Methodology

The Partnership for Public Service created the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings to provide a comprehensive rating of employee engagement across federal government agen cies and their subcomponents. We use the term employee engagement to refer to the satisfaction and commitment of the workforce and the willingness of employees to put forth discretionary effort to achieve results.

The 2016 Best Places to Work rankings include 379 federal organizations: 18 large federal agencies, 27 midsize agencies, 29 small agencies and 305 subcomponents. We group agencies by workforce size to provide comparisons of agencies that may face similar management challenges in terms of numbers of employees and locations. Large agencies are those organizations with more than 15,000 employees. Agencies with 1,000 to 14,999 employees are included in the midsize category. Small agencies are those with at least 100 but fewer than 1,000 employees.

View List of Participating Agencies


The vast majority of the data used to develop these rankings were collected by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) through its Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The survey was administered April through June 2016 to permanent executive branch employees and was completed by 407,789 federal workers, for a response rate of 45.8 percent, which declined by 3.9 points from 2015. (Visit OPM’s website to learn more about the FEVS methodology.)

The Best Places to Work rankings also include responses from more than 14,000 additional employees at 12 agencies that were surveyed at the same time and had a response rate of more than 50 percent. The Architect of the Capitol, Congressional Budget Office, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Government Accountability Office, Government Publishing Office, Peace Corps, Smithsonian Institution, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Office of the Inspector General at the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the U.S. Army Audit Agency provided data from their own surveys. In addition, the rankings incorporate responses from employees of the intelligence community, which conducted its own similar survey but did not report the number of respondents because it is classified.

The OPM data were weighted to represent all federal employees on demographic characteristics such as age, gender, race, supervisory status, agency size and occupation. The survey results have a margin of error of plus or minus one percent.

The Best Places to Work statistical model, developed with CFI Group in 2003, is based on the same methodology used in CFI Group’s American Customer Satisfaction Index. The Best Places to Work index is calculated based on the percentage of positive responses to three workplace satisfaction questions and is weighted according to a proprietary formula developed with Hay Group in 2007.

The workplace environment scores are calculated by averaging the percentage of positive responses to questions in 10 categories, including effective leadership, employee skills–mission match, pay and work–life balance. We use regression analysis to determine the categories with the most influence on the Best Places to Work engagement score.

The Partnership would like to thank OPM for its excellent administration of its employee survey, without which the Best Places to Work rankings would not be possible.


FEVS Questions by Best Places to Work Category

Click on the links below to see the category rankings by agency.

Best Places to Work Category 2016 FEVS Question Question #
Best Places to Work Index I recommend my organization as a good place to work. 40
Best Places to Work Index Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your job? 69
Best Places to Work Index Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your organization? 71
Effective Leadership: Empowerment Employees have a feeling of personal empowerment with respect to work processes. 30
Effective Leadership: Empowerment How satisfied are you with your involvement in decisions that affect your work? 63
Effective Leadership: Fairness I can disclose a suspected violation of any law, rule or regulation without fear of reprisal. 17
Effective Leadership: Fairness Arbitrary action, personal favoritism and coercion for partisan political purposes are not tolerated. 37
Effective Leadership: Senior Leaders In my organization, senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce. 53
Effective Leadership: Senior Leaders My organization’s senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. 54
Effective Leadership: Senior Leaders I have a high level of respect for my organization’s senior leaders. 61
Effective Leadership: Senior Leaders How satisfied are you with the information you receive from management on what’s going on in your organization? 64
Effective Leadership: Supervisor My supervisor provides me with opportunities to demonstrate my leadership skills. 43
Effective Leadership: Supervisor Discussions with my supervisor about my performance are worthwhile. 44
Effective Leadership: Supervisor Supervisors in my work unit support employee development. 47
Effective Leadership: Supervisor Overall, how good a job do you feel is being done by your immediate supervisor? 52
Employee Skills–Mission Match My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment. 4
Employee Skills–Mission Match I like the kind of work I do. 5
Employee Skills–Mission Match My talents are used well in the workplace. 11
Employee Skills–Mission Match I know how my work relates to the agency’s goals and priorities. 12
Employee Skills–Mission Match The work I do is important. 13
Innovation I feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things. 3
Innovation I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better. 8
Innovation Creativity and innovation are rewarded. 32
Pay Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your pay? 70
Performance-Based Rewards and Advancement My performance appraisal is a fair reflection of my performance. 15
Performance-Based Rewards and Advancement Promotions in my work unit are based on merit. 22
Performance-Based Rewards and Advancement Employees are recognized for providing high-quality products and services. 31
Performance-Based Rewards and Advancement Creativity and innovation are rewarded. 32
Performance-Based Rewards and Advancement How satisfied are you with the recognition you receive for doing a good job? 65
Performance-Based Rewards and Advancement How satisfied are you with your opportunity to get a better job in your organization? 67
Strategic Management My work unit is able to recruit people with the right skills. 21
Strategic Management The skill level in my work unit has improved in the past year. 27
Strategic Management The workforce has the job-relevant knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish organizational goals. 29
Strategic Management Managers review and evaluate the organization’s progress toward meeting its goals and objectives. 57
Support for Diversity Policies and programs promote diversity in the workplace (for example, recruiting minorities and women, training in awareness of diversity issues, mentoring). 34
Support for Diversity My supervisor is committed to a workforce representative of all segments of society. 45
Support for Diversity Supervisors work well with employees of different backgrounds. 55
Teamwork The people I work with cooperate to get the job done. 20
Teamwork Employees in my work unit share job knowledge with each other. 26
Teamwork Managers promote communication among different work units (for example, about projects, goals, needed resources). 58
Training and Development I am given a real opportunity to improve my skills in my organization. 1
Training and Development I have enough information to do my job well. 2
Training and Development My training needs are assessed. 18
Training and Development How satisfied are you with the training you receive for your present job? 68
Work–Life Balance I have sufficient resources (for example, people, materials, budget) to get my job done. 9
Work–Life Balance My workload is reasonable. 10
Work–Life Balance My supervisor supports my need to balance work and other life issues. 42