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Fed workplace survey features repeat winners

Dec. 18, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
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NASA is again the top-ranked large federal agency, according to the new Best Places to Work lineup released Wednesday by the Partnership for Public Service. (AFP)

NASA is again the top-ranked large federal agency, according to the new Best Places to Work lineup released Wednesday by the Partnership for Public Service. The runner-up in that category was the Commerce Department. Among mid-sized agencies, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation came in first while the Surface Transportation Board — for the fifth time — led among small agencies.

The latest rankings, based on the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey run each year by the Office of Personnel Management, are posted online at bestplacestowork.org.

NASA, which was also the top-rated large agency last year, managed to improve its score even as government-wide employee job satisfaction sank to its lowest level since the Partnership began producing the rankings a decade ago.

“This is a warning that we’re not going to get what we want or what we need from our government if the workforce is disengaged or the management is ineffective,” said Lara Shane, the partnership’s vice president of research and communications, who oversaw production of the rankings.

In all, the rankings cover 71 agencies and 300 subcomponents. Among 19 large agencies, NASA remains the top agency and its score increased the most. The Federal Communications Commission claimed the most-improved prize in the mid-sized agency category, as did the U.S. International Trade Commission among small agencies. The most improved subcomponent is the Justice Department’s antitrust division, whose score leapt almost 14 points over last year’s. The lowest-ranked large agency was the Department of Homeland Security.

At least some of the factors behind falling job satisfaction scores are easy to discern: 2013 marked the third straight year without an across-the-board pay raise for federal employees, whle hundreds of thousands endured sequester-related furloughs. But the quality of labor-management relations and the extent to which agency executives are held accountable for employee sentiment are also key factors, Shane said.

The updated rankings come as the Senate is set to approve a two-year budget deal that would give the federal workforce a 1 percent salary increase in January and partially roll back sequester budget cuts scheduled to take effect fiscal 2014 and 2015.While hopeful that those developments will send a a signal of stability, Shane said a sustained effort is needed to let employees know how valued they are, as well as to recognize and empower them.

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