House Passes Bill That Would Establish Employee Awards Program at DHS

The House has passed legislation that would create a series of new initiatives to improve the morale of DHS employees.

The House of Representatives passed legislation yesterday that aims to boost the morale of employees working at the Department of Homeland Security.

The DHS Morale Act (H.R. 2283) was introduced by Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS).

Employee Awards Program

One of the key provisions of the bill is to establish an awards program to recognize employees or groups of employees for significant contributions to the achievement of the agency’s goals and missions.

The bill dictates that if such a program were established, the DHS Secretary would establish categories of awards, each with specific criteria, that emphasizes honoring employees who are at the non-supervisory level and also publicize how employees could be nominated for such awards.

It also says that an internal review board would be created to submit to the Secretary award recommendations regarding specific employees or groups of employees.

Steering Committee

The bill would also create an employee engagement steering committee that would identify factors that have a negative impact on employee engagement, morale, and communications within the agency. The bill says examples of these might include perceptions about limitations on career progression, mobility, or development opportunities.

The steering committee would also identify, develop, and distribute initiatives and best practices to improve employee engagement and morale using methods such as annual employee surveys, questionnaires, and other communications.

A History of Morale Problems

DHS has been in the spotlight because of recent employee morale problems at the agency. It scored last in recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results in the realm of employee engagement, although in last year’s results it had shown an improvement over the previous year.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.