Please pardon our dust! The SEA website and membership database are under construction until mid-May due to some exciting changes that are in progress. Until then, we will not be issuing any new member identification numbers. Please email any membership inquiries to action@seniorexecs.org. Also, SEA Headquarters has a new address. Going forward, please send all USPS correspondence to 7918 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 300, McLean, VA 22102. We look forward to unveiling a brand new SEA website in mid-May which will greatly enhance your membership experience. Stay tuned and thank you for your patience!

Too Busy to Prioritize Your Finances? Read This.

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We’re busier than ever these days. Constant notifications, work travel, kids’ activities and other important tasks are often competing for our immediate attention. Amid our packed schedules, it can be easy to set our finances on autopilot. If you can relate to this feeling, know there are several simple steps you can do in 10 minutes to feel more confident about your finances. The following are five suggestions:  

  1. Identify (or update) your financial goals. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities that leave you little time to consider your future goals. While it is easy to procrastinate about planning for long-term items, it’s important to start laying the groundwork for your future financial security. Take 10 minutes to jot down your goals for the next year, two-to-five years, and for the years beyond as a starting point.
  1. Understand your cash flow. In this era of side gigs, freelance work and second jobs, it’s common to have income flowing in from more than one source. Or, perhaps a large percentage of your annual income fluctuates over time, based on bonuses or the timeline of projects you complete. No matter how your income comes in, it’s crucial to understand the sources and timing of your cash flow. Take 10 minutes to review your expected income for the next one-to-three months so you can spend with confidence.
  1. Enroll or log-in to digital tools to check your progress. Many banks and financial planning firms provide websites and apps to help you monitor your finances or take action on the go. Checking in on your money periodically can help you monitor for fraudulent transactions, track investment growth or move assets between accounts in real-time, before such tasks become a major to-do.
  1. Call your parents. As your parents’ approach or navigate retirement, you may have questions about how they plan to spend or finance their day-to-day activities – as well as what their intensions are with their assets upon their death. Take 10 minutes today to call your parents to express your desire to have a sit-down conversation to discuss these matters. Reinforce with them that you do not mean to pry or need to know the full details of their finances. Rather, the goal of the conversation is for you to learn at a high-level what your parents’ plans are and see if and how you can help with any tasks.
  1. Call your kids. If you wonder about your parents’ future plans, it’s possible your kids may have similar questions about your financial situation. Call your kids to explain you want to have a conversation so they know what the plan is, should you experience a serious health event or pass away early. Again, you don’t need to share all the details. Consider giving them contact information for the professionals you work with and providing an overview of what they can expect from you in retirement.

If you’re really pressed for time, engaging the right professionals can help keep you accountable to achieving your goals. If you’re already working with an attorney, tax professional and financial advisor, take 10 minutes to schedule check-ins to review your finances in more detail. If you are seeking additional advice, use the time to ask a trusted friend for a referral or to do some research on who may be a good fit to work with you. Many professionals offer free consultations so you can learn more about their approach to helping clients before you sign on the dotted line.

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Thomas R. Pasta, CFP®, is a Private Wealth Advisor with Trident Wealth, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Annapolis, MD.  He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 21 years. To contact him call his office at 410-224-7581 or visit their website at www.tridentwealth.com. Their office is located at 711 Bestgate Rd. Suite 201 Annapolis, MD,

A Growing Risk of Government Failure Raises the Stakes for Agency Leaders to Practice Enterprise Risk Management

SEA letterhead

The voice of career Federal executives since 1980

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                   Contact Information:
May 31, 2019                                                                                                                          Bill Valdez
                                                                                                                      bill.valdez@seniorexecs.org
                                                                                                                                             202-971-3300

 A Growing Risk of Government Failure Raises the Stakes for Agency Leaders to Practice Enterprise Risk Management

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Bill Valdez, President of the Senior Executives Association (SEA) – the professional association responsible for representing, convening, and cultivating members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and senior career leaders across the federal government – announced the release of a recent survey jointly administered by the SEA and Association for Federal Enterprise Risk Management (AFERM):

As per the joint survey administered by the SEA and AFERM, on average, six out of seven federal agency respondents (85%) envision a serious threat or disruption of mission operations in the next two to three years. In a whitepaper released today, “Getting Ahead of Risks Before They Become Government Failures: An Imperative for Agency Leaders to Embrace Enterprise Risk Management,” SEA and AFERM further expand on recent reports and studies detailing a range of worsening trends and developments creating an increased risk for significant government failure.

While existing reports and recommendations have focused on Congressional and Administrative opportunities to reduce risk of government failure, AFERM President Tom Brandt notes, “They don’t put as much attention on what government leaders should do or what many government leaders are already doing to manage and address these risks – and that is, to practice and embrace Enterprise Risk Management or ERM.”

SEA President Bill Valdez echoed the importance of an innovative approach that provides the most value to agencies and their mission. “The whitepaper released by SEA and AFERM aims to highlight how agency leaders can use ERM to reduce the risk of government failure while increasing the likelihood for the successful delivery of agency missions,” said Valdez.

Embracing ERM has already proved effective for some agencies. Agencies who have implemented the strategy seen improvements in their ability to allocate resources to their most critical needs and in their ability to identify, understand, and respond to potential risks and opportunities proactively.

As a result of this proven track record for success, Brandt and Valdez also recommend that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) begin factoring ERM implementation and execution into their assessment of the most critical risks facing government, as reported in their biennial High Risk List. Such a step would help further promote the practice of ERM throughout government.

Valdez concluded, “While many risk areas require Congressional and Administrative action, Agency leadership must also play a critical role in risk reduction. Our research indicates that incorporating ERM into risk management strategy can be an effective, proactive mechanism for protecting our governmental institutions and their mission delivery.”

About AFERM
The Association for Federal Enterprise Risk Management (AFERM) is the only professional association dedicated to the advancement of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) in the Federal government through thought leadership, education and collaboration. AFERM provides programs and education about benefits, tools, and leading practices of Federal ERM and collaborates with other organizations and stakeholders to encourage the establishment of ERM in Federal departments and agencies. For more information about AFERM, visit www.AFERM.org. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

About SEA
The Senior Executives Association is a non-profit professional association that promotes ethical and dynamic public service by fostering an outstanding career executive corps, advocates the interests of career federal executives (both active and retired), and provides information and services to SEA members. The SEA is the professional association for career members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and equivalent positions. SEA also represents aspiring leaders (GS-12 to GS-15s) who are part of SEA’s leadership pipeline program. Founded in 1980, SEA’s goals are to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of the Federal government; to advance the professionalism and advocate the interests of career Federal executives; and to enhance public recognition of their contributions. For more information, visit www.seniorexecs.org.

Senior Executives Association and the Government Freelance Exchange (GovFlex) Announce a New Collaborative Agreement to Create the “Liquid Workforce of the Future Model”

The Senior Executives Association (SEA) and the Government Freelance Exchange (GOVFLEX) have announced a collaborative agreement intended to help create an agile and highly effective 21st Century workforce, acquisition system and e-Commerce initiatives.  The agreement supports SEA’s Communities of Change and provides assistance to SEA members through the GOVFLEX.com digital marketplace, which is the first gig economy platform dedicated solely to the U.S. public sector.

SEA and GOVFLEX will work together to promote the Federal government’s transition to a new “Liquid Workforce of the Future Model.”  Activities will include assisting career executives in their transition from government service, as well as facilitating ease of entry of subject matter experts into programs throughout the Federal sector.

“SEA is excited to bring the power of the e-Commerce digital marketplace to our stakeholders and members,” said Bill Valdez, President of SEA.   “This innovative approach connects senior career leaders with the knowledge, training and matching services they need when providing professional advisory services and enabling their career transition.”              

The U.S. Federal Government now recognizes the need to adopt leading commercial practices and streamline acquisition and workforce processes to access high demand talent.  The Congressionally mandated Section 809 Advisory Panel highlighted GOVFLEX as an example of an online talent marketplace using commercial methods that are in alignment with Federal Acquisition Regulations and human capital practices. 

“We’re delighted to collaborate with SEA at a time when new business methods, commercial IT marketplace solutions and fundamental changes in the workforce are taking place,” said Bob Dickson, President of GOVFLEX and former Department of State Senior Executive.

In keeping with SEA’s charter and GOVFLEX’s commitment to strict adherence to all applicable ethics laws and requirements, including a prohibition involving any activity related to lobbying, the agreement provides a solid foundation for working together.        

 About The Senior Executives Association (SEA)

SEA is the nonprofit professional association representing members of the Senior Executive Service (and SES-equivalents) in the federal government. SEA promotes ethical and dynamic public service by fostering an outstanding career executive corps, advocates the interests of career federal executives (both active and retired), and provides information and services to SEA members.

About The Government Freelance Exchange (GOVFLEX)

GOVFLEX provides a full service e-Commerce platform matching government agencies and contractors with the best independent experts they need for a short-term project.  GOVFLEX provides leading digital matching services to those who serve in government, the military, as well as the businesses and independent experts who support them.  The company was created to streamline the process of acquiring talent quickly at highly competitive prices, while promoting compliance and ease of use. 

Want To Develop Empathy? Play Dungeons & Dragons

Empathy is hot right now. But why should a public sector executive care about it? It might be tempting to think about it as something fuzzy that’s nice to have if you can get it, but empathy will make you better at understanding the people you serve, plus more effective at it. How can you serve someone you don’t understand? Often our jobs involve getting many others, whether they’re other public servants, members of stakeholder groups, or everyday citizens, to accept a change or a burden that will benefit them in the long run. Reaching them on an emotional level is a far better and more lasting mechanism than arguments and authority alone.

So what can we do to develop empathy in ourselves so we are better leaders, better public servants, and better people? A quick survey of some research and best practices out there can give busy public servants like you a place to start. These tips may surprise you.

1. Practice Active Listening. This means actively trying to understand what the other person is saying and mirroring it back to them to be sure you heard it correctly, rather than focusing part of your attention on what your next point will be. It also means giving up on the illusion that you can listen and multitask at the same time. Make the person in front of you the most important thing in your world while they speak, just as you would want to be if you were them.

2. Understand Yourself. Don’t pretend your feelings don’t affect you. How you feel will affect how well you can hear someone or put yourself in their shoes. It takes energy and emotional strength to do that, so monitor and manage those reserves. Also, no one comes to the table without biases. Know your own so you can be sure you are controlling them and they’re not controlling you.

3. Be Patient. Showing empathy takes time, so you won’t be able to move as quickly through meetings, conversations, and tasks as you might have done before. The extra time now will be balanced by having more satisfied customers, better relationships, and better results. And be patient with yourself as you learn how to do this. Empathy is a skill and a habit like any other that takes time to master. These tips can be found in wisdom that’s been passed down for ages, but if it was easy to do and to keep doing, we’d live in a different world. Consider using tools like compassion meditation to support yourself.

4. Track Your Progress. Measuring how you and your team are growing your skills will keep you grounded. There are tools to do this, like one developed for government by HMRC or a more general one developed at Arizona State University. There may also be lessons to learn from tools developed for other disciplines, like the Jefferson Scale of Empathy, used by doctors in 85 countries.

5. Step Into Their Shoes. Find ways to see things from the perspective of others, especially the citizens you serve. A key principle of human-centered design is to approach the system or product being created from the standpoint of the person who will use it. One way to do this is to form connections with the people you serve as equals by reaching out to them and their communities, which has the added benefit of helping to address the loneliness crisis. Some governments have also developed tools to accomplish this, such as Bangladesh, which trains civil servants in empathy methodology. Others to help you systematically capture this perspective includeuser research, a formal impact assessment, or an empathy map.

6. Use Art. Researchers are still studying the ways in which art can affect us, including building our capacity to feel empathy. Using your left and your right brainto grow this trait has the benefit of being something you will enjoy too. Even something as simple as reading fiction can help, because it has the unique ability to fully place us inside someone else’s thoughts and feelings. If you want to stretch yourself, try a role-playing game like Dungeons and Dragons or perform in some type of theater. Trying to convincingly inhabit a whole new person is incredible practice for learning how to connect with someone else on an empathic level. It’s also fun. You’ll feel a little silly at first, but vulnerability is a key ingredient to openness and avoiding mental stagnation.

There are more successes and great ideas out there, so if you know of something successful, spread the word and help make government a little more compassionate. Most of these are practices you could implement on your own, tomorrow, if you wanted, without needing permission from anyone. Start your journey to a better you.

Joseph Maltby is an organizational change management specialist in the U.S. Federal government and a member of Young Government Leaders and the Senior Executives Association. A version of this article has been published for Apolitical.

African-American Women Perceptions Of Managers Transformation Leadership and Motivation 2019 Survey

 

Brochure snagit photo 20190407

Margaret D. Williams is a doctoral student at Capella University and the proposed study, “AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN PERCEPTIONS’ OF THEIR MANAGERS’ TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND ABILITY TO MOTIVATE,” is being explored to provide an explanation of the research topic and question. The quantitative descriptive study will use survey research to examine GS14-GS15 African-American women participants perceptions’ of their managers’ in the federal government, capturing the impact this has on upward mobility. Targeted participants will include GS-14 and GS-15 African-American women who are federal government employees.

The research question is “In what ways does GS14 and GS15 African-American women perceptions’ of their managers’ transformational leadership and motivation directly impact African-American women to pursue Senior Executive Service?”

The quantitative descriptive study will use survey research to examine GS14-GS15 African-American women federal employees’ participants’ perceptions’ of their managers’ transformational leadership and motivation, towards them to pursue Senior Executive Service. The research will explore transformational leadership and motivation to determine if there is a relationship between the two.

Participants who self-identify as African-American women, currently occupying a GS14 or GS15 position within the federal government, may participate in this study.

The Multifactorial Leadership Questionnaire survey will be used to capture information about the participants’ managers from their perspective. The participants will access Survey Monkey online and the survey will take approximately 13 minutes to complete and will include the following:

  •       MLQ questionnaire has 45 questions
  •       There are three motivation questions
  •       There are three demographic questions

The Non-Experimental Descriptive nominal logistic regression analysis will be used to examine and measure the relationships between the variables based on GS14 and GS15 African-American women’s’ responses, to the survey designed for this purpose.

All data collected will be kept confidential. In accordance with Capella policy and best practices for ethical research, neither participants nor sites will be identified in any report of findings or in the published dissertation.

Nonprobability sampling will be used, and the sampling design is convenience sampling. The sample size is 100 African-American Women.

The consent to participate in the survey is at the beginning of the online survey. The survey will be accessible for a six-week period or until the required target is reached.

SEA statement on OPM-GSA merger

SEA letterhead

SEA Statement on Administration’s Proposed Reorganization of the Office of Personnel Management

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Bill Valdez, President of the Senior Executives Association (SEA) – the professional association responsible for representing, convening, and cultivating members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and senior career leaders across the federal government – released the following statement in response to the release of the Administration’s proposed reorganization of the Office of Personnel Management.

“The Senior Executives Association (SEA) affirms the importance of maintaining an apolitical, merit based civil service. SEA values the historical and present-day significance of preventing the politicization of the civil service and the role the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) plays as a guardian of that principle. It is for that reason SEA has sent the enclosed letter and statement to the House Subcommittee on Government Operations leadership as well as House Committee on Oversight and Reform leadership,” said Valdez. “There is no denying that in recent years OPM has been flawed and, with the loss of revenue from the move of the National Background Investigation Bureau to the Department of Defense, it is financial in crisis and requires a thoughtful reorganization. This reorganization must not diminish the critical role OPM plays to protect and preserve our non-partisan, merit based civil service system. The Administration’s reorganization proposal, however, fails to offer a plan for the protection of this critical role. Instead – whether intentionally or not – the Administration’s proposal leaves OPM with no independence and no authority to correct political interference with the civil service.”

“As noted in the attached documents, there is a longstanding historical precedent for an independent OPM. Efforts to develop an efficient and effective civil service should not undermine institutions, such as OPM, that were established to protect our non-partisan, merit based system and that have served our Nation well since 1883.”

“Additionally, the Administration cannot assume it has the authority to do so. OPM was established as an independent agency by Congress and cannot be reformed without legislative action. Characterizing OPM as an agency whose functions can simply be merged or transferred to another agency fundamentally misunderstands the legislative history that established OPM and Congress’ important role when setting policy that impacts the U.S. civil service.”

“The Administration’s proposal is highly concerning because it ignores the core reason why OPM exists and unintentionally weakens OPM’s ability to protect the non-partisan, merit based civil service system our Nation requires. We urge Congress to pursue proper and complete oversight, which we believe will result in a stronger and more effective OPM, not its dissolution. SEA is prepared to support productive change that maintains the statutory independence of OPM as it stands guard over the merit based system Congress created to ensure the politically unbiased delivery of services to the American people.”

Valdez concluded, “There is more than the presence of an agency at stake here. What is at risk is the death of an ideal- the ideal that all Americans deserve equal access to public services no matter their political affiliation. This is the ideal that makes our government the envy of the world and should be protected at all costs.”

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The Senior Executives Association (SEA) is a professional association representing Senior Executive Service members and other career Federal leaders. Founded in 1980, SEA’s goals are to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of the Federal government; to advance the professionalism and advocate the interests of career Federal executives; and to enhance public recognition of their contributions. For more information, visit www.seniorexecs.org.

Ten Considerations For Civi Service Modernization

Summary: The Senior Executives Association (SEA) and the Hoover Institution hosted three Civil Service Modernization Dialogues in the summer and fall of 2018 that had a goal of developing a consensus around general themes and concepts that a diverse group of organizations could support. Those Dialogues were organized around three general themes:

  • Civil Service Workforce Modernization
  • Civil Service Administrative Modernization
  • Civil Service Regulatory Modernization
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