How Trump Can Engage Federal Workers

If you want to work for the federal government, the best place to be is NASA. The worst is Homeland Security. So says the latest annual survey of federal workers by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte, which ranks 379 federal agencies by employee satisfaction.

Among the federal government’s largest agencies, here are the best and worst places to work, according to employees:

Best places to work in the federal government

  1. NASA
  2. Commerce
  3. Intelligence Community
  4. State Department
  5. Department of Health and Human Services

Worst places to work in the federal government

  1. Air Force
  2. Department of the Treasury
  3. Army
  4. Veterans Affairs
  5. Department of Homeland Security

Trump has, for example, chosen Oklahoma Attorney General and noted climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, billionaire and charter school activist Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education, and Texas Governor Rick Perry to run the Department of Energy (an agency he said he wanted to abolish). Things might already be off to a rocky start at the Department of Energy, which reportedly received a list of 74 questions from the Trump transition team, including a request to identify employees and contractors who have worked on climate change.  Department of Energy employees refused to comply.

Nevertheless, says Mallory Barg Bulman, director of research and evaluation at the Partnership for Public Service, Trump’s team can take steps now to ensure that the 2.1 million federal workers under his charge are as engaged as they can be. Bulman recommends, for example, that Trump meet with the members of the Senior Executive Service at the White House during his first 100 days in office. She also recommends that Trump quickly fill the 4,000 political appointments (including the 1,100 that require Senate confirmation) so that career employees aren’t left in limbo without leadership.

She also recommends that Trump shift some of his rhetoric. Trump needs to “communicate the value of the federal workforce,” says Bulman.  “Federal employees are responsible for keeping our nation safe, healthy, and thriving. Negative rhetoric about the federal workforce is damaging to employee engagement.”

The Trump administration may have a great deal of work ahead.

Yasmine Askari

Yasmine Askari is an intern at the Washington Monthly.