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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec 2, 2013
continued from page 1 quality of work to discouraging compensa- tion news. "YGL member surveys have indicated that the No. 1 reason people are dissatisfied and/or leave their jobs is the quality of work assignments," Hill told FEND. "It's clear that young employees want substantive and meaningful work. This is consistent with research on the Millennial generation and its strong desire to make an impact." "'Pay and benefits' is always a consider- ation for employees, but in public service, it's not typically cited as a reason for dissatisfac- tion or exit," Hill continued, echoing parts of this and previous OPM surveys. "One thing that impedes an employee's ability to have meaningful work is the occasional slow pace and thick bureaucracy of government." "We need to look at ways to make govern- ment leaner and less risk-averse," Hill told FEND. "We need to develop Generation X and Y leaders who embrace change and efficiency---who trust employees and who build a culture of innovation and strong work ethic." Federal employee unions also responded to the troubling drop in satisfaction across all generations---as well as to an apparent failure to address the even worse satisfac- tion, specifically, among younger employ- ees. Some union sources echoed both YGL's focus on work quality problems and the more often cited political puzzle of how to protect pay and benefits at a time of declin- ing federal resources. "When talking with young federal workers, you often hear concerns about job security, salary and workplace dignity," Drew Halunen, communications coordina- tor at the National Federation of Federal Employees, told FEND. "Federal workers are forced to constantly look over their shoulder to see whether or not Congress is looking to cut their job." "A key benefit of government work used to be the perception of job security. That simply isn't the case anymore," Halunen said. "Being used as a political punching bag, coupled with hemorrhaging employ- ment benefits is leading to a lack of dignity for federal employees." Cost-neutral suggestions Decreasing satisfaction could be addressed with holding the line on federal compensation---but many budget-neutral steps could also bolster satisfaction among younger employees, Halunen said. "A very simple step would be to develop a more active recognition process," Halunen told FEND. "While federal employees might not be receiving [adequate] monetary incen- tives/rewards for their work, receiving distinc- tion and recognition in the workplace for their hard work would be a good morale booster." YGL's Hill also offered some other pos- sibly budget-neutral steps, especially what she terms "providing autonomy and flexibil- ity"---permitting employees more freedom to do telework and to work on their own schedule, with less emphasis on "time in seat." She also lamented that too many man- agers and supervisors continue to reject out of hand new ideas and efforts at innovation that come from the bottom up. The survey is available at w w w.fedvie w. opm.gov/. 'Big Data' can save money in tight times This week, FEND's Nathan Abse interviews John M. Kamensky, senior fellow at the IBM Center for the Business of Government, an organization which has teamed up with the Partnership for Public Service to produce a third installment of its "Data to Decisions" report series. These days, Big Data and data analytics are touted as a means to create efficiencies and save money---crucial in the current era of long pay freezes, sequestra- tion and furloughs. The report's brief case studies can provide lessons to managers and employees on how to use data to improve outcomes while saving scarce taxpayer funds. The report, subtitled "Lessons from Early Analytics Programs" offers inspiration and lessons for feds currently faced with the big data revolution in government. Q&A with John M. Kamensky The last two Big Data reports from PPS focused, first, on an overview of big data in government and, second, on how agencies need to build an "analytics culture." What is this third one's focus? Kamensky: "Big Data" and decision- making analytics are pretty recent terms. But in this third report we see---through several real examples---that this has been done for a long time, for many years. Data projects have been in the "skunk works" of agencies over the long haul. Often they were seen as threatening by the existing establishment. But sometimes they have had a huge, outsized impact. So, the idea behind the report is---especially for agencies or people just getting started---to address a key problem: Sometimes senior managers are tempted to begin an analytics program before determining whether they need it. What are the mission-essential questions you need from the data here? In the report we remind people that years ago, we didn't have the easy access to data and technology we have now. Back then, people pushing data analytics programs absolutely had to be focused on why they were spending the time and money on it---on what was the value behind doing it. There was resistance to doing it. And the moral of the story here is that you still need to answer the same questions, as the primary hook for doing an analytics program, one that will sustain over time. And to make good, lasting gains, you have to get buy-in from employees and sustained support from leaders---not just access to data and great computing capacity. So---your point and the lesson from the report's case studies---is that big data proj- ects should not be imposed willy-nilly in a push from above, or because they're fash- ionable, but only as well-conceived means to save money or solve problems. Kamensky: Exactly. The issues involved in agencies using time and resources to analyze data aren't new. The CDC has been using a kind of big data for years, to plot food-borne illness outbreaks. The Animal Plant Inspection Service has been using it to December 2, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 20 4 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com continued on page 6
Nov 25, 2013
Dec 9, 2013