According to results of the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was once again ranked by its employees as the worst place to work in the federal government.
The 240,000 employee department, which includes United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), received a 47 percent score on the global satisfaction index and a 53 percent score on the employee engagement index. The global satisfaction index measures whether employees are satisfied with their job, pay, and organization, as well as whether they would recommend their department as a good place to work. The employee engagement index assesses critical conditions conducive for employee engagement, such as effective leadership. DHS’s scores this year were the worst in the federal government and continue the department’s disappointing downward trend for the fifth consecutive year. As a reference, DHS received global satisfaction and employee engagement scores of 62 percent and 61 percent, respectively, in 2010.
Employee morale has long been an issue at DHS, beginning in the Bush administration and steadily worsening during the Obama administration. Current DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson highlighted low morale as one of his top two priorities during his 2013 confirmation hearings and has commissioned a seemingly endless number of studies focusing on fixing the problem. According to the Washington Post, Johnson also launched a “frenzy of morale-boosting efforts including an employee steering committee dedicated to fairness in hiring and promotions, enhanced employee training programs, and Johnson’s department-wide ‘Unity of Effort’ initiative, designed to tackle the department’s management challenges.”
It is unsurprising that morale has continued to drop despite these efforts, as DHS administrators have willfully ignored one of the largest causes of the problem. There are five core missions at DHS, two of which are “secure and manage our borders” and “enforce and administer our immigration laws.” Yet through President Obama’s deferred action amnesty initiatives and countless internal directives, the border is less secure and immigration agents can be fired for attempting to enforce federal immigration law.
Simply put, DHS employees cannot be expected to have high morale while facing a constant uphill battle to effectively enforce and uphold the law. The Obama administration, in conjunction with DHS administrators, has created a law enforcement nightmare in which political agendas take precedent over public safety.