Panel urges SES revamp

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

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

Many senior executives have been forced to take on management jobs 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 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 Office of Personnel Management director.

The suggestion makes sense, said Fred Thompson, former assistant director for consulting and marketing at the Treasury Department's chief information officer's office. "I think it allows a more dynamic structure like what you see in industry," he said. It would allow people to move around within government and in and out of management roles, as the SES was initially designed to do, he said.

One goal of the GS-2210 information technology management job series introduced 18 months ago, Thompson added, was to allow people to advance without requiring that they manage a certain number of people.

In general, the commission recommended first a "fundamental reorganization" of the federal government.

Commission Chairman Paul Volcker said OPM and the Office of Management and Budget have been briefed on the report. "We have provided a beautiful architectural rendering," he said. Now it's up to the "engineers," including Congress, to create the blueprint.

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