The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a large, complex federal organization whose mission is of the utmost importance: securing the nation. The more than 200,000 men and women who make up the DHS workforce have responsibilities that include preventing terrorist attacks from threats both foreign and domestic; securing the nation’s borders on land, air, and sea; safeguarding transportation systems; providing (or administering) immigration and citizenship benefits; responding to natural disasters; ensuring cybersecurity; overseeing nuclear detection; and more. Those vast responsibilities rely on a workforce that is trained, equipped, and ready to perform many tasks. Their jobs can be highly stressful in that many work in dynamic and risky environments. Their performance in such environments will directly affect the security of our nation, so the readiness and resilience of the DHS workforce is of critical importance to the mission of DHS.
The DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to review its current workforce resilience efforts, identify gaps, and provide recommendations for a 5-year strategic plan for its workforce resilience program. To address that request, the IOM formed the Committee on Department of Homeland Security Workforce Resilience (see Box 1-1 for the complete statement of task from OHA). At the committee’s first meeting, OHA expressed concern that it was not reaching the level of impact that it had hoped to achieve in its resilience program. It relayed to the committee its desire for guidance and strategic direction from the IOM, recognizing the need for advice on policy, programs, and measurement from outside the department. Acknowledging the tremendous burdens placed on DHS employees every day, OHA staff
Committee on Department of Homeland Security Workforce Resilience Statement of Task
An ad hoc committee will conduct a study and prepare a report on how to improve the resilience (physical and mental well-being) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) workforce, and identify the elements of a 5-year strategic plan for the DHSTogether program. The report will build on existing analysis of current capabilities, best-known practices, and gaps in current resilience programs. Specifically, the committee will
• Explore existing tools for improved workforce resilience, including a review of employer resilience programs which includes, but not exclusively, military and law enforcement.
o Assess current policies, programs, activities, and resources that address employee resilience across DHS.
• Identify resilience gaps in the DHS workforce and recommend activities to close those gaps.
• Develop the elements of a 5-year strategic plan with year-by-year recommended activities to close those gaps.
o Priority activities will be identified based on potential impact, to enable DHS to make choices based on the value of the activity.
• Identify measures and metrics to track continuous improvements and to mark successful implementation of DHSTogether and the improving resilience of the DHS workforce.
and leadership expressed a genuine desire to support the workforce in a comprehensive way. The committee commends DHS for recognizing the importance of its workforce in achieving the DHS mission and requesting support for this vital task.
In this chapter, the committee provides background information on the history and makeup of DHS and the workforce challenges that it faces, an overview of the study process and how the committee addressed its task, and background information on DHS’s current activities related to workforce resilience, including efforts in employee engagement, employee assistance, and peer support.
The committee was specifically tasked to explore resilience activities in DHS. There are many understandings of the term resilience. Chapter 2 discusses definitions of resilience and the working definition that the committee adopted to guide its work, which is “the ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands” (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2011). Chapter 2 also discusses the need for DHS workforce readiness, the capability of an individual, unit, or system to perform the missions or functions for which it was intended or designed (DoD, 2013). Throughout the report, the committee refers to the need for a ready and resilient workforce. Meeting that objective would include a workforce that is healthy1 (physically, mentally, and emotionally), has high morale, is adaptable, finds purpose and meaning in their jobs, and is productive and engaged. When the committee refers to workforce readiness and resilience (WRR), it implies a holistic approach that includes attention to physical, mental, and emotional health; organizational culture; and the home (including families) and work environment. The committee does not view such an effort as an “initiative” or “program,” which would connote a short-term endeavor or something that is removed after it reaches its intended goal. The committee envisions a larger, overarching effort that becomes embedded in the DHS culture (see Chapter 2).
Brief History of the Department of Homeland Security
Created in 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, DHS is the newest cabinet-level department and was fashioned to serve as a unified organization to defend the United States from terrorist attacks. DHS incorporated parts of 8 cabinet departments and a total of 22 government agencies in law enforcement, border management, and disaster preparedness and relief (see Box 1-2 for a list of DHS components). It consists of
1The committee adopted the World Health Organization’s definition of health: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1948).
7 core operating components2 and 18 supporting offices and directorates. It constitutes the largest government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense (DoD). The establishment of DHS was unusual in its size and scope, and it is now the third-largest federal department, behind DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Component Agencies and Directorates of the Department of Homeland Security
Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Directorate for Managementa
Directorate for National Protection and Programs (NPPD)
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Office of Health Affairs (OHA)
Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A)
Office of Operations Coordination and Planning
Office of Policy
Science and Technology Directorate (S&T)
Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which houses the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS)
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
US Coast Guard (USCG), except under Title 10, in which it becomes part of the military
US Secret Service (USSS)
aThe Directorate for Management includes the chief administrative services officer, the chief financial officer, the chief human capital officer, the chief information officer, the chief procurement officer, and the chief security officer.
SOURCE: DHS, 2013c.
2Customs and Border Protection, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, US Coast Guard, and US Secret Service.
DHS was ordered by Congress to start up quickly after its enactment. That left little time to plan strategically how to bring together 22 entities, each with its own culture. The integration of those entities continues to be challenging. Independent assessments by DHS (2010) and the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton (2011) concluded that critical opportunities to enhance integration throughout DHS remain. Reorganizations tend to come into place to deal with specific crises, not problems that could occur in the future, so they do not always incorporate the types of flexibility necessary to adapt to a changing environment.
Many of the 22 legacy organizations were in existence long before DHS was created and have longstanding histories and rich cultures. For example, the US Secret Service was created in 1865 and was a component of the Treasury until the creation of DHS, and the US Coast Guard (USCG) is one of the oldest organizations of the federal government, having been created in 1790. Some of the component agencies were created at the time of DHS or shortly before, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which was created in 2001 in response to 9/11 and was just beginning to develop a structure and organizational culture at the time of the merger. Recognizing the diversity of DHS’s component agencies is vital for understanding the challenges associated with integration; however, their common mission to secure the nation unites them in purpose and can provide a means of fostering greater integration and synergy throughout the department.
For the purpose of this report, the committee uses the following terminology when referring to DHS (see organizational chart in Appendix A): DHS consists of operational components (CBP, FEMA, ICE, TSA, USCG, USCIS, and USSS), directorates (Directorate for Management, NPPD, S&T), centers (FLETC), and offices (Human Capital, Information Technology). “Component agencies” refers to all the various offices, directorates, centers, and operating components.
Department of Homeland Security Workforce Challenges
The DHS workforce comprises law enforcement personnel (who make up about 50 percent of the department), policy personnel who have high-level security clearances, and mission-support staff (IOM, 2012). All DHS staff share a common mission, but they have different roles with different stressors attached. Many employees in the operational
components work in austere environments or come into contact with potentially dangerous and traumatic events in the course of their daily jobs. The heterogeneity makes implementing DHS-wide workforce programs difficult. The workforce is spread out across the United States (and some are stationed abroad); only 20 percent are in the Washington, DC, area.3 About 20 percent of the DHS law enforcement personnel work in the most remote regions of the country (IOM, 2012). Not being co-located adds to the complexity of DHS and makes an integrated identity hard to achieve. The DHS operational mission elicits both chronic and acute stressors, including physical health risks, a zero-defect mentality whereby a mistake can jeopardize security clearance, narrow decision latitude, monotony, low discretion, and high expectations. There is a lack of a cohesive or unifying organizational structure: component agencies work in “silos,” and individuals in components often do not identify with DHS. These intrinsic structural challenges impede organizational changes.
DHS is a high-visibility organization, and mistakes and decisions about basic activities often make headlines in the mass media and are scrutinized by the 108 congressional committees and subcommittees that have DHS oversight. That makes for a challenging situation for any organization. DHS staff see the news articles or blogs that criticize TSA transportation security officers (TSOs), misspending of disaster funding by FEMA, and the failed effort to build the SBInet electric fence along the Southwest border; such pieces probably affect workforce morale. Public perceptions of DHS are disparate: the USCG workforce is viewed as heroic and effective, whereas TSA personnel are perceived poorly even though they perform their jobs effectively.
The complicated structure of DHS and its highly varied workforce require resilience programs that are tailored, but it is not always clear where the differences and commonalities are. In some cases, the differences or commonalities might be by component agency (CBP compared with headquarters), by subcomponent (Federal Air Marshal Service [FAMS] compared with TSOs), by the type of work (law enforcement compared with policy analysis), by location (New York City compared with the southwest Texas border), or by specific duties (the needs of Air and Marine personnel in CBP might be similar to active duty USCG employees). Each component agency and each location within a given component can vary in size, resources, demographics, and other important characteristics.
3Including various locations in Washington, DC, and Virginia.
Like many other organizations, DHS is challenged by increasing productivity demands coupled with the need to reduce staffing levels. The demands of the American workforce are also changing. Demographics are shifting, and reliance on technology is ever-increasing. There is also an increasing expectation—in the case of DHS, the reality—of everyday round-the-clock operations. In general, there is greater uncertainty about consistent employment, and there is an expectation that today’s worker will have many skills and be a continuous learner. The physical, mental, and emotional demands of those changes mean that people must be adaptable and resilient (IOM, 2005).
The demographics at DHS are important to consider (see Table 1-1).4 The average age of a DHS employee is 45 years; like the federal workforce as a whole, the DHS workforce is aging. Baby boomers, with their valuable skills and experience, are close to retirement. That can contribute to knowledge loss, although the effects of imminent retirements may be mitigated by the state of the economy and the plans of many to work longer than originally intended. Demographic research suggests that the future workforce pool will be more diverse (in sex, age, race, and ethnicity) (Lee and Mather, 2008; Toossi, 2002). DHS also has a mixture of personnel with respect to background: civilian, law enforcement, and the military. And DHS has a large cadre of temporary employees, such as reservists in FEMA, and many part-time workers, including many TSA TSOs.
TABLE 1-1 Department of Homeland Security Demographics Overview Chart
|Component||No. Employees||No. Female Employees||No. Male Employees||Average (Range) Age of Employees, Years||Average Length of DHS Employment, Years|
|HQ DNDO||114||33||81||46 (18–70)||4|
|HQ NPPD||2,885||848||2,037||45 (20–78)||5|
|HQ OS||3,406||1,564||1,842||43 (17–80)||4|
4DHS has about 185,000 permanent and 9,000 intermittent or temporary employees, not including USCG active-duty personnel (43,000) and reservists (7,800) (Green and Perkins, 2012).
|Component||No. Employees||No. Female Employees||No. Male Employees||Average (Range) Age of Employees, Years||Average Length of DHS Employment, Years|
|HQ ST||485||184||301||47 (19–75)||5|
SOURCE: Data extracted from FedScope in March 2013 (OPM, 2013b).
Physical Work Environment
The DHS workforce performs its duties in a large variety of environments. When border-patrol agents are in the field tracking illegal immigrants, drug smugglers, and potential terrorists, they contend with an extreme range of temperatures, wildlife (for example, agents in the Rio Grande Valley encounter rattlesnakes and black widow spiders), uneven terrain with little shade, and only the supplies that they are carrying with them. While on patrol, they are often tracking a large group of illegal immigrants by themselves and then need to apprehend them alone and hold them until backup arrives. Border patrol agents also work in the detainee centers at their stations—they regularly have to process drug and immigrant smugglers and, perhaps more difficult, process people who are crossing the border in the hope of making better lives for themselves or their families (including babies and young children who are often sent to cross the border with a smuggler).
TSA employees, who make up one-fourth of the DHS workforce (the bulk of them TSOs), in contrast, are generally indoors but have constant interaction with a public that is often disrespectful and has a poor perception of the agency. Part of the disrespect is the regular name-calling by airline passengers. When staffing at airport checkpoints does not adjust fast enough to accommodate increased passengers, passengers become agitated with TSOs, are rude, and sometimes are not compliant. TSOs
have an important—and often tedious and repetitive—job. Although their job is monotonous, they must be able to identify unallowable, potentially dangerous items and keep them from being taken onto airplanes. Potential terrorists could at any time try to bring firearms, explosives, or other potentially disastrous materials onto a plane. TSA staff must stay on top of the latest technology and innovations to ensure interception of those trying to do harm.
On the other side of the continuum are those who work in operation centers. The National Operation Center (NOC) in Washington, DC, includes staff representation of every DHS component. The center runs 24 hours per day every day. To work in the NOC, almost everyone is required to have at least a minimum level of security clearance, and those responsible for “watch and warning” require a top-secret or higher clearance. Working in the NOC can go from tedious and slow to extremely high-pressure in a matter of moments. Each of the operational components has an operation center as well. Shift schedules, which can change within a given month, can contribute to burnout, poor sleep, and ultimately poor performance. Making a mistake in that environment can compromise an employee’s security clearance and potentially his or her job. Training in operation centers is intense, and every level entails job-specific training. That leaves little time for training outside an employee’s specialty, so it is difficult for someone suffering from burnout to move to a position elsewhere in the department.
Concerns About Attrition
Retention of the workforce is a key element of workforce readiness and resilience. This section provides some data on attrition in the federal government and specifically in DHS that show that retention is a subject of concern for DHS. Attrition rates in the federal government are consistently lower than those in the private sector. In 2008, the federal government attrition rate was 7.6 percent vs 9.2 percent in the private sector. In 2009, the federal government attrition rate declined to 5.85 percent (Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton, 2010). Considering only the federal employees who resigned from DHS (as opposed to being transferred to other components or being fired), the average attrition was 1.6 percent in 2009 (excluding retirements). In 2009, DHS averages for resignation ranged from 1.13 percent (ICE) to 6.84 percent (FLETC) with an average of 3.37 percent—1.77 percent higher than the
In 2006, 35.6 percent of the 15,570 new hires separated from DHS in less than 2 years; 72 percent of DHS executives left during 2003–2007 (Davidson, 2010; Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton, 2010). Throughout the federal government, 22 percent (6,080) of federal employees who resigned had less than 1 year of federal service, and 69 percent (18,839) who resigned had less than 5 years of federal service.
TABLE 1-2 Department of Homeland Security FY 2012 Attrition Data by Component
FY 2012 Attrition Ratea
aAs of January 31, 2013.
NOTE: FY = fiscal year.
SOURCE: Provided to the IOM by DHS, March 2013.
5Calculated based on attrition data provided to the IOM by DHS.
Those data, combined with the DHS Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS)6 scores that show that 34.9 percent of employees plan to leave DHS in the next year (4 percent plan to retire), convey the importance of improving efforts to retain staff to protect institutional memory and save costs (OPM, 2012). It is a more efficient use of funds to retain an employee in whom an organization has invested time and money during the onboarding process (recruitment, training). The cost of employee turnover can be substantial in both real monetary costs (time taken for recruitment, training, and replacement) and indirect costs (loss of productivity, unnecessary overtime by other employees, and low morale). Some turnover in any agency is expected, and even beneficial (for example, if employees leave because the job is not a good match for them), but reducing undesirable turnover is important.
The most important asset of an organization is its workforce. To achieve its mission, DHS needs an informed, well-trained, well-led, and properly supported workforce. The DHS mission, “to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards” (DHS, 2013c), cannot be taken lightly, nor can the role of the DHS workforce in keeping the nation safe. The DHS work environment is inherently stressful, and the responsibilities can weigh heavily on DHS employees at every level and in every facet of the organization. If the workforce is not ready and resilient—if it does not have the ability to respond to and bounce back from crises and everyday stressors—it can compromise the effectiveness of DHS.
Resilience affects individual employee performance and overall operational readiness over time. Therefore, it is crucial that the strategic plan for workforce resilience developed by DHS ensure that its most critical resource, its employees, is linked with the department’s vision, mis-
6“The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FedView survey) is a tool that measures employees’ perceptions of whether, and to what extent, conditions characterizing successful organizations are present in their agencies. Survey results provide valuable insight into the challenges agency leaders face in ensuring the federal government has an effective civilian workforce and how well they are responding” (OPM, 2013a). More information on the survey, including survey design and methodology, can be found on OPM’s website: http://www.fedview.opm.gov/2012/What (accessed June 5, 2013) and the survey FAQ page: http://www.fedview.opm.gov/2012/FAQS (accessed June 5, 2013).
sion, and goals. DHS staff affect the lives of people all over the nation. DHS is accomplished in performing its various duties, and the DHS workforce every day carries out an astonishing amount of work that contributes to the safety of the country so that the American way of life can thrive (see Box 1-3 for examples). The workforce not only deserves to have excellent resources for readiness and resilience but also needs the full support of DHS to continue to meet its day-to-day and long-term missions.
Sample of Daily Department of Homeland Security Workforce Accomplishmentsa
To prevent terrorism and enhance security, DHS
• Screens about 2 million passengers and their checked baggage before they board commercial aircraft.
• Intercepts 90 prohibited items at checkpoints (TSA outbound and CBP inbound) and prevents 1,945 prohibited items from entering federal facilities.
• Deploys thousands of transportation security officers and federal air marshals to protect the traveling public.
• Conducts 135 armed waterborne patrols near maritime critical infrastructure and key resources.
• Monitors 1,428 radiation portal monitors to scan all containerized cargo entering from Canada and Mexico; all personally owned vehicles entering from Canada and Mexico, and 99 percent of arriving seaborne containerized cargo for illicit radiologic and nuclear materials.
• Trains 3,400 federal officers and agents in 89 federal agencies and state, local, tribal, and international officers and agents in 469 basic and advanced training programs.
• Trains 12 state and local law-enforcement officials in using preventive radiologic and nuclear detection equipment.
• Reviews all-source intelligence information, conducts analysis, and develops products to disseminate to federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and private-sector partners regarding current and developing threats and potential indicators of the threat.
• Provides resources and expertise to support the nation’s state and major urban area fusion centers in engaging law-enforcement and homeland-security agencies around the country in reporting suspicious activities and implementing protective measures.
To secure and manage borders, DHS
• Processes nearly 1 million travelers entering the United States at air, land, and sea ports of entry.
• Inspects more than 47,000 truck, rail, and sea containers.
• Processes more than $88 million in fees, duties, and tariffs.
• Seizes 11,435 lbs of narcotics at or near ports of entry nationwide.
• Seizes or removes 1,100 lbs of illegal drugs via maritime routes.
• Issues 200 credentials to qualified merchant mariners to ensure the safety, security, and efficiency of the maritime supply chain.
• Manages 3,500 commercial vessel transits through the Marine Transportation System to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of goods and people.
To enforce and administer immigration laws, DHS
• Makes an average of 728 administrative arrests and 638 criminalalien arrests.
• Seizes about $400,000 in undeclared or illicit currency at and between ports of entry nationwide.
• Litigates nearly 1,500 cases in immigration court and obtains 6,161 final orders of removal, including 933 for criminal aliens.
• Houses 33,429 illegal aliens in detention facilities nationwide.
• Processes 24,371 applications for immigration benefits.
• Naturalizes 2,583 new US citizens.
To safeguard and secure cyberspace, DHS
• Protects US information systems (the federal.gov domain) through the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), which detects, responds to, and issues warnings about an average of more than 18 incidents per month arising from almost 15,000 daily alerts.
• Works closely with government and private-sector partners to defend against and respond to a variety of cyber threats and when necessary provides onsite support to owners and operators of the nation’s critical infrastructure on incident response, forensic analysis, site assessments, and training.
• Promotes the development of a world-class cybersecurity workforce by supporting initiatives such as Scholarship for Service and developing education curriculum designed to ensure that DHS cyber professionals are educated in every aspect of cyber risk mitigation.
To ensure resilience to disasters, DHS
• Provides $22 million to states and local communities for disaster response, recovery, and mitigation activities.
• Helps to save $4.6 million in damages from flooding around the country through FEMA’s Flood Plain Management.
• Helps to protect 104 homes from the devastating effects of flooding through flood insurance policies issued by the National Flood Insurance Program.
• Strengthens citizen preparedness and participation through funding and technical assistance to the nearly 2,400 tribal, state, territorial, and local Citizen Corps Councils in every state and 5 US territories.
• Trains 951 emergency responders to improve capabilities related to all hazards, including weapons of mass destruction, cybersecurity, agriculture and food protection, and citizen preparedness.
• Saves 13 lives, responds to 64 search and rescue cases, and prevents loss of $260,000 in property damage.
aData contained in this box are approximate and represent daily averages based on annual departmentwide statistics.
SOURCE: DHS, 2013a.
Human Capital Management
From a human capital standpoint, having a ready and resilient workforce is essential. Human capital management is the process by which a workforce is hired, developed, deployed, motivated, and retained. If DHS is known as a desirable place to work, where employees have critically important jobs and are supported for success, it will be able to attract the most qualified workers to help fulfill its mission. It will be able to see the best use of its investment in training through high retention rates and competitiveness with other agencies. A human capital focus emphasizes measurement and analysis, looks at return on investment, and aligns workforce decisions with agency mission and goals. The human capital paradigm (as opposed to traditional “human resources”) focuses on the importance of people for an organization’s success and sees the workforce as an investment, not an expense. A ready and resilient workforce will benefit DHS as a whole and result in improved staff performance, productivity,7 and output by reducing absenteeism,8 improving presenteeism,9 and increasing morale.
7Productivity is the amount of work or production output per unit of input from labor, equipment, or capital used (IOM, 2005).
8Absenteeism is habitual absence from work; it may reflect demoralization or dissatisfaction on the part of an employee (IOM, 2005).
9Presenteeism is on-the-job productivity loss that is illness related; for example, problems such as allergies, arthritis, asthma, chronic back pain, depression, and migraines; also related to productivity loss resulting from caregiving, lack of job satisfaction, and organizational culture (IOM, 2005).
What we learned in Homeland Security is that people matter, one at a time.
What’s our Homeland model for our workforce and resilience? … It begins with individuals that are informed, well-trained, well-led, [and] properly supported. They know what’s expected of them every day and they have the tools to do it.
—Former Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute (2013)
The IOM Committee on Department of Homeland Security Workforce Resilience was asked to provide guidance on improving the resilience of the DHS workforce in accordance with its statement of task (see Box 1-1). This report contains recommendations and guidance for the content and implementation of a 5-year strategic plan to support WRR that ultimately will result in a healthier, mission-ready, and thus more resilient workforce. Early in its work, the committee recognized that to address its charge, it must take a broad look at factors that potentially contribute to workforce health as opposed to resilience alone because DHS was unable to provide the committee with any specific data that clearly demonstrated a problem with workforce resilience in the department. DHS has focused on results of the FEVS, which has demonstrated issues with morale, engagement, and leadership at DHS, all of which may affect workforce resilience.10 Through conversations with DHS staff during information-gathering sessions and site visits, the committee confirmed the existence of those issues, along with a general lack of a core integrated organizational culture, and of issues with communication throughout DHS.
For guidance, the committee relied on the vision that then–Deputy Secretary Lute11 communicated to the committee (Lute, 2013) in its February 2013 meeting. Dr. Lute conveyed the idea that the “purpose of Homeland Security is to help create a safe, secure, resilient place where the American way of life can thrive” and that the mission is deep and
10DHS has consistently low scores on the FEVS—in 2012, it was ranked 19th among the 19 large federal agencies (http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/assets/BestPlacestoWork 2012.pdf [accessed July 9, 2013]).
11At the time she spoke with the committee, Dr. Lute was the DHS Deputy Secretary (she resigned in April 2013).
complex. She passionately noted that “we have to also take care of our own resilience and our own ability to respond under pressure” to meet the mission. She said that if we do not have informed people, we do not have stable people and that a model for workforce resilience begins with people who are “informed, well-trained, well-led, and properly supported.” Dr. Lute also noted that DHS needs to know more about its people and that she “want[s] us to have a homeland-security way of doing things just as the military has their way and others have their way. And I want an organization that has enormous pride in itself and is known for its purpose and value to the American public.” Finally, in regard to culture, Dr. Lute stated that “whenever you are building an organization you must pay attention to your culture. What are the values, what are the principles, what is the meaning that you want your workforce to connect to?”
The committee concluded that a top-down, fully standardized set of activities aimed at enhancing workforce resilience and readiness throughout DHS would not work, because of the diversity of missions, organizational culture, and organization among component agencies. However, there need to be centralized strategic direction and resource investment, identification of core best practices, overarching policies, and measures of effectiveness at the department level that will unify the WRR effort. That will ensure consistency while fostering component agencies’ ownership of and flexibility in implementation because “you run organizations with purpose and pride and you run them successfully when you put that purpose and pride in … the hands of the people who are in the organization” (Lute, 2013). It is with those sentiments in mind that the committee viewed its charge. The committee does not view the goal of a DHS initiative to address workforce readiness and resilience as equivalent to addressing employee satisfaction. Rather, achieving a high level of resilience includes fostering a sense of pride among the workforce, building an integrated core culture of readiness and resilience, and devotion to developing a well-led, supported, well-trained, and informed workforce. That achievement will result in a workforce that has “the ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of [the] stressors and changing demands” that it experiences daily in carrying out its diverse mission (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2011).
To address its charge, the committee gathered information through a variety of means. It held two information-gathering meetings that were open to the public. The first, held in December 2012, focused on obtaining background information from DHS, including OHA and the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO), and information on resilience programs. The second, held in February 2013, focused on obtaining additional information from DHS and component agencies, including available safety and health data, leadership-training programs, best practices of operational components, and a keynote address by Deputy Secretary Lute on leadership’s vision for the workforce. The committee also heard from experts in data integration, leadership, and communication. (Agendas of those meetings are in Appendix B.) The committee met in executive sessions for deliberative discussion throughout the study process; the final meeting took place in May 2013. The committee received public submissions of materials for its consideration at the meetings and by e-mail throughout the course of the study.12 A website was created to provide information to the public about the committee’s work and to facilitate communication between the public and the committee (IOM, 2013).13
Committee members and staff visited multiple DHS component agencies in April 2013 to gain a better understanding of the physical work environments, daily job tasks, and stressors of the DHS workforce. During those visits, the committee and IOM staff were given a tour and spoke with leaders, frontline supervisors, and workers in New York, New York; the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas; and Washington, DC. In New York, committee members and staff visited the FEMA Regional Office and Joint Field Office, the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL), and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In Texas, committee members and staff visited CBP—including a variety of border patrol divisions, stations, and checkpoints—and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Port Isabel Service Processing Center. In Washington, DC, committee members and staff visited TSA at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The committee wanted to visit with staff at
12Public-access materials can be requested from http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/ManageRequest.aspx?key=49485 (accessed July 8, 2013).
the National Operations Center (NOC) in Washington, DC, but accommodations were not made by that component for a visit.
The committee created an online public-comment tool to give all DHS staff the opportunity to provide comments to the committee. The committee received 130 responses from 8 component agencies (see Appendix C for a summary of the comments received). Although the information obtained from the site visits and online public-comment tool is not representative of DHS as a whole and therefore cannot be generalized, these sources did provide the committee with important context and insight into the stressors that the DHS workforce regularly encounters.
During a series of two workshops hosted by the IOM in September and November 2011 (also sponsored by OHA), experts spoke about a number of issues related to workforce resilience in general and at DHS specifically, including factors that potentially influence workforce effectiveness and resilience, such as fatigue, work-family connections, and leadership effectiveness and challenges to implementing a resilience program in DHS. A workshop summary was published in April 2012.14 The workshops constituted a precursor of the work of the present report, and the committee relied heavily on the information in the summary for background information and during its deliberations. Themes from the information-gathering meetings, site visits, comments from DHS staff, and the 2011 IOM workshops on workforce resilience are discussed throughout this report; high-level themes are available in Box 1-4.
The committee reviewed and considered resilience programs, tools, and policies of the military, law enforcement, and the private sector, such as the Army’s Ready and Resilient effort and Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, DoD’s Total Force Fitness, the Navy’s resilience programs (including Combat and Operational Stress Control and the Navy Installations Command Fleet and Family Readiness), and such relevant efforts of law enforcement entities as early-intervention systems,15 Education Based Discipline,16 Mediation,17 best practices of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and peer support. The field of workforce
14Available at http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2012/Building-a-Resilient-Workforce-Opportunities-for-the-Department-of-Homeland-Security.aspx (accessed July 8, 2013).
15Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department; Miami-Dade Police Department; Phoenix Police Department; Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
16Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
17Denver, Colorado; Pasadena, California.
Themes from Information Gathering
Mission: Members of the DHS workforce believe in their mission and are committed to seeing it implemented even when they do not feel supported by or when they feel disconnected from the larger component or DHS.
Organizational Culture: There was no indication of an integrated core culture among the 22 legacy and newly added components that make up DHS, and there was no indication of a culture of readiness or resilience.
Commitment to Resilience: Workforce readiness and resilience have not had high priority for leadership and are not actively measured, and the DHSTogether program does not receive adequate support.
Disconnect from Headquarters: There appears to be a disconnect between the staff in DHS headquarters and component agencies that leaves employees not feeling heard or not feeling like an integral part of the organization.
Trust: Trust is fractured throughout the department, including trust in leadership and trust in the organization as a whole. Staff do not consistently believe that leaders have their best interests at heart; they believe that leaders are not transparent and that leaders think of them as expendable
Awareness of Support Programs: Overall, staff do not seem to be aware of the resources or programs available to them, do not use them, and do not feel that policies to support employees are in place.
Communication: Communication is lacking in many ways. Best practices are generally not discussed or shared within or among components. There is a lack of communication about resources and programs available to staff, their input is not sought, and their accomplishments are not celebrated.
resilience is in its infancy, and there has been little rigorous evaluation of efforts (Meredith et al., 2011). The committee refers to existing resilience efforts throughout this report as examples but could not look to them for best practices, because of the lack of evaluation. In addition, based on their findings, the committee has focused its report on the more fundamental organizational issues that need to be addressed before individual programs, tools, or policies can be considered by DHS.
In 2012, DHS also asked the IOM to convene a committee to prepare a report on DHS occupational health and operational medicine infrastructure. The committee addressing that topic began its work in March 2013, and its report will be released in early 2014 (see Box 1-5 for that com-
mittee’s full statement of task). Parts of that committee’s information-gathering meetings, held in March and June 2013, were informative for the work of the present committee. There are some overlaps in subject matter between the two committees, and subjects that will be covered by the other committee are noted throughout this report.
Committee on Department of Homeland Security Occupational Health and Operational Medicine Infrastructure
Statement of Task
An ad hoc committee will review and assess the current agency-wide occupational health and operational medicine infrastructure at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and provide recommendations on how infrastructures within component agencies can be better integrated into a coordinated, DHS-wide system with the necessary centralized oversight authority. Specifically, the committee will
• Review and assess DHS’s current occupational health and operational medicine infrastructure.
• Explore the occupational health and operational medicine infrastructures established in other relevant federal agencies and organizations.
• Identify the key functions of an integrated occupational health and operational medicine infrastructure.
• Consider the necessary department oversight authority that will be required to ensure an integrated infrastructure.
• Identify quality metrics that may be used for evidence based quality improvements.
• Perform case studies to explore the potential impacts of an integrated infrastructure, including the estimated cost savings.
In addressing the task, the committee will prioritize recommendations on short- and long-term measures DHS can adopt in order to optimize its mission readiness by assuring the health, safety, and resilience of its workforce; consideration will also be given to the impact of such measures on the agency’s liability and health care costs.
In 2008, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published Essential Elements of Effective Workplace Programs and Policies for Improving Worker Health and Wellbeing (NIOSH, 2008). An expert group assembled by NIOSH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified 20 components of a comprehensive work-based health protection and health promotion program as part of its Total Worker Health™ strategy of “integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion to prevent worker injury and illness and to advance health and well-being” as a guide for employers and employer–employee partnerships to establish effective workplace programs that “sustain and improve worker health” (CDC, 2013; NIOSH, 2008). The 20 components were divided into 4 broad areas: (1) organizational culture and leadership, (2) program design, (3) program implementation and resources, and (4) program evaluation. That framework has been widely used and accepted for workplace health and encompasses the elements that the committee identified early in its deliberations as crucial for the development of workforce readiness and resilience in DHS. Therefore, the committee adopted the NIOSH framework as its guiding framework to assess the effectiveness of workforce readiness and resilience in DHS.
At the request of Deputy Secretary Lute, the DHSTogether Employee and Organizational Resilience Initiative was created by OHA in late 2009 (Green and Perkins, 2012; IOM,
2012) to address low morale and poor FEVS scores. After the program’s inception, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report noting that the morale of the DHS workforce as a whole was lower than the federal government average: DHS employees’ job satisfaction was 4.5 percentage points lower and engagement in their work was 7.0 percentage points lower (GAO, 2012).
As described to the committee, DHSTogether is a headquarters-based program that focuses on building resilience and wellness capacity in the department’s components, primarily by providing guidance and limited seed money to help component agencies develop solutions that can be used throughout the department (Green and Perkins, 2012; IOM, 2012). Although housed in OHA, until recently DHSTogether has been a collaborative effort of OHA and the Human Capital Office,18 which houses the department’s work-life and employee assistance programs (EAPs) (Green and Perkins, 2012). Within OHA, DHSTogether falls under the Workforce Health and Medical Support Division, the division designated by the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs to lead the department’s workforce health-protection and medical-oversight activities (see Appendix A for the OHA organizational chart). The division has three branches: Medical First Responder Coordination, Medical Quality Assurance, and Occupational Health; DHSTogether is in the last of these.19 Because of the substantial influence of the chief human capital officer in the program’s early development, DHSTogether is heavily based on a wellness model and uses a holistic approach (see Figure 1-1). The program is based on four pillars: leadership priority; training; policies, procedures, and programs; and communication (see Figure 1-2 for DHSTogether operations structure). Although the program had been in existence for almost 4 years by the time the present committee held its first meeting, it did not yet have a formal vision or set of goals. OHA presented some working goals at the committee’s first meeting in December 2012. They are
• Strengthen leadership understanding and support of resiliency and suicide prevention.
• Strengthen individual resiliency.
• Strengthen organizational resiliency.
• Increase accessibility, timeliness, variety, and quality of intervention services.
• Reduce work-related stressors that decrease resiliency and increase suicide risk factors.
• Establish and maintain structure and information/data needed to govern the elements common to all components.
18An OCHCO staff person was detailed to spend 50 percent time on the program.
19Most work done by OHA is in the Health Threats Resilience Division, which “strengthens national capabilities to prepare and secure the nation against the health impacts of CBRN incidents and other intentional and naturally occurring events” and among other activities, oversees early-detection monitoring systems for biologic and chemical agents, including the BioWatch and Chemical Detection programs.
FIGURE 1-1 DHSTogether holistic approach to resilience.
NOTE: Physical State: physical activity, nutrition, healthy choices, and general health. Emotional State: stress management, healthy relationships at work and home, mental health, and spirituality. Environment: work location, work conditions, climate, and outside influences. Culture: diversity, supportive work environment, organizational values, and leadership. Work: engagement, productivity, control and empowerment, career development, and effective management. Family/Community: healthy relationships with family and friends, connections to community, and interests outside work.
SOURCE: Green and Perkins, 2012.
Early actions of the initiative included creating an inventory of existing related policies and programs and trainings that were already under way in the components; conducting a DHS-wide Safety Stand Down to focus on resilience and wellness; and creating the Employee and Organizational Resilience Program Taskforce (Green and Perkins, 2012; IOM, 2012). OHA also worked with FLETC to include an emphasis on resilience in its training curriculum for federal law enforcement, which focused on the signs and symptoms that would indicate that a colleague might be struggling, on how to talk to fellow employees if they display symptoms, and on how to get them help; however, this curriculum has not yet been formally implemented. In the second year, the focus shifted to suicide prevention with the creation of online courses on stress management and suicide prevention and to increasing awareness of available resources (DHS, 2011b; Green and Perkins, 2012).
FIGURE 1-2 DHSTogether operations structure.
NOTE: A/S, assistant secretary; CMO, chief medical officer; DHS HQ, Department of Homeland Security Headquarters; FLETC, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center; OCHCO, Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer.
SOURCE: Green and Brinsfield, 2011.
DHSTogether has contracted with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) to
• Develop a report on DHS resilience that will identify opportunities and challenges in promoting and sustaining workplace resilience, which will include findings that are both departmentwide and component-specific and will address similarities and differences in levels of organization positions and functions among, for example, upper and middle management, operations, EAP, and training. Deliverables from this contract will include a variety of methods to accomplish delivery of recommended information dissemination content (potential examples are training, options for delivery of training, briefings, consultation, and coaching).
• Brief leaders to inform them of the relationships between stress, decision-making capability, operational performance, and employee health.
• Design a peer support program for the NOC adapted from the psychological first-aid model.
Although the contracts with USUHS have been in place for a year, little has been accomplished. OHA is also developing a peer support coordinator training program in collaboration with FLETC, which focuses on both crisis intervention and care and concern support; Strong Bonds for DHS, an interpersonal-relationship program being developed with the CBP chaplaincy program; and an adaptation of the US Navy Operational Stress Assessment for use with DHS employees (Green and Perkins, 2012).
DHSTogether initially focused on suicide prevention, but OHA quickly recognized that completed suicide and other suicidal behaviors are usually the end result of a complex trajectory of events and circumstances and saw the need to intervene before employees reach that point (Garza, 2012). OHA requested the present study because it recognized a need for a strategic direction for DHSTogether and a concise description of the problem(s) it should address. As Chief Medical Officer Garza20 noted at the committee’s first meeting, “instead of dealing with [employee resilience and mental health] from a corporate vision, it was really 22 different agencies having 22 different visions.” Dr. Garza also noted that “there are other things that we have to be cognizant of, whether it is family issues, whether it is economic issues, whether it is anything else that is out there,” and that the issue is more than just workplace stress; rather, it is “about the entire individual” (Garza, 2012). OHA under-scored the desire to tailor the program to the unique needs of the component agencies while also having an overall strategic approach.
The program has had a modest budget, resources, and support since its inception. Specific funding of $1.5 million was included for DHSTogether in the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget (Green and Perkins, 2012). That appropriation called for no full-time employees, instead relying on five employees to support the effort part-time and as collateral duty (Raine, 2013). The FY 2013 appropriation was reduced to $500,000 but added two full-time employees, who began work with the program in December 2012 and February 2013. The planned appropriation for FY 2014 is $1.134 million (Raine, 2013). Because of the modest funding, few or no resources are tied to the policies that are promulgated by the program (Green and Perkins, 2012).
20Dr. Garza resigned from DHS in April 2013.
Gaps in DHSTogether Program
Throughout its study, the committee requested documents and information from DHS to inform its deliberations. In many cases, documentation was not provided, on the grounds that information was deemed “for official use only.” That is due in part to the IOM’s compliance with Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which means that the IOM must place all documents shared with the committee that are not publicly available in the project’s public-access file (and those files are available upon request). For example, the committee requested copies of component agencies’ action plans for improving employee engagement and morale, DHS component agency or Employee Engagement Executive Steering Committee (EEESC) communication plans, a copy of the Navy stress-assessment tool, and a list of training centers in DHS, but none of those documents was provided by DHS. OHA and OCHCO did not offer any relevant documents to the committee; all shared items were specifically requested by the committee, such as the inventory of existing programs (see Appendix D), EAP use, DHS demographic and attrition data, data sources in DHS, and the leadership-development framework.
In some cases, the committee did not know about the existence of policies or guiding documents and therefore did not know to request them. For example, 10 months into the study, the committee noted a reference to the DHS workforce strategy for FY 2011–2016 in a budget-support document and then requested the strategy from OCHCO (DHS, 2011a). The strategy was deemed public and was shared with the committee. The strategy was directly relevant to the committee’s charge and in fact aligns with some of the committee’s recommendations. It is not clear whether the workforce strategy was not shared with the committee because OHA or OCHCO did not think it relevant to the work of the committee or just as a result of the disjointed nature of the workforce efforts in DHS. It is also not clear to the committee what other relevant information it has not seen or did not know about to request. The committee has formed its recommendations on the basis of information made available to it.
Because of the lack of available data, the committee refers mainly to FEVS data throughout its report. The FEVS is a “climate” survey that measures employee perceptions; its results provide insight into a variety of subjects in the federal government, including leadership, culture, job satisfaction, engagement, and morale (OPM, 2012). It provides agencies
with information that can be used to assess performance and drive improvements, and it gives the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) the ability to assess individual agencies’ talent management (GAO, 2012). The committee recognizes that there are limitations in the FEVS. Although the FEVS is a blunt instrument that relies on employee perceptions, it can be used to identify needs for further investigation. OPM (2012) noted varied response rates among demographic groups in the federal government but weighted the data to ensure statistically unbiased results (see Box 1-6 for more details). Although the FEVS is only one data source on which DHS should rely, it yields the only DHS-wide data that have been used to inform potential workforce issues. The committee believes that should not be the case and has laid out strategies for DHS to use in determining its data needs and developing systems for collecting and analyzing data that can inform program development and ensure continuous improvement (see Chapter 4 for additional details).
Four years into its employee and organizational resilience program, DHS does not have a clear vision, a mission statement, specific goals, or measurable objectives for the program. There is no agreement on a working definition of workforce resilience for DHS, so benchmarking a starting point for workforce resilience is impossible today. Without data-collection efforts, evaluation of the effectiveness of the activities that it has implemented is not possible. And because there is no definition or validated measure of resilience used in DHS, the committee cannot be certain that the DHS workforce has a resilience deficit. The department has used FEVS data as a surrogate of resilience, but that presumption has not been tested or proven. What is clear from the FEVS data is that the DHS workforce has low morale, which may be related to resilience. But it is possible that the workforce has demonstrated a high level of resilience by executing its duties admirably in the face of low morale and numerous organizational challenges. If that is the case, it could take an additional psychological and physical toll on the workforce. The DHSTogether program has been a series of disconnected small initiatives as opposed to a comprehensive, coherent, evidence-based program following a strategy that is mission-focused and aligned with the various DHS operational needs.
Background on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS)
How was the survey sample designed and selected?
• OPM designed the survey to produce valid results representing governmentwide federal employees as well as employees in individual federal agencies and subagencies.
• The sample was designed to produce results by supervisory status (non-supervisor, supervisor, and executive). The 2012 survey was directed at full-time and part-time, permanent, non-seasonal employees.
• Because of the differing response rates among the various demographic groups completing the survey, the data were weighted to further ensure that the results are statistically unbiased. In this way, adjustments to response rates could be made to account for over-and underrepresented groups within the sample. For example, the gender, age, and agency of the respondents do not exactly reflect their actual distribution in the federal workforce. In the case of supervisors and executives, response levels tend to be overrepresented.
How was the survey administered?
• The survey was conducted electronically on the Internet, with employees notified by email of their selection for the sample. Paper versions of the survey were provided to a limited number of employees who did not have access to the Internet survey (less than 1 percent). Electronic administration facilitated the distribution, completion, and collection of the survey.
• To encourage higher response rates, OPM sent multiple follow-up emails to sample members. OPM also provided agencies with sample communications and helped them develop an internal communication plan.
• These efforts contributed to an overall high response rate. Of the 1,492,418 employees who received the FEVS, 687,687 completed the survey for a governmentwide response rate of 46.1 percent.
SOURCE: OPM, 2012
NIOSH (2008) recommends that organizations create “an initial inventory and evaluation of existing programs and policies relevant to health and well-being and a determination of their potential connections.” The inventory OCHCO compiled of “Emergency Assistance and Wellness Programs” related to health promotion and resilience across the Department (see Appendix D) includes a wide array of programs and resources, such as EAPs, and programs related to suicide prevention,
workplace violence, fitness for duty, health fairs, onsite fitness facilities, tobacco cessation, telework, psychological first aid, chaplain services, and hostile-environment predeployment briefings. Although the inventory notes the current level of program development and the percentage of locations where programs are available, it fails to include information below the component level and information on whether the programs were ever evaluated. The inventory lists 60 items, most of which are implemented differently by the various components. While it is a good first step, this initial inventory has not progressed beyond a complicated matrix or checklist of raw broad data and has not been integrated with or connected to other data. Without comprehensive integration of the information with other data available to the department, quantitative program evaluation cannot occur and resources spent on health programs will remain difficult to track.
NIOSH (2008) lists establishing clear principles—to focus priorities, guide program design, and direct resource allocation—as an essential element in the creation of a successful program. It is not clear what DHSTogether aims to accomplish or what its priorities are; DHS has not provided the committee with any additional information on its priorities beyond the broad goal of enhancing health and well-being of the DHS workforce (see Chapter 2 for further discussion on this topic).
With the support of Secretary Janet Napolitano and Deputy Secretary Lute, DHS began to implement mandatory training to focus on employee resilience and wellness, including a DHS-wide Safety Stand Down to “introduce a new employee and organizational resilience program called DHSTogether … and have a facilitated group discussion exploring these issues and existing resources” (DHS, 2013b). In addition, a high-level task force, to be chaired by the deputy secretary and composed of high-level leaders in the components, was created to focus on initiatives to increase wellness and resilience. However, without a consistent, vocal commitment on the part of both DHS and component agency leadership to build workforce resilience, the focus on increasing wellness and resilience quickly diminished. The task force was not given the ability to establish departmentwide policies and principles to guide the components and was therefore unable to effect change. Membership on the task force was soon delegated to lower-level personnel in the components, mainly those focused on EAPs. There are no plans for DHS-wide training in this area, and the task force has been disbanded. The lack of consistent high-level leadership of the program has been a barrier to its proper implementation.
Headquarters Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer
The DHS OCHCO is in the Management Directorate. No DHS-wide programs are run through OCHCO, but it does have a webpage in the DHS intranet with links to internal and external resources, including the President’s Fitness Challenge, a rotating “pulse” survey, and component points of contact. OCHCO is drafting a DHS health and wellness policy that is in the concurrence process. The policy will provide a general baseline and affirm the department’s commitment to employee health and wellness, but it will not dictate the specifics of components’ programs (Green, 2013). OCHCO regularly consults with the component agencies to advise them on relevant issues and to share best practices; however, individual employee-support programs vary from component to component and even within components. In pockets around the department, there are wellness and work-life projects, such as 3 hours of work time for fitness-related activities (FLETC, FEMA,21 and USCG22), health coaching, onsite fitness facilities or fitness subsidies,23 awareness campaigns (such as videos, brochures, and posters), fitness walks, brown bag lunches and webinars, onsite training, blood-pressure checks, and bicycle subsidies. If a program is componentwide, it means that a policy allows the program, but it is always subject to management discretion (except where union agreements have stronger language) and mission-dependent. There are also pockets of implementation in the absence of component policy.
The responsibility for wellness activities is diffuse across the department, and it is unclear to the committee where responsibilities and authorities reside. DHSTogether staff see the program as addressing wellness, but they themselves are not clear about where the lines are drawn between what the program is responsible for and what OCHCO or components are responsible for. That lack of clear lines of authority ties
21The committee learned in its site visit to FEMA that this does not necessarily apply to FEMA reservists.
22The committee learned from public comments that this might not apply to civilian USCG employees.
23Activities vary widely by location. CBP is piloting the 3 hours of work time for fitness-related activities at several sites and intends eventually to roll it out enterprisewide, but this has been slowed by the sequester.
back to the committee’s concern that a lack of mission, strategy, and objectives for the program has resulted in an uncoordinated, disjointed approach to workforce resilience—if the department does not know what problems it is trying to improve, it cannot have a successful program.
As noted earlier, OCHCO coordinated the development of the Department of Homeland Security Workforce Strategy (DHS, 2011a), which the committee received at the end of its study. The strategy has four goals:
1. Building an effective, mission-focused, diverse, and inspiring cadre of leaders.
2. Recruiting a highly qualified and diverse workforce.
3. Retaining an engaged workforce.
4. Solidifying a unified DHS culture of mission performance, adaptability, accountability, equity, and results.
Although OCHCO is noted in the implementation paragraph, the strategy does not refer to accountable agents (other than OCHCO in a monitoring role) and does not discuss resourcing. The committee also noted that although most of the component agencies were involved in the development of the strategy, OHA was not. The committee endorses the goals laid out in the workforce strategy, but offers throughout its report recommendations to help DHS develop detailed execution and accountability for such efforts to ensure that they can be effective.
Employee Engagement Executive Steering Committee
On the basis of FEVS data, in 2006, the chief human capital officer decided that DHS needed a concerted effort to change morale, starting at the component level (Manlove, 2013). OCHCO brought in experts from OPM and with their help created the first DHS action plan. OCHCO then directed each component to create a plan in conjunction with its human capital officers. Each component was instructed to include elements to improve communication and leadership in the action plans.24 At the same time, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security sent messages to the workforce about the importance of the FEVS and shared actions that were under way to improve FEVS results (Manlove, 2013). OCHCO completed the department-level action plan by 2009, at which
24The action plans were deemed “for official use only” and so could not be shared with the committee.
point its focus shifted to ensuring that the DHS components had the resources that they needed to improve morale, and it required that the components complete quarterly action-plan updates for OCHCO review.
In 2010, the FEVS results started to level off after decreasing for several years. However, there was a large decrease in the 2011 results, particularly on questions related to leadership. The secretary expressed concern and sent a memo to all the component heads asking that they develop employee-engagement improvement plans and report progress monthly. In January 2012, the secretary formed the EEESC, made up of a senior official representative of every component (see Box 1-7 for its charter). Most of the people serving on the committee are at the undersecretary level and control management in their components. Every executive in DHS must have an objective in his or her performance plan that is aimed specifically at improving employee engagement in their component. The component heads were also asked to conduct town-hall meetings, which they did across the country, and to be “champions of change” in their components. The component heads were asked to attend at least one labor-management forum (Manlove, 2013).25
The goals of the EEESC are to provide departmentwide direction for engagement, to share component or industry best practices, and to have component heads oversee the inclusion of the engagement-performance objective into all action plans. It is meant to provide a mechanism for leaders to discuss the outcome of the town-hall meetings and discuss whether any issues would be more effectively handled in the component labor-management forums. One goal of the EEESC was to increase the response rate of the 2012 FEVS.26
On the basis of the 2012 GAO report on DHS employee morale, the EEESC was asked to take a look at the metrics being used in the department. It formed a subcommittee that is evaluating each component action plan to ensure that the actions are solid, are based on root-cause analyses, and contain good metrics. GAO recommended that component agencies conduct demographic analysis and benchmark as appropriate; however, it is difficult for components like TSA and CBP to find similar organizations to benchmark against (Manlove, 2013). The EEESC is also undertaking the development of a departmentwide communication strategy
25All DHS components except the US Secret Service have labor unions.
262012 had a 47 percent response rate—about 80,000 employees (OPM, 2012).
Employee Engagement Executive Steering Committee (EEESC) Charter
• Provide direction for departmentwide employee engagement efforts and evaluate best practices for adoption departmentwide
• Oversee the identification and assignment of specific responsibilities for improved employee engagement in component senior executive performance objectives
• Provide a forum for DHS components to discuss plans for and results of component-specific town hall meetings with employees
• Provide a forum to discuss involvement in the department’s labor-management forum
SOURCE: Manlove, 2013.
because DHS communication efforts are disjointed. One of the recommendations of the EEESC was to pursue a 360-feedback27 pilot for executives in headquarters.
Employee Assistance Programs
DHS component agencies all have at least a basic level of staff-support resources through their EAPs and have some oversight by OCHCO in managing their EAPs. It is up to the components individually to give their employees access to such services. As was reported at the 2011 IOM workforce-resilience workshops, “the marketing, accessibility, and quality of those programs varied widely” (IOM, 2012). DHS headquarters and most of the components receive their EAP services through a contract with Federal Occupational Health, EAP Consultants, or Guidance Resources. Recently, USCG ended its contract for EAP services and replaced it with an inhouse program, CG SUPRT. Lisa Teems, EAP manager for USCG, explained at the committee’s second meeting that its program differs from traditional EAPs (Teems, 2013). Teems stated that CG SUPRT “expanded the program past traditional counseling of people who have mental-health issues” to include assistance with personal and work-life issues, financial-management services, tax services, and health coaching.
27Where employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people they work with.
EAPs may provide robust resources and support services if designed and implemented well, but it was apparent that in DHS the existence and effectiveness of the EAPs were understood and accessed differently among and within components. Each component agency manages its own contracts and may have different availability and accessibility criteria. For example, one component reported that after a critical incident, its EAP counselors reported that they could not be available for at least 72 hours. For a staff that works shifts 24 hours per day every day, that lack of support was problematic. It took several high-pressure leadership calls to remedy the situation to provide more immediate support to the staff after the incident. Employees in different components and in headquarters may have different levels of understanding of and willingness to use the services or face different barriers to accessing them (because of location, hours, or perceived stigma). (See Chapter 5 for more information on EAPs.)
Peer Support Programs
Organizations often use peer support programs as a means of providing employees support in stressful situations. Border Patrol, FAMS, FLETC, and recently ICE have peer support programs that use different models and are implemented separately. The Border Patrol Peer Support Program is the oldest peer support program in DHS (announced in February 1999 in the San Diego Sector before DHS came into existence) and has become a national program across Border Patrol in all sectors with support and oversight from Border Patrol headquarters (Garrett, 2013). The program augments its EAP. Its mission “is to offer confidential assistance and support to all Border Patrol employees and their family members in times of personal need or due to traumatic incidents” (US Border Patrol, 2013). The program provides emotional support, assists employees with job-related or personal issues, gives referrals to EAP, and responds to critical incidents; its goal is to be a program that promotes overall well-being of employees (US Border Patrol, 2013).
Peer support is a critical component of the FAMS Critical Incident Response Program, which began in 2009. Although the initial focus was on suicide prevention, it has evolved to focus on resilience (Holley, 2013). The program has three pieces, “the helping triad: peer support, mental health, and chaplaincy.” There are almost 300 peer supporters. Mental-health services are contracted out, and the chaplaincy program is
being piloted. The peer support portal that was recently developed to supplement the program, PeerPort, allows FAMS to provide peer supporters with relevant information, such as recent articles and policies, as well as collect information about the peer support contact.
FLETC has used a critical-incident stress management (CISM) peer support program for the past 14 years. CISM is a multicomponent source of help and extends from prevention through intervention to postaction support. In FLETC, CISM includes peer support programs, EAPs, chaplaincy or spiritual care, training efforts, and wellness and is overseen by the Office of Organizational Health. The mission of CISM is for FLETC staff, the staff of component partners, and students of FLETC to be more personally and professionally resilient (London, 2013). FLETC’s CISM team has 3 counselors, 2 support staff, and 50 peer support team members. Counselors are called CISM specialists, not EAP specialists, in part to avoid the stigma associated with EAPs. According to Program Manager Gail London, high-level administrative support is key to CISM’s success. Under the director’s purview, CISM was moved to a newly created Office of Organizational Health, which includes FLETC’s equal employment opportunity office, ombudsman, and wellness coordinator in addition to CISM. On the basis of its model of peer-support, FLETC has received funding from OHA to create a peer-coordinator training program, which will be piloted in November 2013 (Green and Perkins, 2012).
Transportation Security Administration IdeaFactory
As part of an effort to engage employees in the creation of innovative solutions, the TSA IdeaFactory was launched in 2007. It is a Web-based tool that enables TSA’s employees to submit ideas, provide comments on how to improve new concepts, and rate ideas that should be recommended for implementation. It expands on the traditional suggestion box to harness the “wisdom of the crowd.” Its purpose is to foster engagement and improve TSA, and it has implemented 85 ideas that were submitted and voted on by employees (DHS, 2013d).
Other Component Programs
The component agencies have developed some wellness or work-life programs independently. They often do not consult with others internally or externally on best practices. The committee observed that the component agencies often do not consult with OCHCO or OHA, nor, in most cases, would it occur to them to do so. For example, the committee learned during its information gathering about a new wellness program that FAMS is developing with support from FAMS leadership. OHA and OCHCO were unaware that the program was being developed and was awaiting approval from FAMS leadership. The New York City FEMA Joint Field Office created a wellness committee to reduce the stress and improve the health of the reservists working at the site. There were no FEMA or DHS policies that the Joint Field Office was aware of to look to for best practices, and wellness committees are not developed in all FEMA field offices.
In the following chapter, the committee discusses the definitions of readiness and resilience in more depth, provides a vision for DHS WRR, outlines the preconditions and goals for success, and offers recommendations for implementation and authority. Chapter 3 discusses and offers recommendations related to leadership development and organizational communication and discusses how culture is intertwined with both. Chapter 4 offers a framework and recommendations for assessing, evaluating, and reporting on DHS readiness and resilience. Chapter 5 presents elements recommended for the 5-year workforce readiness and resilience strategic plan.
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