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Internal memo shows ATF rank and file don't trust the brass

By Maxim Lott

Published March 26, 2012 |

Top leaders at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, already under fire from lawmakers in the wake of the “Fast and Furious” debacle, also get harsh marks from the men and women who serve under them, according to an internal survey.

An ATF memo obtained by reveals that rank-and-file workers at the beleaguered federal agency, where whistleblowers who first alerted lawmakers to the “gun-walking” scandal say they were threatened or even punished, don’t trust the agency’s leaders.

“A key area in which ATF fell short was leadership,” the e-mail from ATF Headquarters, describing the results of the internal survey, reads.

“Most troubling were responses to the question – ‘My senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.’”

Just 44 percent of ATF employees said that their leaders maintained such standards last year, according to the Partnership for Public Service, the non-profit that administers the annual survey to government employees.

On “leadership effectiveness” in general, ATF scored a 40.5, placing the agency nearly last among government agencies, at 215th out of 228 agencies surveyed. That rating was the first since the "Fast and Furious" scandal broke, and it is down 10 percentage points from the year before.

Asked by about the survey, ATF spokesman Drew Wade acknowledged the Fast and Furious scandal has taken a toll on morale.

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