Senior Executive Service:

Training and Development of Senior Executives

GGD-89-127: Published: Sep 29, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO presented information on the Senior Executive Service (SES), focusing on: (1) career members' perceptions of the extent and usefulness of their training and development experiences before and after SES appointment; and (2) how the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) fulfilled its executive development roles and responsibilities.

GAO found that: (1) about 13 percent of the executives appointed after 1982 stated that they had not participated in any training or development activity designed to prepare them to become executives during the 5 years prior to their appointment, about 23 percent of all executives stated that they had received no training or development since their appointment, and more than half had not participated in a formal training or development activity in at least 5 years; (2) the reasons for SES nonparticipation included work and training experiences already obtained and lack of available time; (3) about 80 percent considered the training and development experiences they received before and after appointment useful in their jobs; (4) the mechanisms for ensuring that SES members obtained appropriate training and development, formal needs assessments, and advisors did not work as intended; (5) although the Commission on the Public Service recommended that OPM require regular training for all professional federal employees, only 21 percent of the SES members surveyed who received appointments after the candidate development program (CDP) began entered from CDP; (6) a much larger proportion of executives from small agencies did not receive pre-appointment training and development, considered the training they received less helpful, and cited cost as a reason for nonparticipation after appointment; and (7) OPM recently began a reexamination of its executive training and development responsibilities and planned to issue guidance on expectations from federal executives and the types of experiences that could assist them in meeting those expectations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director's Task Force on Executive Management and Development adopted this recommendation and it is incorporated in the OPM long-range strategy for establishing governmentwide executive and management training and development approaches.

    Recommendation: OPM should, in reassessing its roles and responsibilities in executive training and development, examine ways to improve the managerial competency benefits from the training and development curriculum.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was adopted by the Director's Task Force on Executive Management and Development and is incorporated in the OPM long-range strategy for establishing governmentwide executive and management training and development approaches.

    Recommendation: OPM should, in reassessing its roles and responsibilities in executive training and development, examine the need for certain types and levels of training for new executives.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was studied by the Director's Task Force on Executive Management and Development and it is being incorporated into the OPM long-range strategy for establishing governmentwide executive and management training and development approaches.

    Recommendation: OPM should, in reassessing its roles and responsibilities in executive training and development, examine the need to encourage greater support among executives and agencies toward executive training and development.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director's Task Force on Executive Management and Development studied this recommendation and is incorporating it as part of the OPM long-range strategy for establishing governmentwide executive and management training and development approaches.

    Recommendation: OPM should, in reassessing its roles and responsibilities in executive training and development, examine the need to improve the mechanisms for ensuring that executives receive appropriate training and development.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director's Task Force on Executive Management and Development has adopted this recommendation. Actions are being taken to develop particular courses for small agencies whose executives have specialized job requirements. OPM is also working with the Small Agency Council to identify and develop particular courses for small agencies requiring tailored training programs.

    Recommendation: OPM should, in reassessing its roles and responsibilities in executive training and development, examine the difficulties small agencies face in providing executive training and development.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director's Task Force on Executive Management and Development has adopted this recommendation. Currently, actions are being taken to improve the effectiveness of agency executive resource boards, and OPM is setting minimal SES training and development requirements.

    Recommendation: OPM should, in reassessing its roles and responsibilities in executive training and development, examine the need for governmentwide requirements for minimal levels of executive training and development.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director's Task Force on Executive Management and Development adopted this recommendation and it is incorporated in the OPM long-range strategy for establishing governmentwide executive and management training and development approaches.

    Recommendation: OPM should consider the Volcker Commission recommendations and what specific responsibilities agencies and OPM should have in the oversight process. It should address as well what actions OPM should take to ensure a strong oversight program.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

 

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