Senior Executive Service:

Executives' Perspectives on Their Federal Service

GGD-88-109FS: Published: Jul 20, 1988. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on Senior Executive Service (SES) career members' characteristics, career plans, and opinions regarding their federal service to determine why federal agencies were having increasing difficulty in maintaining high-quality career SES staff.

GAO found that: (1) most of the SES respondents were satisfied with some aspects of their jobs, such as personal fulfillment and their co-workers; (2) 90 percent cited high dissatisfaction with others' negative perceptions of federal workers; (3) 65 percent cited dissatisfaction with compensation-related issues; (4) 65 percent would strongly advise persons beginning a career to choose the private sector, 13 percent would recommend public employment, and the remaining 22 expressed no views; and (5) in December 1987, 24 percent had sought or planned to seek full-time employment outside the federal government, while nearly 36 percent indicated that they were likely to accept a desirable position if available. GAO also found that: (1) almost half were eligible to retire by 1992 and about 20 percent were eligible in December 1987, (2) of those eligible to retire in December, 54 percent planned to stay in SES 1 year or longer before retiring, while only 16 percent of those not yet eligible planned to stay at least 1 year after eligibility; and (3) by December 1988, about 46 percent would become eligible for early retirement, and 47 percent of those stated that they would take advantage of early retirement if the opportunity arose.

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