Employees of USDA feel better about their working conditions and leadership in the years since they posted among the worst morale of any large government agency, according to an annual survey to determine the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.”

USDA ranks 11th among the 17 largest federal departments and agencies in the 2023 appraisal, a marked improvement from the three-year span from 2018 through 2020, when its employees ranked their department next to last of the 17.

Top-rated agencies were the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services. Last among the 17 was the Social Security Administration. The annual survey is conducted by the Partnership for Public Service and Boston Consulting Group.

The report compiles employee views relating to eight workplace issues that affect workers’ engagement and satisfaction. It scores agencies on workers’ job satisfaction, whether they see their agency as a good place to work, and how they rate it as a whole.

USDA ranked even higher – from 6th to 9th – in department-wide employees’ views of its diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility and scored 9th in satisfaction with professional development opportunities. 

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Within USDA, satisfaction varied in subsidiary agencies. While the Food and Nutrition Service placed 125th among 459 components of larger departments across the government, the Foreign Agricultural Service found itself near the bottom at No. 447. 

Departmental Administration scored No. 158, Research, Education and Economics No. 244, the Food Safety and Inspection Service No. 295, Marketing and Regulatory Programs No. 297, Rural Development No. 300, the Natural Resources and Conservation Service No. 371, and the Forest Service No. 405. 

The Environmental Protection Agency placed fifth among the 26 mid-size agencies in the survey, a four-year improvement from its 20th place in 2020.

Among 30 small agencies, the Farm Credit Administration ranked fifth, with employees giving senior leadership high marks. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission placed 19th and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative came in at No. 24. The Food and Drug Administration, part of HHS, was No. 130 of the 459 departmental subcomponents government-wide.

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