“Views of federal employees should never be ignored, especially during a time of crisis," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Md.

“Views of federal employees should never be ignored, especially during a time of crisis," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Md. Alex Brandon/AP

House Lawmakers Demand Info on Viewpoint Survey Delay

Last month, the Office of Personnel Management announced that it would delay administration of the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey just four days before it was slated to commence.

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are seeking more information about the Office of Personnel Management’s last-minute decision to again delay administration of the federal government’s annual survey of employee morale.

Last month, OPM announced that it would issue a second delay of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to allow agencies to “focus on critical missions,” pushing the census of federal employees to a single six-week period beginning in September. The announcement came two weeks after the agency informed federal officials that the survey would commence in July, and just four days before it was scheduled to go live.

In a letter to Acting OPM Director Michael Rigas on Wednesday, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subcommittee on government operations, said his subcommittee was concerned about the “apparent mishandling” of the annual survey used to gauge federal workers’ engagement and morale.

“For a second time this year, OPM has abruptly postponed the administration of the FEVS, providing conflicting and contradictory reasons for the need to do so,” Connolly wrote.

Connolly said that in May, OPM officials briefed his committee’s staff and indicated that they were taking “all necessary steps” to ensure that the survey would be deployed in July without additional delay.

“On July 9, 2020, one business day before the survey was scheduled to be released into the field, you sent a memorandum as acting director of OPM and ex officio acting chair of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council indicating that the survey would be postponed, again, until September 14, 2020,” Connolly wrote. “But this time, you did not provide reasonable notice or evidence-based justification for the delay.”

OPM is legally required to facilitate a government-wide survey of federal employee views each year. The committee demanded by August 26 “all documents, emails and other information” related to the decision to postpone the survey, as well as a briefing on the postponement and what steps OPM is taking to administer the FEVS in September.

“It is concerning that OPM would, without reasonable warning or justification, delay the FEVS a second time,” Connolly wrote. “Views of federal employees should never be ignored, especially during a time of crisis, a sentiment OPM agreed with at their May 6 briefing with subcommittee staff.”

In a statement to Government Executive, OPM spokesman Michael Cogar confirmed that the agency had received Connolly’s letter but declined to comment more specifically on the lawmaker's concerns.

“OPM has received the letter and will respond to Congress as appropriate,” Cogar said.

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