The 15 Most Innovative Agencies in Government

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Federal employees have once again rated NASA as the agency where innovation and creativity are most rewarded

Federal employees have once again rated NASA as the agency where innovation and creativity are most rewarded, according to an annual survey of the best places to work in the federal government.

Among large federal agencies, NASA also had the highest overall employee satisfaction scores, which took into account employees’ views on agency leadership, pay, work-life balance and strategic management.

The innovation rankings were derived from responses to the Office of Personnel Management’s annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Among other questions, employees were asked whether they feel “encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things” and whether “creativity and innovation” are rewarded at their agency.

Among mid-size agencies, employees rated the Peace Corps the most innovative. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which helps negotiate union disputes, was rated the most innovation-friendly small agency.

Still, a report issued last summer found chief information officers often struggle to come up with metrics to measure innovation at their agencies. In an IBM Center for the Business of Government report, Arizona State University Associate Dean Kevin Desouza said agency CIOs should keep track of the number of ideas submitted by employees, analyze the percentage of their budgets spent on prototyping and experimenting with emerging technology and track time spent on plotting out strategic innovation rather than day-to-day operations.

According to this year’s ranking, overall federal employee job satisfaction was up slightly compared to previous years. 

But the information technology workforce may not be bouncing back so quickly.

Among “mission-critical occupations,” federal IT specialists reported the lowest employee engagement scores, according to the annual OPM survey, released in October. More than one-third of IT specialists said they don’t think their organizations can recruit top talent and fewer than half are satisfied with the training they receive on the job

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