Internal ATF Survey Shows Own Workers Don't Trust Agency

Monday, 26 Mar 2012 02:54 PM

By Marti Lotman

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A majority of workers don’t trust their top leaders at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the federal agency mired in controversy in the “Fast and Furious” scandal.

An internal memo that Fox News obtained unveiled the mistrust within the agency, where informants alerted lawmakers to the gunrunning scandal and subsequently were threatened or punished.

The deadly scandal came to national attention last year after the ATF allowed suspected weapons traffickers to buy guns in an effort to track them to Mexican drug cartels. Many of the weapons disappeared and were used in crimes, including the murders of a Border Patrol agent and an immigration officer.

“A key area in which ATF fell short was leadership,” according to an ATF email evaluating the survey results.

“Most troubling were responses to the question — ‘My senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity,” the email read.

Just 44 percent of ATF employees surveyed said their leaders maintained these standards last year, according to the Partnership for Public Service, the nonprofit organization that administered the annual survey.

On general “leadership effectiveness,” the department scored 40.5, which ranks it nearly last among government agencies. The rating, the first since the “Fast and Furious” scandal came to light, has plunged 10 percentage points from the year before.

“The controversies plaguing ATF over the last year have weighed heavily on the morale of employees and their faith in senior leadership,” ATF spokesman Drew Wade said in response to the survey, acknowledging that “mistakes were made.”

But the agency is working hard to reinvent itself, he said.

Acting Director B. Todd Jones “has put new leaders in place in new positions to enhance the quality of leadership and take ATF in the right direction. The new leadership team is working hard to earn [the] trust again of employees,” Wade said.

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