The Office of Management and Budget’s employees suffered a steep decline in engagement and job satisfaction, dropping precipitously from sixth place in 2019 to last among 29 small agencies in the 2020 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings.
The agency’s 2020 Best Places to Work employee engagement score of 54.6 out of 100 is in sharp contrast to its Capitol Hill counterpart, the Congressional Budget Office, which placed first among small agencies with a score of 92.8.
OMB’s drop in the rankings, which reflects diminished staff satisfaction with their jobs and the organization, came as the previous administration proposed a plan to remove civil service protections from employees at OMB and at other federal agencies, and at a time when the staff expressed low regard for its leadership.
On the issue of effective leadership, for example, OMB employees gave their bosses a Best Places to Work rating of 48.2 out of 100, the lowest score in this workplace category among small federal agencies in 2020.
In addition, OMB ranked second from the bottom among small agencies with a score of 76.3 out of 100 when it came to its handling of the pandemic. This rating includes employee views on the level of support they received for their mental and well-being during the pandemic, whether OMB gave them the resources needed to do their work, had leaders who communicated effectively and who prioritized their welfare and their ability to get the job done.
While OMB undertakes such important work as creating the president’s budget, overseeing spending across the government, setting the administration’s management agenda and coordinating federal rulemaking, only 64.4% of respondents answered in the affirmative when asked whether the agency is successful at accomplishing its mission. This compares to 81.4% government-wide on this survey question.
In addition, only 40.3 % of OMB’s employees agreed or strongly agreed they could disclose a suspected violation of any law, rule or regulation without fear of reprisal. This compares to 68.5% of respondents government-wide.
Acting OMB Director Shalanda Young said the agency’s leaders are “fully committed to supporting and engaging each member of the extraordinary team at OMB.”
“We remain laser-focused on building back the agency stronger than ever – drawing on the talents, expertise, and strengths of our remarkable career colleagues,” Young said.
She said OMB is in the process of “reinvigorating our important diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility work by partnering with our Employee Resource Groups; fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment; and providing opportunities for our staff to come together in safe spaces to share their experiences.”
“Those efforts are critical both to creating a culture of empowerment and respect at every level of the organization, and to ensuring that OMB continues to deliver results for all Americans,” Young said.
This profile was written by Partnership for Public Service senior advisor Chris Cox