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 agencies 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 2019 Best Places to Work rankings include 490 federal agencies and their subcomponents: 17 large agencies, 25 midsize agencies, 28 small agencies and 420 subcomponents. We group agencies by workforce size to provide comparisons of agencies that may face similar management challenges. Large agencies are those organizations with 15,000 or more 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. Subcomponents—the subagencies, bureaus, divisions, centers and offices within agencies—need to have at least 100 employees to be included in the rankings. The number of employees was determined by using OPM’s FedScope database at the end of fiscal 2018 unless otherwise noted.
The majority of the data used to develop these rankings was collected by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) through its Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The survey was administered as a census to all full-time and part-time, permanent, nonseasonal executive branch employees between May and July 2019. It was completed by 615,395 federal workers, for a response rate of 42.6%, a 2.0-point increase from 2018. Visit OPM’s website to learn more about the FEVS methodology.
The rankings also include responses from 268,400 additional employees at 10 agencies who were surveyed at the same time and had a response rate of more than 50%. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Government Accountability Office, Peace Corps, Smithsonian Institution, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Office of the Inspector General at the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Office of the Inspector General at the United States Postal Service provided data from their own surveys. In addition, the rankings incorporate responses from employees at the nation’s intelligence agencies, which conducted a similar survey but did not report the number of respondents. For the second year in a row, the Department of Veterans Affairs did not participate in the 2019 FEVS and instead administered its own internal survey. Since the VA’s survey included the three questions needed to calculate an agency’s Best Places to Work employee engagement score, the department is included in our rankings. However, like other agencies that conduct their own surveys, we have not included the VA’s data in the calculation of the 2019 government-wide score. The OPM data was 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 1.0%.
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 engagement score is calculated based on the percentage of positive responses to three workplace engagement questions and is weighted according to a proprietary formula developed with Hay Group in 2007.
The workplace category scores are calculated by averaging the percentage of positive responses to questions across 10 aspects of the employee experience, including effective leadership, employee skills–mission match, pay, and work–life balance. The percentage of positive responses is calculated by dividing the number of employees who answered a question positively by the total number of employees who completed the survey. This differs from OPM’s methodology, which divides the number of employees who answered a question positively by the number of employees who answered that particular question. Because of this difference, the percentage of positive responses to a question calculated by the Partnership may be slightly lower than what is calculated by OPM. The Partnership and BCG 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.