The Senior Executive Service is facing a number of issues as it looks to the future, one of them being attracting a new generation to the group.
Carol Bonosaro is President of the Senior Executive Association and said her group was very pleased earlier this week when President Obama signed the Defense Authorization bill into law.
Now that the dust has settled, however, she told the Daily Debrief that the SEA is facing new challenges.
“We’re particularly concerned about the future of the SES generally. Is it attractive enough to this next generation, which is more concerned with work-life balance than some of us were — and are. What would make a difference to them to overcome, assuming that we’re not exactly going to change these late hours and telecommuting on evenings and weekends? What will overcome that and enable them to say, ‘Gee, I really want to do this because it is important work’.”
She said the SEA is currently examining ways to get younger feds excited about becoming a part of the SES.
“Compensation is certainly one of them, but it’s not the only one. It’s also a matter of letting them have more of a participatory role where they don’t have it now in the development of policy [and] getting rid of some of these political layers so that they can have more opportunity along the way.”
Bonosaro added that she and others aren’t necessarily worried about the entire future of the SES, but they do want to get more young blood into the system.
“We keep seeing these Gs-14’s and 15’s and hearing about them — it’s not true of all of them by any means — but hearing about ones that say, ‘Thank you, but no thank you. I don’t aspire to it.’ There are too many detractors. It’s more responsibility. It’s more risk. The money is not that different.”
One positive development occurred when the Defense Authorization bill became law, however. The SEA had been pushing for locality pay in place of the COLA for federal employees in Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. Territories. This became a reality when the bill was signed.
“By changing it over to locality pay, which is comparable to what one gets on the main land, that does contribute toward their retirement. It is counted. What’s interesting about this provision is that the changeover is going include Senior Executives. Now, there aren’t many in Hawaii and Alaska, but there are some. So, for the first time since 2004, we are going to have some Senior Executives at least who are receiving locality pay.”
Bonosaro said the SEA hopes this development will start a trend for all members of the Senior Executive Service.