Skip to main content

American Today

Government & Politics

Best Places to Work Rankings Released

By Mike Unger

Photo: From left, Robert Tobias, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko, and Max Stier.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko, middle, accepts his agency's award from Robert Tobias, left, and Max Stier. (Photo: Jeff Watts)

Once again, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is radiating good will.

For the third straight time, the agency topped the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings, compiled by American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation (ISPPI) and the Partnership for Public Service.

The report, released today, is the definitive document on who’s happy and who’s not in federal agencies. This year’s was based on more than 263,000 respondents—more than a 50 percent response rate.

Overall, the rankings show that government-wide employee satisfaction is at an all-time high. The 2010 score of 65 out of 100 is a 2.7 percent increase from 2009, and a 7.4 percent hike from 2003, the first year of the rankings.

Still with some work to do: the National Archives and Records Administration, which finished last among the 32 large agencies ranked.

“Every survey since ’02 has yielded that the most important category in every agency across the government is effective leadership,” said Robert Tobias, ISPPI director. “The conventional wisdom was that the relationship between the employee and first-line supervisor was the key. What we discovered last time and this time is that it’s the relationship between employees and top level leaders that has the most significant impact on a score. The data is very clear.”

That data is based on the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, conducted by the Office of Personnel Management in February and March. Tobias and his team, which included the Partnership for Public Service and the Hay Group, took the answers to three questions— How satisfied am I with my job? How satisfied am I with my agency? Would I recommend my agency to others?—and analyzed it to come up with the rankings.

They found that employee satisfaction increased in 68 percent of federal organizations, including 80 percent of large agencies, 69 percent of small ones, and 67 percent of subcomponents.

The highest-scoring workplace categories are:

•   employee skills - mission match
•   teamwork
•   pay
•   training - development

“The Best Places to Work analysis is an extremely important benchmark for every agency who wants to increase productivity,” Tobias said. “Those agencies who are increasing their scores are improving employee engagement, which then directly leads to increased agency productivity. The analysis is also important to every prospective federal employee because of the valuable information on the [Best Places] Web site. It not only includes overall rankings for each agency, but also the mission, number of employees, types of jobs, hiring projections, turnover, and availability of recruitment bonuses and student loan repayment.”

Agencies that score well are proud of their accomplishment, often posting their ranking on their Web site. For the third-straight year, the Government Accountability Office was runner-up.

"These rankings are something the Obama administration takes very seriously," Neal Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury, told the crowd at the Gallup Building, site of the awards breakfast. "Employees are more productive at their job when they feel better about their job. We will be putting these rankings to use."

The entire top 10 is:

1.   Nuclear Regulatory Commission
2.   Government Accountability Office
3.   Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
4.   Smithsonian Institution
5.   National Aeronautics and Space Administration
6.   Social Security Administration
7.   Department of State
8.   General Services Administration
9.   Department of Justice
10.   Intelligence Community

The bottom line?

"We live in an age [with] quite a number of challenges," said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. "The quality of our government is vital."

“The continued focus has led to better results,” Tobias said.