But we've always done it that way . . .


Thinking new–so hard to do.

Set it to music and that might be the refrain of a new report on how federal workers view their agencies’ attitude toward the cutting edge.

Only about 40 percent of feds believe that agencies reward creativity and innovation, the Partnership for Public Service found. And although more than nine out of ten say they are looking for fresh approaches to doing their jobs better, just 59 percent feel encouragement from higher-ups “to come up with new and better ways of doing things.” In the private-sector workforce, the comparable figure is 71 percent.

Overall, the report, titled “Achieving a Culture of Innovation,” reflects little change from a similar review released last year.

“The numbers aren’t getting better and they should be,” Partnership President Max Stier said in a Monday interview. “Government is going to need to be supportive of a more innovative culture if we’re going to meet the crushing demands that are being placed on it.”

The report taps 266,000 responses to last year’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to come up with agency-by-agency innovation scores. Among 30 large agencies, NASA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were again the only two to rank above 70. The government’s cumulative score was about 63, virtually the same as last year’s.

The Office of Personnel Management saw the most improvement, as its rating rose 4 percent to 63. Conversely, the Agency for International Development’s score slumped 5 percent to around 64. The Securities and Exchange Commission again came in last; its score of 53 was down more than 2 percent from last year.

That seems particularly surprising (and alarming), given that the SEC helps to oversee a ceaselessly evolving financial services industry that almost plunged the nation into an economic depression four years ago. Here’s how SEC spokesman John Nester responded via a prepared statement:

“These rankings are based on outdated data that does not reflect a series of measures we’ve put in place to encourage innovative ideas and creative thinking, including a new technology center that encourages staff to work smarter through innovation and data analytics, specialized units that enable staff to better share ideas to become more efficient, and recognition for those employees who come up with ways to improve how we operate.”


About Author


  1. Apparently the series of measures SEC has put in place to encourage innovative ideas and creative thinking, including a new technology center that encourages staff to work smarter through innovation and data analytics and specialized units that enable staff to better share ideas to become more efficient and encouraging employees to come up with ways to improve how SEC operates IS NOT working. Poor HR practices at the SEC continue to be the underlying and critical weak link which unless drastically changed will be business as usual and more of the same…

  2. I served over 26 years in the military. Also a combined 10 years with Interior, US Forest Service, and now DOE. A tremendous amount of effort was made in the military to make each of us better leaders by supporting and rewarding innovative thinking. And to be good supervisors which passed on opportunities for others to exceed their own expectations. Now, many of us experience ridicule for innovative thinking and denial of opportunities which would assist us in just meeting difficult inflated expectations. Is it because I am a minority, older, not part of the “click”, and/or just dare to speak out against an oppressive work environment?

    Thousands of dollars have been spent to “improve” work environments however, nothing has been done to enforce requirements for current supervisors who have their own “kingdoms” to honestly build trust with all p[personnel. Until supervisors live by the same standards they force on others, nothing will change. Should we be surprised that the survey results are so low? NO!! That will never change until bad supervisors are removed to only supervising themselves, instead of just moving them around to supervise other poor unfortunate souls. Honest “equal opportunity” is and will remain a joke.

    I must say I truly like my profession as I see so many others also enjoy theirs. However, trust is not and never will occur until all supervisors are 100% held accountable for their own behaviors, stop listening to and spreading gossip, only offering opportunities to excel to their chosen “friends”, and so much more.

    The current system is broken and an expensive band-aid will not fix it. The current light at the end of the tunnel is truly a train coming to run over those in the way.

  3. Change in work practices can only be made by new and fresh ideas. Managers entrenched in positions for years on end have no incentive to improve the agencies they are employed by. The best idea for increasing efficiency I’ve ever heard is mandatory retirement from government service after 35 years… no exceptions. Nobody is irreplacable. The second best idea would decrease unemployment and nepotism. Only one immediate family member may be employed full time by the federal government. Other immediate family members may be employed in seasonal or part time positions, not full time. Use those new rules and we would be constantly renewing the federal workforce and bringing new mindsets and ideas into our management.

Leave A Reply