The “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” report released today highlights NASA, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Surface Transportation Board among agencies with top rankings, but it also found growing discontent among public servants.

The annual report by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte registered the largest decline in federal employee job satisfaction and commitment since the rankings were first published in 2003.
This is one in a series of reports on the 2012 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. For more news and insights on innovations at work in government, please sign up for the AOL Gov newsletter. For the quickest updates, like us on Facebook.

The government-wide job satisfaction score dropped 3.2 points, from 64 out of 100 in 2011 to 60.8 this year. While a third of the agencies and subcomponents showed gains, 66% saw their ratings fall.

“The 2012 Best Places to Work results tell a troubling, but not surprising story,” said Max Stier, the Partnership’s president and CEO. “Our nation’s public servants have sent a clear signal that all is not well. The two-year pay freeze, budget cuts and ad hoc hiring freezes are taking their toll – and this is a red flag.”

The findings, including interactive rankings and analysis can be found on the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work website.

John Palguta, the Partnership’s vice president for policy, said the findings are not about whether employees are happy, but about effective government and delivering results for the American people.

“The more engaged employees are, the more productive they will be,” Palguta said. “The fact that we are seeing decline is a warning sign.”

OMB was the most improved of all agencies, increasing by 13.3 points in the 2012 survey. The Department of Transportation was the most improved large agency with a gain of 4.1 points.

The rankings come at a time when the national news is dominated by the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, with suggestions that Congress and the White House may seek to squeeze additional concessions from the federal workforce.

Morale was also hurt by this year’s presidential campaign, during which the federal government was criticized as bloated and inefficient and promises were made to cut agencies and personnel to balance the budget, some analysts say.

Federal workers have already sacrificed an estimated $103 billion over the past two years due to a two-year pay freeze, reduced and delayed pay increases for 2013 and an increase in pension contributions for new employees.

Some of the big agencies also experienced sharp declines in employee satisfaction. The Department of Veterans Affairs suffered the biggest drop of 7.1 points among the large agencies in its overall Best Places to Work score.

Palguta attributed that score to the size of the VA – 280,000 employees, a complicated and diverse mission and higher pay for doctors and nurses in the private sector.

The rankings are based on responses to a federal survey of nearly 700,000 federal workers conducted earlier this year by the Office of Personnel Management. It included 362 federal agencies and sub components, representing 97 percent of the 2.1 million person federal workforce.

Large Agencies – Index Scores

Mid-Size Agencies – Index Scores

Small Agencies – Index Scores

Agency Subcomponents – Index Scores