Economic Development Agency Grabs Title as Worst Place to Work in U.S. Government; Surface Transportation Board Regains Honor of Best

Monday, December 23, 2013

The results of the eighth annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey are in, and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has taken the title of Worst Place to Work in the U.S. Government. With a score of 24.8, it took the crown from last year’s worst, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), which scored 26.8 this year, down 5.9 from 2012, and still bad enough to be second worst.


Produced by the Partnership for Public Service, the survey is based on responses from more than 376,000 federal employees in 371 agencies and subcomponents.


Created in 1965 as part of the Department of Commerce, EDA uses grants and cooperative agreements to encourage private investment in economically distressed regions, hoping to create and maintain high-skilled, high-paying jobs. The EDA was headed by Assistant Secretary John Fernandez until he resigned on March 2, 2012, and he has not been replaced.


Other sub-40 low scores were posted by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (38.4); the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS (36.2); the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the Department of Treasury (36.2); the Office of Postsecondary Education in the Education Department (33.4); and the Office of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology in DHS (32.0).


At the good end of the scale, the top-ranked agency is the Surface Transportation Board, which regulates the railroad industry, at 84.7, followed closely by the National Endowment for the Humanities at 84.6 and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service at 84.5. Other high scoring agencies included the Patent and Trademark Office (Commerce) (84.4); the John C. Stennis Space Center (NASA) (84.3), U.S. Army Audit Agency (82.9); Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (82.3); and the Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (80.9).


Overall, the report paints what it calls “a disturbing picture of federal employees throughout the government who are increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs and workplaces.” Across the federal workforce, job satisfaction and commitment level dropped for the third year in a row, falling 3 points to a score of 57.8 on a scale of 100—the lowest overall score since the rankings began in 2003, and a 7.2-point drop since 2010. Signs of the breadth of the drop abound. The 2013 data show a decline in all 10 separate workplace categories examined, and 75.4% of all agencies saw their employee satisfaction and commitment ratings drop in 2013, compared with 66% in 2012.


Surprising no one, the study results reflect the impact of the three-year federal pay freeze, work furloughs and the budget sequester, yielding the greatest drops in satisfaction in the areas of pay (-4.7 points), training and development opportunities (-3.2), and rewards and advancement (-2.2).


In contrast, private-sector employee satisfaction improved by 0.7 points in 2013 to a score of 70.7, according to a Hay Group survey.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Best Places to Work Agency Index Scores

Best Places to Work: The Big Picture

Best Places to Work: Private Sector Comparison

Worst Place to Work in U.S. Government? Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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