Root & Stem Civil Service Modernization
As everyone from Congress to the White House to agencies contemplates reform, reorganizations, budgets, and modernizing the civil service, SEA is leading efforts to take a look - from a member perspective - at the root causes for many challenges endemic in the system today.
In July, SEA sent out a call to members to join in a series of policy discussions. Any member was welcome to sign up and a strong group of members from across government, program areas, mission support functions, and levels, answered the call. Over a one-week period and several hours, SEA held sessions on: ECQs and Assessments, Performance Management, Talent Management and Strategic Planning, and Hiring. While these focused on the SES, they also touched on broad government-wide policies. Participants identified challenges in the systems, areas where they work, and then ways to tackle the challenges.
One of the most interesting areas of discussion that happened in each group was about culture and practice. Often participants talked less about the laws and regulations that underpin these areas, and more about how they are handled in practice, or the culture that prevents making changes to the system. It is clear there is a need for better understanding of the system, more leadership development, and more focus on the skills, job needs, and tying them together in each of these topics areas. How might we identify, hire and develop talent? How might we better assess the performance of leaders, individuals and teams in meeting agency missions, and how might we broadly be able to identify the skills within agencies when leaders need to fill critical initiatives?
And at the end of the day, one of the areas participants came back to was ensuring that employees have access to development/trainings, know where to find resources and tools, and that there are models or best practices to follow in each of these areas.
The sessions were just the tip of the iceberg. SEA is asking participants and anyone who expressed interest to join in a second round - a policy hackathon session and a session on hacking the culture of agencies – being scheduled for mid-August. We are using a Doodle poll to help schedule these follow up sessions: https://doodle.com/poll/wdk3ug89pzsbm9hf
Participants in the policy hackathon sessions will focus on developing specific ideas on areas that need to be changed (law, regulation, policy) and how it can be done in the most meaningful way. Participants in the culture session will work on identifying models, areas of focus, resources, and tools/trainings that are needed in order to build the needed culture change from the inside. The session will also provide a forum for surfacing existing resources that may already be helping agencies and employees address challenge areas.
At the end of the day, there is broad concurrence that the current civil service system is in need of modernization and that perhaps as the nature of work is transforming our society so should it transform the way we think about the business of government and leadership practices necessary to drive success in the 21st century.
SEA thanks all of the members who have participated in sessions or sent in ideas. We welcome more of you to join in – together, we can be a community of change. This is an on-going initiative and depends on the perspective and expertise of a broad cross-section of members. Collectively we can strengthen the public service leadership profession and work to tackle systemic issues.