The White House has announced three new initiatives to enhance and reform the Senior Executive Service (SES).
Speaking at a gathering in Washington, D.C. honoring as many as 3,000 of the federal workforce’s senior leaders, the president thanked them for their “extraordinary sacrifice” and called today’s federal leaders “the best of the best.”
Obama acknowledged the challenges faced by federal leaders. “You work under tough circumstances, whether it’s sequestration, pay freeze, shutdown, and more importantly a political climate where folks too often talk down government for cheap applause.” But, the president said in this environment, the government must adapt to the demands of the 21st century.
He said it was his job to give leaders “a little more support to keep attracting the new talent that we are going to need in the future.”
The president announced three initiatives that would recognize outstanding service and give leaders new opportunities to develop their skills.
The administration will launch a White House Leadership Program. Under this program top leaders and SES candidates will have the opportunity to “rotate through different agencies on high-priority assignments” and bring back new expertise their agency. The goal is to reenergize and reinvigorate leaders and cross-pollinate ideas across agencies.
A White House Advisory Group on Senior Executive Service Reform will study ways to better recruit, develop, and retain exceptional civil servants. Members will include Senior Level and Senior Technical professionals from all agencies, as well as rising leaders. The Group will have access, via a special website, to information collected from annual employee surveys and will also emphasize accountability mechanisms to identify management improvements.
The White House is also creating an award to recognize outstanding customer service by individuals and teams. This non-monetary Customer Service Awards Program will recognize those leaders “who make enormous differences in the lives of individual Americans every single day,” the president said. There will be two classes: Presidential Customer Service Awards and Secretary Customer Service Awards (agency awards).