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Americans Like Most Major Federal Agencies — Except One

Yuval Rosenberg

The American public’s trust in the federal government is at a historically low level, with just 17% of adults telling pollsters earlier this year that they trust the government to do what is right almost always or most of the time. But Americans continue to have generally favorable views of most major federal agencies — and overwhelmingly positive views of several, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

Of the 16 agencies in Pew’s survey, the one viewed most favorably might surprise you. It’s the U.S. Postal Service, which is seen positively by 90% of survey respondents. The National Park Service, NASA the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI also rate very well in terms of public perception. Even the Internal Revenue Service is viewed more favorably than unfavorably by a margin of 55% to 40%.

Only one agency is viewed more unfavorably than favorably: Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Attitudes about the agency are divided along predictably partisan lines, with 70% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents viewing it positively compared to just 19% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning respondents.

Views on the Department of Education are split evenly, with 48% seeing it favorably and unfavorably.


The Pew poll also finds that Americans remain narrowly divided over their preferred size of government.


The Pew poll of 2,004 adults was conducted September 5-16. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

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