Policy

At the Partnership for Public Service, the Government Affairs team seeks to transform the way government works.

We advocate for greater employee engagement while maintaining employee accountability and high performance. We support efforts to recruit and retain top talent, strengthen the Senior Executive Service, promote innovative approaches to governing and improve the government’s customer service capabilities. Through a high-functioning, effective and innovative government that responds to its citizens, federal employees can better serve the American people.

RECENT HIGHLIGHTS

The Center for Presidential Transition

The Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition is the nation’s premier nonpartisan source of information and resources designed to help presidential candidates and their teams lay the groundwork for a new administration or for a president’s second term. Visit the Presidential Transition Central for what you need to know about the transition period.

Learn More

Roadmap for Renewing Our Federal Government

To meet America’s current and future needs, we must rebuild and revitalize our nation’s most important democratic institution. To that end, we propose that that the Biden-Harris administration make the following issues a priority to begin laying the groundwork for renewing our federal government.

Learn More

Testimonies and Recent Statements

The Partnership for Public Service is a thought leader in federal hiring, presidential transitions, leadership development and more. It seeks to drive the conversation surrounding government reform, and the organization and its experts are frequently featured by news sources, media outlets and official publications around the country. See what the Partnership has been saying.

Read More

Congressional Oversight

When done well, oversight fulfills an important and legitimate role in American democracy. The Partnership has been working to create the resources, tools and communities in Congress and the executive branch to promote the regular, routine oversight that ensures that our government programs effectively and efficiently provide services to the American people.

Read More

Focus Areas

Employee recognition and engagement

A highly engaged federal workforce has a positive impact on agency productivity, service quality and mission performance. The Partnership, through the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings, educates Congress on the importance of engaging the federal workforce and the state of employee satisfaction and commitment in agencies.

To ensure that engagement remains a priority for policymakers, we support updating statute to require agencies to participate in the annual OPM-conducted survey that collects data by occupation. Congress can also make sure that agencies use the data by making it available more quickly and requiring all supervisors, managers and executives to be held accountable for employee satisfaction and commitment.


Employee accountability and performance

Congress and the public are right to be concerned about misconduct and poor performance in the federal workforce. However, it is just as important that Congress understand and protect the unique due process rights that are the foundation of government’s nonpolitical, merit-based personnel system. Congress should avoid a shift toward “at-will” employment and prevent a return to the politicized spoils system.

The Partnership is committed to providing policymakers with a middle ground—solutions that address employee performance issues and respect the merit-based nature of federal employment. These include training and supporting supervisors and managers to enhance employee performance, improving accountability to better employee engagement, and rethinking how leaders can use the preexisting rules and processes to remove employees who are ineffective or guilty of misconduct.


Strengthening the Senior Executive Service

Our government relies on the roughly 7,000 executives who make up the Senior Executive Service to manage and deliver programs and policies critical to the American people, while serving as a bridge between political appointees and rank-and-file federal employees. Yet there is much more that could be done to ensure that government recruits, retains and rewards the best executive talent.

The Partnership seeks reforms to strengthen the SES and ensure agencies are able to bring in and keep the very best leaders for the future. In addition, we strive for broader structural reform of the SES to enable our government to operate as a single entity, leveraging executives as enterprise-wide assets who can work across agencies and sectors to solve complex challenges.


Federal hiring reform

For government to perform at its best, agencies must be able to fill open positions with top talent. Unfortunately, the current hiring system is slow, inefficient, opaque and inadequately suited to hiring specialized talent, particularly in STEM fields. Government as a whole also underutilizes opportunities, like internships and noncompetitive hiring authorities, to bring in talent. Recent efforts, such as the Partnership-supported Competitive Service Act, have helped, but there is still much work to do.

The Partnership believes federal hiring is badly in need of long-term, systemic reform, which only Congress is capable of producing. This comprehensive reform should create a unified but flexible hiring system in which all agencies operate under the same set of authorities, offer permeability between the public and private sector and build innovative HR teams that act as strategic advisors to agency leadership. Implementing these reforms, while respecting core principles of the civil service (veterans’ preference, merit-based selection, diversity and equal opportunity) is the surest way to build a workforce with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to serve the American people.


Cybersecurity workforce

The need for strong cybersecurity in federal agencies has become increasingly clear in the wake of recent significant data breaches, which compromised the personal information of millions of Americans, including federal employees. Putting in place stronger security will require a large, diverse and highly skilled cybersecurity workforce that can quickly and effectively prevent, respond to and mitigate future cyber challenges.

The Partnership supports a range of legislative efforts to strengthen the federal cybersecurity workforce, from broad reform of the federal hiring and personnel systems to more targeted approaches, like creating a federal civilian cybersecurity reserve corps, expanding cybersecurity internships and scholarships, and using new and innovative methods to identify and hire talented cyber workers.


Customer service

Citizen views of government are typically derived largely from the direct interactions they have with government agencies. When agencies deliver high-quality services to citizens, trust in government goes up. Compared to the reputation of other industries, however, the federal government lags significantly behind.

The Partnership supports efforts to enhance customer service and empower citizens to obtain the information and services they need. To do that, agencies must greatly improve the quality and timeliness of the data they use to measure and improve interactions with citizens. Congress should mandate that agencies collect and publically report comparable customer experience data on the most important services and interactions, while also changing statute to give agencies the flexibility to collect voluntary feedback from citizens on the quality of services.


Innovation

Government typically finds itself behind the curve when it comes to implementing new ideas and processes to deliver better results and create value for citizens. New business models, process improvements and technology all offer paths to a more innovative, forward-looking government. Congress has made a great deal of progress in recent years toward institutionalizing new and innovative practices, from the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act to the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.

The Partnership believes there is still more that can be done to make government more effective and efficient. Expanding the use of shared services to increase the efficiency of agency mission-support functions, institutionalizing evidence-based policymaking and making better use of information technology all have the potential to greatly improve the quality and effectiveness of government services. The Partnership is a thought leader in government innovation and supports efforts in Congress to further innovate in the public sector.