According to, the worst large federal agency to work at is the Department of Homeland Security. The second worst large federal agency to work at is the Department of Veteran Affairs, while the Department of Labor is the third worst.

The best, according to the ranking, is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), followed by the Intelligence Community, and the Department of State.

The ranking service highlights "effective leadership" as being crucial to workplace satisfaction. "Many issues influence how employees view their workplace and rate their satisfaction, but the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte, with support from Hay Group, run an analysis to determine which factors are the most important," reports "Effective leadership has emerged as the key driver every year since the rankings launched in 2003, followed by a match between agency mission and employee skills. The third most important factor, satisfaction with pay, emerged for the first time in 2010, replacing work/life balance as a key element for overall satisfaction and commitment."

The head of the Department of Homeland Security, the lowest rated large federal agency, is Janet Napolitano.

The agencies with the sharpest decline from last year, in terms of work environment, were the Department of Veteran Affairs and Justice Department.

"While it was a challenging year for most agencies, some lost far more footing than others. Of the large agencies, employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs expressed the biggest decrease in satisfaction, with a drop of 7.1 points, from 63.8 in 2011 to 56.7 this year," reports "It was followed by the Department of Justice with a 4.5-point decline. The biggest drop for a mid-sized agency was the National Labor Relations Board, whose score fell 7.5 points. The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) had the largest declines among small agencies last year and again in 2012. FMC dropped by 21.9 points and USTR dropped by 15 points."

The State Department praised the veracity of the ratings. "Best Places to Work is the most comprehensive assessment of how federal employees perceive their jobs and agencies, providing insights into issues ranging from leadership to pay, to teamwork, and work-life balance," read a statement from the State Department press secretary.

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