The public sector is inherently the largest employer in most countries. This is also true for the United States. There are thousands of federal, state, and local government agencies across America. Level of employment and working condition at each agency depend on its scope and responsibilities. According to Data360, the U.S. government employed roughly 18 million people or 12.8% of the total workforce in 2000. Moreover, these figures do not take into account people who work in industries heavily tied with government.
Adequate funding is essential to the survival and proliferation of a government agency. By this logic, most federal agencies are better places to work than state and local agencies as they are sufficiently funded and bigger in size.
1) Defense Department
Among the federal institutions, the Defense Department is the biggest recipient of government funding and resources. This is understandable as agencies under the Defense Department are tasked with managing a nation's defense both at home and abroad. Since the work of taking care of the troops and the country is an admirable one, employees at these agencies tend to have very high morale. Most importantly, defense jobs are generally immune from the tough economic environment.
In term of job satisfaction, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is among the best government agencies to work for. Despite the fact that the agency is no longer as well-funded as it was in the past, the agency's main mission is very much unchanged. NASA remains the nation's greatest pioneer of scientific research and discovery. It is still very much a science lover's dream to work for NASA. If you are someone who has an aptitude for the sciences and enjoy working with technologies, the agency is probably the one place in government you would be interested in. As a matter of fact, many top engineers and scientists are former NASA interns and employees.
If you are great with numbers, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) is the perfect government agency to work for. The institution generally employs people with strong accounting and analytical skills. One gets to work and train with the country's best accountants and statisticians; the gained experience is invaluable. As the GAO is highly reputed, one's employment at the agency may lead to lucrative opportunities down the road. Additionally, GAO employees are well compensated and the work is not too demanding for a number-punching job. According to workplace community Glassdoor.com, the agency is rated 4.2 out of 5 on job satisfaction (the highest among government agencies).
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is another great place to work and learn. By nature of the agency's core responsibilities, FDIC is one government agency that actually thrives in tough economic times. The institution is tasked with insuring bank deposits and handling failed banks. The agency's office environment is known for being nontoxic and friendly. The best thing about working for the FDIC is the abundance of travel opportunities. In another word, one doesn't get stuck in an office and in Washington DC. FDIC employees get to travel around the country and gain valuable experience in the process.
Honorable mentions include Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Social Security Administration (SSA), Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Smithsonian Institution, and Department of State.
1) Jamie Anderson, Government and Public Education Employment, Data360.Org
2) GAO Reviews, Glassdoor.Com