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FCW : March 15, 2013
among your most important deci- sions and will need to meet the needs of both you and the White House. Most of the selection crite- ria will be speci c to your agency and the job, but some are more general in nature. Choose appointees who have the talents and existing relation- ships to work effectively with political interests outside your agency and with your stakeholders. They will be particularly important in working with your agency s key constituencies. Choose appointees who have the technical and people skills needed for the speci c job. You will be under pressure to employ political staff that the administra- tion would like to place for various reasons. Not all candidates have the right skills for your needs. Match skills to needs. Choose appointees who have energy and are committed to your agenda. They should see the larger picture and commit to stick around for a while. Many appointees have a short time horizon for a job. It needs to be long enough to meet your needs. Finally, at the risk of being indelicate, choose appointees who will support you over other politi- cal interests. You will need political staff that is loyal to you and your agenda rst. Blend political and career: Leverage their different strengths Your success will depend on your ability to build an effective senior management team to carry out your and the administration s agenda. It will need to be a blend of senior political and career staff working together. It should not be an inner circle of political appoin- tees who then communicate with the career staff. That road leads to failure as programs with major aws not visible to the political staff get started and later need to be adjusted or, worse, fail. Better to x the problems internally as part of the design than x them publicly as part of a redesign. Political appointees often begin their tenure with reservations about the career staff. Invariably, they leave government service with a high opinion of the major- ity of the career [employees] they have worked with, lauding their ability, knowledge, work ethic and integrity. Interestingly, surveys of career [employees] after the fact have them saying the same kinds of things about the politi- cal appointees they have served under. That said, what is true of the average is not true for all. You will need to assess your senior career staff as individuals and decide whether they are the right t for where you want to go or whether they might best support the gov- ernment somewhere else. Con- sult with your human resources staff if you want to move people [because] process is particularly dif cult in the personnel arena. Recognize that political appointees and careerists have different roles and responsibilities Despite having stressed the impor- tance of a joint political/career team, it is worth emphasizing that they are each part of distinct com- munities. The two communities have different roles that need to t together well for success. Careerists tend to manage down and concentrate more on service delivery. Politicals tend to manage up and out and work on managing the stakeholders and the message. The political community is part of an administration that will last four to eight years and then move on. They bring innovation, a new agenda and the political connec- tions to bring it about. They usu- ally make or advocate policy. They are subject to different personnel rules and will be involved in politi- cal activities that are forbidden to career employees. The career workforce tends to have a longer time horizon with the federal government. It brings continuity and the operational skills to ensure that programs are carried on from prior administra- tions or beyond the current one. Be careful how you blend the political and career jobs To a large degree, political and career jobs will be de ned before you arrive. Political jobs tend to be reserved for senior policy- makers and their immediate sup- port staff or for positions in which the administration conveys its views to the public. Career jobs tend to be more operational or reserved to ensure the impartiality or the public s con dence in the impartiality of the government. Placing political appointees in operational jobs carries some risks. If you place a political appointee between career employ- ees in an operational manage- ment chain, you risk reducing the operational ef ciency of your organization. The careerists will be inclined to look for a politi- cal "sign-off" or feel the need to clear actions at a higher level. The appointee is like a "circuit break- er" in your management account- ability chain that will regularly have to be reset. In the long run, this can also have an impact on your legacy. One of the virtues of the career bureaucracy is continuity. What begins under you is more likely to continue when it is run by careerists. If the program is con- troversial, its likelihood of con- tinuing is reduced to the degree it is under the direct management of a political appointee. You may March 15, 2013 FCW.COM 31
March 30, 2013