Testimony of the Comptroller General on the Impact of the Senior Executive Service

GGD-84-32: Published: Dec 30, 1983. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 1983.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO transmitted its detailed statement, which had been presented on November 7, 1983, on the results of its review of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and accompanying statistical data. The SES program was designed to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness of government operations and to: (1) hold executives accountable for government operations; (2) base executive compensation, retention, and tenure on executive performance; (3) provide agencies greater flexibility in executive use; (4) protect executives from improper political influence; and (5) improve managerial capabilities.

GAO found that agencies have implemented performance appraisal systems to assess individual performance, although these systems do not link to organizational performance. Agency plans also lack specific statements of expected performance. Over half of the executives interviewed felt that their agencies' performance appraisal systems had minimal effect on performance, had not improved communication, and were not worth the cost. These appraisals are used in bonus and award decisions. However, because the award of bonuses has been restricted, the act's motivational goal is not being achieved. GAO also found that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) oversight of agency management of executive resources may be lacking due to limitations of OPM authority and staff availability. Senior executives feel that they are not protected from arbitrary actions to the same extent that they were before the passage of the act and are concerned about geographic relocations. This concern may be lessened by proposed legislation which would increase relocation allowances. GAO found that the politicization safeguards specified in the act have been adhered to, and executive development programs have been well received. However, SES pay and benefits are not adequate to attract and retain top-quality managers from the private sector and make recruiting individuals from the technical and scientific fields difficult. GAO endorses raising the number of SES bonuses that can be awarded to increase the probability of maintaining a highly competent executive corps.

Sep 20, 2017

Sep 12, 2017

  • budget icon, source: GAO

    Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:

    Analysis of Contracting Data
    GAO-17-735SP: Published: Sep 12, 2017. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 2017.

May 3, 2017

Jan 18, 2017

Jan 17, 2017

Jan 12, 2017

Dec 20, 2016

Dec 8, 2016

  • budget icon, source: GAO

    State and Local Governments' Fiscal Outlook:

    2016 Update
    GAO-17-213SP: Published: Dec 8, 2016. Publicly Released: Dec 8, 2016.

Dec 1, 2016

Nov 17, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here