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, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

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

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Reader comments

Fri, Apr 25, 2014

I vote for the IRS since they reward employees who don't pay their taxes with bonuses. Now that's innovative!

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