Restoring Career Leadership
SEA proposes the following statutory changes to ensure that there are opportunities for career executives to advance, that they hold positions vital to maintaining continuity, and that excessive layers of political appointees do not inhibit the communication between career and political leadership necessary to achieve high performance. These provisions will facilitate meeting the Civil Service Reform Act's original vision of the Senior Executive Service:
• Reduce the limit of non-career SES at any agency from 25% to 15%;
• Ensure the rules on the maximum number of non-career SES at any agency are applied to filled SES positions, not authorized positions;
• Require all cabinet level agencies to have a career executive as the Assistant Secretary for Administration, Management, or comparable position;
• Designate "Chief" positions (e.g. Chief Human Capital Officer) to be filled by career appointees;
• Require that all politically appointed Assistant Secretaries have a Deputy that is a career SES appointee.
Reforming SES Pay and Performance
The current SES pay and performance management system is flawed and leaves little assurance of fair pay for good work. Overlap of GS-15 salaries with SES salaries and a skewed risk to reward ratio cause difficulties in both recruitment and retention. SES proposes several solutions:
• Restoration of locality pay;
• Annual increases for Senior Executives rated fully successful or better;
• Increased transparency in the ratings process, including explanation of ratings levels and requiring agencies to publicly post ratings and performance data;
• Assured increase of at least 5 percent for new Senior Executives appointed from the General Schedule.
Enhancing SES Career Development Opportunities
Once placed in an SES position, Senior Executives are given few resources for continued professional development and are often inhibited from pursuing career development programs or activities by lack of both training funds and time. Providing Senior Executives with opportunities to improve leadership skills promotes government efficiency and increases recruitment and retention among the SES. SEA supports changing the culture of career development through legislative changes:
• Require each incoming member of the SES to create a multi-year Executive Development Plan;
• Provide each Senior Executive with a $5,000 annual allowance to cover training and development costs;
• Require OPM to create a Senior Executive Profile Registry to be used by agencies for recruitment and for managing their executive corps;
• Require each agency to conduct a Candidate Development Program once every three years;
• Require OPM to develop and promote an on-boarding program for new Senior Executives.
Numerous barriers often prevent supervisors from dealing effectively with poor performing and problem employees. The following proposals are designed to reduce or remove these barriers, providing supervisors the tools necessary to ensure accountability:
• Require training for all executives, managers and supervisors in rehabilitating or removing problem employees;
• Compilation of a reference handbook by OPM and MSPB detailing performance problems, methods to improve performance, and requirements for taking action;
• Require all HR offices to have at least one staff member well-versed in accountability rules to serve as a resource to supervisors;
• Creation of a Federal Employee Court of Appeals to eliminate the multiplicity of appeal routes currently available to employees;
Increasing Diversity in the SES
SEA supports diversity legislation that requires OPM and agencies to implement methods of increasing diversity in the SES, including creating a diverse pipeline of candidates, while upholding merit system principles.
Creating an SES Resource Office
For many years, there was no one point of contact in the Office of Personnel Management for oversight of SES programs and policies. This led to confusion and fragmentation of oversight and information sharing. SEA supports a centralized Resource Office that facilitates the implementation of constructive policies and provides appropriate oversight. While the office has now been established at OPM, SEA supports its enactment into law to ensure continuation even as Administrations change and to provide the office with necessary and meaningful government-wide responsibilities for oversight of the career leadership corps.
Equity for BCA Judges
Compensation for Board of Contract Appeals (BCA) Judges was, prior to 2004, generally equivalent to the SES. It is no longer, and judges cannot be included in the SES pay for performance system because of the need to maintain their judicial independence. Therefore, their pay essentially has been frozen. SEA supports a reclassification of the BCA as a specialty court, which would provide judges with appropriate compensation while retaining their impartiality.
Ensuring Federal Manager Fairness in the EEO Process
EEO complaints are brought directly against agencies and not Federal managers. Federal managers who are accused of discrimination often do not receive the right to an attorney or information pertaining to EEO complaints. SEA supports providing Federal managers with the same rights as their accusers:
• Assurance of fair treatment during the complaint process;
• Full participation in the EEO process;
• Consultation before the completion of a settlement;
• Knowledge of when a case is filed and finished;
• Consideration for lost benefits resulting from EEO complaints, IG and OSC investigations found to be without merit.
Safeguarding Federal Retiree Benefits
SEA supports several provisions affecting Federal retirees:
• Repeal the WEP/GPO, which impose unfair calculations that reduce the earned benefits of federal CSRS retirees;
• Enact Premium Conversion for retirees, which would allow retired federal employees to use pre-tax dollars for their employer-sponsored health plans, just as active employees do.
• Allow lump-sum annual leave payouts to be deposited into the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
Promoting Government Effectiveness and Efficiency
SEA has partnered with four federal management associations to promote good government initiatives. The Government Managers Coalition goals include:
• Requiring agencies to implement supervisor training programs to ensure managers have the necessary tools and skills to effectively manage the workforce;
• Expansion of the probationary period to two years for most employees, excluding veterans;
• SEA's Federal Manager Fairness Act proposal (see above);
Protecting Federal Employees
SEA is active regarding policies affecting the federal workforce government-wide and promoting good government initiatives. SEA will be vigilant in opposing legislation that unfairly targets federal employees, including broad pay freezes, changing annuity calculations from a High-3 to High-5, and across the board workforce reductions.