Federal File

April 12, 2000 1 min read

Happy in their work

The current trend in federal education policy is to offer states and districts more flexibility while demanding greater accountability. But the Department of Education may not have gotten the full gist of that concept in its internal management, a survey of federal employees suggests.

Some 55 percent of agency workers who responded to the survey said they agreed with the statement, “In the past two years, I have been given more flexibility in how I accomplish my work.” That was 12 percentage points better than the results for federal employees overall.

But when asked whether they agreed with the statement, “Corrective actions are taken when employees do not meet performance standards,” only 17 percent of Education Department employees agreed, compared with 28 percent of federal employees overall.

Department officials noted proudly, however, that their employees apparently were more satisfied than their counterparts in other agencies in most categories measured by the survey.

For example, some 55 percent of Education Department employees said they were satisfied with the recognition they receive “for doing a good job,” compared with 41 percent of employees governmentwide.

Judith A. Winston, the department’s general counsel, attributed the positive remarks in the survey to the agency’s flexible work schedules, a new performance-appraisal system, and subsidies for transportation costs.

The survey was sent last fall to more than 32,000 randomly selected federal employees, and about 40 percent of the surveys were returned. It was conducted by the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, part of Vice President Al Gore’s ongoing project to streamline federal bureaucracies.

More results are available online at www.ed.gov/offices/OM/surveys.

—Joetta L. Sack federal@epe.org

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A version of this article appeared in the April 12, 2000 edition of Education Week


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