Staff lack confidence in the DFES governing board, which includes most of its top civil servants. David Normington, the permanent secretary chairs the eight-person board which includes five of the six service directors and two non-executive members from outside the civil service.
Criticism of the DFES will be further fuelled by news in its annual report published this week that the number of its civil servants earning more than pound;100,000 rose from five to seven last year.
Half of DFES staff surveyed complained that they were not managed well and more than a third worried that they were were not kept informed of matters which affected their work.
Though the department has beacon status for its use of information technology, three out of 10 staff members thought better use could be made of technology.
There was also dissatisfaction about the way the department fills vacancies. Only 27 per cent thought that appointments were made in the right way. In 2001, the department made 296 external appointments: of these, 180 were women, 15 disabled and 67 from ethnic-minority backgrounds.
A spokesman said: "David Normington and the board recognise that they have to make themselves more visible to staff. In absolute terms these results are not good enough." But he stressed that the department's 71 per cent approval rating for staff development was the highest found in any organisation by International Survey Research, the company that carried out the report.