Army won't salute SES flag
Senior executives in the Army will soon be rallying around their own flag because the Army decided that a governmentwide Senior Executive Service flag is not good enough for the department's SESers.
The governmentwide Senior Executive Service flag, which the Office of Personnel Management approved as the official SES flag in 1989, stands in the offices of executives throughout the government. The flag consists of the gold SES logo on a navy blue background, encircled by 13 five-point gold stars. The SES logo is a trapezoid-shaped keystone, symbolizing the importance of the SES in carrying out the president's policies. Inside the keystone are seven lines, which OPM explains represent "columns of strength" in the SES ranks. The flag was designed by the Senior Executives Association in 1988.
The flag is meant to be a symbol of unity, representing a vision of the SES as a governmentwide corps of leaders for the career civil service. But the Army has decided to foster unity on the department level instead.
In its December 1992 newsletter, The Protocol Forum, the Army Protocol Office announced that its Institute of Heraldry, which approves all symbolic items for the department, "does not recognize the SES flag as an 'official flag.' " The institute decided that the governmentwide SES flag could be displayed in the privacy of an SESer's office, but it could not be flown in public. In May 1993, the Army began preparing designs for its own SES flag.
That didn't make much sense to some Army leaders. In a May 28, 1993 memorandum, Gen. Jimmy Ross, then-chief of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, asked William Clark, the acting assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, whether an Army-specific SES flag was really necessary.
"To design an Army-unique flag would defeat the purpose of recognizing SES members as part of a federal cadre of top executives," Ross wrote. "I urge that the Institute of Heraldry recognize the SEA flag and update Army guidance and regulations accordingly."
On June 23, 1993, Clark informed Gen. Ross that he would have his staff "review in more detail the comparison costs for purchase of the SEA flag and discuss with the Institute of Heraldry the propriety of adopting the flag of another organization for protocol use in the Department of the Army."
Last month--five years later--Acting Army Secretary Mike Walker approved a Department of the Army SES flag. Instead of 13 stars around the SES logo, the Army's flag wraps the words "Department of the Army Senior Executive Service" around the logo.
SEA President Carol Bonosaro is baffled by the Army's insularity.
"One wonders, does the Army consider it proper protocol to display the U.S. flag, which, after all, wasn't designed by the department?" Bonosaro quipped.
Actually, the official SES flag was designed in 1988 under the direction of then-SEA Board of Directors member Clyde Jeffcoat, a senior executive in--guess where?--the Army.
"Apparently there's not enough to do at headquarters, which could benefit from a little more downsizing," joked one Army executive.
Asked why the Army had created its own flag, an Institute of Heraldry spokeswoman said the governmentwide flag had been "determined inappropriate for official use."