Beneath the Surface: Understanding Attrition at Your Agency and Why It Matters
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Beneath the Surface: Understanding Attrition at Your Agency and Why It Matters

November 4, 2010

Employee attrition in the federal government historically has been quite low, leading many people to believe that it should not be a matter for concern or cause for serious attention. Agency leaders need to understand not only who is leaving, but the reasons for their departure. With this information, they can develop strategies to retain those employees they most want to keep or prepare to transfer knowledge and replace those who inevitably will leave due to retirement.

In performing this study to understand federal attrition and its key drivers, the Partnership for Public Service with the support of Booz Allen Hamilton conducted an extensive literature review and held focus groups with line managers and human resources professionals from more than 20 agencies. We conducted in-depth interviews with workforce planners and human resources professionals at five federal agencies, analyzed federal attrition data from the Central Personnel Data File (CPDF) and used information from the 2008 Federal Human Capital Survey (recently renamed the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey).

This report provides leaders and workforce planners with an approach for analyzing and understanding their attrition. This information provides the foundation for a second report by the Partnership and Booz Allen Hamilton that will focus on retention, looking at why people stay and what strategies to follow to maintain a stable, high-performing workforce.

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