The U.S. Army Audit Agency was named one of the "Best Places to Work" in the federal government by the Partnership for Public Service for the fourth straight year.

The agency placed among the top three in the Partnership's rankings of hundreds of subcomponent organizations.

Given the current challenging work environment for Federal workers, this ranking is an outstanding achievement.

The Hawaii Field Office (HWFO) of the agency, Theater Operations-Pacific, operates out of Oahu and Korea.

"Hawaii gives us the opportunity to work in a variety of unique locations, to include places like Kwajalein Atoll," said Nate Metzger, senior auditor.

The agency's favorable rating is also the result of a dedicated workforce, a committed leadership team and innovative management.

The agency placed 2nd of 224 subcomponent organizations in 2010 (the first year the agency competed in the rankings); 2nd of 240 subcomponents in 2011; 1st of 292 subcomponents in 2012; and 3rd of 300 subcomponents in 2013.

Army Audit endeavors to be a model organization with an engaged and dedicated workforce of respected professionals, guided by innovation and honesty. Staff members aren't so much numbers crunchers (though they do crunch numbers from time to time), but auditors who look objectively at the Army's programs, systems, training and contracts, developing effective recommendations to improve how the Army works and save ever-shrinking allocations.

Though relatively small (535 staff) compared to other Army programs and activities, the agency's workforce is a committed one. Out of those 535 staffers, 11 are at Fort Shafter and nine are at Yongsan, Korea.

"One thing that's unique to the HWFO from the rest of the agency, and contributes to the spirit of aloha, is getting to wear more casual attire," explained Jessica Miller, senior auditor. "It's acceptable in the Hawaiian culture for men to wear a nice Hawaiian shirt with dress slacks to meetings rather than wearing a suit and tie, like on the mainland."

Key to the agency's high rankings is that employees are treated as ohana.

"At HWFO, it is even more noticeable and beneficial that employees are treated as family," said Miller. "A lot of us are far from our close friends and family on the mainland, and the support that everyone provides for each other, here, is exceptional."

They come from a diversity of backgrounds, education, training and experiences that help make the agency a more engaged organization. Agency leaders believe that employees are Army Audit's most valued asset, and they do everything possible to make sure auditors are assigned high-impact work, well-trained and equipped, and have the best possible balance of work and life.

"Employees at this field office get to experience more diversity in their audit work," said Chris Jenkins, audit manager. "Agency personnel on the mainland are often assigned to audit specific Army functions. However, in Hawaii, personnel have the opportunity to audit a variety of Army functions."

"The ability to work on various subject matter, to include things like environmental compliance, transportation, contracting and logistics, makes it the best place to work," added Metzger. "Each new project is an opportunity to learn new things and experience different aspects of Army operations."

In 2012, the agency held a series of intensive workshops for its supervisors to coach them how to communicate openly and effectively and to build stronger relationships with their teams and individual team members. The outcome greatly increased employee engagement and satisfaction.

Senior leaders regularly visit field offices where they meet with GS-12s and below and GS-13s and above to hear their ideas and concerns.

"Leadership throughout the agency has made it the best place to work," said Jenkins, noting that open communications and professionalism in the ranks empowers the employees to better perform their jobs.

"Another reason it?s the best place to work is that we believe that the work we do is a valuable service to the Army and fully benefits the Soldiers," added Jenkins.

With the agency's core values of service, ethics and integrity, auditors firmly believe in their national security mission and in providing meaningful work that supports Soldiers and their families, civilians and Army leadership. Employees feel engaged and well informed, and that's why it's a best place to work.

(Editor's note: Portions of this article are from a U.S. Army Audit Agency press release.)