Employee survey finds mixed progress in reinvention

Seven years after Vice President Al Gore's first call to reinvent government, many federal workers say their agencies still aren't reinventing themselves, according to the third annual federal employee satisfaction survey conducted by the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) and the Office of Personnel Management. Thirty-six percent of the 21,157 federal employees who responded to the survey said their agencies have made reinvention an important priority, a gain of only 1 percent over the 1999 and 1998 surveys, and well within the survey's margin of error. Experts disagreed over the meaning of this response. "The survey indicates that there is opportunity for improvement in the Bush administration for a reinvention that sweeps wider and moves deeper than the Gore effort," said Virginia Thomas, a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation. Morley Winograd, director of NPR, said reinvention has made progress that is not reflected in responses to the survey's specific question on reinvention. "A lot of agencies have undertaken reinvention, but under a different name. While 36 percent is not as high as we'd like it to be, we are moving in the right direction." Winograd also noted that the survey showed strong gains in many of the initiatives associated with reinvention, including increased electronic access to information, emphasis on the use of plain language in government publications and increased flexibility in how work is done. "If you ask specific questions about how reinvention affects people's jobs, you see the progress that has been made," Winograd said. Survey results also indicated that most federal employees like working for Uncle Sam. Sixty-three percent of federal employees say they are happy with their jobs, a slight increase over the 1999 survey. Agencies leading the way in reinvention and employee satisfaction issues include the General Services Administration and NASA. Sixty-one percent of GSA respondents said reinvention was a priority at their agency, well above the governmentwide average of 36 percent. NASA employees gave their agency the highest marks on 14 of the 32 survey questions, including using teams to accomplish agency goals, managers' ability to communicate the agency's mission and the value placed on employees' opinions. There is a clear correlation between progress at reinvention and employee satisfaction, according to Winograd. "Those people who work at agencies where reinvention is a priority have a job satisfaction rate of 84 percent," Winograd said. The survey was sent in September to a random sample of 50,844 federal employees at 49 federal agencies. The 32 federal agencies that have 90 percent of the federal government's contact with the public, known as "high impact" agencies, were included in the survey, along with 17 other agencies. The survey had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent. Employee satisfaction survey results are used as a benchmark to assess the performance of senior leaders at each agency. Customer satisfaction survey results--another key indice of agency performance--are due out next week. The survey shows that reinvention efforts must continue in the Bush administration, Winograd said. "I think it's clear we've made a good deal of progress in changing how government is managed. At the same time, the survey showed that there is an enormous amount of progress yet to be made," Winograd said. The Clinton administration is scheduled to announce the official results of the survey Friday. Detailed results of the survey are available at www.employeesurvey.gov. The table below show what percentage of agency employees were "favorably" satisfied with their jobs, according to the survey results:
Agency Percent Satisfied
Food and Drug Administration 72%
General Services Administration 71%
NASA 71%
Environmental Protection Agency 69%
Navy 68%
Office of Student Financial Service 68%
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 67%
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 67%
Forest Service 67%
All Other Education 67%
All other HHS 67%
All Other Treasury 67%
All other Commerce 66%
All Other Justice 66%
Office of Personnel Management 66%
Financial Management Service 66%
Veterans Health Administration 66%
All Other Transportation 65%
All Other Veterans Affairs 65%
Bureau of Consular Affairs 65%
Veterans Benefits Administration 65%
Air Force 64%
All Other Interior 64%
Federal Emergency Management Agency 64%
Health Care Financing Administration 64%
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 64%
Army 63%
Administration for Children and Families 62%
National Park Service 61%
Small Business Administration 61%
Social Security Administration 61%
All Other Defense 60%
International Trade Administration 60%
All Other Department of Agriculture 59%
All Other Labor 59%
All Other State 59%
Energy 58%
Housing and Urban Development 58%
Patent and Trademark Office 58%
U.S. Customs Service 58%
Bureau of Land Management 57%
Internal Revenue Service 57%
Occupational Safety and Health Administration 56%
Federal Aviation Administration 55%
Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services 54%
Defense Logistics Agency 53%
Immigration and Naturalization Service 49%
Bureau of the Census Not yet available
Food Safety and Inspection Service Not yet available
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