One Woman’s Opinion
by – Sheri de Grom
A congressional committee has recommended federal senior government executives be required to remain in place if recruitment of a replacement is considered difficult. Federal agency leadership (the hired, not the appointed ones) is facing a brain drain and Congress is largely to blame.
It’s understandable that there’s a significant shortage of qualified top managers. There’s been a 36% increase in departures from Senior Executive Service since 2009. It’s become more and more difficult to groom a replacement in federal service than in private sector positions.
A Senior Executive may lose their job if they are even suspected of training someone for their position. A Senior Executive may announce their departure months in advance but the announcement of a new position and the recruitment process cannot begin until the position is vacated. Critical positions remain open for months, sometimes years and are often never filled.
The largest driver of senior executives out of government has been age. Nearly 80 percent of departing SES employees since 2009 was voluntary, non-early retirees.
One in five, however, left through early retirement or resignation.
Senior executives told researchers the financial crisis, pay compensation, award suspension and sequester were major factors that drove them out of federal service.
Senior Executive Employees know nothing will happen this year as congress remains in gridlock. Gridlock is bad, especially if you want action. But if you are the chosen sacrificial lamb, aka a career federal civil servant, gridlock has a certain appeal. If congress can’t or won’t do anything good for you, they also can’t do anything bad to you.
Ultimately, extending the tenure of retirement-eligible managers while mentoring and training new talent will reduce productivity during any transition period.
As with most changes brought about by congress for the federal workforce or the military, it will be too little too late.
It’s difficult for a government employee at any level to think generously about members of congress when it’s public knowledge that the leaders making the employees’ lives miserable are going home to plush accommodations as they leave their offices.
Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid props his feet up at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. While he may get a discounted rate, the cost per night at the Ritz starts at $649 and goes up to $810. Assuming the senator pays $3,000/weekly, that’s more than his take-home pay. Where does the money come from for such a lavish life-style for a ‘man of the people?’ His personal fortune? Do the taxpayers of Nevada believe Senator Harry Reid is so worthy as to pick up the tab for his living at the Ritz?
While Senator Reid is relaxing, you may take a tour of the Ritz at http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/WashingtonDC/PhotoTourPop.htm I can’t blame the Senator for loving the Ritz. I love the opulence, the charm and the feeling of no worries upon stepping through the gilded doorway.
Some say the Senator owns a condo at the Ritz. Oh, my heart be still.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House John Boehner has long denied that his perpetual tan skin color is the result of sunless tanning. He just spends a lot of time outdoors; the Ohio Republican is known to say. If Speaker Boehner spends so much time out-of-doors, when does he have time to work?
Despite Boehner’s repeated denials of using tanning beds, he does have ties to the industry. Not only has he accepted campaign contributions from a group called the Indoor Tanning Association, Boehner lives in a D.C. apartment owned by a lobbyist for the American Suntanning Association.
In recent years, federal workers have been a primary target of deficit-fighters. The White House and Congress imposed the pay freeze, created the furloughs and shutdowns and are in agreement that feds should kick in more toward their retirement, and that future cost-of-living adjustments for retirees (federal, military and Social Security) should be trimmed, a tad, by using a new inflation-measuring yardstick.
In addition to raising retirement costs for current feds, there is talk and plans to eliminate the defined-benefit portion of the federal retirement package for future hires.
Many long-time feds, who have lived with cutback plans going back to the 1980s, have learned to grin and bear it. Lots of relative newcomers remain nervous. People who said that sequestration would never happen were proved wrong.
The good-news-bad-news (which is often the same thing when talking about political outcomes) is that Congress isn’t likely to do anything this year. They’ll focus all energy to see that everybody in Congress who wants to stay in the House or Senate stays in the House or Senate.