After years of downsizing and layoffs, Small Business Administration employees are feeling more upbeat about the agency, according to a recent staff survey.

Conducted by the Office of Personnel Management, the survey shows improved satisfaction with the agency's senior management, training and development, and internal communications.

"These results show employees believe in the agency's strategic direction," SBA Administrator Steven Preston said in a statement. Despite the gains, he said there was still "a lot to do" to reform the agency.

Over the past six years, the Bush administration has cut the agency's budget by nearly 40 percent. In 2005, the SBA was sharply criticized for a lackluster effort in helping small-business owners in the Gulf Coast rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

As a result, staff morale dropped to the lowest level among all federal agencies. Preston identified low staff morale as a top priority when he took over the agency last year.