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DOJ OIG Releases Interactive Survey Results on Staff Perceptions of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Management of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of an interactive dashboard with results of a follow-up survey on Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) institution staff perceptions of how their respective institutions were managing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The results presented are from an anonymous online survey that the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conducted in February 2021, in which the OIG received 6,578 responses out of almost 35,000 BOP institution staff. The OIG’s interactive dashboard allows users to view aggregated survey responses by individual institutions, including comparisons to selected results from an April 2020 OIG survey of BOP staff.

The results of the February 2021 follow-up survey indicate that, overall, federal prison staff who responded to the survey perceive that the BOP has taken and is taking steps to protect both staff and inmates from COVID-19. However, the pandemic has had negative effects on BOP staff, and opportunities for improvement remain. 65 percent of survey respondents rated their institution’s response to the pandemic as “Somewhat Effective” or “Effective.” Other survey results include:

  • Respondents’ Vaccination Plans. 63 percent of respondents reported in February 2021 that they had already been vaccinated or would be vaccinated when the vaccine became available to them. 18 percent reported that they did not plan to get vaccinated at all. We expect that a September 2021 Presidential Executive Order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all federal employees will alter the vaccination plans of many or most of the survey respondents who expressed hesitancy or resistance to becoming vaccinated.
  • The Pandemic’s Effects on Institution Staff. Respondents identified multiple ways in which the pandemic affected them:
    • Approximately 66 percent of respondents reported that they had been required to perform tasks that are not part of their normal work duties, 39 percent reported that they had been required to work overtime, and 28 percent reported that they had been required to work longer shifts. Further, about 24 percent of respondents reported that they believed they contracted COVID-19 due to work exposure.
    • Approximately 70 percent of respondents reported experiencing stress or anxiety at work as a result of working at BOP institutions during the pandemic, and 31 percent reported that they have considered leaving the BOP.
  • Nose and Mouth Coverings. A majority (nearly 75 percent) of respondents reported that they always covered their noses and mouths while working in the facilities. However, only 44 percent of respondents reported that they observed other staff always doing so.
  • Areas of Strength and Areas for Improvement in Handling the Pandemic. The areas in which institution staff respondents were most likely to say that the BOP had done the best job handling the COVID-19 pandemic were inmate medical care, medical isolation or quarantine of inmates, and testing inmates for COVID-19. Respondents identified institution leaders’ communication with staff, social distancing of inmates, and COVID-19 screening for staff as the areas most in need of improvement overall.

The data as presented is intended to inform our understanding of perceptions and actions of a subset of BOP employees during specific points in time. Survey results are perceptions reported by staff rather than OIG findings about how the BOP or its individual institutions have managed the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dashboard and data: The interactive dashboard and downloadable XLS files with the underlying data tables can be viewed here: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/582f32f0127c4c86870b2e129c05b9bc

Additional Information:
The DOJ OIG maintains a separate collection of interactive dashboards with data on COVID-19 case trends, testing trends, and deaths due to COVID-19 in BOP-managed correctional facilities. View those dashboards here: www.experience.arcgis.com/experience/ab22fb4c564e4f4b986e257c685190e8/.

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