NASA most innovative agency for 5th straight year

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NASA continues to rake in honors for its workforce practices.

Not only is the agency the best place in government to work, according to the Partnership for Public Service, it’s also the most innovative for five years running.

The Partnership released its fifth annual “Best Places to Work in Federal Government” innovation analysis for 2014 on Wednesday. And each year since the index was launched in 2010, NASA has scored as the most innovative in the “Large Agencies” category.

Despite a decline in the governmentwide innovation score — from 59.4 out of 100 in 2013, to 58.9 in 2014 — NASA’s innovation score increased by nearly a point to 76.7 last year.

NASA’s regional space centers are also doing something right, according to the analysis. They took four of the top five rankings in the report’s “Subcomponents” category.

The innovations scores are calculated based on responses to three statements pulled from the Office of Personnel Management’s 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey: “I feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things,” “Creativity and innovation are rewarded” and “I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better.”

So what does NASA do so well? It empowers its employees by rewarding them for creativity, innovation and taking risks, according to the report. Specifically, it recognizes innovation through awards, like the Lean Forward, Fail Smart Award, given to those who are “responsible risk takers,” according to the agency.

Elsewhere in government, while nearly 90 percent of the workforce “said they are constantly looking for ways to do their jobs better,” the report said, “only 32.7 percent believe creativity and innovation are rewarded in their organization and just 54.1 percent feel encouraged to come up with new ways to do their work, responses that should serve as a wake-up call to government leaders.”

That means that though the workforce may be motivated to think outside of the box, there’s little incentive to risk doing so.

“Overall, the data suggests employees do not feel empowered in their work and are not being recognized for their efforts, two underlying conditions that need to change for an innovative culture to flourish,” the report states.

For medium-sized agencies, the Federal Trade Commission was the most innovative, and for small agencies, the Surface Transportation Board scored best.

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A ranking of the most innovative agencies in federal government. (Partnership for Public Service)

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Agencies, Government IT News, Innovation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Partnership for Public Service
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