Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Survey: MMS a bad place to work

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 4:33 p.m. ET
Today's news that top officials at the Minerals Management Service ignored warnings from agency scientists is consistent with findings in last year's survey of the best places to work in the federal government.

The MMS scored a 63.8 out of 100 and ranked 111th of the 216 agencies, according to the 2009 Best Places to Work survey by the Partnership for Public Service. The survey compiled responses from more than 212,000 federal workers who were asked about job satisfaction, workplace environment, leadership and work/life balance.

Agency workers gave especially low marks to MMS leadership for "Empowerment," "Fairness" and general leadership qualities. The survey signaled low satisfaction with the amount of information provided by management and that leaders did not involve employees in decisions that affected their work. The findings mirror today's reports that MMS regional supervisors frequently ignored the concerns of staff scientists.

A March report by the Government Accountability Office also signaled serious concerns with staff morale. There was almost complete turnover in the Alaska regional office's Environmental Assessment Section between 2003 and 2008, the report said. Just two of the 11 staffers interviewed by GAO auditors in May 2009 had been with the office for more than three and a half years, according to the report.

The Best Places to Work survey has signaled problems at other agencies in the past. The Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration -- two agencies with a host of personnel problems and embarrassments -- also scored very low in last year's survey.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 24, 2010; 4:12 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Workplace Issues  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Big federal job fair set for July 14
Next: Senate passes telework bill

Comments

I realize that the goal here is to demonize MMS and they may deserve it. However, 111th out of 216 agencies is in the middle and does not indicate a problem in my mind. There are plenty of examples of MMS's failures that could be cited that would stand up to logical analysis. Why not use those. Having said that, stick to the point BP is the problem at the end of the day. Keep in mind that for 8 years MMS was encouraged by the Bush Administration to look the other way when it came to the oil industry's activities. Cultures do not change over night. We even have the Tea Party saying it un-American to critize BP. Can you imagine?

Posted by: cdierd1944 | May 24, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

This is what happens when the fox is guarding the chicken coop. Bush appointed many industry people to oversight positions.

From Wikipedia:
Revolving door with industry

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) alleges that MMS has suffered from a systemic revolving door problem between the Department of Interior and the oil and gas industries. Thirteen months after departing as MMS director, Bush appointee Randall Luthi became president of the National Oceans Industries Association (NOIA) whose mission is to "to secure reliable access and a favorable regulatory and economic environment for the companies that develop the nation's valuable offshore energy resources in an environmentally responsible manner."[31] Luthi succeeded Tom Fry, who was MMS director under the Clinton administration. Luthi and Fry represented precisely the industries their agency was tasked with being a watchdog over.[32] Lower level administrators influencing MMS have also gone on to work for the companies they once regulated:[33]

* Paul Stang served as Regional Supervisor for Leasing and Environment for MMS[34], then went to work for Shell Oil Company in 2007 on its Arctic Ocean programs[35].
* Greg Smith served as the Deputy Program Manager of the Royalities in Kind (RIK) program between 2001 and 2004. Thereafter until 2007 he was director of RIK.[12] POGO's report states that when he was working on the RIK program, Smith received $30,000 from Geomatrix, an oil industry consulting firm. After leaving government, Smith went to work for Tenaska Marketing Ventures, described on their website as a "leading marketer of natural gas in North America".
* Jimmy Mayberry served as Special Assistant to the Associate Director of Minerals Revenue Management (MRM), managed by MMS, from 2000 to January 2003. After he left, he created an energy consulting company that was awarded an MMS contract via a rigged bid. He was convicted along with a former MMS coworker Milton Dial who also came to work at the company. Both were found guilty of felony violation of conflict of interest law.[36][37][38]
* L. Poe Leggette served as Assistant Solicitor for DOI for over a decade, advising the MMS on their onshore and offshore energy programs, as well as royalty valuation issues. He now heads the Western Lands and Energy Practice at Fulbright & Jaworski whose clients are the oil and gas industries.[39]

Posted by: jgllo | May 24, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

The Walker Bush years were years of terror and heartache for honest government employees. The Bush administration conducted a war of intimidation, manipulation and patronage, focused on regulatory agencies and on the agencies they rely on for information. Bush political appointees are still "cooping" in protected positions, continuing to spread poison.

Posted by: AppDev | May 24, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Suppose you are a gifted civil servant. You have years of experience and real good ideas about how to serve the public as a government employee. In waltzes a Reagan (any Republican, actually) appointee who hews to the ideology that Government IS the Problem. Are you gonna be energized by that kind of hopelessness? Of course not.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | May 24, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

"A March report by the Government Accountability Office also signaled serious concerns with staff morale. There was almost complete turnover in the Alaska regional office's Environmental Assessment Section between 2003 and 2008, the report said. Just two of the 11 staffers interviewed by GAO auditors in May 2009 had been with the office for more than three and a half years, according to the report."

So, can we all assume that in practice the "drill baby drill" policy didn't work out too well for the MMS in Palin's Alaska, circa. 2003 - 2008?

Posted by: icurhuman2 | May 24, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

"honest government employees"

Heh

Posted by: jiji1 | May 25, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Anytime you work in a strictly political environment such as MMS you are going to have morale issues. It was a dumping ground for "who you know".

Posted by: pkbishop1 | May 25, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Working at MMS can't be as bad as working at the Social Security Administration where over 90% of all of the employees are related. You have husbands, wives,brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins all working in same Agency and to top it off there is tons of waste. Government is not civil service anymore. It is political and Inbred.

Posted by: Arquilla1 | May 27, 2010 5:14 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company