Executive morale: A blast from the past

Washington is a place where politicians from all sides are unveiling "new ideas." Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says whether an idea is new or a reinvention ...

When a show opens on Broadway, the critics can be mixed. And brutal. Especially if it is a revival of a favorite from the past.

A hipster reviewer may love the idea of King Lear on stilts. Another may find it grotesque and, worst of all, not as good as the original. Now, move from Broadway to Pennsylvania Avenue, the nation’s other home to ongoing drama.

Washington is a place where politicians — left, right, Democrat or Republican — are always unveiling “new” ideas. Often when the new plan is out, some spoilsport with an institutional memory will say that (A) it’s not new and (B) when we tried it 14 times before, under a different name with a different coat of paint, it didn’t work. But the show must go on.

So whether an idea is new or a reinvention of the wheel, there are people out there prepared to praise or savage it. The latest example:

President Barack Obama’s recent remarks to nearly 3,000 members of the Senior Executive Service. People who attended said the mood was generally very positive. But some who watched it on TV were less impressed. One longtime SESer, said it “was too little and too late” and didn’t “stack up” to the event Bush 41 (George H.W. Bush) had early in his presidency. He met with 3,000 SESers at Constitution Hall and had some award-winning executives with him on the stage. A “night and day” difference, the senior SESer said. Mike O’Connell reported on the proposals outlined by the president. His report drew lots of comments.

Francis Rose, Federal News Radio drive-time host, came away from the event thinking the president may have failed in his stated effort to halt the decline in SES morale. Rose said that some of the president’s “new” ideas for the SES are up to 35 years old and have been tried before under different names. To read his commentary, click here.

One who hoped for a better POTUS-meets-SES session is Carol Bonosaro. She’s a former top career executive and the longtime president of the Senior Executives Association. Most members of the SES are career (as opposed to political appointees). Their salaries range from $120,000 to just over $188,000.

The event was welcomed, as was what Obama said, “but I wish it would have happened earlier” in his administration, Bonosaro said.

Early in his first term, the president brought then-OPM Director John Berry to at least two Cabinet meetings. Obama stressed the importance of the career civil service and urged Cabinet heads to work closely with Berry, who is now U.S. Ambassador to Australia. But since then, some of the president’s biggest fans and supporters (leaders of key federal and postal unions) have been less than pleased with his efforts on behalf of feds.

Bonosaro said “George W. Bush met with [career executives] twice” while Bill Clinton never did. But the high water mark for the SES was Bush 41’s meet-and-greet, “where he made SES people feel like they were part of the team. People who were there still talk about it,” she said.

So, what are your thoughts? Is Bonosaro right or is she being too hard on the president? We’ll talk with her Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn radio show. That’s at www.federalnewsradio.com or in the D.C. area at 1500 AM. You can call in during the show or send questions or comments to: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com.


By Ginger Whitaker
Theater in New York City got its start on Nassau Street, rather than on Broadway. In the mid-19th century, an entertainment center was opened on Broadway. The first musical was produced in 1870.

Source: USA Today


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