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With morale in tatters, Federal Election Commission eyes changes

Palmer, the staff director, also did not return requests for comment. But in a Dec. 19 email to FEC commissioners and other top staffers, Palmer listed several efforts his management team has undertaken to address morale concerns.

Palmer also praised the embattled Orrock for “her outstanding leadership within the compliance division” and reported witnessing “overwhelming joy and happiness” among FEC compliance division staff as they gathered during a December holiday party.

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents FEC employees, said FEC leaders must “be prepared to arrive at a concrete plan to improve employee morale.”

Reardon added that FEC leaders are including union representatives in their deliberations. “There is a lot of work to be done at the FEC, but the conversations we are having now are the right first step,” he said.

The FEC’s Office of the General Counsel is also making changes in this year to “address areas of concern” and foster “growth and improvement,” according to a separate letter written earlier this month by Acting General Counsel Lisa Stevenson to her staff.

Changes in this office, which houses more than one in three FEC employees, include:

  • More rigorous reviews of, and enhanced training for, the law department’s managers
  • Enhanced training opportunities for the office’s rank-and-file lawyers
  • Increased pursuit of minority job candidates
  • Creating a system for employees to anonymously submit complaints and suggestions directly to Stevenson

“I assure you that OGC Management doesn’t see improving morale as a one-off, ‘check-the-box’ project,” Stevenson wrote. “We’re committed to investing the resources and effort needed to make lasting changes.”

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