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Understanding morale at DHS: The missing details

The news media’s recent focus on the U.S. Secret Service has prompted renewed interest in morale issues at the Secret Service and at the Department of Homeland Security in general. For example, the Washington Post published this story last week examining morale at the Secret Service, and this piece in GovExec today provides a thought-provoking discussion of some of the broader issues of morale at DHS.

The basis for any objective assessment of DHS morale is the results from the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys conducted by OPM on a government-wide basis. The raw results of these surveys are interpreted in media-friendly reports issued on the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” website, run by the Partnership for Public Service. You can see the recent data for DHS and and its operational components at this link on the Best Places to Work website.

This recent data from DHS employee surveys is helpful to a certain extent for understanding the broader issue of DHS morale, but its usefulness and relevance is unfortunately limited. The latest reports on the OPM and DHS websites including only Department-wide results, providing little to no granularity on the results for the various components and offices of the Department (e.g. CBP, TSA, FEMA, NPPD, etc.). The Best Places to Work site provides some component-level scores and rankings, but not the raw survey data in a way that can be independently validated and examined.

It is notable that from 2008 to 2010, DHS was making a large amount of this detailed information available on its primary website. These old component-level survey reports are not directly available at DHS.gov at present, but they are still available via the “Wayback Machine” at archive.org. The 2007 DHS Annual Employee Survey component-level reports can be found at this link; similar reports from the 2009 DHS Annual Employee Survey can be found here. To the best of my knowledge, OPM and DHS are still producing similar reports for each office and component of the Department, and it would be valuable from an oversight and accountability standpoint if they were still making them publicly available at this page on the DHS.gov website.