WASHINGTON, DC- US Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN), ranking member of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, said attracting and retaining a highly qualified federal workforce will be a critical part of America’s war on terrorism. Thompson joined scholars at the Brookings Institution for the release of a report revealing that federal employees have experienced decreased job satisfaction, lower morale, and declining trust in their organizations since September 11.
“Clearly agencies throughout the federal government have important roles to play in securing our nation’s safety,” said Senator Thompson. “Public servants performing their daily duties are a key line of defense in the war on terror, and we must do everything in our power to attract a highly qualified workforce and retain the best talent possible in the federal government at this critical time and for years to come.”
The report compares surveys conducted among the same sample of federal employees before and after September 11. While employees in most agencies report frustration and dissatisfaction with their jobs, Defense Department employees reported improved performance and a greater sense of purpose.
“While federal employees have lost their confidence in their ability to make a difference, this is not an across-the-board phenomenon,” said Paul Light, Director of Brookings’ Center for Public Service. “One is composed of employees at highly focused agencies such as the Department of Defense, where the work is challenging and rewarding. The other is composed of employees in agencies where the missions are cloudy, the bureaucratic barriers unforgiving, and the chance to accomplish something worthwhile for the country unclear.”
“Federal agencies desperately need better tools and more flexibility to recruit and retain skilled workers,” Thompson said. “While the workforce crisis is immediate in nature, we must also lay the groundwork for future generations by providing better education in science, technology, and foreign languages for today’s students, while offering competitive incentives for them to enter and remain in public service. I applaud Brookings for being a leader on this important issue, and outlining the areas where we must improve.”
Light states, “Senator Thompson has a critically important perspective on rebuilding the federal public service. He has been a tireless advocated of putting more emphasis on performance, which is exactly what the federal workforce needs right now.
Senator Thompson has been a leading proponent of addressing the critical state of the federal workforce. In December of last year, he introduced legislation detailing a comprehensive strategy to address the short and long term deficiencies in the federal workforce, particularly those that relate to national security. Most recently, Thompson cosponsored the Federal Workforce Improvement Act, S.2651, which provides increased flexibility and incentives for federal managers to recruit, educate, and retain talented federal employees.

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