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More than half of federal employees “have high confidence in their ability to perform their work tasks effectively and make a difference to those they serve,” the MSPB has said, a finding that “suggests that federal employees overall may be more confident in the success of their own efforts than often credited.”

A research paper says that questions in the MSPB’s 2016 merit principles survey form the basis for evaluating employees’ “confidence in ability to perform successfully” (CAPS) which is used in behavioral science to measure an employee’s belief that their actions will have the results and outcomes they intend. “CAPS has shown to be related to improved job performance, greater job satisfaction, more discretionary effort at work, and other positive work outcomes,” it said.


Based on responses to those questions, the MSPB said that 52 percent of federal employees score high on that measure vs. just 9 percent low and the rest medium.

Employees with higher scores were more likely to seek new challenges, higher technical skills and leadership positions, while those with lower scores were more likely to change occupation, agency or organization, leave the government or reduce their work responsibilities, it said.

The scores did not differ notably by demographics although they did differ by supervisory level: highest among senior executives, and then generally lower by each level below. “A similar progression across leadership categories has been found for engagement, job satisfaction and other workforce measures,” it noted.

Also, in general scores were higher for those working in headquarters functions vs. those in field functions. “This is consistent with a widely held perception that there are more career opportunities available and greater access to organizational resources in headquarters positions,” the MSPB said.

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2022 Federal Employees Handbook