How Should the Senior Executive Service Prepare for the 2016 Transition?

Monday, November 16, 2015

This blog was adapted from an article first published in Action, the newsletter of the Senior Executives Association, on the occasion of the retirement of Carol Bonosaro, SEA President.

Numerous efforts are currently underway to develop recommendations for the next presidential administration both on policy and on management matters. None, to my knowledge, neither in the past nor underway, plans to discuss what senior career executives should do in preparation for and during the upcoming presidential transition. That is a gaping hole that needs to be filled. 

Let me offer an initial proposal to move discussion, and action, forward. Let me suggest that every member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) start, in early 2016, preparing background material showing historic trends on key performance and other relevant indicators for the multiple goals of their organizations; describing strategies used to bring about improvement; discussing what has worked well and what has not; and, to the extent feasible, examining what worked well in other countries doing similar work and at the sub-national level. After the election, then pull together a list of specific options and goals informed by the campaign of the winning candidate, done in the context of the realities of the law and resources. 

Perhaps some members of the SES have done this for past transitions. If so and it worked well in specific cases, this needs to be shared more widely. If not, the SES should try doing this for the upcoming transition and determine how to do it even better and more uniformly in the future, truly assuming the responsibilities of being the career senior executives of the federal government. 

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