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Best Places to Work in the Federal Government Rankings Reveal Employee Satisfaction and Commitment at All Time Low

December 18, 2013

WASHINGTON –The nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service today released the 2013 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings—an important tool for the Obama administration, agency leaders and Congress to gauge agency effectiveness and identify signs of trouble. 

Produced by the Partnership and Deloitte, the Best Places to Work rankings measure overall federal employee job satisfaction and commitment, critical elements in developing high-performing workplaces needed to meet the nation’s challenges, as well as employee attitudes on a range of other workplace categories, such as satisfaction with pay, leadership, teamwork and strategic management. The rankings provide a way to hold agency leaders accountable for the health of their organizations and offer insights for improvement.

The Best Places to Work government-wide score of 57.8 out of 100 is the lowest score since the rankings were first published in 2003. This is the third straight year the score has decreased, dropping 7.2 points from a high of 65.0 in 2010. 

In contrast, employee satisfaction in the private sector improved by 0.7 points in 2013, for a score of 70.7, according to Hay Group, a technical partner with the Partnership for Public Service. For the eighth time in a row, the primary driver of employee satisfaction and commitment is effective leadership, and in particular, senior leadership. In 2013, senior leaders continued to receive low scores from employees, with a government-wide rating of 45.4 out of 100.

“There is no doubt the three year pay freeze, furloughs, budget cuts, ad hoc hiring freezes and continued uncertainty are taking their toll on federal workers,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO. “What it really means is that agencies aren’t positioned to successfully meet the needs of the American people.” 

The Best Places to Work rankings include 371 federal agencies and subcomponents, which represent 97 percent of the 2.1 million person federal workforce. Agencies are ranked within one of four categories: large agency, mid-size agency, small agency and federal subcomponent. Scores and rankings are revealed for all agencies and subcomponents, from first to worst. 

The top 10 Best Places to Work large federal agencies are:

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Department of Commerce
  • Intelligence Community
  • Department of State
  • Department of Justice
  • Social Security Administration
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Environmental Protection Agency (tie)
  • Department of the Navy (tie)

The top five mid-size agencies:

  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Government Accountability Office
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission (tie)
  • Federal Trade Commission (tie)

The top five small agencies:

  • Surface Transportation Board
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
  • Peace Corps
  • Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

The top five agency subcomponents:

  • Patent and Trademark Office (Commerce)
  • John C. Stennis Space Center (NASA)
  • U.S. Army Audit Agency (Army)
  • Office of the General Counsel (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)
  • Federal Highway Administration (DOT)

In addition, agencies are ranked by 10 workplace categories, including effective leadership, pay, strategic management, training and development, employee skills–;mission match, work–life balance and support for diversity. Agencies also are ranked by demographic groupings, including age, gender, race and ethnicity. The complete rankings are available at

The Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte today will honor the five top-ranked Best Places to Work agencies in each grouping, and the most improved agencies and subcomponents. Agencies set to receive most improved awards include NASA, the top-rated large agency which raised its score by 1.2 points. The Federal Communications Commission (+4.6) is the most improved mid-size agency and the U.S. International Trade Commission (+9.3) is the most improved small agency. The most improved subcomponent is the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, which increased its score 13.9 points.

Additional findings:

  • The top three drivers in employee satisfaction and commitment are effective leadership, followed by employee skills–mission match and satisfaction with pay, which emerged as a key driver for the first time in 2010.
  • Since last year, satisfaction and commitment scores dropped in 75.4 percent of agencies; they improved in 24.0 percent and held steady in 0.6 percent of agencies.
  • Agencies with the biggest decrease in employee satisfaction and commitment include the Environmental Protection Agency (-8.3), Department of Housing and Urban Development (-10.8), Office of Management and Budget (-14.0) and Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (-33.4).
  • The agency with the highest score among the 371 ranked agencies and subcomponents is the Surface Transportation Board, a small agency, with a score of 84.7.
  • The Economic Development Administration (Commerce) is the lowest scoring agency of all 371, at 24.8 out of 100.
  • For the second year in a row, the government-wide data show a decline in each of the 10 workplace categories. The largest drop is in employee satisfaction with pay, which declined 4.7 points since 2012 and 12.7 points since 2010. The second biggest workplace category decline is training and development opportunities, which fell 3.2 points. Rewards and advancement dropped 2.2 points.

The Best Places to Work rankings are based on data from the Office of Personnel Management’s annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which was conducted from April through June of 2013. Additional survey data from eight agencies plus the Intelligence Community are included in the Best Places to Work results. This is the eighth edition of the Best Places to Work rankings; the first was produced in 2003.

For information about the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, visit