December 28, 2016
Erin McGarvey Fellow, Partnership for Public Service
President-elect Donald Trump is building his government, but he isn’t building it from scratch. Though much press attention is paid to his political nominees (you can follow along on our tracker created with The Washington Post), the federal bureaucracy is made up of career staff and systems that have been in place through multiple administrations.
The Partnership has published Federal Workforce and IT Snapshots for 25 different federal agencies, which provide demographic information about each agency’s workforce and tech capabilities. Incoming agency leaders and Congress should use these as a guide to the challenges and opportunities at each agency.
For example, Trump’s secretary of state pick, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, will need to pay special attention to technology as the State Department received a grade of D- on IT.
Trump’s Energy Department choice, Governor Rick Perry, has challenges ahead as well. In the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings, DOE was ranked below the median in employee satisfaction for midsize agencies. However, its 63.4 index score is an improvement of 5.6 over its 2015 score, and is the fourth-highest change in its group.
This was also the second consecutive year that DOE improve its score. If Perry is confirmed as DOE secretary, it will be up to him to spearhead continued growth.
The Department of Homeland Security made a noticeable improvement in the rankings as well—up 2.7 points, the biggest increase among large agencies. Its score of 45.8 still placed them last, however, and Trump’s choice for secretary, Gen. John Kelly, will be responsible for the effort to lift them out. On the question of whether employees believe that their agency leadership has been effective, DHS’s scores were below the government average.
The public has been paying a lot of attention to the backgrounds and policy positions of presidential nominees, but also should assess incoming leaders on their ability to manage these large federal organizations. Assessing workforce and IT data is a good way for the public to understand the situation these new Cabinet officials will walk into on day one.