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December 27, 2013

NOAA gets low grades among fed workplaces

Employee satisfaction at agency has been slipping since 2009

NOAA’s strategic management has received a scathing review in the most recent survey of federal worker satisfaction, and the agency’s overall standing among its employees declined for the fifth consecutive year in which the survey has been conducted.

The survey, conducted by The Partnership for Public Service, ranked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at No. 157 out of the 300 federal agency subcomponents, with an employee satisfaction index score of 58.5 out of 100. Subcomponents are agencies within large agencies — such as NOAA within the Department of Commerce — and must have at least 100 full-time permanent employees to participate in the survey.

NOAA’s index score, which represents employee satisfaction with an agency’s overall performance, represents a decline of 5.1 points from 2012 and an 11.9-point fall from 2009, when NOAA ranked among the very best places to work within the federal government.

The 2013 survey results paint a very different picture than that of 2009, showing declines in the employee satisfaction score in every one of the 13 categories but Alternative Work and Employee Support Programs. The score in that category rose to 74.4 from 73.2 in 2012 but still left the agency ranked 27th among the 47 federal agencies with comparable programs.

The survey results particularly reflect a continuing trend of disenchantment among NOAA’s employees with the agency’s leadership, which has been a study in instability and upheaval for more than five years, beginning with the tumultuous term of Administrator Jane Lubchenco and into the current term of Kathryn Sullivan.

The employee satisfaction score for the agency’s strategic management fell to 48.9, placing it at No. 234 among 300 federal agency subcomponents and representing a decline of 21.8 percent from the high water score of 62.5 in 2009.

The employee score for the effective leadership of the agency’s senior leaders was even worse, coming in at a woeful 39.5 for a ranking of 249th, but that was just the tip of the iceberg of disenchantment.

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