Does the SES have a future under Trump?

Former feds believe investing in the senior executive service is the most effective path to reform, but calls by Trump advisers for a rollback of government could deter senior administrators from buying in.

gears on diagram
 

The senior executive service has its flaws, but investing in the service -- by improving training programs, compensation and giving them more of a voice -- is the most effective path to reforming it, according to former feds.

"I don't think it's hyperbole to say the SES is at risk," Booz Allen Hamilton Vice President Ronald Sanders said at a March 17 National Academy of Public Administration event to release the book, "Building a 21st Century SES."

Sanders, a veteran of the Pentagon, IRS and the intelligence community and the editor of the book, said the SES' lagging pay, lack of diversity and difficulty in retaining quality employees "suggest this quiet crisis is getting louder."

Part of the crisis SES is facing, he said, is that 65 percent of it is eligible for retirement, and the prospect of President Donald Trump's "historic government reorganization may be the needle that finally pricks the retirement bubble that's been waiting to burst."

Retired National Security Agency and CIA director Michael Hayden made the point that policy participation might be more of a challenge under the new administration.

"We're faced with a circumstance where the signals from our most senior executive leadership talk about the 'deconstruction of the administrative state,'" he said. "And when faith-based policies run into fact-based individuals, you are labeled 'the deep state' rather than professional expertise."

Sanders said that an exodus of senior career feds "could be seen as an opportunity" for a refresh of sorts, except that potential successors – high-ranking general schedule employees – have become "disenchanted" with the prospect of becoming SES members.

Former acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration Carolyn Colvin said this is because SES service isn't perceived as conferring advantages on members.

"They don't get additional pay, they're fearful they're going to be scapegoated for something that goes wrong in the agency and they're worried about whether or not [political appointees] are going to support them," Colvin said.

As far as improving the efficacy of the SES, Sanders told FCW that government can "harness tech to get real-time feedback on how the agency is doing, and how citizens and its customers view it."

Measuring mission outcomes would mobilize the executive corps to make improvements, he said. Sanders also said that investing in training programs, pay raises and favoring accountability measures that don't gut workforce protections and make feds
"at will" employees.

Additionally, Sanders said that SES "would be much more motivated" when given a seat at the table for policy discussions and the drafting of executive orders -- decisions they ultimately will be charged with carrying out.

To that end, Sanders said he would like to see the Trump administration meet with SES members and allow them to provide honest input in private, in exchange for publicly carrying out the administration's policies.

In regards to the administration's proposed budget, Sanders expressed certainty "the career executive corps will take its share of cuts."

However, he added that while cuts would affect "levels of resources," they would not necessarily preclude the administration from taking steps to empower the SES.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.