Performance: Agency

Performance: Agency

The “Performance: Agency” category measures the extent to which employees believe their agency or organization is achieving its mission.  

We spoke to several agency leaders about the opportunities, strategies and partnerships that they used in 2022 to excel in this area. The examples below offer models for other federal leaders and agencies to strengthen the employee experience. 

Challenges and opportunities

The “Performance: Agency” category assesses how employees perceive their agency’s ability to complete its mission. How well agency leaders communicate key work tasks, promote achievements within the organization, and enable employees or their teams to work productively all influence scores in this category.   

The agencies and offices below have made efforts to either prevent or reduce the breakdowns in communication and organizational culture that can come with the shift to telework. Recently, some agencies also finished—or started to prepare—major projects that have helped revitalize their employees’ connection to the overall mission. These efforts to increase the internal visibility of mission-critical work have allowed these agencies to significantly increase or maintain a perception of high-quality agency performance among their workforces. 

“Prior to COVID-19, we were reluctant to utilize telework or remote options as there was an ‘If it’s not broke don’t fix it’ mentality. [We] learned to surge [staff] to [meet] mission requirements regardless of location.”

Senior leader at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center 

Strategies in action

  • Internal transparency: The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center increased transparency within its organization by using new telecommunications options to make staff meetings and leadership summits more accessible to everyone in the center. The center also attributes the transparency and flexibility offered by telework to improve employee retention and highlight work areas with critical staffing needs.  
  • Clear goals with recognition of achievements: The National Science Foundation’s Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management directly supported the creation of a new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships by coordinating interagency agreements and providing funding and reporting capabilities for this new organization. Setting up the directorate created a clear set of achievable goals strongly related to the agency’s mission by enabling in America’s research community to find innovative ways to improve national health, prosperity and welfare. The office was then recognized by the foundation’s director, showing how the office’s work connected to the agency’s larger goals and strategy. 
  • Raising awareness of employee needs: The US Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission maintains field offices in various locations along the U.S.-Mexico border. The commission has been connecting with its field offices through interviews and by organizing more frequent staff visits to the organization’s headquarters. This outreach has raised the commission’s awareness of staff needs and demonstrated increased support for employees in the field. 

“Agency executives’ interviews of staff gave us a better understanding of existing challenges and resource needs within the organization and [provided] critical insights for decision makers.”

Senior leader at the International Boundary and Water Commission  

Looking Forward

  • Getting staff in the right places: The US Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission is planning to institute long-desired reforms to its recruitment and retention policies that had been recommended by the Office of Budget and Management and staff feedback. The commission is also preparing a workforce study to ensure that it has the right talent in the right places to work effectively and reduce workloads for current employees as new projects get underway.  
  • Using data and technology to meet customer needs: The National Science Foundation is refining its performance measures to ensure it is meeting customer needs, especially as it continues to adapt to a hybrid work environment. These changes will not only allow the foundation to best serve the public, but to also identify repetitive work that could be eliminated or automated using new technologies, freeing staff to focus on higher priorities.  

“As new technologies come online to streamline processes, the National Science Foundation will continue to have greater flexibilities for staff to focus on high-value work like data analytics and planning.”

Senior leader at the National Science Foundation