The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to improve employee morale after it was recently ranked the worst place to work among large federal agencies, again.

The Partnership for Public Service National Archives and Records Administration’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), which polls hundreds of thousands of federal workers, gave the DHS a 44 percent score. That’s the lowest score since the agency was founded after the 9/11 attacks, and the lowest overall score of large federal agencies.

“We at DHS are not happy with our overall scores in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and we are working diligently to improve,” said Catherine Emerson, the chief human capital officer at DHS, in a statement for a House subcommittee on government operations.

Building a Better Department – One Check at a Time

The DHS, which has been at the bottom of the list for the last several years, implemented the “Building the Department You Deserve” program last year in an effort to makes its employees happier. The program involves awarding cash to several hundred workers and “honors the contributions of their employees and DHS partners,” Emerson said.

The DHS ranked last out of 18 other big agencies for “effective leadership,” “teamwork,” “training and development,” and “support for diversity.” The overall score declined from its score in 2011, when the agency was formed.

The low moral at the DHS was the subject of a congressional hearing last March. During the hearing, Texas Republican Congressman Michael McCaul said “more than 200,000 men and women whose job it is to keep Americans safe from terrorist attacks have a low level of morale, and equally as important a low level of confidence in their leadership.”

Other agencies that received poor scores in the recent survey include the Department of Veterans Affairs (54 percent), Department of the Army (54 percent) and the Environmental Protection Agency (56 percent). All these agencies had a drop from last year’s survey. Overall, job satisfaction at federal agencies dropped.

NASA Ranks top for Employee Morale

NASA was voted the best large agency for federal workers, followed by the Department of Commerce and the Department of State, in the 2014 survey.

Overall satisfaction among federal workers has decreased from 60 percent in 2003 to 56.9 percent in 2014, said John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service. Much of this discontent came from the 2013 government shutdown and sequestration, which caused budget cuts and furloughed employees.

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Chandler Harris is a freelance business and technology writer located in Silicon Valley. He has written for numerous publications including Entrepreneur, InformationWeek, San Jose Magazine, Government Technology, Public CIO,, U.S. Banker, Digital Communities Magazine, Converge Magazine, Surfer's Journal, Adventure Sports Magazine,, and the San Jose Business Journal. Chandler is also engaged in helping companies further their content marketing needs through content strategy, optimization and creation, as well as blogging and social media platforms. When he's not writing, Chandler enjoys his beach haunt of Santa Cruz where he rides roller coasters with his son, surfs and bikes across mountain ranges.