Searching for the best workers

If you qualify for a top leadership post, the Office of Personnel Management wants you. To show that they're serious, OPM officials have contacted officials at hundreds of agencies that employ middle managers, minorities, veterans and people with disabilities to find a new cadre of workers for the Senior Executive Service (SES) Federal Candidate Development Program.

Through the new program, OPM officials want to prepare workers for top leadership posts by exposing them to competitive programs that include stints in the executive branch and formal training.

OPM Director Kay Coles James said officials want the program to make a "huge impact in preparing our next generation of leaders. ... Federal agencies must be ready with succession plans and have people who can step in and assume the awesome task of managing and directing major government operations."

Max Stier, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit public advocacy organization, said the federal government needs to become a "more nimble recruiter and attractive place for top talent."

"If you can't get a performance management system to work for top managers, you are not going to get it for the rest of the workforce," Stier said. "The right place to get it to work is with the senior corps."

OPM officials are searching for new workers to fill hundreds of jobs they expect workers to retire from in the next five years. The search is the first effort to recruit a workforce as diverse as the population in the United States.

"I support the goals of the Candidate Development Program to identify and develop individuals with great potential for the senior leadership cadre, which reflects the rich diversity of America," said Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee's Civil Service and Agency Organization Subcommittee.

The program takes 14 months to complete. Once participants earn certification, they receive temporary SES placements for as many as three years.

But the program is challenging. The curriculum includes class work, interagency experience, coaching, field experiences and Web-based learning, according to OPM officials.

***

Reach out and touch someone

Office of Personnel Management officials recently conducted a wide-ranging effort to recruit qualified individuals for the Senior Executive Service training program. Here are some of the organizations they contacted:

The American Association of People with Disabilities.

Blinded Veterans Association.

National Association of Women Judges.

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Inc.

National Forum of Black Public Administrators.

National Pan-Hellenic Council.

Korean American Coalition.

Organization of Chinese Americans.

Source: Office of Personnel Management

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"Fed execs face pay overhaul" [FCW.com, Sept. 9, 2004]

"The ups and downs of pay banding" [Federal Computer Week, July 19, 2004]

"SES pay scale kicks in" [Federal Computer Week, Jan. 26, 2004]

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