NRC again tops list of best places to work in government

For the third time in a row, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has taken the top spot among large agencies in a nonprofit group's ranking of the best places to work in government.

The Partnership for Public Service on Wednesday released its 2010 Best Places to Work Rankings, which overall showed improvements in federal employees' attitudes toward their jobs, organizations and supervisors. Partnership President Max Stier said the data shows a substantial increase in employee satisfaction over a short period of time, adding the rankings are the first for which the Obama administration is entirely responsible.

In the large agency rankings, NRC was followed by the Government Accountability Office, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Smithsonian Institution and NASA. The five highest-ranked small agencies were the Surface Transportation Board, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Congressional Budget Office, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and Peace Corps.

Governmentwide, employee satisfaction scores increased 2.7 percent from 2009 to 2010, from an average score of 63.3 out of 100 possible points to 65. Eighty percent of participating large agencies and 69 percent of small agencies saw their scores rise in the same time period. The most improved large agencies were the Transportation and Treasury departments, which improved their scores by 15.8 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively, while the Federal Labor Relations Authority, ranked 20th among small agencies, improved by 250 percent.

The rankings are based on the Office of Personnel Management's annual survey of federal employee attitudes. The 2010 survey included more than 263,000 employees from 32 large agencies, 34 small agencies and 224 agency subcomponents.

According to Stier, having useful data is important to hold agencies accountable for good management and also serves as an early warning mechanism about the health of government organizations.

"The important thing about the whole exercise is it really allows the public and the administration to hold itself accountable for how it is managing the agencies that it's running," he said. "I hope this will provide an incentive for agency leaders to actually focus on running organizations better, and the key element is having an engaged workforce."

Respondents said effective leadership and satisfaction with pay are two key factors in how they view their workplaces. NRC ranked first in leadership, pay and work-life balance for large agencies, while the Surface Transportation Board topped small agencies in leadership and work-life issues. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service scored highest among small agencies in the compensation category.

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