Unrealized Vision: Reimagining the Senior Executive Service

cover thumbnail Author(s): Partnership and Booz Allen Hamilton
Publication Date: 08/20/2009
Publication Topics: Leadership, Performance Management, Recruiting and Hiring, Strategic Human Capital Planning, Training and Development
Publication Type: Research Reports and Surveys
Download ACROBAT 666k Download


Thirty-one years ago, as part of the most sweeping civil service reforms in more than a century, Congress created the Senior Executive Service (SES) to provide a unified, government-wide cadre of federal career executives with shared values, a broad perspective and solid leadership skills. This leadership corps, reformers believed, would move across agencies, bring their expertise and strategic thinking to a range of difficult issues and problems, and operate under a uniform and performance-based pay system. Today's Senior Executive Service, however, only vaguely reflects and demonstrates this vision.

The Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton decided to study the SES, to examine to what extent it has achieved its original goals and is keeping up with the times, to see if there are impediments to its success, and to determine if changes should be made to improve the management of government.

The primary finding is that the Senior Executive Service as envisioned by reformers has fallen short of its promise. More importantly, the report found that the original vision itself is inadequate for today's needs and does not provide the blueprint to build the kind of senior government leadership required for the future.

Start a new search »

The Partnership for Public Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.


2013 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® Analysis: Effective Leadership Communication
Communication from agency leadership can have a significant impact on employee attitudes toward their jobs and workplaces. But according to a new Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® analysis from the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte, communicating effectively and motivating employees is a challenge for many leaders, with only half of the federal workforce satisfied with the level of communication from senior leaders and managers.
Download ACROBAT 107k Download
Fed Figures 2014-Federal Hiring
As a result of the 2008–2009 economic downturn and increased budget constraints, federal hiring has been on the decline. With fewer opportunities to bring on new employees, it is critical for agencies to focus on hiring the most highly qualified individuals to meet the nation’s needs. Who did government hire in 2013 and how has the profile of this hiring class evolved from previous years? Where are these new employees located and in which agencies do they serve? To answer these questions, the Partnership for Public Service analyzed recent hiring data for full-time, nonseasonal, permanent civilian employees hired in fiscal 2013 in executive branch agencies, excluding the U.S. Postal Service.
Download ACROBAT 131k Download
Embracing Change: CHCOs Rising to the Challenge of an Altered Landscape
The Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton LLP surveyed 60 chief human capital officers and agency HR leaders regarding the challenges facing the federal workforce. The report also includes recommendations from these leaders for rebuilding and strengthening the federal workforce.
Download ACROBAT 621k Download
A More Efficient and Effective Government: Cultivating the Federal Workforce
Partnership President and CEO Max Stier’s testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce on the state of the federal workforce.
Download ACROBAT 503k Download
Building the Enterprise: A New Civil Service Framework
In the report, the Partnership for Public Service calls for major reforms to the federal government’s decades-old civil service system and lays out a plan to modernize areas that include the outdated pay and hiring policies.
Download ACROBAT 307k Download
Management Matters: Creating a 21st Century Government – Part II, Outside Views
Partnership President and CEO Max Stier’s testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about the management challenges facing our federal government.
Download ACROBAT 242k Download