ED and FSA See Staffing Declines and Dip in ‘Best Places to Work in the Federal Government’ Rankings

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) was ranked the 318th best place to work in the federal government out of 432 subcomponent agencies in 2022, according to the annual calculations by the Partnership for Public Service and the Boston Consulting Group, which also found department-wide staffing declines for the first time since 2019.

The 2022 rankings, released in early April this year, calculated that FSA had an engagement and satisfaction score of 63.7, which marks a 2.9-point decline from the office’s 2021 ranking.

The engagement and satisfaction score is calculated by looking at responses to three different questions — found in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey — which ask whether employees recommend their organization as a good place to work, how satisfied they are with their job, and how satisfied they are with their organization.

Compared to other government agencies, FSA ranked below the median engagement and satisfaction score of 69.9.

Some of the areas with the most significant decline in the 2022 rankings included:

  • Employee empowerment with respect to involvement in decision-making, which fell to a satisfaction score of 52, a 7.7-point decline 

  • Employee satisfaction with compensation, which fell to a satisfaction score of 60.7, a 6.5-point decline

  • Employee recognition for their performance, which fell to a satisfaction score of 62.5, a 5.4-point decline

  • Employee belief that their agency is achieving its mission, which fell to a satisfaction score of 79.2, a 3.8-point decline

According to the survey, FSA also saw its first staffing reduction since 2019 with a workforce size of 1,308 in 2022, which is a decline of 107 positions (or 7.6%) from the previous year.

FSA has also recently had to make do with flat funding levels that came out of the fiscal year 2023 federal budget, raising concerns over the agency’s ability to implement high-priority projects — including the FUTURE Act, the FAFSA Simplification Act, and improvements to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Recently Democrats urged their Senate colleagues to increase funding for FSA to enable the office to “implement critical programs.”

The Department of Education (ED) as a whole also saw its first staffing reduction since 2019 with a workforce size of 3,810 in 2022, a recorded decline of 363 positions (or 8.7%) from the previous year.

Among midsize agencies in the federal government, ED ranked at 19 out of the 27.

At 68.3, the department’s employee engagement and satisfaction score declined slightly from the 2021 score of 69.4, but was more than 10 points higher than its 2020 score of 57.9.

Additionally ED saw similar trends to FSA’s rankings with the department reporting a score below the median (76.7, ranking 12 out of 23 midsize agencies) for employees who believe their work is important and appreciated, and feel a sense of accomplishment from performing their job.

In the 2022 rankings, ED did see areas of increase, with employees reporting a score of 73.4 (0.9-point increase) that they believe leadership at all levels of the organization generate motivation and commitment.

The department also scored in the upper quartile — with a rank of 7 out of 23 — of employees' perception that their agency is responsive to customer service needs.


Publication Date: 4/14/2023

Robert W | 4/14/2023 8:29:12 PM

It has been sad for me personally to see in this article, quantitatively expressed, what I have witnessed over the past decade or more. It has been my experience, in these types of situations, the problem generally resides at the top of the table leadership chart and all the issues bubbling out are symptoms. Just my thoughts.

Bob Walker

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