[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ PEER PRESSURE (2)



1998 PEER Survey of Michigan DEQ Employees
-PRELIMINARY RESULTS-

In September, PEER mailed surveys to all 1462 employees of the Department of
Environmental
Quality. All of the questions were written by DEQ employees.  PEER has thus far
received 609
responses -- a 41.6 percent rate of return.  Surveys continue to arrive daily. 
Below are the
results.    
  
AGENCY PRIORITIES

1. Governor Engler's 1995 split of the DNR into the DNR and DEQ has resulted in
greater
protection for the environment.
5%  Strongly Agree  2%  Agree 12% No Opinion      31%  Disagree  50%  Strongly
Disagree

2. DEQ management puts more weight on economic development than on resource
protection.
52%  Strongly Agree 31%  Agree     6%  No Opinion      6%  Disagree   5%
Strongly Disagree

3.  DEQ management views the primary "customer" of the DEQ as the individuals
and
businesses who seek permits rather than the natural resources and the general
public.
63%  Strongly Agree 23%  Agree     5%  No Opinion      6%  Disagree   3% 
Strongly Disagree

4.  DEQ's primary "customer" should be the natural resources and the general
public rather than
the regulated community.
52%  Strongly Agree 30%  Agree     4%  No Opinion      8%  Disagree   6% 
Strongly Disagree

5.  The DEQ has sufficient staff and funding to adequately protect public health
and the
environment.
5%  Strongly Agree  12%  Agree     7%  No Opinion      29%  Disagree  47% 
Strongly Disagree

PERMITTING

6. The regulated community excessively influences permitting decisions at DEQ.
38%  Strongly Agree 32%  Agree     12%  No Opinion     11%  Disagree  7% 
Strongly Disagree

7. Permit applicants have received preferential review after they or interested
elected officials
have visited with DEQ management regarding a proposed project.
33%  Strongly Agree 30%  Agree     25%  No Opinion     7%  Disagree   5% 
Strongly Disagree

8. I have been ordered by a superior to change or disregard a permitting
procedure or policy
based on non-scientific reasons.
14%  Strongly Agree 13%  Agree     42%  No Opinion     15%  Disagree  16% 
Strongly Disagree

9. I have experienced or know of an instance(s) in which a member or
representative of the
regulated community has been allowed to choose which DEQ employee will or will
not work on
their permit application(s), case(s) or file(s).
15%  Strongly Agree 10%  Agree     40%  No Opinion     22%  Disagree  13% 
Strongly Disagree

ENFORCEMENT

10. DEQ management is committed to enforcing environmental laws.
5%  Strongly Agree  17%  Agree     11%  No Opinion     30%  Disagree  37% 
Strongly Disagree

11. Compliance/enforcement efforts are given  higher priority under DEQ than
they were prior to
the DNR split. 
1%  Strongly Agree  6%  Agree 15%  No Opinion     40%  Disagree  38%  Strongly
Disagree

12. I have been directed by a superior to ignore an environmental rule or
regulation.
14%  Strongly Agree 12%  Agree     28%  No Opinion     29%  Disagree  19% 
Strongly Disagree

13. Under the guise of "regulatory reform" Director Harding has ordered staff to
take actions
(e.g., reinterpret statutory requirements) that have resulted in less
environmental protection.
25%  Strongly Agree 36%  Agree     20%  No Opinion     8%  Disagree   9% 
Strongly Disagree

14. I fear the possibility of job-related retaliation for advocating enforcement
of environmental
rules and regulations.
22%  Strongly Agree 30%  Agree     23%  No Opinion     20%  Disagree  5% 
Strongly Disagree

ACCOUNTABILITY

15. The DEQ disseminates complete and accurate agency information to the general
public.
4%  Strongly Agree  25%  Agree     16%  No Opinion     33%  Disagree  22% 
Strongly Disagree

16. Ordinary citizens have as much access to and influence with DEQ
decision-makers as
representatives of the business community.
2%  Strongly Agree  11%  Agree     8%  No Opinion      36%  Disagree  43% 
Strongly Disagree

17. A citizen advisory board similar to the Natural Resources Commission should
be established
to oversee DEQ policy.
48%  Strongly Agree 25%  Agree     11%  No Opinion     10%  Disagree  6% 
Strongly Disagree

18. The DEQ and DNR should be re-combined into one agency.
38%  Strongly Agree 23%  Agree     19%  No Opinion     13%  Disagree  7% 
Strongly Disagree

LEADERSHIP

19. Director Harding's cross divisional movement weakens the agency by placing
individuals
into supervisory level positions for which they have no practical experience or
expertise.
35%  Strongly Agree 28%  Agree     14%  No Opinion     16%  Disagree  7% 
Strongly Disagree

20. I have experienced or know of a situation(s) in which DEQ management has
re-assigned or
changed the job responsibility of a staffer for doing their job "too well" on a
controversial
project.
34%  Strongly Agree 20%  Agree     24%  No Opinion     13%  Disagree  9% 
Strongly Disagree

21. I trust top management of DEQ to protect Michigan's natural resources and
public health.
5%  Strongly Agree  12%  Agree     2%  No Opinion      22%  Disagree  59% 
Strongly Disagree

22. Russell Harding has done a good job as DEQ Director in protecting the
state's natural
resources.
3%  Strongly Agree  5%  Agree 7%  No Opinion      30%  Disagree  55%  Strongly
Disagree

23. Morale among DEQ employees is:
1%  Excellent       8%  Good       17%  Fair 32%  Poor 42%  Extremely Poor

24.  In my opinion, the biggest problem facing the DEQ is: 
[SEE "Employees Speak Out" below.]

My current position at DEQ is:     12% Management/Supervisory     82%
Non-Supervisory  
                                   6% Secretarial/Clerical

I work primarily in the following area(s):

39% Regulatory/Permitting   29% Compliance/Enforcement       23% Admin/Technical
Services 

Office of the Director [1 person]     9% Other 
                                
EMPLOYEES SPEAK OUT!
Responses to the Question: "In my opinion, the biggest problem facing the DEQ
is..."

WHAT AGENCY LEADERSHIP*SAYS
*These individuals indicated that they hold management/supervisory positions at
DEQ.

"Loss of the mission of environmental advocacy and leadership."

"No incentive not to pollute."          

"The lack of enforcement of environmental laws."
                    
"Inadequate enforcement of laws -- insufficient staff to do appropriate number
of inspection;
anti-enforcement mentality in Executive Office; insufficient number of attorneys
to fully
prosecute all deserving cases."      

"The pattern of substituting political agendas for professional scientific
evaluation.  This is best
evidenced by the Office of Administrative Hearings, which has constantly
reinterpreted wetland
laws in favor of those wishing to dredge, fill, drain or otherwise destroy
wetlands for profit and
overruling professional staff's evaluation and interpretation of clear law. 
This Office works
directly under Director Harding's control and he works directly under the
Governor's control,
therefore reflecting their policies."             

"Employees of the DEQ do not trust top management of the DEQ to protect
Michigan's natural
resources and environment.  This agency was created by a pro-business governor
by executive
order.  The person appointed by the Governor to run the new agency was widely
despised within
the DNR and the environmental community.  A natural resource protection agency
created in this
way and run by pro-business political appointees will never gain the trust of
employees that have
dedicated their lives and careers to protecting natural resources and the
environment."
                    
"The impression created by the executive office that customer service is more
important than
protecting the environment."            

"Until such time that employees can admire, trust and respect DEQ top
management, the agency
will never achieve the goals of protecting Michigan's environment. 
Unfortunately, that is exactly
how the Governor and Director want it. The day the DNR was split (and I became a
DEQ
employee) was one of the saddest days of my career.  I was always proud to say I
worked for the
Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  I take no pride in saying that I work
for the DEQ, in
fact I am ashamed of it."            

"The blatant politicization of the Department.  There is no public oversight of
the Department. 
The public hearings are a dog and pony show -- basically a joke.  Department
management could
care less about what the average citizen thinks.  The Director is a political
pawn who does
exactly what the Governor wants."

"Director Harding has been picked by the Governor to cater to the Regulated
Community. 
Wasting resources on customer service training and programs like Environmental
Assistance
Division.  The Director hand picking industry friendly Division Chiefs. 
Division Heads ignoring
technical staff to favor industry."

"Lack of a director and his immediate assistants that are dedicated to resource
protection."
          
"Arrogant Division Chiefs and Directors who go along with Department decisions
that violate
laws.

Succumbing to political influence even though the technical evaluations point to
the opposite
preferred action."

"Governor Engler, whose lackey Harding is Michigan's own James Watt.  They have
reduced
Michigan's standing in the top five states nationally for environmental
progressiveness to the
dregs at the bottom of the barrel."
                         
"If the general public knew what the Engler Administration is up to in state
government they
would be appalled. The public is constantly lied to and is a second class
citizen to the business
community."
                         
"This agency is nothing more than a political machine, run by the Governor
through his hired
thugs."

BUSINESS INFLUENCE

"Our number one priority is providing our customer with good service.  How can
we get them
their permits faster and friendlier?  Protection of the environment is
sacrificed for greater
efficiency and productivity; we are here to serve the business community, not
protect the
resource."

"Political Interference, jobs commission, business entities, etc.  Too many
resources going to
assist the regulated community at the expense of protecting the environment. 
The essence of our
mission statement is helping to foster a strong and sustainable economy.'"

"The regulated community is able to schedule meetings on short notice with the
governor,
director and/or division chief.  District staff involved with the issue are not
invited to attend and
are not asked for briefings. The regulated community always gets what they want,
at the expense
of the environment and public health while the DEQ staff morale and trust goes
down the toilet."

"Although I consider myself a moderate, I see where the focus has been more on
the economy
than on the environment.  We need to keep businesses running and people working,
but we as an
agency need to assure there are resources, usable resources, still available to
future generations."

"Engler, Engler, Engler!"

"There's been a lack of an overall vision for the department, dating back to
when we were still in
the DNR, since Governor Engler took office.  Or, even worse, a deliberate shift
away from
protecting the environment towards being primarily concerned with making money
for
businesses."

"Governor Engler is the problem.  He puts his cronies into decision making
positions who are
yes people.  His only concern is to help people or businesses who pad his
pockets."

"Governor John Engler and Big Business!  Vote the scum out NOW!"

"The ability of state legislative representatives (and the governor) to
influence regulatory
decisions."

"There is no commission to represent the public interests, and allow for open
discussion of
executive decisions, environmental problems, and policy making.  The
organization represents
the large corporate community.  Russ Harding is only accountable to the
Governor, who believes
that environmental rules and regulations are detrimental to the interests of
industry."

"I have seen a Division Chief removed from his position because he was a strong
environmentalist and certain industry reps didn't like him.  The Director's
Office has had secret
meetings with industry and granted them illegal permits and immunity from
enforcement. 
Regulations do not get passed by the Governor's Office unless they relax
requirements for
industry or provide the minimum' required to meet the federal Act and get
federal
monies."

"Lack of willingness to enforce violation of environmental regulations; and
using public money
to fund environmental work (cleanups) that should be paid for by viable
companies.  DEQ has a
political agenda driven by the governor's office which does not have the state's
natural resources
as the top priority over the big business community."

"The biggest problem facing the DEQ will be preserving, protecting, and
enhancing the
outstanding natural resources of this state, while focusing on the economic
benefit of our
customers' -- the regulated community. No focus or foresight is factored into
our decisions. 
Consequently, we are ignoring the long-term intangible benefits that we and our
children and our
children's children can witness and experience through the wise use,
preservation, and
enhancement of the beautiful natural resources of Michigan."

"Focus on economic development at expense of natural resources.  Management that
fosters
economic growth and ignores strengthening protection and enforcement programs by
cutting
staff, and weakening staff efforts through a variety of unnoticed tactics."

"Working in the DEQ is barely tolerable.  Those who haven't left state service
already are just
trying to hang in there until we get a new Governor and a new Director. 
Governor Engler and
Harding are destroying state government, the environment and the natural
resources.  Thank you
for taking this survey, and I hope the people of Michigan find out what's really
going on in our
state."

LAX ENFORCEMENT

"Lack of enforcement.  Savvy regulated' parties violate laws with the knowledge
that the odds
are in their favor.  It truly is easier to ask forgiveness rather than
permission.  Chances of
restoration being required are very low -- no penalty."

"Having good environmental enforcement cases delayed until they exceed their
statute of
limitations...there is very little incentive to pursue any actions against
companies on industrial
entities for violations."

"Lack of enforcement.  No citizen oversight.  Scientific (not technically
supported) fraud -- bad
science. (Science does not = political science!)  Lack of awareness to public at
large of what is
going on -- how DEQ is totally emasculated."

"Emphasis on issuing permits for bean counting purposes with little
consideration to sound
science.  Total lack of enforcement."

"Laws lack enough teeth'.  Need much more enforcement power.  Need the extra
attorneys and
judges to move these cases quickly.  Need enforcement power over agriculture who
are exempt
or not covered by environmental laws."

"Allowing big businesses to either name the enforcement action or to downgrade
the limitations
of the originally passed Act to suit their own needs by the governor's
recommendation.  Lack of
Enforcement Officers within DEQ to regulate the Act (one officer for an 11
county area)."

"Very little criminal enforcement.  Very difficult for staff to get criminal
investigators to
investigate!"

"I have not done any enforcement action since 1996."
"No enforcement."

"Department and Division Management have made enforcement a joke, not through
direct orders
but by not supporting enforcement efforts with adequate staff and budgets and by
consistently
and aggressively enforcing the environmental laws.  Staff knows that they're
safe if they don't
make any critical decisions.  Consequently, employee morale is at an all-time
low."

"This survey addresses economic influences on the department however an often
larger influence
is the judicial system where we often lose cases which would have been won in
years past. 
Influence of non-scientific concerns and lack of enforcement are the biggest
problems."

"DEQ Division's reinterpreting statutory language based on administrative law
judge decisions,
in lieu of case law that proves we should interpret otherwise.  ALJ Decisions 
poor and
pro-development!"

"Administrative law judges choosing to ignore sound environmental science and
base their
decisions upon their own agenda or the agenda of the Engler Administration,
possibly fearing
job-related retaliation as well."

"Lack of enforcement and proper funding; separation of Resource Managers (DNR)
from
Protectors (DEQ); and inappropriate decisions/contrary to law routinely being
made by DEQ
Administrative Law Judges."

POOR LEADERSHIP

"Poor upper management (Director's Office) and their inability or lack of desire
to utilize
knowledgeable staff.  The DEQ has adequate staff and expertise to perform their
mission, but
poor leadership and resulting low employee morale which inhibit the process."

"Leaders who care more about the economy than the environment."

"Russell Harding and John Engler."

"John Engler/Russell Harding -- they have to go!!  We must protect the
environment, not help
big business get out of the mess they have created."

"Four more years of Governor Engler influencing the Department.  Keeping Harding
as Director. 
There's no doubt that he listens more to non-environmental groups (e.g.
business) than he does to
his own staff. If we were an army, I feel like our Generals are for the other
side!" 

"John Engler and Russell Harding. Their first concern is promoting business and
industry."

"John Engler! And his puppet Russ Harding."

"The person sitting in the Governor's chair."

"Fuhrer Harding.  If he ever shakes your hand, be sure afterwards to count your
fingers and wash
off the slime."

"The director -- who seems to have little concern for the importance of natural
resources and how
they benefit all of us.  The division chiefs seem like they have strong
environmental beliefs, but
cannot act on them due to orders from the top."

"Lack of support by Governor, Director for DEQ/DNR, and for State employees in
general."

"Too many unqualified Supervisors, appointed as æfavors', trying to run things. 
Too many upper
management turning their heads (ignoring) problems brought to their attention." 


"Now that the DEQ bureaucracy is in place and staffed by a hierarchy of policy
administrators, it
will be next to impossible to change much, given four more years of the
Engler/Harding regime. 
Maintaining dedication and morale is the main challenge for field workers."

"It is difficult to decide if the biggest problem is the governor or the
director.  Stakeholder groups
are heavily weighted in favor of those being regulated and some of the
environmental groups
have refused to attend because their voice is drowned out by industry.  The
stakeholder groups
also seem to be listened to by management more so than our own staff.  Also,
privatization of our
work puts the bottom line on profits instead of the environment."

"That top management is too influenced by political influence, considerations,
and/or
connections.  Middle and lower levels of the agency I believe are in general,
dedicated to serving
the welfare of the general public and natural resource.  Top management needs to
be accountable
to a citizen board and not only to the Governor."

"Overcoming political pressure and influence of John Engler or any future
governor since
virtually all top management appointments are either made directly or indirectly
by the
Governor's Office.  The Governor's reorganizations have eliminated commissions
that were
designed to insulate the Department's policy from such direct political
influence."

"Russell Harding, Chad McIntosh, Gary Hughes -- Engler's industry lackeys
running the DEQ."

"Upper level management are in the hip pocket of the governor and he would sell

out anything to
serve his constituents, who are the regulated community and wealthy people. 
Harding/Hughes/
McIntosh are there to make life easy for the regulated community and nothing
else."

"Poor managers.  Few good role models.  Reduced staff pushed to do more work. 
Experienced
and professional licensed staff are leaving.  Remaining workers are doing more
and more
superficial reviews and studies."

STAFFING/FUNDING

"Lack of staff to do the job adequately or well, due to a governor who doesn't
want to DEQ to do
their job."

"Too few staff and too little money to get the job done."

"Employee morale due to hiring freezes, resulting in workloads on individual
employees, which
are unmanageable.  However, the employee is still accountable for the work. 
Cannot dedicate
enough time to projects to do a good job on them even with the best intentions."
"Lack of resources, particularly number of staff.  That is absolutely the reason
why morale is low
-- people are too overburdened to fight top management over controversies.  I
think the will is
there (to fight for mandated protection) at the lower levels.  Cutting staff
reduces credibility of
agency to public and permitees, making it easier to cut even more and to
override low-level
decisions.  Burnout hurts DEQ as much or more than Englers' administration's
maneuvering on
cases."

"A greater reliance on regulations, policies and procedures is not a good
substitute for competent
staff and management and more publically assessable forums (Commissions, Boards,
etc.)  I
have seen both excessively restrictive and less than adequate actions taken on
behalf of
environmental protection.  With the loss of environmentally competent staff,
what can we expect
for the future of the DEQ and environmental protection?"

"Not enough staff and field workers, too much political influence. Clean up not
adequate and
pollution resolution not timely.  Our water bodies continue to be polluted." 

NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT PEER

"Extremist negative surveys such as this.  The tone of this survey offends my
professional
standards.  Trying to some customers as primary' which implies others are
secondary' is
contradictory of equal protection concerns which are guaranteed by both state
and federal
constitutions."        -DEQ Manager

"Negative attitudes by employees towards top management.  Our agency is run by
political
appointees now...get used to it and do your best to do your job.  Quit whining
and start working! 
There's lots of good to be done!"           -DEQ Manager                        
   
                                   
"It must be nice to be political whores which are the puppets of the Democratic
party."                  
                        -DEQ Manager
               
"The Department is comprised primarily of field staff who long for a return to
the good old days'
of the 1980s when the eco-terrorists ran unchecked using their intimidation and
gestapo'-like
tactics.  The changes of the last 4-5 years were long overdue.  These
malcontents' need to be
weeded out of state government."