Partnership for Public Service statement on the Senate agriculture committee’s vote to advance Secretary-designate Thomas J. Vilsack’s nomination to the full Senate

February 3, 2021

WASHINGTON – The nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service released the following statement from President and CEO Max Stier after the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry voted unanimously to advance the nomination of Thomas J. Vilsack for secretary of agriculture to the full Senate for consideration. 

“Tom Vilsack’s unanimous, bipartisan support from the Senate agriculture committee speaks volumes about his dedication as a public servant, his deep commitment to the farming community, his leadership and his concern for the department’s employees,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service.  

During his previous stint as agriculture secretary during the Obama administration, the Department of Agriculture improved its Best Places to Work in the Federal Government ® ranking from 16th out of 19 large federal agencies to 9th place in 2016. Vilsack made the welfare of his employees a priority, resulting in increased employee satisfaction in such areas as communication, teamwork, diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, and employee training and development.  

Stier continued, “I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Vilsack so he can get to work addressing food insecurity during the pandemic, racial inequity, our agricultural presence on the world stage, the effects of climate change on our farmers, ranchers and producers, and the morale of USDA employees. The Partnership for Public Service looks forward to working with Vilsack and his USDA team.”  

The Partnership for Public Service’s Department of Agriculture oversight snapshot provides a wide array of data and insights regarding the department. Some key data points include:  

  • Number of employees: 70,611 (as of March 2019) 
  • 2019 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government score and rank: 56.5 out of 100, ranking 16th out of 17 large agencies  
  • Employee confidence in whistleblower protections: 57.7%, which is 6.8 percent lower than the government-wide score of 64.5%  
  • Number of positions requiring Senate confirmation: 15 

The Partnership produces and maintains several other resources to assess and analyze the health of the federal government. These include a political appointments tracker with The Washington Post to follow the progress of more than 750 of President Biden’s Senate-confirmed political appointments, and the annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings, produced by the Partnership and Boston Consulting Group, which measure employee engagement government-wide as well as at individual departments, agencies and subcomponents. 

During the past 19 years, the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service has been dedicated to making the federal government more effective. We work across administrations to help transform the way government operates by increasing collaboration, accountability, efficiency and innovation. Visit to learn more. Follow us on social @PublicService and subscribe today to get the latest federal news, information on upcoming Partnership programs and events, and more. 


Publication Type: Commentary