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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bob gilson

President Trump’s Reorganization Executive Order Message: Get Busy Now!

On March 13, the President issued an Executive Order unlike any most of us have seen in our time in or around government. 

It tasks the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to develop a plan “to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies”.  Each Agency head is obliged to submit a plan to OMB by September 11 of this year to reorganize their Agency.  The goal of each of these plans must address improving efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

By March of 2018, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney must present the President with a comprehensive Executive Branch-wide reorganization plan.  The last reorganization plan I can find involved the creation of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Merit Systems Protection Board, movement of the Federal of Equal Employment Opportunity to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the elimination of the U.S. Civil Service Commission.  That plan was submitted to Congress as part of a comprehensive civil service reform in 1978. The Order doesn’t specify the form of the plan, but it will probably be composed to fit into a legislation package.  Of course, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) required massive planning and huge adjustments for everyone involved. 

The plan envisioned by this Order, numbered 13781, is much more comprehensive. There are five issues which Agencies must address in their plans. Please read them yourself but to paraphrase in questions:

  • What missions or functions should an Agency get out of?
  • What missions are redundant within or between Agencies?
  • What administrative functions are redundant within or between Agencies?
  • Does an Agency, a component or program stand up to a cost/benefit analysis?
  • What would be the costs involved in eliminating or merging Agencies, components or programs?

OMB is charged with working with Agencies and “with persons or entities outside the Federal Government with relevant expertise in organizational structure and management.”

One of the most interesting aspects of the Order is its issuance while a substantial number of Agencies do not have a Senate confirmed permanent principal leader.  As Yogi Berra might have said, an order is an order, so at least the initial steps and possible the entire process may be directed by career executives in some Agencies.  I do know that Admiral Bull Halsey said, ““There are no great men. Just great challenges which ordinary men, out of necessity, are forced by circumstance to meet”.   This Order certainly qualifies as a great challenge that the current crop of senior executives will have to meet with and with a very short suspense date.

If you haven’t started on this, 10% of your allotted time has already passed.  Obviously, the first step is a plan to produce a plan.  I did a little homework so I could give you a little homework. 

In 2014, the President directed 14 Agencies to give him a plan within 180 days that would establish “a Comprehensive Framework to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.”  It doesn’t matter one whit what the plan was about, but its format looks like it would be perfect for the project you have ahead of you.  Your homework is to check out the plan, extract the format and start fitting in the five questions EO 13781 has directed you to answer.  Check out, in particular, the implementation steps on page 15 (and in other places) as you will have to do some of the exact same things. 

Other homework you should consider is getting familiar with what the Defense Department did in its base closure and realignment efforts.

More homework might involve reviewing some of the work done to create DHS.

You should also be aware that Bill Valdez, President of SEA, has reached out to Jared Kushner in a letter encouraging the White House’s Office of Innovation to reach out to career senior executives and the SEA in the administration’s effort to reorganize the Federal government.

Ben Stein said, “So many fail because they don't get started - they don't go. They don't overcome inertia. They don't begin.”  I’m suggesting strongly that you need to get to the “end of the beginning” very quickly.

Bob Gilson is a negotiator, trainer, and writer who pens articles for and the Action Newsletter.  You can reach him at

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