US Agricultural Research Service Scientist Reviews | Glassdoor

US Agricultural Research Service Scientist Reviews

8 reviews

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Scientist

3.4
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US Agricultural Research Service Secretary Tom Vilsack
Tom Vilsack
4 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Good comp time policy to facilitate work-life balance (in 18 reviews)

  • Good benefits, such as retirement accounts (in 16 reviews)

Cons
  • full-time because of the system of hiring (in 5 reviews)

  • Very little to no money for training or travel (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Research Scientist"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Scientist in Ames, IA
    Former Employee - Research Scientist in Ames, IA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at US Agricultural Research Service full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Good hours to work, great pay and good benefits. Projects are interesting and crop focused. Most projects done in teams.

    Cons

    I was on a term appointment and these can be limited. Funding was discontinued, so I had to find a new job. Tons of paperwork.

    Advice to Management

    Would like to see more smoothing out between the USDA and the university in terms of e-mail and parking, this was very problematic for a term employee.


  2. "Govt--the good and the bad"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Lexington-Fayette, KY
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Lexington-Fayette, KY
    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Agricultural Research Service full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Good salary/benefits. Good co-workers. Decent money for new toys in the lab. Flexible schedules, if you have a boss that approves. One of the few science agencies in govt that approaches the freedom of academia--you generally can define your own research area within the broad area of agriculture. Not true of a lot of other agencies. Also one of the few agencies where it is possible to stay at the lab bench and still go up the GS pay scale. Most others you would have to leave the lab and go into management if you want to continue moving up.

    Cons

    You are dependent on politicians for your salary. Little money for hands to work with all the nice equipment. Technician positions have been cut. Travel money has been cut (thanks GSA!) which makes things difficult for an agency whose entire mission is based on field research. You have to suffer through endless additions of red tape that are brought on when other agencies screw up (e.g. GSA, OPM) Purchasing restrictions are ridiculous.

    Advice to Management

    Increase consistency and equality in rules and funding among different laboratories. Since regular bench scientists are subject to the budgeting decisions from above, there are some real inequities.

  3. "Stable organization but significant drawbacks"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Riverside, CA
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Riverside, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Agricultural Research Service full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    -Stable employment
    -Important work
    -Immediate working environment can be great with right supervisor and support staff.

    Cons

    -Stagnant pay, rigid salary schedules with little opportunities for bonuses.
    -Bipolar ultimate supervisors (U.S. Congress).
    -Very bureaucratic organization.

    Advice to Management

    I know the pay freeze and other items are out of your control, but please work to minimize bureaucratic forms/procedures that your rank and file employees need to encounter on a day to day basis. Make evaluations more results oriented, not based on ability to jump through bureaucratic hoops that are meaningless to those outside the organization.


  4. "Liked it"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Research Scientist in Aberdeen, ID
    Former Employee - Research Scientist in Aberdeen, ID

    I worked at US Agricultural Research Service full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Nice environment, great equipment, good funding

    Cons

    Pay's not great, subject to whims of Congress approving budget


  5. "It Could be Such a Nice Place to Work, But..."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Scientist (Support) in Fort Pierce, FL
    Former Employee - Scientist (Support) in Fort Pierce, FL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Employment with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the USDA offers the opportunity to work on research that should help American agriculture, but he cons out weigh this pro.

    Cons

    The psuedo-academic work environment of the ARS is militaristically mismanaged by incompetent upper management at all levels that got their jobs heavily based on "good ole boy" politics rather than research competence in their field and proven superior supervisory skills. The incompetence is evident in all aspects of the organization from the administration, to the research, to the supervision, and to the science. Even though some exemplary individuals try to excel, the over all incompetence of the organization drags these individuals down and foments job dissatisfaction and low moral. The so called Peter Principal is alive and well at the ARS. The motivation of the support staff is stifled by archaic supervisory methods and out-date management philosophies. Most professional people who actually retire from the ARS are very disillusioned, they are angry from their decades of mistreatment by the incompetent administration, and they want nothing to do with organization. If one is a professional scientist looking for a challenging and rewarding career, the best choice in the public sector might be with the universities, not with the ARS.

    Advice to Management

    Break the oligarchic to near dictatorial control of the area offices; Allow support staff to publish research with the scientists, especially when the idea, the research, and the writing belongs to the support staff; revamp the hiring practices of the scientific administration to banish the good ole boy political hiring; More closely involve farmers and stake holders in the hiring and research process so that the American public is getting the value it deserves.


  6. "USDA-ARS"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Support Scientist
    Current Employee - Support Scientist
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at US Agricultural Research Service (More than a year)

    Pros

    Excellent benefits/work-life balance, if you have a supervisor who will let you use them.

    Cons

    Your supervisor basically has total and unquestionable authority over you, even when they are violating policies directly and admittedly. HR is not there to help you, it is there to cover the agency's butt from lawsuits.

    Advice to Management

    Stop advancing people to management who lack the skills/experience. Ensure that benefits are applied fairly to all employees regardless of how their supervisors feel about what their employees "deserve", especially when said supervisors take advantage of the benefits to almost an abusive level. Treat your support staff with the proper respect they deserve and actually have a career path they can follow without having to randomly hop from one agency to another.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Underfunded, unappreciated and low moral amongst employees"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Research Scientist
    Current Employee - Research Scientist
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Agricultural Research Service full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The people working at the facility are fantastic
    The pay is OK
    Flexible work schedule
    Nice work/life balance

    Cons

    Haven't had a descent raise in years since the govt. is in the deep red
    Salary is low for someone with my level of education and experience
    Management is overworked and stressed and it trickles down directly to employees.
    Money is consistently wasted, bad record keeping, not efficient working system since people are leaving in a hiring freeze.

    Advice to Management

    Appreciate your employees
    Use money more effectively and keep better record of equipment

  8. "govt jobs"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Scientist
    Current Employee - Scientist
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Excellent benefits and good counseling assistance for workplace related stresses.

    Cons

    Lack of mentoring, too laid back for newcomers who are trying to climb ladder, and management sucks.

    Advice to Management

    Get of your pension plans...you're not retired yet!