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Lawmakers Ask GAO to Study Morale of Fed Workforce

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Low morale among federal workers has been the key takeaway from the OPM Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work in Government survey. A March 27 letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro from members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Commitee asks for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to uncover why this is happening.


“Stakeholders, including federal employee organizations, have noted that federal workers have become increasingly dissatisfied with their employment, and that this may be compromising the federal government’s ability to serve the American people,” write Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, and Gerry Connolly of Virginia.

Specifically, the lawmakers’ letter asked GAO to consider seven areas of inquiry to assess the morale and effectiveness of the workforce, including

  • recruitment and retention
  • performance and productivity
  • achievement of agency missions
  • extent to which OPM helps agencies improve employee engagement
  • lessons to be learned from agencies that have significantly improved employee engagement.

The letter not only asked GAO to identify “root causes” of poor engagement, but to offer steps the government can take to alleviate it.
A GAO spokeswoman told Government Executive that the agency will follow its normal process in considering the request over the coming weeks.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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