Can You Guess America's Favorite Federal Agency?

Douglas A. McIntyre

The reputation of the federal government is often rated poorly. Members of Congress get poor grades too. However, the reputations of federal government agencies vary widely. One of the most troubled agencies, financially, recently was rated as doing the best job for Americans.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been plagued by losses and complaints that it is too large in an age when private companies like UPS and FedEx deliver many packages and letters. The head of the USPS has even questioned if the decades-old practice of daily mail delivery is even necessary. A new poll shows that these issues apparently do not affect how Americans view the USPS. Among a list of government agencies in a recent Gallup poll, Americans said it does a better job than any other.

Gallup researchers looked at 13 high visibility federal agencies and departments. These were rated “excellent/good,” “only fair” or “poor” when the polling company asked about how well they do their jobs. The authors of the study wrote, “The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) remains the top-rated agency, with 74% saying it is doing an “excellent” or “good” job. This conforms with its No. 1 status in all prior years Gallup measured it, including 2014, 2017 and 2018.”

Next on the list, following the USPS, the Secret Service got an “excellent/good” rating from 69% of those questioned. The Centers Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was next at 64%, and then two agencies that get 60% “excellent/good” ratings: the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Several agencies did very poorly. At the bottom of the list of 13 agencies mentioned in the poll, the Veteran’s Administration got “excellent/good” ratings from only 39% of respondents. Also at the bottom of the list, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was rated “excellent/good” by 43%.

Summing up the problems that agencies at the bottom of the list suffer, the authors of the study wrote, “However, although most of the federal organizations tested are viewed positively by Americans, some key ones — namely the Department of Veterans’ affairs, the EPA and the FDA — have work to do to repair perceptions that their operations are subpar.”

The U.S. Postal Service, now 244 years old, has no such perception problem, even though the U.S. government has the worst reputation of any organization in America.

Departments and Agencies Excellent/Good Only fair Poor
U.S. Postal Service 74% 18% 8%
Secret Service 69% 19% 8%
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 64% 22% 12%
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 60% 25% 12%
NASA 60% 26% 5%
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 57% 23% 19%
Department of Homeland Security 55% 26% 17%
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 52% 29% 16%
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 50% 30% 19%
Federal Reserve Board 48% 34% 13%
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 44% 33% 22%
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 43% 30% 26%
Veterans Administration (VA) 39% 31% 28%