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Favorability of federal agencies plummets

By Ed O'Keefe

A new major national poll regarding Americans' trust in government finds that favorable opinions of seven federal agencies have dropped significantly since the last time the survey was conducted in the late 1990s.

Pew Graphic courtesy of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

The poll, "Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor," by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press surveyed more than 2,000 Americans from mid-March to April about their opinions of government and major institutions.

Pollsters asked about 13 federal agencies, including the military and U.S. Postal Service. Compared with the last time the survey was conducted in 1997 and 1998, the Education Department's favorability rating dropped the most, by 21 percentage points to 40 percent.

Other agencies down from the late 1990s included the Food and Drug Administration (down by 17 points to 58 percent), the Social Security Administration (down 13 points to 49 percent), the Environmental Protection Agency (down 12 points to 57 percent), the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (down 12 points to 61 percent), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (down 12 points to 67 percent). The Defense Department also dropped nine points, but maintained a 67 percent approval rating.

The most popular agency was the Postal Service, with an 83 percent favorability rating, down six points from October 1997.

Opinions of the Justice Department (minus five points to 51 percent) and Department of Veterans Affairs (down two points to 57 percent) remained relatively steady.

The only two agencies to see increased popularity were the Central Intelligence Agency (52 percent, up one point) and the Internal Revenue Service (47 percent, up nine points).

Despite the lackluster results, 70 percent of Americans think the government is a good place to work and 56 percent said they would want their children to work in the public sector. All of the federal agencies polled rank better than Congress, which had a 26 percent favorability rating.

Review the full results of the poll here.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 19, 2010; 10:28 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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Comments

An impressive result for 30+ years of conservative propaganda. Talk about being on-message! Goebbels would be proud!

And we see the conservative starting to attack the government employees wearing the uniform of the US military. They started with the Westboro Baptist Church. What's the next step?

Posted by: Garak | April 19, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse


People hate the government because they feel non-whites are getting benefits they don't deserve or are not entitled to get. They hate the notion that non-white may be infringing on the entitlements that they themselves are being short-changed, and will have the compete with non-white to get.

Posted by: demtse | April 19, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

People hate the government because they feel non-whites are getting benefits they don't deserve or are not entitled to get. They hate the notion that non-white may be infringing on the entitlements that they themselves are being short-changed, and will have the compete with non-white to get.

Posted by: demtse | April 19, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

We poll things to death don't we? Great day, get a life!

Posted by: ajackson3 | April 19, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

This is more of the same. If you look at the breakdowns on the companion website, you can see that the declines in favorable views of these agencies accelerated during the eight-year G.W. Bush presidency when the Republicans converted them into ideological centers. While rising costs surely played a part, the fact is that many of these bodies simply stopped doing their jobs (like the EPA) because they were staffed based on ideology rather than expertise.

George W. Bush, the gift that keeps on giving...

Posted by: rogied25 | April 19, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I distrust the FDA as they sold out to the big pharmaceutical company for dollars. I do not know who or a name of these people who allow the poisoning of the population of this country by allowing the deadly High Fructose Corn Syrup to be place in process foods, sodas, fruit drinks, hot dogs and the list goes on and on. This poison causes many health issues and yet the corrupt official allow it go on. Now these same officials sold out for the dollar to Crestor(Astra Zeneca) poison for expanded usage to make manufactures of Crestor to make billions of dollars. Then of course the AMA union members will push the drugs for the kickback they will get. I find the FDA, many Doctors are nothing but drug pusher and no better than the ones peddling drugs on the street. This I have seen and experienced with many Doctor. For once a Doctor pushes unnecessary drugs on my family we move on and quickly. So where is our Government??? I know they have sold out for billions of bucks to aid their Corruption.

Posted by: ChefRobert | April 19, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Why is this drop a surprise? Without a George Bush catastrophe, there would be no Obama. First the people voted for the Right, then the Left, and the Left by a huge margin. What we want is RESPONSIVE, RESPONSIBLE GOVT! Right-Left-Center! We have suffered a massive economic shock, millions have lost their jobs, millions who've never been out of work are unemployed, have lost their homes, yada-yada. Why would we be in love with Govt -- that is, the whole leadership class in Govt, Education, Business, Industry, Science, etc??? The best business and Govt minds either looked the other way, didn't have a clue, or gamed the system to rob this country of its wealth to line their own pockets. WHAT WE REALLY WANT NOW IS FOR ALL OF THEM TO DROP THEIR IDEOLOGICAL KNOW-IT-ALL HUCKSTERISM AND GET BACK TO REPRESENTING US IN A FOCUSED ATTITUDE OF GOOD WILL. Anything less only scratches our itch to see them all gone.

Posted by: jcluma | April 19, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

People don't feel like they are getting their money's worth. Somehow a sense of entitlement completely washed out the "servant" in civil servant.

Posted by: eGREGie | April 19, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

How far do these anti-government yay-hoos wanna go with this? Secession? Funny how so-called "conservatives" LOVE that word!

What's missing here is context. Can we have a poll of our favorite privately run companies? A poll of our favorite churches? I have learned behind anonyminity people can get pretty negative for no good reason.

Add a black president and it's like open season for lunatics lately. Sheesh.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | April 19, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Since the tax increase of 1992, US citizens became more heavily taxed than Great Britain's citizens (for the first time in history). The amt of production (the only accurate measurement--not so-called tax cuts) removed from the economy by governments exceeded 50% for the first time in US history. Is it any wonder there is dissatisfaction?

Posted by: wpcharowhas | April 19, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

How do you trust a government that is so greedy and corrupt? A government run by big business that has no respect for human life. It has taken a long time for the American people to wake up but it is happening. Unfortunately too late because the ongoing atrocities cannot be undone. Distrust of these greedy idiots may promote caution in the future. "There is a crack in everything and that is how the light gets in."

Posted by: wildernesslight | April 20, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Score another victory for Fox "News." They systematically trash the United States day-in, day-out. An increasing number of Americans watch this trash on a regular basis and believe everything they are fed.

Did I say United States and not the US government? Yes, we are a democracy. We are the government.

How sad to see our country flushed down the toilet by a handful of increasingly wealthy and greedy people who don't want to pay their fair share of taxes.

Posted by: Roberto6 | April 22, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

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