NASA Stays at Top of Annual Best Agencies to Work List

Most federal employees are increasingly unhappy with their agencies.

There was little change at the top of the lineup on this year’s Best Places to Work in Federal Government analysis released Wednesday, with NASA remaining the highest-ranked employer for large agencies. But federal workers’ job satisfaction once again dipped to an all-time low, marking the third consecutive year of decline, according to the annual study by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and consultancy Deloitte.

The governmentwide index score was 57.8 out of a possible 100, according to PPS and Deloitte, which produced rankings based on data from the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The 2013 score is down from 60.8 in 2012 and represents a fall of more than 7 points from a 2010 high point.

The study found that just one-quarter of agencies improved or held steady on their scores from 2012, while an overwhelming 75 percent declined. Last year, only two-thirds of agencies dipped from their 2011 scores.

A major driver of the falling ratings was traced back to decreasing pay satisfaction, the study found. The 50.3 score on pay --  among the lowest of workplace categories PPS and Deloitte examined -- was the third most influential factor, behind effective leadership and the matching of employee skillsets to agency missions.

“There is no doubt the three-year pay freeze, furloughs, budget cuts, ad hoc hiring freezes and continued uncertainty are taking their toll on federal workers,” said Max Stier, PPS president and CEO. “What it really means is that agencies aren’t positioned to successfully meet the needs of the American people.”

All of 2012’s top-ranked agencies repeated in 2013. NASA scored the highest marks among large agencies -- those with more than 15,000 employees. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. once again took home top honors for mid-size agencies with1,000 to 14,999 employees, while the Surface Transportation Board was ranked highest among small agencies.

The U.S. International Trade Commission was the most improved agency, boosting its score by 9.3 points to 69.3. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board had the largest decline, with its score falling 33.4 points. At large agencies, the biggest drop off was at the Environmental Protection Agency, which required employees to take seven furlough days in 2013, among the most of any agency. The Housing and Urban Development Department dipped 10.8 points, the most of any mid-size agency.

After seeing the largest improvement of any agency in 2012, the Office of Management and Budget registered a major decline in 2013, with its score dropping 14 points.

All of the 10 categories used to assess the overall index score -- including pay, effective leadership, advancement and teamwork -- experienced a drop-off between 2012 and 2013.