Americans are showing the lowest confidence levels ever recorded in federal civilian employees, according to a George Washington University telephone survey of 800 registered voters nationwide.
The survey shows that more than 33 percent of registered voters have little to no confidence in federal workers, a large jump from similar surveys in 2009 (21 percent) and 2011(23 percent).
Researchers say recent scandals, like the NSA and FBI Verizon wireless wiretapping scandal and the IRS tea party tax-exemption scandal, may be factors in plunging confidence in government workers.
“Most federal workers are hardworking and fair, but this year’s series of scandals and controversies seems to have damaged their reputation,” said William C. Adams, a professor of public policy and public administration in GW’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, in a statement.
The survey data were collected between Sept. 15-19. The Navy Yard attack that included a number of federal civilian workers among the dead occurred on Sept. 16.
According to the survey, 19 percent have “a lot of confidence” in federal workers, 41 percent have “some confidence” and 5 percent are not sure what to think about federal civilian employees.
Like the surveys in 2009 and 2011, conservative Republicans were the most skeptical of the employees. Some 45 percent of Republicans said they have little or no confidence in federal workers, up from 32 percent in 2011. The skepticism is spreading to other parties however.
Among political independents 41 percent said they lacked confidence in federal workers, up from 28 percent in 2011. Responses of “very little confidence” have doubled for Democrats, from 12 percent in 2011 to 24 percent in 2013.
Despite this mistrust, Americans still believe the federal government is a desirable career path, according to the researchers. In their analysis they claim about three-quarters of registered voters, 73 percent, still say they would encourage a young person to consider a federal job.
Only 19 percent of Americans, would discourage a career in civil service.