For the second straight year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has found itself last among government agencies in terms of job satisfaction.
The 2013 “Best Places to Work in Government” listed DHS job satisfaction at 46.8 percent, ranking it last out of 19 agencies. Compare this to NASA, which ranked number one again at roughly 30 points higher than DHS. Agencies within DHS, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), have significantly added to the decline in DHS’s ranking.
TSA’s public image has gone from bad to worse, and CBP has operated without a Senate-confirmed commissioner since the Obama Administration entered into office. Roughly 40 senior leadership positions still remain vacant, only adding to ineffective departmental direction and management.
In recent testimony, David Maurer of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) pointed out:
DHS has also consistently scored lower than the government-wide average on the FEVS Leadership and Knowledge Management index, which indicates the extent to which employees hold their leadership in high regard. Since 2011, DHS’s scores for this index have decreased 5 percentage points, widening the gap between the DHS average and the government-wide average to 9 percentage points.
In 2012, the GAO recommended that DHS locate the root cause of employee dissatisfaction and how to improve employee morale. However, as of December 2013, DHS has yet to fully implement these recommendations.
As emphasized in a recent Heritage report, new DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson will have to address the department’s public image in order to improve employee morale. DHS and its various agencies have some of the worst public images in government. Just last year, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing titled, “Building One DHS: Why Is Employee Morale Low?” The answer from both Democrats and Republicans was a lack of leadership.
As Secretary Johnson evaluates DHS and its agencies, he should be formulating solutions for employee morale and leadership vacancies. If he does not, DHS faces yet another year at the bottom of the happiness barrel.