BBG Watch Commentary
AFGE Local 1812, a union representing federal employees of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) agency, published its commentary on the initial BBG results from the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
by American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812
The Agency has posted initial results from the 2012 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and is encouraged by “an important increase in the participation rate of employees as well as significant positive increases in several categories of questions”.
The Agency states: “In 2013, 70% of eligible employees took the survey” – up significantly from the participation rate in 2012.
Before IBB managers use these initial results to justify their campaign to maintain control over the Agency, it may be good to ponder a few salient facts:
1. Many employees who participated year after year in the OPM survey with no visible results and the Agency sitting at rock-bottom among mid-size federal agencies with no one seeming to pay attention, had decided once and for all to ignore and boycott the process.
2. Fearing that the participation percentage would sink even lower since it only stood at 20%, management started to wage a relentless campaign to push employees to take the survey. Talking points memos were distributed to lower level supervisors who then pressured their staff to participate. To quote one employee: “Our manager was relentless. He asked pointblank during staff meetings and in e-mail memos that we let him know whether or not we had participated in the survey. He sent endless reminders. We knew that he knew whether or not you had filled out the survey.”
3. The Agency went so far as to offer hours of Compensatory Time to employees, as a reward for filling out the survey and bringing the participatory rate up to 70%. Where the pressure of the stick did not work, the carrot reward apparently did, since participation did rise.
4. High marks in the all-important category of job satisfaction, especially the sub-categories of “The work I do is important”, “I like the kind of work I do”, “My work gives me a feeling of personal satisfaction”, “When needed I am willing to put in the extra work to get a job done”, has happened in the survey over the years in spite of and not because of anything that the Agency’s upper management did or did not do. The Agency has more dedicated and self-motivated rank-and-file employees working in U.S. international broadcasting than in any other part of the government except perhaps DOD and AID. It is interesting to note that in the personal satisfaction section of the survey, very low marks were scored in the sub-category: “I have sufficient resources (people, materials, budget) to get my job done.” We know why: investments in broadcasters, journalists and materials have evaporated while the bureaucracy has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade.
5. Low marks continue for those statements that reflect on leadership. Check all those responses that were under a 50% positive rate and it becomes apparent that there is still a lot of work to do. Failing grades were handed out for statements such as “My organization’s leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity”, “Arbitrary action, personal favoritism, and coercion for partisan political purposes are not tolerated”, “I can disclose a suspected violation of any law, rule or regulation without fear of reprisal.”
Participation is up. That’s a good thing as the Union has always encouraged the rank-and-file to participate. Whether or not it shows renewed hope on the part of the staff has yet to be determined. The Union can only hope that Agency management after a decade of miserable performance evaluations in the OPM survey has finally realized that an important part of its job is to provide the best workplace possible for those who actually perform the critical mission of the Agency.
BBG Press Release
NOVEMBER 1, 2013
OPM has provided the initial BBG results from the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The agency had an important increase in the participation rate of employees as well as significant increases in several categories of questions.
In 2013, 70% of eligible employees took the survey – up from 53% participation in 2012. The BBG saw significant (a difference of 5 percentage points or more) improvement on ten survey questions and no significant decreases. There are higher rates of satisfaction in terms of health and wellness and work-life issues as well as improvements on communication and transparency related questions.
Along with continued strengths in terms of a high level of commitment and personal satisfaction from employees, the agency has some persistent challenges including performance management and leadership related issues.
Given that many of these challenges were identified in the 2012 survey results, the BBG initiated a Workplace Engagement Plan with 12 action teams in March of 2013 just prior to the April 2013 survey. While not yet reflected in the survey results, the efforts that are underway draw upon the experience of the Partnership for Public Service working with other federal agencies, include engaging a group of trained employee-facilitators, and tap into teams of employees and leaders across the agency to address workplace issues.
This initial OPM data release gives the agency-wide responses. OPM is expected to release additional data for the BBG and the rest of the government that provides useful context and detail in December. The results will further shape the ongoing action plans of the agency’s Workplace Engagement teams.