Bill Valdez

Message from Your SEA President

As we approach the final days of what has been one of the longest and most contentious presidential campaigns in history, it’s time to turn our attention to what everyone hopes will be an orderly transition of power.

Key to that orderly transition will be helping the new President understand the important role that senior Federal career leaders play once the keys to the Oval Office are handed over to the next President.

The Senior Executive Association has historically played an important role in this transfer of power through the preparation of a transition white paper that outlines SEA’s goals for the next Administration and a letter of congratulation to the new President highlighting the most important issues facing career Federal leaders.   We are preparing that white paper and the letter of congratulation, but this time we are taking the added step of working with key stakeholders to ensure that senior Federal career leaders are at the table when the transition occurs on January 20, 2017.

Past transition efforts have focused almost exclusively on the needs of the incoming Administration.  This is important, of course, particularly because many of the new politicals appointed by the President will have had limited or no experience with the Federal government.  Transition teams will have done their best to brief incoming landing teams about the issues confronting various agencies, but the reality is that when the new Administration teams arrive they will be overwhelmed by the scope and complexity of the job that they just accepted on behalf of the new President.

This where the career SES and other senior career leaders must step in and become involved with the transition.  The primary role of the Senior Executive Service is to work with political leaders to enable the Administration to achieve its goals.   This is a vital part of our Constitutional transfer of power and, yet, it is often an overlooked aspect of the transition.

Only involving politicals in the transition is necessary, but not sufficient, for the orderly transition of power.  If the career senior leadership is not involved from the outset and then on a continuing basis, then bad things can and will happen.  Communication and trust are essential building blocks of a functioning Federal government and SEA is determined to contribute to that strong foundation during this transition. 

Our plan is to work with the Office of Personnel Management, the transition team, and other key stakeholders to establish a transition structure that includes career Federal leaders from the outset.  We want to help the next Administration to hit the ground running to accomplish the important agenda that American voters have entrusted to the new President.

The transition of power has sometimes been referred to a “hostile takeover,” and those who have experienced it firsthand can attest that it can often be rocky and contentious.  But our view is that a hostile takeover is not only unnecessary, it is preventable. 

The SEA will be taking a leadership role to ensure that transition 2017 is as constructive and smooth as possible.  Stay tuned to upcoming member alerts about how you could be a part of what we believe will be the most successful transition in our Nation’s history.  During the interim, please do not hesitate to reach out directly to me ( if you have thoughts about this important issue.

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Tags: Message from Your SEA President, election, transition

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