Report: Give execs career option

"Urgent Business for America: Revitalizing the Federal Government for the 21st Century"

Dividing the Senior Executive Service into a corps of managers and a corps of technical experts is one of the 14 recommendations released Jan. 7 by the National Commission on the Public Service.

Many senior executives have been forced to take on management jobs in order to advance in their careers, but many of them are in fact technologists and scientists, not managers, the commission said.

Dividing them into two groups would create separate career paths for each and allow agencies to introduce managers and technologists from the public and private sectors, encourage mobility for managers across agencies, and provide separate compensation for each group, the commission said.

"People have been promoted into executive roles who don't want to be there" but the pay is better, said Constance Horner, a member of the commission and former director of the Office of Personnel Management.

In general, the commission recommended changes to how the federal government is structured, managed and staffed.

First and foremost, a "fundamental reorganization" of the federal government is necessary to reduce overlap, duplication and to revitalize the federal workforce, the commission wrote in its report.

"Much of the organizational proposals overlap with President Bush's proposal" for the Homeland Security Department, said Paul Volcker, chairman of the commission. But that reorganization covers only part of the government.

A limited number of mission-related executive departments should be created, the commission said. Managers of the operating agencies in these new departments should be able to develop management and personnel systems appropriate to their missions.

The commission, which arose largely out of the work of the Brookings Institution's Center for Public Service, also recommended that the president be given the authority to propose reorganizations of departments and agencies as he sees fit.

Creation of the Homeland Security Department signaled "how much determination is needed" to make these types of changes, Horner said. "We shouldn't underestimate how hard this will be to get done."

In the executive branch, Volcker said the commission has briefed OPM and the Office of Management and Budget on the report. "We have provided a beautiful architectural rendering," he said. Now it's up to the "engineers," which also include Congress, to create the blueprint.

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