NASA Tops List of Innovative Agencies

Which agencies rank best and worst for innovation? Here are the results of a recent survey.

Is there innovation in government? Which agencies are the most innovative?

The Partnership for Public Service and the Hay Group apparently wanted to know.

They concluded that there is innovation in the federal government but plenty of room for improvement. They came up with an overall “government-wide innovation score” of 63 percent favorable. To arrive at this score, they built upon the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings. From this, they took the three survey questions that they concluded reflected employee opinions on innovation.

Using this method, they concluded that 91 percent of federal employees are looking for ways to perform their jobs better. On the other hand, only 39 percent believe innovation and creativity are rewarded in the federal workplace.

Looking at the survey results, they concluded that these conditions lead to more innovation in agencies: 

  • Employees are recognized for providing high-quality products and services
  • Employees are given real opportunities to improve their skills
  • Employees are involved in decisions that affect their work
  • Employees are given a sense of personal empowerment with respect to work processes
  • Employees are provided with opportunities to demonstrate their leadership skills
  • Leaders work to gain employees’ respect


So which agencies do well in this survey and which ones do not?

NASA is at the top of the list. Coincidentally, it is one of the few federal agencies that is actually getting smaller as employees are being let go now that the shuttle program is finished and the Obama administration has killed off plans for a newer version of the shuttle. 

NASA is followed closely by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and, in something of a surprise as the agency is not a scientific agency, the General Services Administration. The Department of State and Department of the Army rounded out the top five.

The winner of the race to the bottom: the Securities and Exchange Commission. It beat out the Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

You can review the entire list of agency rankings

What do you think? Are innovation and creativity rewarded in your agency? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47