NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Workers Have Poor View of Peers

October 31, 2001

A new survey reveals that federal workers themselves view many of their co-workers as poor performers who are rarely disciplined. Those conclusions would seem to make a strong case for putting airport security in the hands of private, for-profit firms. The apparently unique survey of 1,051 federal employees was conducted in-home and anonymously for the Brookings Institution's Center for Public Service prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

  • On average, federal workers believe that 23.5 percent of their colleagues are "not up to par."
  • Only 30 percent believe their organization does a very or somewhat good job of disciplining poor performers.
  • Four out of 10 federal workers rate the morale of their agency as somewhat or very low.
  • Three out of five describe the hiring process as confusing -- while one-third say their organization does a bad job of attracting and retaining talented workers, and the same proportion say they are dissatisfied with their prospects for advancement.

Interviewers also talked to 500 private-sector workers and found them more likely to view senior leaders and mid-level managers as competent. Private-sector employees were more likely to say that their organizations were better at hiring and retaining quality workers.

The full survey appeared in Government Executive Magazine.

Source: Ben White, "Poor Work Tolerated, Employees Say," Washington Post, October 30, 2001.


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