Ex-Employees Want ‘Incompetent’ Forest Service Executive Fired

Flickr user arsheffield

A group of public environmental employees wants the director of the Forest Service’s Law Enforcement and Investigations program fired for “incompetence” and for leading a program “in a state of crisis.” The Forest Service so far does not appear to agree.

The nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday went public with a letter signed by 52 veterans of the investigations program calling on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to “intervene to end a culture of negative leadership” by reassigning David Ferrell, the investigative program’s director. USDA is the Forest Service’s parent agency.

The letter includes an analysis of “how Mr. Ferrell lacks every one of the Executive Core Qualifications required by the Office of Personnel Management to remain in his current Senior Executive Service position.”

Ferrell, a Job Corps veteran, supervises 650 officers in the enforcement and investigations program, according to a USDA profile. He has reportedly presided over a 15 percent budget cut in the past year.

According to the retirees’ complaint, the program staff suffers from “all-consuming chaos, fear, stress, defeat, anger, isolation, retaliation, learned helplessness, and anxiety [leaving] an entire workforce with a broken spirit.” They charge that Ferrell has a “weak technical background in law enforcement and budgeting, and extreme risk aversion,” which have “combined to drag this program to a crawl.”

Ferrell himself is cited as the reason that many of the employees transferred or retired. Eighty percent of program employees told a survey team they had lost confidence and respect, the letter said.

The PEER organization said the retirees addressed Vilsack after their demands were rejected by Forest Service chief Thomas Tidwell following an April 11 “all-hands meeting” on the problem.

Asked for comment, Forest Service acting communications director Erin O’Connor told Government Executive, “The Forest Service is committed to ensuring employees across the agency are well-served by their leadership and have the support and guidance necessary to do their jobs. Agency leadership is always open to hearing from employees about their concerns and suggestions, and looking into issues that they bring up.”

(Image via Flickr user arsheffield)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.