Senior Executive Service: A Lost Cause or a Lost Gem in Need of Rejuvenation?

The top tier law firms have just announced salaries for 1st year associates.

The salary of a first year associate now exceeds the salary of every career federal regulator in the US government. The citizenry ponder why existing regulations allow billionaires to pay only a token level of taxes; little wonder if the federal government can only attract at its senior most levels only those very few extremely qualified personnel who have a passion for serving the public however great their personal sacrifice, a rare find in  the  predominant “Me Only” generation.

Consideration should be given to tripling the salaries of those in the Senior Executive Service and reducing its size by two-thirds; small incremental increases will not address the issue but the aforementioned budget neutral proposal will constitute a gigantic step in the right direction. There are a  range of budget neutral options including doubling the  salaries and reducing the size of the SES program by fifty percent. The fact that SES member salaries will be above those at the cabinet level is not a problem because their salary increases will materialize in their post government employment.

Appointment to the SES would be contingent upon a range of new conditions, including a fixed term subject to reappointment, unrestricted mobility among agencies and soliciting the views of an Advisory Council evenly divided between active and inactive  members of the SES prior to an appointment.

NB  Please see Federal Salaries

Jim Tozzi

Managing Director of the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness                                                      Former Assistant Director of OMB


Status Report August: 2021  Based upon discussions with Administration and Congressional officials there appears to be little interest in addressing SES pay levels although cosmetic discussions continue. The executive branch of government is on a course of being managed by government contractors on a de facto basis.  There is one group that might  have sufficient clout to compel a serious consideration of this matter–the regulated community.  Why would this community wish to participate in this activity? The answer is straightforward; one can address issues raised by an informed and objective overseer; lesser informed individuals often do not act in neither a consistent or predictive manner making it difficult to address their concerns. Worse yet, to the regulated community, is when the senior career positions in government are populated by individuals whose career choices are limited. To these ends exploratory discussions are underway.

The Salaries of Government Contractors are Dwarfing Those of the Senior Executive Service

One step at a time:

Pelosi announces House staff can make more money than members of Congress

A huge obstacle has been removed.  CRE is requesting drafting assistance for the introduction of legislation in the House along the lines of the proposal outlined above. Regardless of  one’s position on the CRE proposal the introduction of the aforementioned legislative proposal will give life to a needed discussion on SES pay.

Please note that the Speaker’s program and the CRE proposal share one domineering component–both are budget neutral.

3 comments. Leave a Reply

  1. Anonymous

    Terminating all existing SES and creating an entirely new, smaller, well-paid force would be beneficial. Currently, too many SES are agency-specific (non-transferable skills), unwilling or unable to relocate geographically, unwilling or unable to be used as troubleshooters or rapid-response assets to address troubled programs or challenges, and worst of all, SES is often used merely as a reward for longevity within an agency.

    That is not to say that there are some exceptional SES who are flexible, broadly-skilled, and essential to government operations. It is to say that this is not true of the vast majority of them.

    Reform also needs to address grade inflation within the civil service and the fact that it is virtually impossible to transfer between federal agencies as a way to broaden skills and experience.

  2. CRE

    We appreciate the informative response. As CRE holds discussions with the leadership in a number of stakeholder groups we most certainly will consider your comments. To further the maturation of the CRE proposal we suggest that other stakeholders use the comment section provided herein to disseminate in a public forum key information to all concerned.


    a lot more information will come

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