Regardless of who wins the White House in November, the next presidential administration should focus on the relationship between political appointees and career employees, says a report done for the Partnership for Public Service.
“Success will start with the appointment of highly capable leaders who have strong management skills and can work together with experienced career government executives—and making sure those leaders are in place early in the president’s term,” it says.
It adds that administrations “can learn a great deal from career civil servants, but often exclude them from key decisions out of concern that they are loyal to the prior administration or not on board with the new president’s policies. This can impede cooperation, information sharing and progress on the president’s agenda.”
It recommends, for example, that the new president meet within the first three months with members of the SES “to emphasize the importance of their role in managing the government and serving the American people. In addition, the new administration should prioritize a talent management strategy for the SES that includes more rigorous leadership development; improvements in the recruiting and hiring process; changes in performance management to create greater accountability; and increased emphasis on recognition for stand-out performers and on making the SES a highly desirable position for aspiring federal employees.”
Both senior political and senior career employees further should be held accountable for improving employee job and workplace satisfaction and commitment, as measured by the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and by the Partnership’s best places in government to work report, it says.
It adds that that innovation and technology skills “remain in high demand and short supply across the federal enterprise . . . More employees need to be trained in methods such as human centered design, data science, data visualization, crowdsourcing and other new ways of working, and more people with these skills need to be brought into government to inspire people with fresh ideas and thinking.”