After plunging by double-digits in recent years, public approval ratings for most federal agencies remain at low levels amid economic uncertainty and lingering impacts of the pandemic, according to a Gallup survey.
Eight federal agencies saw their approval ratings drop by as much as 20 percentage points last year, reflecting a broad decline in trust in government, the polling firm said. One year later, none that saw meaningful declines are back to where they were three years ago in the latest survey conducted last month.
The survey polled 812 adults from Sept. 1-16 in all 50 states.
Attitudes did partially recover toward the CIA and FBI. At least half of Americans rate them positively, according to the poll. Only NASA is thought of as highly.
The U.S. Postal Service historically received the most favorable marks and held steady this year without significant improvement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which faced intense criticism over its handling of the pandemic, had the biggest drop in 2020 from 64% to 40% — likely a result of politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public support for the agency was little changed at 41 percent in the latest poll.
The CDC also saw the biggest partisan split in support levels, with 41 percentage points separating Democrats’ and Republicans’ ratings of the CDC.
In general, of the 11 institutions included in this year’s survey, the IRS and Justice Department receive the lowest ratings. DOJ has been the focus of backlash by some Republicans and Trump administration loyalists for its investigation of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home.
The IRS routinely draws ire, but misinformation about the agency arming its agents as authorized by President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act may have exacerbated negative views of the agency.
The Federal Reserve Board’s ratings aren’t worse than they were in 2021 but have decreased slightly this year, perhaps a reflection of persisting challenges in getting inflation under control via interest rate hikes.
Democrats tended to rate each agency or department much more positively than Republicans do, likely because a Democratic president is in office, according to the poll.
In 2019, when Donald Trump was president, Republicans mostly rated the agencies better than Democrats did. The FBI was a notable exception.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.