SES includes more women, minorities than ever before

Tuesday - 4/2/2013, 1:43pm EDT

The number of women in the Senior Executive Service is at its highest point than at any time in the last five years, even as the total number of executives and salaries has decreased.

The Office of Personnel Management released last week its annual report on the SES and found there were 2,678 women in the SES out of 8,004 total members in fiscal 2012.

OPM said the number of women in the SES increased from 2,593 in 2011 and 2,480 in 2010.

Men continued to dominate the SES ranks, however, accounting for 66 percent of all members.

The closing of the gender gap follows the Obama administration's push to increase the diversity of federal employees, including those in the SES.

The White House and OPM push also is impacting minorities in the SES. OPM reported the number of African-Americans in the SES grew to 829 from 794 and the number of Asians in the SES increased to 251 from 242. The number of Latinos in the SES, however, dropped for the first time in three years to 254 from 261 in 2012.

White people continue to dominate the SES — with 6,444 members — but the numbers are down from 2011 when there were 6,515 members who identified themselves as white.

Overall, the number of SESers was down slightly in 2012, by 18, as compared to 2011.

The Defense Department has the most SESers with 1,243. The departments of Justice (749), Homeland Security (614), Treasury (493) and Energy (471) list the most executives among non-DoD agencies.

The average SESer makes $166,025 annually, which is down by more than $500 from 2011 levels and by more than $1,000 from 2010.

And the number of people in the SES who quit or retired in 2012 was up slightly compared to 2011, and increased significantly when compared to 2010.

OPM recently created a new exit survey that all SES members will be asked to take when they leave their jobs. The survey was designed to figure out why SESers leave their positions and also provides an anonymous outlet for feds to leave candid feedback about their experiences within agencies.

The Obama administration, OPM, and Congress have been trying to improve the SES over the last four years, but with only limited success. Several SES reform bills have been introduced but none have made it through the legislative process.

OPM also introduced a new framework for measuring the performance of SESers and a new approach to make bringing people into the service easier. But the impact of these changes are just being felt across the SES.

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