Evan Vucci/AP

Obama Announces Plans to Reform and Modernize the Senior Executive Service

Developing new talent and identifying best practices are key parts of the president’s initiatives.

President Obama on Tuesday announced a series of initiatives aimed at reforming, improving and rewarding the federal government’s Senior Executive Service.

Obama spoke to a large crowd of SES employees and other senior leaders in government to unveil the new programs, calling some federal operations antiquated and in need of reform. He said Americans’ waning trust in government emphasizes the need to “constantly ask ourselves” how to improve it, and ensure future generations feel a calling for federal service.

The first initiative will create the White House Leadership Development Program, aimed at cultivating future career executives. The program will allow “top civil servants and SES candidates” to participate in rotational assignments at agencies across government to address government’s “highest priority, highest impact challenges,” Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta -- who also spoke at the event Tuesday -- and Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert wrote in a blog post.

“The program is a step toward fulfilling the vision of the Senior Executive Service and developing senior civil servants with critical skill sets such as leading change, building coalitions, working across government to solve problems and performance management,” Archuleta and Cobert wrote.

Obama said the program provided a “terrific opportunity” to modernize government.

“One thing we have to acknowledge is that our government was statutorily organized for the needs of the 1930s, 40s, or 60s and too often we get stove-piped by it at a time when we need people with different skill sets at different agencies to be working together,” Obama said.

Obama also announced an advisory group on SES reform to be made up of both current and aspiring leaders. The group will provide advice on how to best recruit, hire, develop and retain senior career leaders. It will also develop “accountability mechanisms” for the SES, Archuleta and Cobert said.  

The president promoted a website formerly reserved for human resources personnel -- unlocktalent.gov -- now available to all SES members to provide Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results directly to managers. Obama said the website and the advisory group will allow federal employees to have their voices heard.

“Most of the time, people get involved in government because they want to make a difference,” Obama said. “And there’s no greater satisfaction than when you see something that you identified as a better way of doing things implemented.”

Finally, Obama announced a new, non-monetary award program to recognize employees who improve customer service. The program will identify practices that can be replicated throughout government provide an opportunity for the administration to “highlight outstanding customer service.” There will be two types of awards: the Secretary Customer Service Awards given out by agencies, and a “limited number” of Presidential Customer Service Awards, according to Archuleta and Cobert.

“I’m surprised this hasn’t been done before,” Obama said, “but we're going to start.”

The initiatives are an extension of Obama’s management agenda, unveiled in March in his fiscal 2015 budget blueprint. The announcement was met with praise from good-government groups.

“President Obama deserves praise for his strong backing of the government's senior executives, his commitment to strengthen this all-important federal career leadership corps, and for creating a new program that will allow current and future executives to work across government to solve some of the nation's most pressing problems,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service.

NEXT STORY: 8 Tips for Managing a Federal Blog

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.