The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, or FEVS, is out. If you’re thinking about joining the Federal workforce as a cleared professional or simply looking for a change for the better, then the FEVS’ data will be important for your decisions matrix. That’s especially true if you agree that, all things being fairly equal, there’s nothing more important than job satisfaction. That’s especially true if you’re a Baby Boomer or Generation X’er. Indeed, nearly 90 percent of those surveyed fall into one of those two categories. Generation Y was counted, too, representing about 10 percent of the data collected.

As noted in yesterday’s look, published annually, FEVS “measures employees’ perceptions of whether, and to what extent, conditions characterizing successful organizations are present in their agencies.” Good places to work are those places characterized by engaged employees who are “more innovative, more productive, more committed, more satisfied, and less likely to leave.” That’s where you want to work.


The best Fed places to work, in general, are the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Labor Relations, and, yes, the Marine Mammal Commission. Congratulations to all of them.

If you like working in the biggest organizations, then the best place to work among very large agencies—that is, the organizations with more than 75,000 people—is the Department of Justice. Justice has the highest Employee Engagement Index, or EEI. Remember, the EEI is about “conditions conducive to engagement, that is the engagement potential of an agency’s work environment.” That engagement index reports on three factors: Leaders Lead, Supervisors, and Intrinsic Work Experience.

So Justice is a place where the employees have high opinions of their managers’ integrity, Justice is a place where supervisors and employees tend to trust one another, respect one another, and support one another. Naturally, Justice is a place where employees feel motivated about their jobs and equipped to do their jobs well. That all sounds pretty good to me.

If you lean more towards big Defense, then you’re in luck, too. The Departments of Treasury, Air Force, and Navy come in second on the Employee Engagement Index among the biggest organizations. If you’re most interested in one aspect of the FEVS factors, you can get a read on organizations from that more narrow perspective. For instance, if you’re looking for a generally positive work experience among employees—that is “the employees’ feelings of motivation and competency relating to their role in the workplace”—then Justice is still on top, joined by the Department of Agriculture, Air Force, Navy, and what some might see as a surprise contender, the Department of Veterans Affairs.


If you’re more interested in the smaller-scale organizations, then you’ll find that National Aeronautics and Space Administration is on top in every category—that’s overall employee engagement, the way leaders lead their people, the way supervisors interact and work with their people, and the overall sense of motivation and competence. NASA’s one of those places where everyone from the custodians to the rocket scientists all know that, together, they’re working to put a colony on Mars. Sounds pretty good.


On down the scale, the Federal Trade Commission is top among medium-sized agencies of 1,000 to 10,000 people. And among the smallest agencies (100 to 1000 people), Federal Labor Relations is top of the Employee Engagement Index due, in part, to its apparently great leaders. The National Endowment for the Arts comes in first among medium-sized agencies for the quality of the supervisor-employee relationships and employees’ motivation. I’m not sure there are many cleared jobs there, though, unless they’re working more CIA art projects. If they’re not, maybe you could convince them?

And among those Federal agencies with fewer than 100 employees—talk about an intimate environment—look to the Marine Mammal Commission, which is not, by the way, focused on former members of the United States Marine Corp, but rather on those mammals swimming around our oceans.


Finally, if you’re one of those folks who likes to jump on the company train of an organization on its way to the top, and you want to be one of those responsible for its success, take a look at those agencies the FEVS recognizes as those with the largest increases across all the factors. For instance, Homeland Security is an up-and-comer among the largest agencies, as are the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Special Counsel, National Endowment for the Arts, the International Boundary and Water Commission, and the African Development Foundation.

Good luck in your job search. There are really all sorts of exciting places to work inside the Federal Government, and don’t forget—in many cases these agencies have offices across the United States, so it’s not just about the D.C. beltway.

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Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.