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We Need a More Diverse Senior Executive Service

The SES’s projected ethnic, racial, and gender composition in the coming years will fail to reflect the ever-growing diversity of the American people unless the administration takes steps to turn this around.

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Last week the Obama administration released its plan to promote diversity in the federal government. But to turn this commitment into reality, the administration must focus on the Senior Executive Service.

Members of the Senior Executive Service, or SES, occupy the government’s top managerial, supervisory, and policy positions. The SES is comprised of around 7,000 senior civil servants involved in nearly every government activity, helping to run approximately 75 different government agencies including the Treasury, NASA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These executives are career public officials that continue to serve even when the White House transitions between administrations.

A recent Center for American Progress report raised some concerns about the SES’s ability to truly represent the American people given current trends in hiring and recruitment. The report, “A Better, More Diverse Senior Executive Service in 2050,” finds that the SES’s projected ethnic, racial, and gender composition in the coming years will fail to reflect the ever-growing diversity of the American people unless the administration takes steps to turn this around.

This is a worthy goal. A more diverse government at all levels is good for our democracy, our leadership, and our government’s productivity.

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