President invites entire Senior Executive Service for one-on-one meeting

President Barack Obama is extending an open invitation to the Senior Executive Service members to attend an exclusive meeting with him on Dec. 9.

Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, confirmed the meeting is open to any employee who works for an SES-level or senior management-level position in the government. Registration opened on Tuesday, and any available tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

The online registration site already is seeing a flood of executives who want to sign up. The total number of guests allowed to the meeting still is in question, although more than 1,000 already are registered. The event will be held in a “large venue,” Bonosaro said.

Government Executive first reported Obama’s plans to meet with the SES.

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The President is following the example set by the two most recent Republican administrations. President George H.W. Bush met with the Senior Executive Service early in his term to remind these officials of their value to the nation. President George W. Bush met with SESers twice during his time in the White House. President Bill Clinton never met with the SES in this type of exclusive setting during his administration.

Bonosaro said that leaves lingering questions as to not only why Obama is choosing to meet with his senior managers at all, but also why the meeting is set toward the end of his stay in the White House.

“I honestly don’t know why now,” said Bonosaro. “Obviously, we would have appreciated this about five years ago, but better late than never.”

Bonosaro expects the President to focus on his second-term management agenda, and she hopes it has an impact on the overall morale of the SES. She partly credits sequestration, pay freezes and the shutdown on historically low levels of satisfaction and engagement from her association’s members.

“I think this is an executive corps whose morale very much needs a boost,” said Bonosaro. “So we hope the President will be doing just that.”

Bonosaro said she wasn’t sure why Obama is meeting with SESers. But the focus on his second-term management agenda is highly focused on people-based innovation, and not just technology, to improve public service. It also calls for changing workplace culture at agencies to make them fitter, happier, more productive places to work.

Bonosaro said she wasn’t exactly sure why the meeting is taking place or what the President plans to say, “but I’m ready to be surprised.”

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