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2011 Rankings of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government


The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® is an annual report produced by the Partnership for Public Service that shows how federal employees perceive their jobs and agencies. It is one of the best known employee engagement studies in the US. It was first conducted in 2003, and researchers began conducting it annually in 2009.

The report’s rankings provide insight to federal executives on where their agencies can improve and to job seekers to see which agencies provide the best work environment. Those considering federal employment can compare agencies side-by-side to find where they’re most likely to be happy -- at least on a statistical basis.

The rankings are broken down into those for large agencies and small agencies. Large agencies have more than 2,000 full-time permanent employees. Small agencies have less than 2,000 but more than 100.

The Best Large Agencies in 2011

The top of the rankings of the best large agencies looks similar from year to year. 2010’s third place finisher, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, took the top spot in 2011 dethroning three-time top finisher Nuclear Regulatory Commission that finished second. The Government Accountability Office finished third. Here are the top 10 large agencies in 2011:

  1. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  2. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  3. Government Accountability Office
  4. Smithsonian Institution
  5. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  6. Social Security Administration
  7. Department of State
  8. Intelligence Community (various intelligence agencies whose data cannot be broken out for security reasons)
  9. Office of Personnel Management
  10. General Services Administration

It will be interesting to see what happens to the General Service Administration’s rankings after the Las Vegas scandal rocked the agency in April 2012. The 2012 survey administration period began right around the time the scandal was breaking in the news. With the aftermath still playing out, it may not be until the 2013 report that the effects on employee morale can be measured.

Like the top of the list, the bottom also has some familiar names. 2011 is the second year in a row for the National Archives and Records Administration to anchor the list. The Department of Housing and Urban Development broke out of last year’s tie for last by ending up second to last. The Department of Homeland Security is third from the bottom.

The Best Small Agencies in 2011

If a smaller organization is more your style, there are some small agencies that fared well on the survey. Here are the top 10 small agencies in 2011:

  1. Surface Transportation Board
  2. Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
  3. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
  4. Peace Corps
  5. Farm Credit Administration
  6. Overseas Private Investment Corporation
  7. Federal Labor Relations Authority
  8. Commodity futures Trading Commission
  9. National Endowment for the Humanities
  10. Federal Trade Commission

More About the Rankings

The data for the report comes from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey conducted by the US Office of Personnel Management. Between April 4 and May 31, 2011, surveys were sent to more than 540,000 full-time federal employees. After factoring in almost 10,000 responses from federal intelligence agencies, the response rate reached 50%. Because some personnel information is classified at intelligence agencies, it cannot be known exactly how many intelligence agency staff were offered the survey.

The survey data is broken down into ten categories that measure how federal employees view their jobs and agencies:

  1. Employee Skills/Mission Match
  2. Strategic Management
  3. Teamwork
  4. Effective Leadership
  5. Performance Based Rewards and Advancement
  6. Training and Development
  7. Support for Diversity
  8. Family Friendly culture and Benefits
  9. Pay
  10. Work/Life Balance

Of these ten categories, researchers found the three primary factors driving worker satisfaction are Effective Leadership, Employee Skills/Mission Match and Pay.

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