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NASA's employee satisfaction continues to soar, report finds

Updated 5:20 PM ET, Wed December 6, 2017

Washington (CNN) - If you're looking to enjoy working for the federal government, apply to NASA -- its employees are the happiest of any large government agency, according to a report released Wednesday that compiled government employee satisfaction data.

NASA's rankings have earned it the top spot among large federal agencies for six years in a row, with an employee engagement score, or happiness rating, of 80.9 out of 100 this year, according to rankings compiled by the Partnership for Public Service.

The survey, which polled more than 200 federal organizations and more than 480,000 federal employees, asked questions such as whether employees enjoyed their work, felt that what they do is important and were willing to put in extra time. Its release comes at a time when President Donald Trump has criticized what he sees as a bloated federal bureaucracy and called for significant budget cuts to non-defense agencies.

Overall, satisfaction rankings rose 2.1 points compared to last year, according to the report.

"The steady increase in employee engagement, which we define as the satisfaction and commitment of federal workers and their willingness to put forth discretionary effort to achieve results, follows a concerted effort by agencies across government to improve how employees view their leaders, supervisors and work experience," an analysis released as part of the report says.

Other top large agencies include the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Commerce. The Government Accountability Office and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation lead among midsize agencies when it comes to employee satisfaction.

You'd probably be less happy working at the Department of Homeland Security, which takes last place among the 18 large agencies. The DHS is followed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of the Air Force as the worst large agencies to work for. The DHS's score, however, rose 6.2 points from last year, the most of any large agency, boosted by improved morale at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which saw the highest spike in satisfaction of all the agencies surveyed.

The lowest-scoring office to work in? The United States Secret Service, which is part of DHS and has been marred by leadership shakeups. The second-lowest-ranked bureau is the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education.

Meanwhile, the State Department, which has been hobbled by vacancies in many leadership positions and has publicly acknowledged a "morale issue," dropped the most significantly among large agencies.

The Justice Department and FBI -- which have been the frequent targets of criticism from Trump -- also saw drops in satisfaction, as did the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been the focus of significant policy changes since Trump took office. The three surveyed bureaus that experienced the sharpest decrease in employee satisfaction are part of the EPA and are tasked with drafting and enforcing environmental policies.

Large agencies refer to those with more than 15,000 employees, while midsize ones comprise of at least 1,000 workers. Smaller agencies and subcomponents of larger departments also were polled, but some smaller organizations did not respond in time for the report's release.


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