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SEA Releases Survey Report Detailing Crisis Recruiting Government Leadership

Today the Senior Executives Association (SEA) released a new report based on a survey of almost 500 Senior Executive Service (SES) and Senior Professional (SP) federal employees.

Recruiting Qualified Career Leadership: How Are We Doing? spawned from an increasing volume of warnings by federal senior management and professional managers. Supervisors have progressively expressed distress over the growing reluctance of high-performing internal and external candidates to apply for or pursue opportunities that would prepare them for career SES and SP positions.

The survey results indicate a lack of support, coupled with the pervading negative political climate and “gotcha” mentality surrounding the federal workforce – particularly with regards to career SES and SP – is increasingly casting a dark cloud over SES and SP positions. Without high-quality, potential internal and external job candidates, there is an imminent danger for the career leadership corps and the critical government programs and processes it manages.

Key findings from SEA’s detailed survey analysis include:

• An increase in difficulty and time consumption for agencies to fill vacancies with high quality candidates.
• An overall decrease in quality of both internal and external applicants for SES and SP positions.
• A look at how attractors to serving in career SES and SP positions only slightly outweigh the detractors, and how this situation presents both challenges and opportunities for the government’s executive resources management system.

With these findings in mind, SEA strongly recommends a series of actions, including:

• Aggressively designing and implementing effective succession planning, mentoring, executive exchange and other leadership development and outreach programs that will help encourage and prepare high potential candidates for future SES and SP vacancies.
• Providing timely and focused training on the new and emerging skills, abilities and experiences (e.g., collaboration, managing multi-generational, diverse workforces) needed by today’s SES and SP employees to be successful.
• Encouraging and enabling the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and agencies to continue simplifying the job application process for career SES and SP positions while maintaining important safeguards against politicization and acceptance of under-qualified candidates.

Recruiting Qualified Career Leadership: How Are We Doing? is a part of SEA’s broader mission to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of the federal government, and advance the professionalism of career executives.

The Senior Executives Association (SEA) is a professional association representing Senior Executive Service members and other career federal executives. Founded in 1980, SEA’s goals are: to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of the federal government; to advance the professionalism and advocate the interests of career federal executives; and to enhance public recognition of their contributions. The SEA Professional Development League (PDL) is a nonprofit educational organization committed to advancing the professionalism of career federal executives through the sponsorship of training, recognition, and research activities.