May22200910:46 am

Best places to work in the government ‘09

The long-awaited 2009 rankings for the best places to work in the federal government are out! Sadly, because he’s now out of office, the bureau that coordinates Dick Cheney Wrangling is no longer eligible for consideration.

The State Department ranks as the 5th best place to work on the large agency scale. It scored very high in such subcategories as Strategic Management, Teamwork, and Effective Leadership (ranked third in all of these), but not so high in the Pay and Benefits and Family Friendly Culture and Benefits areas (17th and 26th, respectively).

I thought USAID hadn’t even made the list, until I realized it was listed in the small agency category, where it ranked 15th. I was actually kind of shocked that USAID, a well-known agency with such broad programmatic reach, would qualify as a ’small’ agency. Maybe I’m naive (or more likely uninformed) but I always envisioned USAID as on par in size and scope with the State Department. Apparently not.

This misunderstanding was then brought into sharp relief when I later came across this little tidbit about the FY 2010 budget request for USAID:

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s operating expenses budget would jump to $1.4 billion, 60 percent over enacted 2009 levels.

I knew that USAID was underfunded and understaffed and that a goal of the Obama administration is to greatly increase its capacity, but damn. When your new budget will “only” be $1.4 billion (compare that with the $533.7 billion FY10 request from the Defense Department) and that $1.4 billion is a 60 percent (!) increase from last year…well, I guess you’re not as big of an agency as I thought you were. Maybe USAID’s best-place-to-work-ranking will improve next year once it actually gets some money to do some stuff.

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3 Responses to “Best places to work in the government ‘09”

  1. Rachel says:

    “Maybe I’m naive (or more likely uninformed) but I always envisioned USAID as on par in size and scope with the State Department. Apparently not.”

    USAID is part of the State Department. Isn’t it a bit irresponsible for you to present yourself as an expert on “careers in international education, exchange, and development” and not know this?

  2. Mark Overmann Mark Overmann says:

    As far as I can tell, Rachel, while the USAID administrator does report to the Secretary of State, USAID is operationally independent of the State Department. From the USAID website (http://www.usaid.gov/about_usaid/):

    “The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency that receives general direction and overall foreign policy guidance of the Secretary of State.”

    Also, from State’s Department Organization fact sheet (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/rls/dos/436.htm):

    “Although the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) remains an independent agency following the reorganization of the foreign affairs agencies in 1999 in which the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the United States Information Agency (USIA) were merged into the Department of State, USAID receives general direction and overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary.”

    I appreciate your position that the authors of a blog like ours should try to be “right” all the time—I’m doubtful, though, that this is possible, even for the most well-informed. Sherry and I don’t pretend that we know all there is to know about careers in international education, exchange, and development. Rather, our goal is to lead an ongoing discussion and examination of what it means to start and chart a career in these fields, including the gray areas.

  3. [...] noted on Friday that, while the State Department ranked a high fifth in the ‘09 rankings of best places to [...]

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