Is Your Agency the “Best Place to Work?”

The 2012 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings from the Partnership for Public Service indicate a decline in job satisfaction among federal employees in areas such as pay, rewards and advancement.

According to the 2012 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government analysis from the Partnership for Public Service, the satisfaction and commitment level of the federal workforce has dropped to the lowest point since 2003, when the rankings first launched.

The government-wide index score fell 5 percent, from 64 (out of 100) in 2011 to 60.8 this year. The 3.2-point drop is the largest change in the history of the rankings.

The results mirror the trends highlighted in OPM’s 2012 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings offer the most comprehensive assessment of how federal workers view their jobs and workplaces, providing insights into worker satisfaction on issues ranging from leadership and pay to teamwork and work/life balance.

Overall satisfaction is not the only area on the decline. Satisfaction with pay also dropped 4.1 points from 2011 and rewards and advancement was down 2.5 points.

The declining job satisfaction levels across the federal government come during turbulent times, with employees buffeted by many uncertainties and feeling the effects of hiring slowdowns, buyouts, increased retirements, budget constraints and a two-and-a-half year pay freeze that runs until the spring of 2013.

With that introductory information, what are the top agencies in which to work in the federal government as stated in the 2012 analysis? The top ten are:

1. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
2. Government Accountability Office
3. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (tie)
3. Smithsonian Institution (tie)
5. Federal Trade Commission
6. National Credit Union Administration
7. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
8. Office of Personnel Management
9. General Services Administration
10. Federal Communications Commission

And which are the best agencies at which to work in terms of pay? These were the top three:

  1. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  2. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  3. Office of Personnel Management

You can search to find the salaries of employees in many federal agencies. According to available data, one can see why these agencies rank highly in the realm of pay. Average salaries at these agencies (based on 2011 salary data) are:

  1. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: $113,720
  2. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: $116,225
  3. Office of Personnel Management: $71,770

See also: Average Federal Salary by Agency Size.

“The 2012 Best Places to Work results tell a troubling, but not surprising story,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO. “Our nation’s public servants have sent a clear signal that all is not well. The two year pay freeze, budget cuts and ad hoc hiring freezes are taking their toll – and this is a red flag.”

The rankings are based on responses from nearly 700,000 federal workers. They include 362 federal agencies and subcomponents, and represent 97 percent of the 2.1 million person federal workforce.

See the 2012 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report for a complete analysis of the results.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.