Women, blacks and Hispanics will be picked to fill a substantial number of the 700 top federal jobs that will become vacant over the next year. Typical pay for the top-level positions is around $50,000.
Carter administration officials are expanding federal recruiting programs to advise more women and minorities of executive-development programs. Agencies now are setting up programs and beginning to pick people, from inside and outside government, for training for Senior Executive Service jobs.
The SES is the new elite corps of federal executives formed from the old Grade 16 through 18 supergraders. SES ranks pay from $47,889 to $52,750. SES members trade tenure and much job insulation for bonuses, pay incentives and other industry-tyle top management perks.
SES was part of the president's Civil Service Reform Act. It is designed to give political officials appointed by the president more control over their top career management teams. Approximately 5,200 of the 5,900 supergrade level jobs shifted to the SES this July. Of the about 700 that remain in Grades 16, 17 and 18, outside the SES, over half are filled by adminstrative law judges.
All new employes coming into top-level federal management positions will have to join the SES. In addition to bonuses (up to 20 percent of salary) and special ranks carrying 5-figure annual stipends, SES members can get sabbaticals and more liberal retirement benefits. In return, they are subject to greater control from top political managers, and can be shifted around more easily than regular civil servants.
Hispanics, blacks, and women will benefit from the so-called Garcia amendment to the Civil Service Reform Act. It requires the government to make "special" efforts to recruit minority group members who are "underrepresented" in federal government georgraphically, by agency or by job.
Federal officials say there will be no race or sex quotas. But they note that women make up more than half the population, yet hold only a handful of federal executive jobs. Women have 4.9 percent of the SES level positions, while women and ethnic minorities make up only 5.6 percent of the government's executive popoulation.
Normally, federal executives are chosen from relatively small executive development programs that are predominately white and male. Agencies now are setting up their own programs, with emphasis on adding women and minorities.
Until those development programs get rolling, federal officals will rely on two new liberal options provided by the civil service reform act. One permits selection of executive level persons if they have "demonstrated executives experience." The other " The other says career appointments may be made to "individuals who have special or unique qualities which indicate a likelihood of executive success and who would not otherwise be eligible for appointment."
Federal officals expect that many executive career appointments will be made from the two optional routes mentioned above, until agency development programs began cranking out more "representative" graduates -- including women and minorities.
Each federal agency and department is now developing its own executive training program. Persons wishing to be considered should contact them, not the Office of Personnel Management. Although OPM is the master string-puller of the reform act, agencies are doing their own selecting. Most will make selections by February.
Just how political the career SES selection process will be remains to be seen. Agencies are supposed to get their top SES talent via their own, independent Qualification Review Boards. Just how independent those boards will be will depend upon the amount of pressure political masters exert on them, and the level of resistance they feel they can sustain safely.