Booz Allen Hamilton

Preparing the People Pipeline

A Federal Succession Planning Primer

When it comes to staffing, things are changing inside the federal government… and some of those changes are raising concerns. By 2015—just a few years from now—the Office of Personnel Management projects that half of the government’s 7,700+ senior executives will leave their positions due to retirement, turnover, or attrition, taking key institutional knowledge and critical skills with them.

But federal leadership can be prepared for these inevitable departures, have effective training and recruiting strategies in place, and minimize the potentially serious impact on public health and safety by making a small investment of time and resources in succession planning.

Booz Allen Hamilton teamed with the Partnership for Public Service to produce “Preparing the People Pipeline: A Federal Succession Planning Primer,” a new report that defines succession planning in the federal HR community—and why it matters. The report also details a five-step approach to help federal leaders implement succession planning to acquire, grow, and monitor their HR talent.

The authors focused on succession planning within the federal HR workforce because of the occupation’s unique demographic:

  • Sixty percent of federal HR professionals is 45 years old or older
  • One in four HR employees is eligible to retire
  • HR turnover rate is more than double the general government rate

In addition, because this group is responsible for succession planning for the entire federal government, they should be the best equipped to plan for themselves. But 60% of Chief Human Capital Officers believe their HR staffs are competent to succeed only to a limited or moderate extent, and research indicates that little formal succession planning is under way in the federal HR community.

Succession planning is an essential tool to help managers determine which skills and positions are truly critical, and build strategies to find or develop talent. Rather than simply fill existing positions with new people, succession planning can also provide an opportunity to redefine a team, office, or process, and inspire leaders to re-imagine their future needs.

All agencies must undertake serious efforts to invest in their HR workforces. “Preparing the People Pipeline” explores how the government HR profession is conducting succession planning, and provides a comprehensive understanding of the barriers they face—and the potential solutions.

The Booz Allen team contributing to this report includes Senior Vice President Dave Mader, Senior Executive Advisor Ron Sanders, Lead Associates Clark Backus and Kristin More, Associates Kimberly Douglass, Alex Mostkov, Anthony Salazar, and Andrew Schmidt, and Senior Consultant Kelsey Logan.