oversight

Senior Executive Service: Enhanced Agency Efforts Needed to Improve Diversity as the Senior Corps Turns Over

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-10-15.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                              United States General Accounting Office

GAO                           Testimony
                              Before the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency
                              Organization, Committee on Government Reform, House
                              of Representatives


For Release on Delivery
Expected at 2:00 p.m. EDT
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
                              SENIOR EXECUTIVE
                              SERVICE
                              Enhanced Agency Efforts
                              Needed to Improve
                              Diversity as the Senior
                              Corps Turns Over
                              Statement of George H. Stalcup
                              Director, Strategic Issues




GAO-04-123T

                              A

                                                  October 15, 2003


                                                  SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE

                                                  Enhanced Agency Efforts Needed to
Highlights of GAO-04-123T, a testimony            Improve Diversity as the Senior Corps
before the Subcommittee on Civil Service
and Agency Organization, Committee on             Turns Over
Government Reform, House of
Representatives




The federal government faces large                More than half of the 6,100 career SES members employed on October 1,
losses in its Senior Executive                    2000, will have left service by October 1, 2007. Using recent SES
Service (SES), primarily through                  appointment trends, the only significant changes in diversity would be an
retirement but also because of                    increase in the number of white women and an essentially equal decrease in
other normal attrition. This                      white men. The percentage of GS-15s and GS-14s projected to leave would
presents the government with
substantial challenges to ensuring
                                                  be lower (47 percent and 34 percent, respectively), and we project that the
an able management cadre and also                 number of minorities still in the GS-15 and GS-14 workforce would provide
provides opportunities to affect the              agencies sufficient opportunity to select minority members for the SES.
composition of the SES.
                                                  Estimates showed substantial variation in the proportion of SES minorities
In a January 2003 report, GAO-03-                 leaving between 24 large agencies and in the effect on those agencies’
34, GAO estimated the number of                   gender, racial, and ethnic profiles. Minority representation at 10 agencies
SES members who would actually                    would decrease and at 12 would increase.
leave service through fiscal year
2007 and reviewed the implications                Agencies have an opportunity to affect SES replacement trends by
for diversity, as defined by gender,              developing succession strategies that help achieve a diverse workforce.
race, and ethnicity of the estimated              Along with constructive agency leadership, these strategies could generate a
losses. Specifically, GAO estimated
by gender, race, and ethnicity the
                                                  pool of well-prepared women and minorities to boost the diversity of the
number of members of the career                   SES ranks.
SES who will leave government
service from October 1, 2000,                     Projected Changes in the SES from 2000 through 2007 If Recent Appointment Trends
through September 30, 2007, and                   Continue
what the profile of the SES will be
if appointment trends do not
change. GAO made the same
estimates for the pool of GS-15s
and GS-14s, from whose ranks the
vast majority of replacements for
departing SES members come, to
ascertain the likely composition of
that pool.




www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-123T.

To view the full testimony, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact George H.
Stalcup at (202) 512-9490 or
stalcupg@gao.gov.
Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee:

I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the anticipated attrition
within the Senior Executive Service (SES) and the challenges and
opportunities that this attrition presents for enhancing the gender, racial,
and ethnic diversity of the federal government’s senior executive corps.
Two weeks ago, the Subcommittee held a hearing on succession planning
at the federal level. Our statement at that hearing discussed how other
countries have used succession planning and management to help them
build a more diverse leadership corps. My testimony today underscores
the importance of such an approach to succession planning and
management here in the United States and is based on the findings from
our January 2003 report on the SES.1

The SES generally represents the most experienced and senior segment of
the federal workforce. The expected loss of more than half of current
career SES members through fiscal year 2007, as well as significant
attrition in the GS-15 and GS-14 workforce—the key source for SES
appointments—has important implications for federal agencies and
underscores the need for effective succession planning. Demographics of
the public served by the federal government are changing. Representation
by women and minorities in the government’s executive corps and
succession pool is crucial if we expect to bring a wider variety of
perspectives and approaches to bear on policy development and
implementation, strategic planning, problem solving, and decision making,
and to provide the organizational strength that contributes to achieving
results. A number of federal organizations have oversight responsibility for
federal efforts to achieve diversity in the workplace. Key among these
organizations are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which help to ensure that
policies, laws, and regulations designed to (1) protect federal workers from
unlawful employment discrimination and other unlawful work practices
and (2) promote equal opportunity, fairness, and inclusiveness, are carried
out.

With these thoughts in mind, I would like to make three points today:



1
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Senior Executive Service: Enhanced Agency Efforts
Needed to Improve Diversity as the Senior Corps Turns Over, GAO-03-34 (Washington,
D.C.: Jan. 17, 2003).




Page 1                                                                   GAO-04-123T
First, in our January 2003 report, we estimated that 55 percent of the career
SES members employed by the federal government as of October 1, 2000,
will have left the service by October 1, 2007. Our estimates for attrition
among the GS-15 and GS-14 workforce also indicate a significant number of
departures, but a lower proportion will leave because GS-15s and GS-14s
are generally younger and leave for different reasons than SES members.
We estimated that about 47 percent of the GS-15s on board as of October
2000 will leave by October 2007 and that 34 percent of the GS-14s will leave.
Estimates of attrition showed variations across 24 large agencies for both
the SES and GS-15 and GS-14 workforce but, for most agencies, with the
proportion represented by minorities generally changing very little.2

Second, while the past is not necessarily prologue, if recent
governmentwide appointment trends were to continue, the only significant
change in diversity by 2007 would be an increase in the number of white
women from 19 percent to 23 percent and an essentially equal decrease in
the number of white men from 67 percent to 62 percent. Because
minorities will be leaving at about the same rate as nonminorities, the
current proportion of racial and ethnic minorities in the SES would change
very little if agencies replace SES members who leave with the same mix of
appointments as they did during fiscal years 1995 through 2000. Our
estimates by agencies varied. For 10 of the 24 large agencies, future trends,
based on recent projections, show less minority representation for SES in
2007 than in 2000, while 12 agencies show increases. At most agencies, the
diversity picture for the GS-15 and GS-14 workforce is better than that for
the SES. Even with variations by agency, if recent promotion trends
continue for the succession pool of GS-15s and GS-14s, by October 2007,
this workforce would experience a slight increase in the percentage of
minorities governmentwide. The increase, coupled with the residual
population left after attrition, indicate that significant numbers of minority
candidates for appointment to SES should be available.

Third, the wave of near-term retirements and other attrition will provide
the federal government with both a challenge and an opportunity. The
challenge will be to develop succession plans based on inclusive strategies


2
 The 24 large agencies also are referred to as the 24 Chief Financial Officer agencies. These
agencies are covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act, 31 U.S.C. § 901. Together, the 24
agencies account for about 96 percent of federal employees. Under H.R. 2886, the
Department of Homeland Security would be designated as a CFO Act agency and the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would no longer be considered a CFO Act
agency.




Page 2                                                                         GAO-04-123T
                        to help ensure that sufficient numbers of senior executives are in place to
                        develop and implement the policies and programs of the federal
                        government. The opportunity will be to use new appointments to enhance
                        the diversity of the SES corps and the succession pool from which SES
                        members are selected. Based in part on our work on the SES corps and in
                        other human capital areas, we have seen a positive response on the part of
                        OPM, EEOC, and other agencies. Continued leadership from OPM and
                        EEOC, coupled with a strong commitment on the part of agency
                        managers—through such actions as holding executives accountable for the
                        diversity in the workforces they manage—would help ensure the diversity
                        of senior leadership.



Over the Next Several   The federal government’s civilian workforce faces large losses over the
                        next several years, primarily through retirements. Expected retirements in
Years the Federal       the SES, which generally represents the most senior and experienced
Government Faces        segment of the workforce, are expected to be even higher than the
                        governmentwide rates. In our January 2003 report, we estimated that more
Significant Losses of   than half of the government’s 6,100 career SES members on board as of
Its Most Senior         October 2000 will have left the service by October 2007. Estimates for SES
Executives              attrition at 24 large agencies showed substantial variations in both the
                        proportion that would be leaving and the effect of those losses on the
                        gender, racial, and ethnic profile. We estimated that most of these agencies
                        would lose at least half of their corps.

                        The key source of replacements for the SES—the GS-15 and GS-14
                        workforce—also showed significant attrition governmentwide and at the
                        24 large agencies by fiscal year 2007. While this workforce is generally
                        younger, and those who leave do so for somewhat different reasons than
                        SES members, we estimate that almost half, 47 percent, of the GS-15s on
                        board as of October 2000 will have left federal employment by October
                        2007 and about a third, 34 percent, of the GS-14s will have left.



If Past Appointment     While past appointment trends may not continue, they do present a
                        window into how the future might look. In developing our estimates of
Trends Continue, the    future diversity of the SES corps, we analyzed appointment trends for the
Diversity of the SES    federal government and at 24 large agencies to determine the gender, racial,
                        and ethnic representation of the SES corps in 2007 if appointment trends
Corps Would Remain      that took place from fiscal years 1995 through 2000 continued. We found
Virtually Unchanged     that, governmentwide, the only significant change in diversity by 2007



                        Page 3                                                           GAO-04-123T
would be an increase in the number of white women, from 19.1 to 23.1
percent, and a corresponding decrease in white men, from 67.1 to 62.1
percent. The proportion of the SES represented by minorities would
change very little, from 13.8 to 14.5 percent.

Table 1 presents the results by gender, racial, and ethnic groups of our
simulation of SES attrition and projection of SES appointments using
recent trends. The table also shows that the racial and ethnic profile of
those current SES members who will remain in the service through the 7-
year period will be about the same as it was for all SES members in
October 2000. This is because minorities are projected to be leaving at
essentially the same rate overall as white members. Thus, any change in
minority representation will be the result of new appointments to the SES.
However, as the last columns of table 1 show, if recent appointment trends
continue, the result of replacing over half of the SES will be a corps whose
racial and ethnic profile changes very little. The outlook regarding gender
diversity is somewhat different—while the percentage represented by SES
white women is estimated to increase by 4 percentage points, the
percentage of minority women is estimated to increase by .5 percentage
point—from 4.5 to 5.0 percent. While white men are estimated to decrease
by 5 percentage points, minority men are estimated to increase by .2
percentage point, from 9.3 to 9.5 percent.




Page 4                                                           GAO-04-123T
Table 1: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity of Career SES Corps, Actual as of October 1, 2000; Those Estimated to Remain Employed
on October 1, 2007, after Accounting for Attrition; and Estimates for October 1, 2007, If Those Departing Are Replaced at Actual
Rates for Fiscal Years 1995 through 2000

                                                                                                               As of October 1, 2007,
                                                                              Remaining after                   with replacements at
                                            On board on                      estimated attrition               appointment rates for
                                           October 1, 2000                   on October 1, 2007                fiscal years 1995-2000
Career SES                                Number         Percentage          Number          Percentage          Number          Percentage
White men                                      4,097             67.1           1,704                62.7            3,794              62.1
White women                                    1,164             19.1             648                23.9            1,409              23.1
African American men                            333               5.5             144                  5.3             347               5.7
African American women                          179               2.9               85                 3.1             205               3.4
Hispanic men                                    112               1.8               48                 1.8             123               2.0
Hispanic women                                   43               0.7               16                 0.6              43               0.7
Asian/Pacific Islander men                       70               1.1               26                 1.0              65               1.1
Asian/Pacific Islander women                     33               0.5               12                 0.4              39               0.6
Native American men                              54               0.9               21                 0.8              47               0.8
Native American women                            21               0.3                8                 0.3              21               0.3
Unknown                                           4               0.1                4                 0.1              17               0.4
        a
Total                                          6,110            100.0           2,716               100.0            6,110             100.0
Men                                            4,666             76.4           1,943                71.5            4,376              71.6
Minority men                                    569               9.3             239                  8.8             582               9.5
Women                                          1,440             23.6             769                28.3            1,717              28.1
Minority women                                  276               4.5             121                  4.5             308               5.0
Source: GAO.

                                           Note: Information obtained from analysis of OPM’s Central Personnel Data File data.
                                           a
                                            Percentages may not add to 100 because of rounding.


                                           The results of our simulation of SES attrition and our projection of
                                           appointments to the SES over the 7-year period showed variation across
                                           the 24 Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act agencies, as illustrated in table 2.
                                           However, as with the governmentwide numbers, agencies tend to increase
                                           the proportion of women in the SES, particularly white women, and
                                           decrease the proportion of white men. The proportion represented by
                                           minorities tended to change relatively little. Our estimates of SES attrition
                                           at individual agencies by gender, racial, and ethnic groups are likely to be
                                           less precise than for our overall SES estimates because of the smaller
                                           numbers involved. Nevertheless, the agency-specific numbers should be
                                           indicative of what agency profiles would look like on October 1, 2007, if
                                           recent appointment trends continue.



                                           Page 5                                                                                GAO-04-123T
Table 2: Number of SES, Percentages of Women and Minorities on October 1, 2000, and Percentages of Women and Minorities
on October 1, 2007, Assuming SES Appointment Trends for Fiscal Years 1995 through 2000 Continue, by CFO Act Agency

                                       Percentage as of                Percentage on October 1, 2007, using current appointment
                                       October 1, 2000                    trends, and percentage change from October 1, 2000
                         Number
CFO agency                of SES        Women           Minorities           Women             Change         Minorities            Change
Agriculture                  283             25.4              20.1              30.0              +4.6              23.0               +2.8
AID                           25             20.0              20.0              20.8              +0.8                4.2             -15.8
Commerce                     296             23.3              12.5              30.9              +7.6              15.1               +2.6
Defense                     1,144            16.3                6.1             20.7              +4.4                6.1                0.0
Education                     60             28.3              21.7              32.3              +3.9              21.0                -0.7
Energy                       391             18.9              10.7              25.8              +6.9                9.5               -1.3
EPA                          255             29.8              15.3              35.7              +5.9              23.1               +7.8
FEMAa                         32             21.9                3.1             28.1              +6.3                3.1                0.0
GSA                           84             28.6              14.3              32.9              +4.4              12.9                -1.3
HHS                          399             36.1              21.3              41.2              +5.1              22.9               +1.6
HUD                           73             28.8              35.6              38.2              +9.4              40.8               +5.2
Interior                     191             31.9              22.0              39.3              +7.3              23.6               +1.6
Justice                      407             22.6              15.2              25.0              +2.4              16.7               +1.4
Labor                        132             28.0              21.2              32.8              +4.8              26.0               +4.7
NASA                         394             19.5              13.2              23.5              +4.0              12.9                -0.3
NRC                          139             13.7              11.5              17.3              +3.8                8.6               -2.9
NSF                           79             30.4              13.9              35.0              +4.6              10.0                -3.9
OPM                           36             41.7              19.4              45.7              +4.0              17.1                -2.3
SBA                           39             33.3              33.3              36.6              +3.3              34.1               +0.8
SSA                          118             35.6              33.1              41.0              +5.4              30.8                -2.3
State                        101             28.7                5.0             30.0              +1.3                3.0               -2.0
Transportation               178             27.0              14.5              29.2              +2.2              17.4               +2.8
Treasury                     537             23.3              12.8              24.3              +1.0              14.2               +1.3
VA                           247             14.6                9.7             21.4              +6.8              11.7               +2.0
Source: GAO.

                                         Notes: AID is the Agency for International Development, EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency,
                                         GSA is the General Services Administration, HHS is the Department of Health and Human Services,
                                         HUD is the Department of Housing and Urban Development, NASA is the National Aeronautics and
                                         Space Administration, NRC is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NSF is the National Science
                                         Foundation, SBA is the Small Business Administration, SSA is the Social Security Administration, and
                                         VA is the Department of Veterans Affairs. Information obtained from analysis of OPM’s Central
                                         Personnel Data File data.
                                         a
                                          Under H.R. 2886, the Department of Homeland Security would be designated as a CFO Act agency
                                         and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would no longer be considered a CFO Act
                                         agency.




                                         Page 6                                                                                GAO-04-123T
The gender, racial, and ethnic profiles of the career SES at the 24 CFO Act
agencies varied significantly on October 1, 2000. The representation of
women ranged from 13.7 percent to 36.1 percent with half of the agencies
having 27 percent or fewer women. For minority representation, rates
varied even more and ranged from 3.1 percent to 35.6 percent with half of
the agencies having less than 15 percent minorities in the SES.

Our projection of what the SES would look like if recent appointment
trends continued through October 1, 2007, showed variation, with 12
agencies having increased minority representation and 10 having less.
While projected changes for women are often appreciable, with 16 agencies
having gains of 4 percentage points or more and no decreases, projected
minority representation changes in the SES at most of the CFO Act
agencies are small, exceeding a 2 percentage point increase at only 6
agencies.

At most agencies, the diversity picture for GS-15s and GS-14s is somewhat
better than that for the SES. To ascertain what the gender, racial, and
ethnic profile of the candidate pool for SES replacements would look like,
we performed the same simulations and projections for GS-15s and GS-14s
as we did for the SES. Over 80 percent of career SES appointments of
federal employees come from the ranks of GS-15s.3 Similarly, over 90
percent of those promoted to GS-15 are from the GS-14 workforce. Table 3
presents the results of our analysis for GS-15s, and table 4 presents the
results for GS-14s. The results show a somewhat lower proportion of this
workforce will leave.




3
 A small number of GS-14s are promoted to SES and it is possible for GS-13s to be promoted
to SES, but this is rare. The remaining SES appointments come from applicants outside of
the federal government.




Page 7                                                                       GAO-04-123T
Table 3: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity of GS-15s, Actual as of October 1, 2000; Those Estimated to Remain Employed on
October 1, 2007, after Accounting for Attrition; and Estimates for October 1, 2007, If Those Departing Are Replaced at Actual
Rates for Fiscal Years 1995 through 2000

                                                                                                               As of October 1, 2007,
                                                                             Remaining after                    with replacements at
                                           On board on                      estimated attrition                  promotion rates for
                                          October 1, 2000                   on October 1, 2007                 fiscal years 1995-2000
GS-15                                    Number         Percentage           Number          Percentage          Number          Percentage
White men                                  33,567               64.8          16,731                 61.2          31,383               60.6
White women                                10,062               19.4            5,884                21.5          11,399               22.0
African American men                        1,711                 3.3             981                  3.6          2,004                3.9
African American women                      1,500                 2.9             909                  3.3          1,799                3.5
Hispanic men                                1,197                 2.3             702                  2.6          1,375                2.7
Hispanic women                                 470                0.9             285                  1.0            560                1.1
Asian/Pacific Islander men                  2,063                 4.0           1,090                  4.0          1,872                3.6
Asian/Pacific Islander women                   836                1.6             500                  1.8            879                1.7
Native American men                            278                0.5             152                  0.6            352                0.7
Native American women                          103                0.2              54                  0.2            116                0.2
Unknown                                        39                 0.1              39                  0.1              88               0.2
        a
Total                                      51,826              100.0          27,327                100.0          51,827              100.0
Men                                        38,816               74.9          19,656                 71.9          36,986               71.4
Minority men                                5,249               10.0            2,925                10.7           5,603               10.8
Women                                      12,971               25.0            7,632                27.9          14,753               28.5
Minority women                              2,909                 5.6           1,748                  6.4          3,354                6.5
Source: GAO.

                                           Note: Information obtained from analysis of OPM’s Central Personnel Data File data.
                                           a
                                            Percentages may not add to 100 because of rounding.




                                           Page 8                                                                                GAO-04-123T
Table 4: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity of GS-14s, Actual as of October 1, 2000; Those Estimated to Remain Employed on
October 1, 2007, after Accounting for Attrition; and Estimates for October 1, 2007, If Those Departing Are Replaced at Actual
Rates for Fiscal Years 1995 through 2000

                                                                                                               As of October 1, 2007,
                                                                             Remaining after                    with replacements at
                                           On board on                      estimated attrition                  promotion rates for
                                          October 1, 2000                   on October 1, 2007                 fiscal years 1995-2000
GS-14                                   Number         Percentage           Number          Percentage           Number          Percentage
White men                                 49,548                59.6          31,297                 57.1          47,799               57.5
White women                               18,759                22.6          12,828                 23.4          19,559               23.5
African American men                       3,401                 4.1           2,365                  4.3           3,549                4.3
African American women                     4,067                 4.9           2,921                  5.3           4,293                5.2
Hispanic men                               2,117                 2.5           1,551                  2.8           2,374                2.9
Hispanic women                                 884               1.1             674                  1.2           1,010                1.2
Asian/Pacific Islander men                 2,426                 2.9           1,696                  3.1           2,372                2.9
Asian/Pacific Islander women               1,036                 1.2             775                  1.4           1,144                1.4
Native American men                            579               0.7             385                  0.7             615                0.7
Native American women                          294               0.4             200                  0.4             315                0.4
Unknown                                        75                0.1               75                 0.1             156                0.2
        a
Total                                     83,186              100.0           54,767               100.0           83,186              100.0
Men                                       58,071                69.8          37,294                 68.1          56,709               68.2
Minority men                               8,523                10.2           5,997                 11.0           8,910               10.7
Women                                     25,040                30.1          17,398                 31.8          26,321               31.6
Minority women                             6,281                 7.6           4,570                  8.3           6,762                8.1
Source: GAO.

                                           Note: Information obtained from analysis of OPM’s Central Personnel Data File data.
                                           a
                                            Percentages may not add to 100 because of rounding.


                                           Minority representation among those GS-15s who remain by 2007 will be
                                           about the same as it was at the beginning of fiscal year 2001, indicating that
                                           whites and minorities will leave at about the same rates. However, the
                                           proportion of minority GS-14s would increase somewhat (by 1.5
                                           percentage points) and the proportion of both grades represented by white
                                           and minority women will also increase. Moreover, if recent promotion
                                           trends to GS-15 and GS-14 continue, marginal gains by almost all of the
                                           racial and ethnic groups would result. Our simulation shows that
                                           significant numbers of current minority GS-15s and GS-14s will be
                                           employed through fiscal year 2007, and coupled with our projection of
                                           promotions, shows there will be substantial numbers of minorities at both
                                           the GS-15 (8,957) and GS-14 (15,672) levels, meaning that a sufficient



                                           Page 9                                                                                GAO-04-123T
                         number of minority candidates for appointment to the SES should be
                         available.

                         With respect to gender, the percentage of white women at GS-15 is
                         projected to increase by 2.6 percentage points to 22 percent and at GS-14
                         by 0.9 percentage point to 23.5 percent. The proportions of minority
                         women will increase by 0.9 percentage point to 6.5 percent for GS-15s and
                         0.5 percentage point to 8.1 percent for GS-14s, while those for minority men
                         will increase 0.8 percentage point to 10.8 percent for GS-15s and 0.5
                         percentage point to 10.7 percent for GS-14s. At 60.6 percent, white men
                         will represent 4.2 percentage points less of GS-15s and, at 57.5 percent, 2.1
                         percentage points less of GS-14s than in fiscal year 2001. Again, our
                         estimates for the GS-15 and GS-14 populations at individual agencies are
                         likely to be less precise than our governmentwide figures because of the
                         smaller numbers involved but should be indicative of what agency profiles
                         would look like in October 2007.



Replacing Over Half of   During fiscal years 2001 through 2007, the wave of near-term retirements
                         and normal attrition for other reasons presents the federal government
the SES Corps Presents   with the challenge and opportunity to replace over half of its career SES
a Challenge and an       corps. The response to this challenge and opportunity will have enormous
                         implications for the government’s ability to transform itself to carry out its
Opportunity for          current and future responsibilities rather than simply to recreate the
Federal Government       existing organizational structures.

                         With respect to the challenge, the federal government and governments
                         around the world are faced with losses that have a direct impact on
                         leadership continuity, institutional knowledge, and expertise. Focusing on
                         succession planning, especially at the senior levels, and developing
                         strategies that will help ensure that the SES corps reflects diversity will be
                         important. We have gained insights about selected succession planning
                         and management practices used by other countries that may be
                         instrumental for U.S. agencies as they adopt succession planning and
                         management strategies.4 We found that leading organizations engage in
                         broad, integrated succession planning and management efforts that focus
                         on strengthening both current and future organizational capacity. As part


                         4
                          U.S. General Accounting Office, Human Capital: Insights for U.S. Agencies from Other
                         Countries’ Succession Planning and Management Initiatives, GAO-03-914 (Washington,
                         D.C.: Sept. 15, 2003).




                         Page 10                                                                   GAO-04-123T
of this approach, these organizations identify, develop, and select their
people to ensure an ongoing supply of successors who are the right people,
with the right skills, at the right time for leadership and other key positions.

Succession planning is also tied to the federal government’s opportunity to
change the diversity of the SES corps through new appointments. Leading
organizations recognize that diversity can be an organizational strength
that contributes to achieving results. By incorporating diversity program
activities and objectives into agency succession planning, agencies can
help ensure that the SES corps is staffed with the best and brightest talent
available regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity. As stated earlier, the
succession pool of candidates from the GS-15 and GS-14 levels should have
significant numbers of minority candidates to fill new appointments to the
SES. It will be important to identify and nurture talent from this workforce
and other levels in agencies early in their careers. Development programs
that identify and prepare individuals for increased leadership and
managerial responsibilities will be critical in allowing these individuals to
successfully compete for admission to the candidate pool for the next level
in the organization. Succession planning and management is starting to
receive increased attention from the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) and OPM, 5 and we have also seen a positive response from these
leadership agencies in developing and implementing programs that
promote diversity.

In commenting on our January 2003 report, OPM concurred with our
findings on SES attrition and diversity and said it welcomed the attention
the report brings to a critical opportunity facing the federal workforce and
federal hiring officials. The Director said that increasing diversity in the
executive ranks continues to be a top priority for OPM and that the agency
has been proactive in its efforts to help federal agencies obtain and retain a
diverse workforce, particularly in the senior ranks.6 Both OPM and EEOC
said that our analysis was an accurate reflection of the likely future
composition of the career SES if recent patterns of selection and attrition

5
 OMB revised Circular A-11 to require that federal agencies’ fiscal year 2005 annual
performance plans prepared under the Government Performance and Results Act identify
specific activities agencies plan to take to ensure leadership continuity. In addition, as part
of the President’s Management Agenda, OPM set the goal that continuity of leadership and
knowledge is assured through succession planning and professional development programs
in 25 percent of all federal agencies by July 2004.
6
To promote diversity in succession planning, OPM has unveiled plans for a Candidate
Development Program that targets qualified minorities.




Page 11                                                                          GAO-04-123T
                   continue. EEOC expressed concern about the trends suggested by our
                   analyses to the extent that they may point to the presence of arbitrary
                   barriers that limit qualified members of any group from advancing into the
                   SES. EEOC also stated that in the years ahead, federal agencies will need
                   to continue their vigilance in ensuring a level playing field for all federal
                   workers and should explore proactive strategies, such as succession
                   planning and SES development and mentoring programs for midlevel
                   employees, to ensure a diverse group of highly qualified candidates for SES
                   positions. Other federal agencies told us that they also have leadership
                   development programs in place or are establishing agencywide human
                   capital planning and executive succession programs, which include
                   diversity as an element. They also told us that holding executives
                   accountable for building a diverse workforce was an element in their
                   performance evaluation for agency executives. Continued leadership from
                   these agencies, coupled with a strong commitment from agency
                   management, will go a long way toward ensuring the diversity of senior
                   leadership.

                   Chairwoman Davis and Members of the Subcommittee, this concludes my
                   prepared statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may
                   have.



Contacts and 	     For further information, please contact George H. Stalcup on (202) 512-
                   9490 or at stalcupg@gao.gov. Individuals making key contributions to this
Acknowledgments	   testimony include Steven Berke, Anthony Lofaro, Belva Martin, and Walter
                   Reed.




(450268)           Page 12                                                           GAO-04-123T
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