Following findings of widespread sexual and other harassment of Interior Department employees, “we have made significant progress in acknowledging and understanding and eliminating harassing conduct, holding employees and their managers accountable, and setting clear, enforceable standards of behavior,” a senior department official told a House hearing.
Those actions included a department-wide anti-harassment policy statement, requirements that components develop action plans, an emphasis on holding employees accountable, creation of a workplace culture advisory council and the launch of an enhanced misconduct case tracking system.
The steps were taken following a 2016 IG report finding significant problems at one facility that led to similar investigations and findings at others. In a 2017 department-wide survey that assistant secretary for policy Susan Combs said produced “sobering” results, 35 percent of employees reported experiencing some form of harassment and/or assault related behaviors in the prior 12 months.
However, in the most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which contained similar questions to Interior employees, that number fell to 18 percent, she told the House Natural Resources Committee. Also, she said, higher percentages of employees report that they know where to report harassing conduct and more supervisors and managers say they have the tools to promptly address such misconduct.
Still to come, she said, will be training on “bystander intervention” and other additional training, and compliance with a more recent IG report.