In his December 2014 address to Federal Senior Executives, President Obama said, “[W]e need the best and brightest of the coming generations to serve. [T]hose of us who believe government can and must be a force for good…we’ve got to work hard to make sure that government works.” Today, the President took executive action to attract, develop and retain the best talent needed to continue moving the Government forward in the 21st Century.
A high-performing, efficient and effective government relies on the skills and talent of a high-performing, well-prepared and well-trained workforce. Federal employees defend our country overseas, deliver benefits to our troops when they come home, guard our borders, protect our civil rights, push the boundaries of science and space, help businesses grow and gain footholds in overseas markets, and help protect the air we breathe and the water our children drink.
A cornerstone of the President’s Management Agenda is a commitment to unlocking the potential of the Federal workforce and building the workforce we need for tomorrow to drive greater effectiveness and efficiency within government and better harness taxpayer resources to spur economic growth. That is why in December 2014, the President announced a series of initiatives to strengthen our Federal workforce and recognize outstanding customer service: the White House Advisory Group to Strengthen the Senior Executive Service (SES), the White House Leadership Development Program (WHLDP), and the Customer Service Awards Program.
Today, we honored the public service of our Federal workforce and highlighted progress around the President’s initiatives at the Unlocking the Full Potential of America’s Federal Workforce event. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough announced the President’s executive order on Strengthening the Senior Executive Service. In 2016, more than 60 percent of the Federal Government’s SES leaders will be eligible to retire. The impending SES “retirement wave” provides a unique opportunity to recruit and develop the next generation of leaders. Based on recommendations from the White House Advisory Group to Strengthen the SES, today’s EO, and related administrative actions, focuses on 1) Hiring the Best Talent, 2) Strengthening SES Development, and 3) Improving SES Accountability, Recognition, and Rewards, among other actions so the Federal Government remains competitive in attracting and retaining world-class talent to serve the American people.
We also announced the inaugural winners of the President’s Customer Service Awards. These talented public servants led efforts to improve services for the public and positively impacted American lives. This summer, Federal agencies nominated programs and employees that excelled in their fields to improve services the public and exemplify how our government can deliver excellent service to our customers. This year’s inaugural President’s Customer Service Award recipients are:
We also had the opportunity to hear about the work of our inaugural class of White House Leadership Development Fellows. These emerging leaders rotate to different agencies on complex, high-priority assignments to build and strengthen enterprise leadership skills and address cross-agency challenges. The application season for the next round of fellows will open in early 2016.
Finally, we also recognized the service of the 2015 Presidential Rank Award Winners. These career civil servants are recognized for their distinguished contributions to public service.
Along with honoring the work of our Nation’s public servants, we must also continue to hold the Federal workforce to the highest level of accountability for our citizens. This is why OPM released a final rule in September 2015 to help standardize a framework for performance management of all SES members and hold leaders accountable for individual and agency performance. Fewer than three months since implementation of the rule, the new requirements are already being met by more than 90 percent of the agencies that voluntarily adopted the basic SES performance appraisal system. Agencies are also using executive reviews to gauge performance by collecting customer and employee perspectives, determining how well senior executives promote diversity, and analyzing their employees’ productivity and effectiveness.
As we round out 2015, we hope you’ll take a moment to reflect upon how America’s public servants work to make your life better each and every day. And we hope you’ll join the President in honoring the work our Federal employees do day in and day out on behalf of our Nation.
Shaun Donovan is the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Beth Cobert is the Acting Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
FACT SHEET: Executive Order on Strengthening the Senior Executive Service (SES)
One of the key pillars of the President’s Management Agenda is building a world-class Federal workforce, starting with strengthening the Senior Executive Service. The Federal government’s executive corps is comprised of thousands of hard working and dedicated leaders. The Administration is committed to investing in and supporting these leaders and ensuring agencies are developing talent pipelines for the future.
To this end, the President announced the creation of the White House Advisory Group (WHAG) to Strengthen the Senior Executive Service in December 2014. Comprised of 24 leaders from across the Federal government, the WHAG was charged with making recommendations to the Administration to improve the way the Federal government recruits, hires, develops, manages, retains, and ensures accountability for its senior career leaders.
Over the past year, OMB and OPM, working collaboratively with the WHAG, sought the viewpoints of many agencies and stakeholder groups and incorporated feedback and input on proposals that have led to the recommendations issued in an Executive Order on December 15 and additional actions the Administration will take to strengthen the SES. The actions focus on three key areas: 1) Hiring the Best Talent, 2) Strengthening SES Development, and 3) Improving SES Accountability, Recognition, and Rewards.
All agencies are required to implement four key recommendations – 1) streamline the hiring process, 2) develop a plan to increase rotations, 3) increase aggregate spending on performance awards, and 4) increase the initial basic rate of pay to ensure SES/SL/ST earn more than General Schedule employees where they work. A phased approach will be used to implement four other recommendations in the Executive Order – establish talent management and succession planning processes, require executive ownership of recruiting and hiring, increase professional development requirements, and create an onboarding program – among the 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies, with seven agencies implementing in FY2016, seven in FY2017 and the rest in FY2018.
The Executive Order also creates a Subcommittee of the President’s Management Council (PMC) to advise OPM, members of the PMC, and the President on implementation of the order and additional ways to strengthen and improve the SES workforce. The Deputy Director for Management at OMB, the Director of OPM, and three other members of the PMC will serve on the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee will select at least two career members of the SES to advise them and will collaborate with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council.
1. HIRE THE BEST TALENT
2. STRENGTHEN SES DEVELOPMENT
3. IMPROVE SES ACCOUNTABILITY, RECOGNITION AND REWARDS