WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Partnership for Public Service just named the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command as the "Most Improved" Sub-Agency Organization in the federal government for 2017.

The award was accepted by Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general; James Johnson, deputy to the SMDC commander; and SMDC Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome Wiggins; on behalf of the command at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Jan. 26.

"This is a phenomenal accomplishment," Johnson said in a message to the workforce. "The leadership team, wants you to know that we are listening to you. We acted upon what you, our outstanding civilian workforce, told us was necessary to establish a better version of ourselves. This award leaves little doubt that we are on the right track.

"It is a reflection of the positive improvements you told us through constant and open employee engagement were necessary," he continued. "This is a work in progress, and we know we have more to accomplish. We will continue to keep you informed and to seek your feedback. Thanks for your continued service and contributions to the command."

During the ceremony, 28 awards were presented to winners in 410 federal agencies and their subcomponents.

SMDC is one of 339 organizations in the category for less than 1,000 civilian employees. The command moved up more than 18 percent from 2016, placing SMDC in the top third of all Army sub-agencies.

For the past 17 years, the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service has worked to make the federal government more effective for the American people. The Partnership works across administrations to help transform the way government operates by increasing collaboration, accountability, efficiency and innovation.

The "Best Places to Work" rankings offer a comprehensive assessment of how federal public servants view their jobs and workplaces as well as providing insights into employee engagement on a variety issues.

The data is a tool that helps agencies assess employee engagement. Its rankings allow agencies to see how they measure up, and help Congress and presidential administrations provide more comprehensive oversight of federal workforce management.

On its path to receiving the award, SMDC took steps to listen to the workforce and discover ways for the command to improve.

"We listened to our employees and made a deliberate effort to develop a positive work culture," said Lisa Gilbert, SMDC Civilian Workforce Development Division chief. "The command made these improvements through constant and open employee engagement.

"It is an indication that we are getting better at satisfying our employees' needs as civilian professionals, allowing them to develop and progress," she added.

She said the genesis of the award comes from the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, or FEVS, given annually. Gilbert said her team developed a command-specific Civilian Workforce Development Group to advocate and plan for employee development.

Gilbert said when the command discovered an issue or need, leaders categorized them as quick- or long-term solutions. Actions that were identified as "quick fixes," were prioritized first and actions requiring a more complex long-term solutions were usually taken on by SMDC's Civilian Workforce Development Division office for more thorough analysis and employee-centric solutions.

"Rather than solutions created only by leadership, we found that a cross-section of leadership and employees, problem-solving collectively, provided the best solutions," Gilbert said. "We have placed the tools necessary for improvement right on the employee's desktop. We organized knowledge management systems for ease of employee use. We have also expanded our employee knowledge and communication base through an active public affairs effort, federal benefit seminars, and helped them chart their career paths through a better human capital plan and mentoring events."