Federal Manager's Daily Report

Mid-level federal managers generally see the SES as prestigious but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aspire to join the senior executive ranks, according to a report from the Partnership for Public Service, done with the McKinsey & Company firm.

Even among GS-13 through -15 managers selected by their agencies to participate in the Partnership’s Excellence in Government Fellows program—selections that are based on leadership potential—only 59 percent said they aspire to the SES. That is about the same as the 55 percent figure in a prior similar survey by Vanderbilt University of those in certain government leadership development programs.

The report noted that the most common sources of dissatisfaction for current SES members include the political environment, senior leadership, organizational culture, lack of recognition, job stress, insufficient pay and awards, and lack of autonomy in decision making.

It said the SES could be made more attractive by steps such as stronger engagement between GS-level employees and senior executives; improving the situation of current executives, putting those positions in a more positive light; and improving public perception of government, for example by calling more attention to its achievements and innovations.

Attracting a candidate pool is especially important given the likelihood of substantial upcoming retirements of current execs, the report added—35 percent are currently eligible, 54 percent will be within three years; 66 percent within five years and 85 percent within 10 years.