HR and tech managers aren’t on the same page


There is a disconnect between federal human resources officials and information technology leaders over what measures are effective for bringing on the next generation of IT leaders, according to a new report.

While federal HR leaders say they have put succession planning efforts in place, many agency IT operational managers have developed their own internal succession planning amid a perceived lack of HR support, according to “Bridging the Gap in Federal Succession Planning,” which was released Tuesday by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council.

In addition, all IT operational managers surveyed said their agency’s succession planning program and ongoing HR management strategy were only partially or poorly developed or non-existent. Seventy percent of IT managers said they had not been asked to participate in any agency-level succession planning discussions, ACT-IAC found. “The human capital practitioners felt as though they are delivering succession planning programs as they are required to do by the Office of Personnel Management,” said Susan Grunin, a chair of the group that conducted the study. “However, one of the key results we found is that many IT operational managers are not aware these programs exist in their areas. If they are aware, many find them to be ineffective at producing managers capable of executing agency initiatives.”

The study, based on document research and interviews with federal human capital executives, also said leaders “do not always ensure that their agencies include succession planning as strategic initiatives.” It added: “Internal communications in this area are often ineffective.”

ACT-IAC also found that while some agencies have effective succession planning programs in place, intra-agency succession planning does not consistently take place. The findings come on the heels of another recent report from the Partnership of Public Service that concluded IT issues are a key concern to chief human capital officers, as jobs in science, technology and engineering are considered “mission critical” occupations and agencies have seen hiring delays and a lack of funding to fill vacancies in those areas.

The new report details successful succession planning efforts, for instance at the Commerce Department and NASA. Some successful plans use in-person interviews rather than written applications when making management development choices, since that can more easily indicate potential leaders’ ability to think on their feet and effectively communicate. Other plans conduct “bench strength forecasting” -- looking at current strengths as a way to decide where to invest in resources for leadership development.

ACT-IAC recommended agencies commit to determining why succession planning is not better linked to overall strategic plans. The report also recommended that succession plans include rotational assignments to help foster cross-communication among agency managers, and that training for all new agency leaders include succession planning. OPM also could boost its role in overall succession planning efforts, in part by creating an in-person or virtual education platform and by developing a website with discussion groups, the report said.

(Image via cozyta/

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.