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Education Department Still Lags in Employee Satisfaction

The U.S. Department of Education still ranks near the bottom of the list of big federal agencies when it comes to employee job satisfaction, at least according to a survey released last week by the non-profit Partnership for Public Service.

But it seems that the department's employees are a tiny bit happier than they were on the same survey last year.

Out of 32 large federal agencies surveyed about issues such as leadership effectiveness, work/life balance, and pay, the Education Department came in 30th. Last year, on the same survey, the department ranked 27th out of 30.

Still, the department's overall score improved a little, going up 1.6 points, for a total score of 57.3 The absolute happiest place in the government, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, had a score of 81.8 on the same survey. And the "most improved agency," the U.S. Department of Transportation, went up a whopping 15.8 points to 60.4.

The rankings relied on a survey administered by the Office of Personnel Management in February and March of this year. The Smithsonian and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation were added this year.

Last year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who hadn't been in office for more than a few months when the survey results were released, took the department's poor showing as a challenge to improve working conditions. He sent out a memo saying that he wanted to change the culture of the department.

"Coming in 27th out of 30 federal agencies in this new report is not where I want the department to be," Secretary Duncan wrote in an email to employees in May 2009. "The current findings suggest that people don't feel they are being listened to, and I expect our leadership and our managers to take responsibility for changing that. We need to make sure management understands your concerns and works to address them."

And, later that same week, he told reporters at a Washington Press Club event that he wanted folks to hold him accountable if the department didn't rise in the rankings.

So, what do you think? Is a 1.6 point improvement enough for Adequate Yearly Progress? Or do Duncan & Co. still have more to do?

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