Lawmakers from several House Committees recently sent a letter to acting Office of Personnel Management director Beth Cobert expressing concern about a proposal that would cut the number of questions asked on the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) by 75%.
In the letter, the Congressmen noted that the survey is a crucial tool for soliciting feedback from the federal workforce and that altering it in such a substantial way would potentially undermine Congress’ ability to assist federal employees in the future.
“The proposed rule changes to the regulation reduce the number of required government-wide survey questions from 54 to 11,” wrote the lawmakers. “While your staff has assured us that OPM does not plan to make any significant survey changes for the 2017 FEVS, the proposal allows future administrations to eliminate questions not mandated by regulation. Should OPM stop asking key survey questions in the future, it interferes with our ability to compare future employee responses to historical trends.”
The letter also notes that Congress has used data from the FEVS to inform oversight and reform efforts at agencies, most notably with the VA and Department of Homeland Security. The letter said that these agencies ranked near the bottom of the survey results in terms of employee satisfaction, but have since made improvements, and yet the lawmakers pointed out, “we strongly believe that work remains [to be done to improve morale].” They said that having the survey data is critical for such efforts.
Ultimately the lawmakers requested that OPM not make such drastic changes to the survey as have been proposed because it would hinder Congress’ ability to help federal employees.
A copy of the letter is included below.