Dec. 15, 2000--The majority of federal employees
say they are satisfied with their jobs, but a third annual
governmentwide employee survey shows little change in what they
think about working for the government.
In the 2000 survey, conducted by the National Partnership for
Reinventing Government (NPR) and the Office of Personnel Management,
63 percent of federal employees said they were satisfied with their
jobs. With an overall margin of error of 2 percent, that shows
little change from last year's survey, when 60 percent said they
One difference this year is that Food and Drug Administration
employees rated their agency most favorably, with 72 percent
responding they were satisfied with their jobs. NASA was the most
highly rated last year and, along with the General Services
Administration, continued to be among those most favorably rated in
the 2000 survey.
The NPR data shows the Navy as having the greatest employee
satisfaction increase from 1999, from 58 percent to 68 percent. In
1999, only 195 Navy employees responded to the survey, compared to
330 employees in 2000. The margin of error in 1999 for the Navy
results was plus or minus 7 percent. The Navy has about 175,000
Results varied at each agency with the margin of error reaching
plus or minus 9 percent at some organizations, making
agency-to-agency comparisons impossible, according to NPR.
"We're trying to benchmark what works," said NPR deputy director
John Kamensky, who managed the survey. "It's not an agency report
Comforts of Work-Life
NPR and OPM
have conducted employee surveys for the past three years. Some
21,000 federal employees in 49 agencies responded to the 2000
survey, a 42 percent response rate. The survey was sent to 51,000
employees in September 2000.
Many employees also reported agency support for work-life issues.
In 1999 and 2000, about two-thirds of those surveyed said that their
supervisors understood and supported employees' family and personal
One area where change can be seen is in Internet access. Slightly
more federal employees now have Internet access, with 6 percent more
saying they can now get online at the office. This year, 65 percent
reported they had Internet access while 16 percent said they did
not. At the State Department 25 percent reported they did not have
On the question of "Are you clear about how good performance is
defined in your agency?" some improvement--5 percent--occurred.
Thirty-one percent of respondents said the definition of good
performance is clear, compared to 26 percent on last year's survey.
That improvement, occurring in less than a year, is "significant"
according to Kamensky. But he said the government still faces a
challenge in dealing with bad performance.
In 1999, just 28 percent of respondents said managers at their
agencies dealt with poor performers effectively. This year, the
number who said poor performers were dealt with properly dropped to
Survey respondents also said that federal hiring takes too long.
Some reinvention efforts have led to changes in employee views.
For example, 8 percent more employees were aware that plain language
was being used in their agency in 2000, up from 26 percent to 34
One-third reported that reinvention was a priority in their
agency, while one-third said reinvention was not a priority. In
agencies where it was a priority, 76 percent thought their opinions
seemed to count compared to 28 percent in agencies where reinvention
was not a priority.
"They were more satisfied by a 2 to 1 margin," Kamensky said. "In
agencies where reinvention was a priority, 87 percent were satisfied
with their jobs, but only 37 percent were satisfied where
reinvention not a priority," he said.