Ilin Sergey/

First governmentwide SES leadership session kicks off this week

New training program aims to bring together top career executives to help solve country’s challenges.

Top federal managers and Obama administration officials will gather Thursday in Washington to kick off the first governmentwide senior executive leadership development program, according to people familiar with the event.

The program, known as Leading EDGE, wants to boost collaboration among agencies and senior executives to “inspire new approaches to challenges facing the country,” stated background information provided by the Veterans Affairs Department, which is leading the effort along with the Office of Personnel Management and the President’s Management Council. The expectation, according to VA, is to provide senior executives with the right tools, training and resources to help lead their agencies in the current fiscal and political environments.

EDGE stands for Executives Driving Government Excellence and will include a series of six workshops, an online portal, executive coaching, leadership self-assessments and interagency teams that will work on federal management challenges.

"Today's government requires a new level of innovation, partnership and execution,” said W. Scott Gould, VA deputy secretary who is involved in heading up the program. “Senior executives are being asked to deliver greater value to taxpayers even as their work becomes more interdependent and complex. Leading EDGE will help develop and train career leaders to improve mission performance."

The Chief Human Capital Officers Council invited 15 departments and agencies to participate in the program, and several hundred senior executives already have registered. Kathryn Medina, executive director of the CHCO Council, sent an email last week to all agencies, asking them to choose 25 senior executives to send to Thursday’s inaugural workshop, a one-time invitation, to help spread the word about the program.

In an era of smaller budgets, “every practical step is being taken to keep costs down for Leading EDGE,” VA said about the program. To that end, no food or refreshments will be provided at events, and the government will hold workshops in the least expensive venues, including federal facilities. In addition, the program will include virtual participation to reduce travel costs and ensure employees outside Washington can take advantage of Leading EDGE. Existing information systems, such as the Office of Management and Budget’s, will support the program’s Web portal. Agencies use to share information and collaborate. The program also aims to be green by sharing information electronically and minimizing the use of paper.

Thursday’s event will feature OMB acting Director Jeff Zients; PMC members, including Gould; former George W. Bush White House chief of staff Andy Card, and former Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen. It’s scheduled to take place in the morning at the Interior Department’s main auditorium.

The 15 departments and agencies participating in the program are:

  • Commerce
  • Defense
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • General Services Administration
  • Health and Human Services
  • Homeland Security
  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Labor
  • OPM
  • Small Business Administration
  • Social Security Administration
  • Transportation
  • Veterans Affairs

(Image via Ilin Sergey/