Which agencies reward innovation?

concept art innovation

Federal employees say they are looking for ways to improve the way they work, but many feel the agencies they work for do not support their efforts, according to a new analysis of innovation in the federal workforce by the Partnership for Public Service.

The government-wide innovation score, based on responses to three key questions on the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, is 59.4 out of a possible 100, down 2.1 points from last year, and the lowest since the Partnership first tried to measure innovation in 2010.

The Partnership looks at whether employees feel encouraged to innovate, whether innovation is rewarded, and whether employees are consistently looking for better ways to do their jobs.

The Partnership observed year-over-year declines in the answers feds gave to a set of questions about respect for agency senior leadership, perceptions of opportunities for skill acquisition and advancement, and involvement in decision making.

NASA leads all federal agencies with the highest innovation score, and the top five scoring agency subcomponents are all NASA divisions. The State, Commerce, Health and Human Services departments all received high scores, along with the Navy, the Federal Trade Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Science Foundation and the Federal Communications Commission.

The Homeland Security, Labor, Transportation, and Agriculture departments were at the bottom of the innovation rankings. And some of the steepest declines were seen at small agencies hit hardest by sequestration. The Office of Management and Budget, for example, saw its innovation score fall by 7.1 percentage points. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission's score dropped 7.9 points. Very few agencies saw their scores rise over last year, and none significantly.

"The downward government-wide trend and the negative employee views on some key workplace indicators are troubling signs for sustaining a government that is able to innovate to meet new challenges," the report observed.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


  • Defense
    Soldiers from the Old Guard test the second iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, VA in Fall 2019. Photo by Courtney Bacon

    IVAS and the future of defense acquisition

    The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System has been in the works for years, but the potentially multibillion deal could mark a paradigm shift in how the Defense Department buys and leverages technology.

  • Cybersecurity
    Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lora Ratliff)

    Mayorkas announces cyber 'sprints' on ransomware, ICS, workforce

    The Homeland Security secretary announced a series of focused efforts to address issues around ransomware, critical infrastructure and the agency's workforce that will all be launched in the coming weeks.

Stay Connected