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Feds see innovation decline within government

Apr. 23, 2014 - 06:15PM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
This chart, extracted from the Partnership for Public Service report, shows the slow but steady decline of innovation measures.
This chart, extracted from the Partnership for Public Service report, shows the slow but steady decline of innovation measures. (Partnership for Public Service)

Support for innovation is declining across the government, according to a report by the Partnership for Public Service released April 23.

Federal employee answers to three innovation-related questions on the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey dropped from 61.5 out of 100 in 2012 to 59.4 out of 100, according to the report, produced in partnership with Deloitte.

While 90 percent of employees surveyed report they are always looking for better ways to do their jobs only 54.7 percent feel encouraged to do so and only 33.4 percent believe their agency rewards creativity and innovation.

“The bottom line is that federal workers are motivated to improve the way they do their work, but they do not feel supported by their organizations,” the report said.

Dave Dye, a director of human capital at Deloitte, LLP, said the report is a message to agency leaders to pay attention and have discussions on innovation and make concerted efforts to enhance innovation in their areas.

“It’s not that leaders have to be innovative in their own right it means they need to set up environments for people to feel that innovation Is encouraged, rewarded and respected,” Dye said.

Most agencies saw a decline in their “innovation score” according to the report, including:

■ The Army saw one of the largest drops in its innovation score - from 64.2 out of 100 I 2012 to 60.1 out of 100 in 2013.

■ NASA – which had the highest score at 76.0 out of 100 in 2013 – also dropped from 76.5 in 2012.

■ The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the Treasury Department saw one of the largest drops among component agencies, from 63.8 out of 100 in 2012 to 52.0 in 2013.

Some agencies that have shown improvement are the National Science Foundation and the Peace Corps. Some NASA facilities also saw improvement, including the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.

The ongoing effects of sequestration, budget cuts and threat of furloughs may also have had a dampening effect on federal employees, Dye said.

“When people feel safer or more sure about whats going on they are going to better focus on the mission,” he said.

Agency managers should also work to improve their work environments to build trust and confidence in their workforce by showing concerns about people’s careers and supporting development opportunities while recognizing good work, according to Dye.

The report recommends that agencies recognize employees at team meetings or with more formal awards to highlight innovation and creativity and reward success. Managers should make sure to share specific goals, provide a forum for open discussion and work to build trust among the workforce that is needed to help spur innovation.

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