WASHINGTON: Exploring the cosmos makes for happy employees, federal workers like to work from home like everyone else, and an agency that has struggled with low morale is showing improvement.

Those are some of the highlights of a survey released Monday of more than a million federal workers.

In a city that revolves around the federal government, the annual Best Places to Work survey is a closely watched annual event worthy of bragging rights — provided you’re one of the agencies such as NASA or the Government Accountability Office who topped the survey.

The survey uses information from the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and is produced by the Partnership for Public Service and the Boston Consulting Group.

It covers 532 federal agencies including 17 large agencies, 26 midsize agencies, 30 small agencies and 459 subcomponents. The rankings first came out in 2003, and agencies that do well are known to post the results on their websites.

NASA has held the top spot for 12 years, a fact that the agency touted on its website as the agency’s administrator, Bill Nelson, praised the staff as a “team of wizards.”

NASA topped the list of large agencies, while the Government Accountability Office — often called the “congressional watchdog” because they examine how government money is spent — topped the list of mid-size agencies. The National Indian Gaming Commission, making its first appearance on the survey, was first among small agencies.

On the opposite end of the scale, the Social Security Administration remained in last place among the 17 large agencies. Scores for the Department of State and the US Agency for International Development declined for the second year in a row putting them near the bottom in their respective categories. The Export-Import Bank of the United States was at the bottom of the small agencies category while the Federal Bureau of Prisons, with a score of 38.1 out 100, was at the bottom of the subcomponents list.

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