US Defense Threat Reduction Agency Reviews | Glassdoor

US Defense Threat Reduction Agency Reviews

Updated January 14, 2017
49 reviews

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49 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • A great mission, great people, and a wonderful facility (in 6 reviews)

  • Great mission, great people, good leadership, team environment (in 4 reviews)

Cons
  • Senior management at both the SES and Flag officer levels lack integrity and courage (in 4 reviews)

  • I do not have any adverse rating for DTRA (in 7 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great agency to work for"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Fort Belvoir, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Fort Belvoir, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Outstanding mission and an exceptionally talented team. Convenient location on Ft Belvoir avoids the beltway traffic for NorVA commuters

    Cons

    Undersized parking facility. Very senior staff limits upward mobility for many aspiring young leaders

    Advice to Management

    Continue thoughtful integration of new mission areas and new partners, including JIDO and SOCOM. Continue effort to train and develop young leaders.


  2. "Terrific Mission but no leaders"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Fort Belvoir, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Fort Belvoir, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at US Defense Threat Reduction Agency full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Challenging and rewarding acquisition environment, International travel.

    Cons

    Focus on spending money at all costs even when they know it is wasteful and not of value to the U.S. Taxpayer. 5 years ago it was managed better but because of the budget rescissions they focus on getting money out the door, minimizing carryover above all else. No ability to move up in the organization, recently reorganized to a flat organization of GS15's and GS11-13. Someone has to leave or retire to get to compete for a position

    Advice to Management

    Replace many of the GS15's and SES's that came from HHS, TSA, etc. they were castaways for a reason. Allow some of the talented younger employees the opportunity to lead.


  3. "DTRA - A great place to work!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    A great mission, great people, and a wonderful facility.

    Cons

    Parking can be difficult and the traffic around Fort Belvoir can be difficult at times.


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. "Great Place to Work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Great mission, great people, good leadership, team environment

    Cons

    I do not have any negative comments


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at US Defense Threat Reduction Agency full-time

    Pros

    Real world missions, high job satisfaction depending what directorate you end up working in.

    Cons

    A lot of bureaucracy, which is to be expected from a large government agency. It can be frustrating at times.

    Advice to Management

    Keep investing in people's education, training, and provide them with new and challenging assignments to show their potential. To do otherwise would be to risk malaise.


  7. "Physical Security, Infrastructure (Utilities suach as Water, Power, Fire Protection sysyt , Stcuctural/ Security"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    I worked for DTRA is for the challenging position, they offered. It was a position where I demonstrated my in-depth of: Physical Security, Antiterrorism/Force Protection, world wide teaching of application of the blast programs. I was a reach back engineer for many DoD related issues.

    Cons

    I do not have any adverse rating for DTRA.


  8. "DTRA a sleepy little front agency"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at US Defense Threat Reduction Agency full-time

    Pros

    Many positions are currently available.

    Cons

    Morale horrible...personnel concerns secondary to just about everything else.

    Advice to Management

    Give a damn about working with subordinates in a way that actually maximizes their potential contributions to the agency.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Important Mission, Mixed People"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at US Defense Threat Reduction Agency full-time

    Pros

    Mission is important, some people are dedicated

    Cons

    Crazy obnoxious GS 15 non supervisor

    Advice to Management

    GS 15 should only be for supervisors


  10. Helpful (4)

    "Highly Political, Incompetent Senior Managers!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Chief, Public Affairs in Fort Belvoir, VA
    Former Employee - Chief, Public Affairs in Fort Belvoir, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at US Defense Threat Reduction Agency full-time

    Pros

    DTRA is a small agency of approximately 2,000 people. It is easy to get to know everyone because it is so small. It is involved in doing some "cutting edge" research into countering weapons of mass destruction. It has important missions which can be personally rewarding to accomplish.

    Cons

    DTRA has more senior executive service (SES) civilian employees than any organization its size in either the Department of Defense or the Federal Government. The ratio of SESs to GS/WG civilians in most organizations is 1 SES for every 1,000 GS/WG employees. (By that ratio, DTRA should have only two SESs.) However, DTRA has 1 SES for every 100 employees. Some of these SESs are political appointees who know NOTHING about managing civil service employees or managing organizations of highly creative people. The senior management of DTRA is corrupt, vengeful, retaliatory, and not interested in anything that doesn't result in a management bonus at the end of the year. There are more lawsuits by employees against DTRA for equal opportunity infractions or retaliation by management than for any other organization within DoD. Yet with this record, DTRA senior management continues to get their annual performance bonuses while withholding such bonuses from middle managers. The top management in DTRA DOES NOT have the backs of their middle managers and leaves them hanging all the time, often ordering them to take actions that lead to issues/problems and then letting them take the fall. The culture in DTRA is to throw anyone under the bus as long as the senior managers escape unscathed.

    On December 15, 2015, the White House issued an Executive Order (EO) on Strengthening the Senior Executive Service which outlines a plan to enhance the recruitment, hiring, and development of the Federal Government’s senior executives. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is providing guidance in accordance with section 3(a)(v) of the order, which calls for agencies to “develop and submit to OPM a 2-year plan to increase the number of SES members who are rotating to improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration” by May 31, 2016.

    During my tenure with DTRA, SESs NEVER rotate in management positions. There have not been any such rotations in the nearly three years since my departure from the organization. The DTRA SESs are in their little stovepiped fiefdoms and I doubt there will ever be such rotations.

    The most senior SES in the organization -- the Executive Director -- was put in her position in 2013 by the first-ever political appointee agency director, Ken Myers. The first thing she did was to spend more than $1 million of taxpayer money to build herself an office suite and furnish it. Numerous lower ranking personnel were displaced from their workstations over several weeks to allow for the construction of this suite. Further, it was done at a time of funding shortages for training, official travel, computers, and basic supplies people needed to do their jobs as a result of sequestration cuts. Reporting this wasteful spending to the Department of Defense Inspector General resulted in no inquiry or investigation by the IG.

    There is also a culture within DTRA of not caring what the regulations and the law might say, just get it done! Employees are encouraged to do something and ask for permission later; however, if it turns out that what the employee did for the sake of expediency does, in fact, turn out to be illegal or wrong, they will be uncaringly thrown under the bus by the SESs.

    If an employee should ever embarrass a senior leader, you can be assured that the senior leader will take every measure at their disposal to get that person out of DTRA to include finding some way to fire them for being incompetent or for cause. I saw this happen to several employees who had the nerve to call senior leaders out in a public forum for their mismanagement and inconsistent or capricious decisions during the conversion of civilian employees from the Defense Personnel Management System back to the Civil Service Personnel System in late 2010. Every one of those middle managers who asked questions or stood up for their subordinates during "all hands meetings" to the embarrassment of senior leaders were dismissed for either poor job performance or cause until they all were no longer in DTRA. All had been sterling federal employees with outstanding records of performance and numerous awards and/or commendations prior to embarrassing DTRA SESs.

    The DTRA senior managers also have a habit of using a small cadre of employees to rotate among offices they perceive as not being properly managed, despite them lacking experience in those functions/disciplines. The people in this small group are all retired military O-6s now serving at the GS-15 level who also have no experience relative to the offices they are sent to manage, but desperately want to be promoted to SES. As an example, one such individual -- a retired Army O-6 artillery officer -- was named Director, Congressional and Public Affairs and then Director, Equal Employment Opportunity when he had NO experience in either discipline or knowledge of DoD regulations and instructions pertinent to performing the job and succeeded in gutting both offices of long-serving, dedicated civilian employees "by any means possible."

    Lastly, in the annual employment satisfaction surveys accomplished within DoD, over a period of five years, DTRA went from being in the top half of the "best places to work" within DoD to the bottom eighth of DoD agencies. That, I believe, speaks volumes.

    Advice to Management

    No political appointees should be appointed to senior management positions in DTRA. There is no need for the Executive Director of DTRA, whose job it is to serve as the "chief operating officer," when the agency has two two-star flag officer deputy directors and a three-star-equivalent civilian director. The Chief of Staff (a military O-6) was quite capable of managing the day-to-day care and feeding of the organization and the executive director position should be abolished. Fewer SESs should be in such a small organization. The ratio of SESs to GS/WG employees should be aligned with the ratios existing in other defense agencies. STOP THROWING YOUR LONG-SERVING, EXPERIENCED, AND DEDICATED CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OUT OF CIVIL SERVICE!


  11. "DTRA - Important Opportunities, if you Seek them Out"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Science & Technology Project Manager in Fort Belvoir, VA
    Former Employee - Science & Technology Project Manager in Fort Belvoir, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at US Defense Threat Reduction Agency full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    There is the opportunity to be in positions of high visibility - the opportunity to brief members of Congress, high-ranking Pentagon officials, high ranking foreign military or diplomats.
    For those who love travel, DTRA employees are travelers. Anywhere CONUS, Asia, especially former Soviet Union countries - fascinating.

    Cons

    Long hours and dedication to the mission are expected. When traveling for work, you will be expected to stay current on e-mail. Definitely NOT boondoggles. I noticed when I was doing e-mails at 10pm that my Boss was still on-line as well. :) The mission is important enough, that most of us didn't mind.

    Advice to Management

    Recognize the achievement of your employees! A public pat on the back goes a long way to reinforce the long hours.



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