USA: Office of Naval Research Outranks Peers in 2011 ‘Best Places to Work’ Survey


Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced Nov. 23, it ranked 29th in a subcategory of the recently released “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” survey.

ONR’s placement among the 208 organizations ranked in the agency subcomponents category makes it not only a best place to work in the federal government, but also the best place to work in the Department of the Navy.

ONR, whose 3,122 civilian employees include the Naval Research Laboratory, scored 71.8 on the 2011 Best Places list released Nov.16. The intensely studied Best Places survey is based on responses from more than 266,000 federal employees and 308 government agencies and subcomponents using data from the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

Federal organizations were grouped into three broad categories: large agencies, small agencies and agency subcomponents. Employees were asked to score categories, such as effective leadership; skills/mission match; pay; and work/life balance. Published by the Partnership for Public Service, the survey is used by senior leaders to measure and improve employee satisfaction and commitment.

ONR’s talent manager Will Brown, who assists ONR in developing highly skilled workers, said he was not surprised by the organization’s consistent ranking on the Best Places list.

“Some of the best and brightest people in America work at ONR. We realize that and treat them accordingly,” Brown said of the organization that employs the majority of the Department of the Navy’s scientists and engineers. “We allow our people flexibility and independence to get their jobs done and support them in those efforts. We give great people a chance to do great things for a great organization. We have superb leadership who really believe in and support our workforce.”

One of those leaders is Margaret Mitchell who oversees ONR’s Human Resources Department, which is responsible for recruiting and retaining the organization’s elite force of scientists, engineers and support personnel. Mitchell said ONR’s competitive salary and benefits package includes student-loan repayment up to $60,000, relocation support and opportunities to work from home.

“We’ve got an impressive array of benefits,” Mitchell said. “But for many, ONR’s biggest appeal is being able to work beside world-class scientists and engineers, the option to telework and a compressed work schedule.”

Beyond bragging rights, Brown said ONR would also use the results of the Best Places survey to address employee concerns.

“We annually take a detailed look at the results of this survey to see where we did not score as high as we would like, then put programs or procedures in place to address those areas,” Brown said. “That means looking at all areas of the survey and determining how we can make ONR an even better place to work.”

For some ONR employees, the best place to work is more than perks and paychecks.

“I have the best job in the world,” said Dr. Jason Stack, a program officer in ONR’s Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department. “We are afforded professional autonomy to provide science and technology leadership. And our research has a profound impact, both to the warfighter and the general public. These attributes not only make ONR a great place to work, but are also the necessary ingredients of innovation.

“For example, our most advanced mine recognition software is now being used by physicians to fight cancer,” Stack continued. “These types of opportunities allow us to work at a job that can really change the world.”

Hired in 1993, Susan Sutherland manages ONR’s Contracts and Grants department. She said ONR has nurtured her professional and personal growth.

“I have a husband and two children, ages 5 and 6, both of whom were born while I was at ONR,” Sutherland said. “ONR has been very supportive and flexible to meet my needs as a parent and employee. At this point in my life, it’s comforting knowing I don’t have to worry about my work situation. I can balance the two.”

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

Naval Today Staff, November 24, 2011;