Apparently, twenty-somethings who work for the VA love their jobs.

This is among the insights in a new report from the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte based on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 2010 employee survey.

The report ranks 26 federal agencies in terms of career satisfaction and is based on the opinions of new employees under the age of 30. And the good news for government is that a majority of report high levels of overall satisfaction when it comes to their specific jobs and agencies.

At the top are the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and NASA. The Department of Housing and Urban Development fell to the bottom of the list. It netted a score of less than 70 percent satisfaction rates among young, new employees, as did the departments of Education, the Army, Agriculture and Transportation.

But while those surveyed reported high satisfaction rates within some individual agencies, the federal workforce as a whole isn’t quite as happy.

“Clearly, new professionals coming into government are satisfied,” said Tim McManus, vice president of education and outreach for the PPS. “Leadership seems to be a key driver in that satisfaction.”

In a time of budget cuts and hiring freezes and with the potential departure of large waves of retirement-eligible federal workers, the future of effective government lies in agencies’ ability to attract and retain the next generation of workers, the report suggestions. OMB estimates that 60,000 federal workers are set to retire by year’s end.

From 2006 to 2009, more than 100,000 people under 30 started a federal career, the report also states. Currently, nearly 10 percent of the federal workforce is twenty-something and at some agencies, such as the Patent and Trademark Office and Customs and Border Protection, that percentage doubles to 20 and 18 percent, respectively. These numbers signify a need for federal agencies to assess how to take advantage of the young, energetic talent they have brought on board.

However, the substantial drop in satisfaction as employees gain tenure is worrisome, especially at a time when keeping talent is critical for government.

“With emerging professionals, senior leaders tend to play a little more attention,” McManus said. “As people go along in their careers, there tends to be a disconnect. The message is, don’t stop caring about and nurturing your employees after that honeymoon period”

That message becomes more important as projected hires for the next fiscal year are down from previous years, according to the PPS. In general, the government won’t be hiring as much due to budget cuts. However, more hiring is expected within the Department of Homeland Security as well as VA due to increased demand for services as veterans return home over the next few years.

“The challenge for VA is whether they’ll be satisfied for the long haul,” McManus noted.