Managers in the Senior Executive Service feel proud to be in the government’s elite corps of civil servants, but a growing number of them say the job’s pay and benefits are not enough to attract talented candidates.
A survey released last week by the Office of Personnel Management also concludes that almost three-fourths of SES managers believe leaders at their agency do not deal effectively with poorly performing executives.
The survey of career and politically appointed SES managers was designed to help federal leaders learn more about the system’s strengths and challenges. The results are compared to a similar survey done in 2008. A total of 4,954 managers responded this year, about 65 percent of SES members.
The survey comes as the government faces the challenge of attracting executives to fill the jobs of retiring SES members; 56 percent of those who answered the survey said they plan to retire within five years.
Executives had mixed reviews of a new system that is evaluating their performance. Only 43 percent said pay for performance actually promotes better work, and 77 percent said they understood the performance appraisal system being used to evaluate SES members, compared to 83 percent in 2008.
Pay for SES members starts at about $120,000, and tops out at $179,700. Unlike a GS-15, the position is more heavily weighted toward management.
The survey also confirms the findings of a recent survey of the SES by the Partnership for Public Service, which found that federal executives are unlikely to move to managerial positions at other agencies once they join the SES. Managers said mobility, rather than being a form of career development, was seen as a punishment rather than a reward.