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Best Places to Work in the Federal Government

By Bill Leonard  12/26/2012

Even with a sharp decline in federal job satisfaction survey results, most employees of the U.S. government feel pretty good about their jobs. Moreover, some agencies within the U.S. government stand out as excellent places to work.

These conclusions were made in the 2012 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government listing released by The Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 13, 2012. The Partnership’s annual ranking of federal agencies was based on the results of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey published by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in late November. As SHRM reported, the 2012 Federal Viewpoint Survey revealed that the federal workforce’s satisfaction level was at its lowest level since 2002.

The Partnership’s best places to work rankings reflect further analysis of federal employee job satisfaction and engagement as reported in the viewpoint survey.

Among large federal agencies, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was ranked as the best place to work and had some of the government’s most satisfied employees. Even though the agency ended the space shuttle program in July 2011, NASA continues to remain active in other forms of space exploration, such as unmanned space flight. The agency is planning future manned space missions as well.

“When you have good leadership that’s committed to ensuring that their employees are getting what they need to do the job well, you’re going have a well-run organization with engaged employees,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, in a news statement. “And that’s what they have at NASA.”

According to Stier, the federal agencies with strong leadership tended to rank higher than the other agencies in the best places to work listings. The top-ranked agencies in the Partnership of Public Service best place to work listings are as follows:

Large Agencies (15,000 or more employees)


2. Intelligence Community (coalition of 17 intelligence-related agencies)

3. Department of State

4. Department of Commerce

5. Environmental Protection Agency

Mid-Size Agencies (1,000 to 14,999 employees)

1. Federal Deposit Insurance Commission

2. Government Accountability Office

3. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (tie)

3. Smithsonian Institution (tie)

5. Federal Trade Commission

Small Agencies (999 or fewer employees)

1. Surface Transportation Board

2. Congressional Budget Office

3. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

4. Peace Corps

5. National Endowment for the Humanities

Bill Leonard is senior writer for SHRM.

Related Articles:

Federal Employee Morale Slumps with Pay Freezes, Budget Cuts, SHRM Online Employee Relations, November 2012 

SHRM: Job Security Is No Longer Top Driver of Satisfaction, SHRM Online Employee Relations, October 2012

Reports Link Employee Engagement and Customer Experience, SHRM Online Employee Relations, October 2012

Money: It’s Not All Employees Want, SHRM Online Employee Relations, August 2012

Employee Attitudes: Silence Is Not Golden, SHRM Online Employee Relations, April 2011

Untangling Positive and Negative Employee Feedback, SHRM Online Employee Relations, August 2010

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Employee Relations page

SHRM Employee Communications Resource Page


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