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The Presidential Appointee's Handbook

The Presidential Appointee's Handbook

G. Edward DeSeve
Copyright Date: 2017
Pages: 130
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  • Book Info
    The Presidential Appointee's Handbook
    Book Description:

    A guide to competencies needed by the federal government's new top officials.The transition from one president to another, regardless of which party wins the 2016 elections, will mean many things, one of which is that some 3,000 to 4,000 new senior presidential appointees will take office in the first months of 2017. They will join some 6,000 members of the Senior Executive Service and nearly 1,000 admirals and generals already working in the top ranks of government.But the little-known truth is that the federal government has no formal, or even informal, continual learning program for its new high-level managers. If history is a guide, many of the next president's appointees will never have served in the federal government or, indeed, at any level of government. This means that they will need to hone their considerable skills to meet new challenges.This new, revised, and updated edition of theThe Presidential Appointee's Handbookis intended to fill the need for learning by helping new presidential appointees develop the knowledge, skills, and capabilities they will need in their challenging assignments. Additionally, the new edition provides frameworks for success in areas such as strategic foresight, planning for results, risk management, and resilience that are designed to give appointees templates for achieving their goals.Blending theory with the demands of day-to-day practice, the book clarifies the roles and responsibilities of top government executives, helps them build a network of shared experiences and relationships, and lays out common competencies and codes of proper behavior for government leaders at all levels.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2894-8
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface to the Second Edition (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. PART I Competencies of a Presidential Appointee
    • [PART I Introduction] (pp. 1-4)

      The purpose of this handbook is to share with you, as new presidential appointees, the experiences of others who have held these appointments before you. The first part details six areas of competence that former presidential appointees have found to be essential for effective performance, as well as a series of interconnected functions that will provide a framework for success. The second part presents a set of documents that will constitute essential reference material throughout your tenure in office.

      The six competencies addressed in this book are:

      Leading for results

      Managing change and innovation

      Providing technical knowledge and ability


    • 1 Leading for Results (pp. 5-24)

      As a presidential appointee you have come to Washington to get results—results that the president has promised the American people; results that the American people expect. Your job in achieving these results is, above all, leadership. You must inspire others. You must also help others set goals, track their progress toward meeting those goals, and measure their achievement.

      To help you accomplish these tasks, a framework for management is essential. This framework will allow you to relate goals to measurable results. The process of measuring specific results has been refined and developed by many departments and agencies. The purpose...

    • 2 Managing Change and Innovation (pp. 25-42)

      Every four or eight years, a wave of new people, new ideas, and new policies arrive in the nation’s capital. Changes occur at the highest level but also at the agency and subagency levels. Managing such change requires the knowledge of how to lead change or how to advise others who are leading it. Often this change comes in the form of innovation in policy or operations that require outside-of-the-box thinking, which is often hard to sell.

      Many frameworks for change management exist. Some involve leading change from the top, others involve leading change from the bottom, and one involves...

    • 3 Providing Technical Knowledge and Ability (pp. 43-60)

      All presidential appointees coming into a new administration have their own specific skill sets. Some may be accountants, others policy specialists, and others political or communications specialists. Technical knowledge and the ability to apply it are central to an appointee’s role in the administration. Each agency and office is seeking to attract talented individuals who can contribute to the mission of the organization. To make this task easier, databases are created by the Office of Presidential Personnel that highlight the technical skills needed and those available. While political and policy considerations are always important, technical competence is often the key...

    • 4 Leading Others (pp. 61-84)

      One standard management text defines leadership as follows: “Leadership is the process by which one individual influences others to accomplish desired goals.”¹ This definition has been countered by others. James MacGregor Burns says that there are two potential sets of goals: transactional and transformational. Daniel Goleman says that leadership is primal, and Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus say that leadership is about trust.² They are all right. Cataloging the aspects of leadership is a complex study in itself.

      The Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, a major center for leadership studies, defines the method of teaching...

    • 5 Leading Yourself (pp. 85-98)

      “Know thyself” is an adage as old as Greek mythology. It is variously attributed to Socrates, Thales, and Pythagoras, among others. Often when we see it, we tend to move on and think, “Right. Got that one.” But do we? The nine attributes discussed in this chapter can serve as a checklist for these questions with regard to yourself as a presidential appointee. What is your motivation for public service? Do you have self-awareness, honesty, integrity, courage? Are you a life-long learner? Are you skilled at trusting and at gaining trust? Are you confident, decisive, and resilient? Are you empathetic,...

    • 6 Maintaining Global Awareness (pp. 99-108)

      “Think globally. Act locally.” This adage is used by many groups to advise their members how to behave. The same is true for presidential appointees. First, they must exhibit external awareness at home. Then they must look around the world at the trends that will affect them and seek opportunities to use these trends, positive and negative, in carrying out their assignments. Beyond that, they must reach out and connect appropriate global partners and customers with the federal government. While not every agency will have programs with global impacts, all agencies are certain to be impacted by global trends.


    • 7 Frameworks for Success (pp. 109-126)

      The title of this chapter begs the question, “What does success look like?” It also suggests that failure has been too often an option. Paul Light addresses both these questions in his December 2015 Issue Paper for the Volcker Alliance, “Vision + Action = Faithful Execution.” Concerning successes, Light says:

      Government was not always so vulnerable. Consider any significant domestic or international problem that the nation confronted after World War II, and the federal government almost certainly did something about it—and often with great success. Government made impressive progress in addressing some of the most difficult problems of the...

  6. PART II The Federal Government
    • [PART II Introduction] (pp. 127-128)

      This part of the handbook can be considered a road map of the federal government, one that will help you as a presidential appointee find your way forward. It begins with a chapter giving the core principles found in the U.S. Constitution, the very bedrock of the laws of the land. The following chapter gives an overview of the legislative branch, especially the committee system and the legislative processes that you will deal with on a regular basis. The final chapter provides a look at the modern executive branch, the one you will be most involved with.

      You will undoubtedly...

    • 8 Summary of the U.S. Constitution (pp. 129-134)

      The United States Constitution is one of history’s great documents. It serves today as a model for governments around the world, though its original passage came only after rigorous debate and compromise. Thomas Jefferson famously called it “the result of the collected wisdom of our country.” The men who wrote and signed it at the 1787 Constitutional Convention—lawyers, merchants, farmers—were students of the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment who learned about the social compact from John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau and wove those principles into the American experiment. Henry Clay, the nineteenth-century American statesman who represented Kentucky...

    • 9 The Legislative Branch (pp. 135-144)

      From time to time presidential appointees will be involved in the legislative process, so it is helpful to understand how Congress functions in considering and enacting legislation and how its committee system works.

      Legislation can be introduced in either the House or the Senate, except for tax bills, which must come from the House. After a bill is proposed by a member it is referred to the appropriate committee, which will hold hearings if necessary and eventually mark up the bill (see figure 9-1).¹ Marking up is essentially an editing process by which members can suggest changes to the bill’s...

    • 10 The Executive Branch (pp. 145-156)

      Formal guidance for the conduct of presidential appointees and of their work can be found in various sources, including the Code of Ethics for U.S. Government Service and Presidential Executive Orders and Directives. A well-informed appointee will also be thoroughly familiar with the bud get process—its preparation, submission, defense, and execution—and will have a working knowledge of the Financial Report of the United States Government.

      According to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, the following standards of ethical conduct for employees of the executive branch are to ensure that every citizen can have complete confidence in the integrity...

  7. Appendixes
  8. Notes (pp. 165-174)
  9. Index (pp. 175-186)
  10. Back Matter (pp. 187-187)