This year’s version of the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey reflected long-expressed praises and complaints about the federal workplace, although overall positive scores continued to inch up, in part reflecting agency responses to results of that survey over the years.

The highest positive response, from 96 percent of respondents, was to a question asking whether they are willing to put in the extra effort when needed to get a job done. Ninety-one percent said their work is important, the same percentage said they are always looking for ways to do their work better, and 83 percent said they like what they do, and the same percentage had positive views of the their unit’s quality of work.

However, the nearly 500,000 employees who responded to the survey conducted in the spring have a far dimmer view of the payoff of their efforts. The highest negative response, 47 percent, was to a question asking whether pay depends on how well employees perform their jobs, and 36 percent disagreed that promotions are based on merit while the same percentage disagreed that differences in performance are recognized in a meaningful way. Meanwhile 42 percent said steps are not taken to deal with poor performers in their work units.

Of the 84 questions asked on the survey, OPM said, 64 improved by at least 1 percentage point from the 2016 survey and over half increased by 2 percentage points or more. “These findings are an indication that the sustained efforts agencies have made to improve engagement, and employee satisfaction and inclusion are being recognized by the federal workforce,” it said.

By agency, HHS ranked at the top among very large agencies in the index of overall employee satisfaction at 71 percent positive; NASA among large agencies at 80 percent; the SEC among medium sized agencies at 82 percent; the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service among small agencies at 87 percent; and the Marine Mammal Commission among very small agencies at 92 percent.