Federal Manager's Daily Report

The latest exit survey of SES members who left the government–conducted over August 2016-July 2017–shows little change in the patterns from the surveys conducted in the three prior similar periods, OPM has said.

In all years, more than 90 percent of respondents said they were leaving voluntarily and around half said they would be working for pay or looking for paid work in the near future, with almost all of the rest to retire. The turnover numbers who leave annually have remained consistent, as well, between 800-900 per year apart from a surge of departures among the political appointed portion of the SES during the change in administrations. Partial data for fiscal 2018, through June of that year, show that turnover continued at about the same rate in that year.

Of those who intended to continue working, the most common expectations were to work in the private sector (27%), self-employment (15%), in a non-profit or as a government contractor (13% each). About three-fourths said they expected to work full-time and above half said they expected to be paid more.

The top-three factors influencing executives to leave were political environment (37%), senior leadership (35%) and a desire to enjoy life without work commitments (32%)–all in line with past surveys.

Also consisting is that almost two-thirds indicated their agencies have no formal succession planning efforts for executives, and over half said their agencies made no efforts to involve them in preparing their successors. In a memo, OPM reminded agencies that they are required to develop a comprehensive management succession program to fill agency supervisory and managerial positions. “The exit survey results indicate agencies should focus efforts to ensure smooth transitions in leadership,” it said.