Americans Rate Two Agencies Worse Than the IRS

Rena Schild/

What’s America’s favorite federal agency? Apparently it’s the U.S. Postal Service. Beyond the rate hikes, job cuts, hemorrhaging finances, processing center closures, union tensions and persistent calls for reform, a large majority of people—72 percent—think USPS does an “excellent” or “good” job. That’s a significantly higher rating than the next highest runner up, the FBI, at 58 percent, according to a new Gallup poll assessing American’s perceptions of 13 agencies.

Four of the 13 agencies included in the poll—Postal Service, the Secret Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Veterans’ Affairs Department—were rated for the first time.

Perhaps most striking was the fact that two agencies rated lower in Americans’ esteem than the scandal-plagued Internal Revenue Service, which may have the most onerous mission among federal agencies—parting people from their money. While only 41 percent of respondents thought IRS was doing a good to excellent job, fewer thought the Federal Reserve Board or Veterans Administration were doing excellent to good work, 38 percent and 29 percent, respectively.  

According to Gallup, “Although Americans have highly negative opinions of the federal government overall, they are more likely to give positive than highly negative ratings for many of the agencies that make up the federal government. Of the 13 agencies tested in the latest poll, Americans gave only the VA a net negative rating, and that may very well be a much more negative image than was the case in the past due to the controversy over medical care for veterans.”

It’s probably not a big surprise that Americans don’t think as highly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they did a year ago. CDC’s reputation took a beating after senior officials mismanaged the agency’s response to the deadly Ebola virus at U.S. hospitals. While 60 percent of Americans told Gallup pollsters last year CDC did an excellent or good job, only 50 percent said so this year. It was the only agency among nine that were measured in both years to show a decline.

What’s more surprising is that while CDC dropped 10 percentage points in Americans’ esteem, the IRS rose by 14 percentage points—the highest jump among the nine. That’s not to say the IRS is popular, but it’s a lot more popular than it was a year ago. In 2013, only 27 percent of Americans polled said the agency did an excellent or good job, but this year 41 percent gave the tax agency high marks. And IRS employees worried about their public image at least can be thankful they’re not working for VA or the Federal Reserve Board.

The Gallup poll was based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 11-12 with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence level.

You can read the full results here.

(Image via Rena Schild/

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