CAO Snags ‘Great Places to Work’ Recognition

Posted October 17, 2007 at 6:48pm

The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer is among the best places to work in Washington, D.C., according to Washingtonian.

The monthly magazine released its biennial list of its 50 “Great Places to Work” today, and included on that list is the CAO. It’s a big feat for the House office, as history has dictated that most of the employers on the list are from the private sector, officials noted.

“It’s well deserved,” CAO Dan Beard said. “It’s nice to be the head of an organization that wins an award like this, and it is really an award to all the people who work here.”

Staff relationships, pay and benefits, and employee development all are listed as gauges of how the magazine rates a particular organization’s work force culture.

The CAO’s teamwork, strong leadership, impressive work flow, team spirit and inclusive environment were given as reasons for the office’s selection, according to officials.

Those officials pointed to several changes they’ve made to the office’s personnel policy in the past several years, including increasing leave time for employees.

The office’s family and medical leave policy currently provides six weeks of paid leave, and employees without annual sick leave can receive time through a leave-share program.

Another example: CAO employees also receive up to $500 a month in student loan repayments; a maximum of $40,000 can be given to each employee.

Beard mentioned two reasons why he thinks the office got the selection — the longevity of the staff and the actual work they do on Capitol Hill.

“You see Members of Congress on a daily basis, and you’re interacting with them, and that certainly is something that leads to the longevity of it,” he said. “It sounds a little hokey and patriotic, but you have a sense that you are participating in a democracy.”

CAO employees first applied for the list via the magazine’s Web site in May, said Kathy Wyszynski, a senior adviser to the CAO.

“I thought, ‘Well, it’s a good opportunity for us to try,’” Wyszynski said. “If we don’t make it, at least it sets a benchmark for us.”

After the office sent in the initial application, an online survey was sent to a random group of CAO staffers to see “what people think of the place,” Wyszynski said. In August, the magazine contacted the CAO to ask clarifying questions.

Officials got word they had been picked on Sept. 17. The selection is positive for the office in a number of ways, Wyszynski said, including recognizing longtime House employees whose work is often taken for granted.

“I think it really does elevate them,” she said. “It gives them an opportunity to say, ‘Here I am in Washingtonian magazine. I work here.’”

But it also can be used as a recruiting tool for the CAO, Wyszynski added. The magazine provides winners with a special seal that can be put on the organization’s Web site noting its inclusion on the list.

“Our hope is that people will look at that,” she said.