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Eye Opener: Best Places to Work 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! The eagerly anticipated Best Places to Work 2009 survey has landed and for the second consecutive time, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency tops the list, closely followed by the Government Accountability Office, NASA and the State Department. Down at the bottom: Department of Transportation, followed by the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security.

"What separates these agencies in the minds of their employees is often the senior leadership, how well or poorly it shares information with subordinates, and the training and opportunities it provides workers," The Post's Steve Vogel reports today.

"Despite a general rise in federal workers' job satisfaction over the past two years, the survey of 212,000 workers last summer found that the government consistently lagged behind the private sector in several important measures of worker contentment -- most significantly, superiors' leadership skills, openness and willingness to help their employees advance their careers.

"Fewer than half of federal workers, 48 percent, are satisfied with the information they receive from superiors about what is happening in their organizations, a number that trails the private sector by 18 percentage points. Overall, 66 percent of federal workers think their immediate supervisors are doing a good job, eight points less than in the private sector."

Roughly 212,000 of the roughly 2 million federal employees responded to the survey, conducted by the Office of Personnel Management and then analyzed and released by the Partnership for Public Service. While the sample size isn't nearly large enough to get a good sampling across the federal bureaucracy, it's as close as realistically possible (at least at this point) to surveying the federal workforce. OPM has conducted the survey every second since 2003 in the late summer and releases the data the following Spring. Individual agencies perform their own surveys in the intervening years, but differing methodologies make the results difficult to compare. This year's results -- delayed by more than six months from when they were taken -- will only revive the calls to make the workplace scorecard an annual occurrence.

The survey measures more than than 260 large agencies, small agencies and agency subcomponents, such as regional offices or divisions on a 100-point scale by using ten elements that help identify an agency's employee satisfaction and engagement. (Click here for detailed descriptions of each.)

Some other interesting observations as provided by The Post's polling guru Jennifer Agiesta:

• Across large agencies, average scores were highest on measures of the match between employee skills and agency mission (78.5) followed by fostering teamwork (71.7), with the lowest average scores achieved on leadership/fairness (45.5), awards and acknowledgment (46.8), family friendliness (47.2) and leadership/sub-leader (47.5).

• State Department employees rate the agency highly across measures of leadership, training, teamwork, and matching skills to mission, but fall much nearer the bottom on family friendliness, pay/benefits and work/life balance.

• Though the Dept. of Education falls near the bottom in terms of overall rank, its employees rate it above average on family friendliness, pay and benefits and work-life balance.

• The Department of Commerce was above average across all indexes (though not significantly on the skill/mission match index) despite being ranked 10th overall. Only two other agencies were above the average score on every measure, and they were in the top 3 -- the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and NASA.

• Only four of the large agencies surveyed fell below the average on every single measure used to create the index: the Small Business Administration, Department of Homeland Security, National Archives and Department of Transportation.

Also: Read Joe Davdison's take on the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency that took the biggest plunge.

Here's a look at some of the data, visit the Best Places to Work Web site to dig deep into the details and check back later today for a recap of this morning's awards ceremony at the Reagan Building.

Cabinet and Staff News: OK, she's not quite staff or Cabinet-level, but are the First Lady's fashion choices helping revive J. Crew? Lisa Jackson does "The Daily Show." Hillary Clinton pledges more aid to Pakistan. Obama's CTO nominee offers some (read: few) thoughts on his new role. Janet Napolitano admits legalization of illegal immigrants is a tough sell amid the economic downturn. She also gets profiled as a potential SCOTUS nominee. Various personnel moves at State and DOD. Commuter airline safety worries Obama's FAA nominee.

In other news...

Today's Big Events: President Obama attends the first public meeting of the Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board since it was announced in February. Also: Tammy Duckworth gets sworn in today by her boss Eric K. Shinseki at 8:30 a.m. at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. More events here.

A New Regulator for Financial Products?: The administration is actively discussing the creation of a regulatory commission to protect consumers of financial products, possibly including mortgages and mutual funds.

Documents About Lost E-Mail Can Stay Secret: A federal appeals courts has ruled that the White House does not have to make public internal documents examining the potential disappearance of e-mails during the administration of President George W. Bush.

A Blue-Ribbon Adviser With a Gray-Area Role: What exactly is Paul Volcker doing to help guide Obama's economic agenda?

Immigration Change or Continuity?: The Homeland Security Secretary has reviewed the following Bush-era immigration policies.

Agencies Plan to Issue Most Stimulus Contracts Competitively: This according to the economic stimulus progress reports they submitted on Monday.

DOD Clearances Issued Faster, but Not Fast Enough: It's coming close to the goal, according to GAO, with 90 percent of civilian employees and military service members getting their initial clearances within 124 days on average.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 20, 2009; 5:58 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
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Posted by: Archarito | May 20, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Archarito, you are posting this same thing over and over on all the comments section today. You are stuck in the past like the rest in your party and have to repeat lies in order to feel good. Get real, get a life. Try posting comments that relate to the subject at hand...that is if you are capable of reading the subject at hand. Stupid is as stupid does.

Posted by: clairevb | May 20, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Judicial and legislative employees are not included in the survey, correct?

Posted by: Epigon | May 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Archarito- he provided the birth certificate.

And how was your posting relevant?

Posted by: redraiderette | May 20, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the USPS, either.
Too bad, it would have kept another agency from the bottom.

Posted by: shmutz | May 20, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

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