Senior Executives Association

Welcome to the Senior Executives Association

Senior Executives Association (SEA) is the professional association for career members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and equivalent positions. SEA is not only the voice of the SES through a strong advocacy program, it empowers senior leaders across government by providing the tools, resources and connections they need to succeed in the 21st century.

SEA's membership spans across government agencies, missions and functions, giving SEA a unique whole of government perspective and the ability to connect to the skills, tools and people (both public and private sectors) that senior leaders need. SEA members receive access to research and news, strategic networks, and connections to the good practices across government that they may not receive on the job.

Above all else, SEA is guided by dedication to public service and to helping career federal leaders better serve the American people.

SEA - Empowering Career Leaders For Success

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SEA Calls On the Media and Congress to Stop Denigrating Furloughed Federal Employees

SEA calls on the media and Congress to stop denigrating federal employees through the use of the term “essential” when discussing the status of furloughed employees.

Common Myth

Some federal employees are "non-essential" during the government shutdown.

The Reality

All federal employees perform critical work for the government and are "essential" to daily operations and effective government.

During a lapse in appropriations (when Congress and the President fail to enact legislation to fund the government) the federal government is forced to stop a variety of mission-critical functions. Agencies must then make determinations as to which employees will remain at work and which employees will be furloughed during the government shutdown. These determinations are based off of the Anti-deficiency Act, which requires agencies to furlough federal employees unless the job duties they perform would cause immediate harm to personal safety or result in property loss if those jobs were suspended.

When no funds are appropriated, activities must be shut down. This can be permanent or, as in the current case, temporary. In temporary cases agencies typically use two ways to designate employees:


Employees under this category typically work for agencies or programs that receive funding from an alternate source or multi-year appropriations still in effect. For example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is almost completely funded by fees and therefore is able to continue operations during a shutdown.


Employees under this category perform job duties that have been determined by agency heads to meet the requirements of the Anti-deficiency Act. Typical examples include employees performing functions related to life, health and safety (i.e. fire fighters and law enforcement) or protection of property and those involving National Security functions such as deployed Federal civilians in Afghanistan. Keeping a minimum level of heat on in otherwise closed buildings to keep pipes from freezing is another example.

Employees who are furloughed because they do not fit into one of those two categories perform work that is just as critical and necessary as those who remain at work; their functions have simply been deemed to not justify unfunded expenditures.

Nowhere is the term "essential" used to make these determinations. In fact, the mere term is detrimental to effective operations and employee morale.

After a week of the government shutdown, American citizens and private industry are unable to access important programs and services. Just because programs have been suspended does not meant that they do not impact individual well-being or the bottom line of many businesses. A government shutdown is harmful to the economy, to the budget, and to the services that Americans rely upon.

SEA calls on the media and Congress to stop denigrating federal employees through the use of the term "essential" when discussing the status of furloughed employees.

What is essential in this situation is that the government is funded so that federal employees can get back to work to ensure that programs are running effectively and Americans have access to the services they count on.

Read full press release

Our Corporate Advisory Council

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Special thanks to SEA's Corporate Advisory Council, helping to support a federal career executive corps of excellence.
Looking for SEA's partners? Check out the organizations we partner with.

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The Senior Executives Association is
available eight hours a day during normal business hours.

Monday-Friday: 9am to 5pm 
Weekend: Closed

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