work that has already been done to chart a path forward on these issues. We will then go where you point us, to improve job satisfaction for the DHS team.
Along the way, I will continue to ask for your help and guidance. Thanks in advance for that assistance, and thanks for what you are doing each day for DHS.
Well past time to fix this sinking ship. America’s borders and national security depend on it.
Tags: America, Bush, Chertoff, Chief Operating Officer, Department of Homeland Security, Deputy Secretary, DHS, Homeland Security Advisory Council, knowledge management, Michael P. Jackson, Office of Personnel Management, Paul Schneider, peer federal agencies, Secretary, Under Secretary for Management, www.opm.gov