Worst Federal Agency to Work For: Newcomer Ousts Usual Suspects

Monday, November 21, 2011
Tara O'Toole
The results of the annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey are in and, in an upset, a newcomer, the Office of Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has taken the title of Worst Place to Work in the U.S. Government. With a score of 37.0, it bumped aside last year’s worst, the Office of Postsecondary Education (39.7). Created in 1998, the OCPO is responsible for all of HUD’s contracted goods and services.
Produced by the Partnership for Public Service, the survey is based on responses from more than 276,000 federal employees in 308 agencies and subcomponents.
Other low scores were recorded by the Office of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology in the Department of Homeland Security (41.0), the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (45.5), and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer of the Office of Personnel Management (47.0).
The survey brings together scores in a variety of categories, including pay, work/life balance, teamwork and leadership. It also provides separate rankings in each of these categories. The number of people from the OCPO who responded was too small to allow data to be presented in the leaders category, which is a possible break for Jemine Bryon, who is HUD’s Chief Procurement Officer.
Instead, the lowest leaders score (31.8) went to the Office of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology, which is led by Under Secretary Tara O’Toole. A controversy arose during O’Toole’s confirmation hearing in 2009 when it was discovered that she had failed to disclose her role as an adviser to the Alliance for Biosecurity, a lobbying organization funded by the pharmaceutical industry, which, along with O’Toole, had been urging the government to increase funding for biodefense vaccines. The Department of Homeland Security claimed that the disclosure was unnecessary because the lobbying group did not legally exist since it wasn’t incorporated.
At the other end of the scale—the good end—the Surface Transportation Board, which regulates the railroad industry’s rates, disputes and planned mergers, retained first place with a score of 91.0. It was followed by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (89.3), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) (85.9), the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of Department of Justice (81.5), and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (81.4).
The best leader rankings were earned by Daniel Elliott of the Surface Transportation Board (85.7) and Peter Winokur of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (79.2). Credit also goes to Carol Waller Pope (76.3), chair of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRC). The FLRC was rated the worst agency in the government three years in a row, but since Barack Obama took over the presidency and elevated Pope to chair, the agency has risen dramatically in the rankings.
-David Wallechinsky

Worst Federal Agency to Work For…Office of Postsecondary Education (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov) 


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