In March 2012, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, accompanied by testimony, on the state of morale across the government. The verdict: “Over time, federal surveys have consistently found that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees are less satisfied with their jobs than the government-wide average.” It’s only gotten worse since then.
GAO stated in the March 2012 report that employee morale at DHS is important because it is a huge department (third largest in the federal government) and thus reflects a significant portion of the federal workforce.
GAO reported that DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau reflected job satisfaction and morale scores at the bottom of the DHS scale — “in other words, the worst of the worst” as noted in aCIS blog published at the time.
That blog also observed that the testimony of GAO officials at the time subtly suggested that DHS leaders’ response to the survey was not an attempt to improve morale by getting at root causes, but rather geared toward improving responses to the survey.
The testimony in March was followed by a formal GAO audit report in September 2012 that, if anything, even further underlined the poor state of morale in many segments of the sprawling DHS bureaucracy.
TSA screeners, like ICE employees rated at the bottom of the bottom:
Survey respondents representing the approximately 55,000 employees at TSA and approximately 20,000 employees at ICE were on average 11.6 and 7.9 percentage points less satisfied than the rest of the government, respectively.
The implications of this most recent survey are sobering. The primary mission of every component within DHS is to preserve public safety and homeland security throughout the United States. Left to fester, poor morale could result in compromised security.
Dare I say it: DHS leaders have failed to triage the plunging morale because they have no interest in getting to the root of the problem, which is them.
Consider the example of ICE. In pursuit of a broad-based amnesty they have been unable to achieve legislatively, DHS leaders have politicized the agency through a series of constitutionally dubious executive actions and policies that have eviscerated its agents’ ability to enforce immigration law, while at the same time manipulating statistics to leave the public with a vastly different impression.
The policies have so egregiously and adversely affected their ability to enforce the laws, in fact, that the agents’ union felt obliged to file suit against the department in an attempt to restore integrity to their important mission, only to have that suit dismissed when the court ultimately ruled it had no standing to review the matter, even though the presiding judge stated in his order of dismissal that “Plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented a program contrary to congressional mandate.”
Why, then, would anyone expect their morale to soar?
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