Federal workers react to agencies’ job-satisfaction rankings

December 19, 2013
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The annual report on Best Places to Work in the Federal Government is a source of pride, concern and competition among federal agencies and their workers.

This year, NASA repeated as the No. 1 agency and improved its score despite governmentwide morale hitting its lowest point in a decade. The Department of Homeland Security, a perennial bottom-dweller in the rankings, finished at the bottom again and showed further declines.

MORE: Federal workers’ job satisfaction falls, with Homeland Security Dept. ranking lowest again

On Wednesday, we asked federal workers to talk about their agencies’ rankings, as well as how employers could improve their rankings and what contributed most to their satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

People cross a street in downtown Washington, DC, on Oct. 17, one day after the deal to reopen the government. (Jewel Samad/AFP-Getty).
People cross a street in downtown Washington, DC, on Oct. 17, one day after the deal to reopen the government. (Jewel Samad/AFP-Getty).

Maryland resident Chase Donovan, who works for the Department of Health and Human Services, said his department’s role in implementing the Affordable Care Act made his job more exciting, adding that it “gave more meaning and purpose to our agency.”

Donovan said HHS could improve its scores by showing more appreciation for “the flack many of its employees are taking because of the ACA — especially because most of us DO NOT work for that program.”

He said furloughs this year negatively affected morale at his department, making the workers feel “unappreciated and unmotivated.”

Maryland resident Lowell Marshall, an employee with the Food and Drug Administration, said furloughs, across-the-board budget cuts and the 16-day government shutdown exacerbated long-standing problems with worker morale at federal agencies. He compared those workplace disruptions to a football team racking up penalties in a loss, saying it is “not the root cause [of the outcome], but they hurt.”

We encourage more federal employees to share more of their thoughts with us for possible use in the Post’s print and digital editions. Use the form below to tell us how you feel:

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Matt DeLong · December 18, 2013