The Need for Succession Planning

Federal managers and the entire federal workforce are hoping for the best but bracing for a significant hit as leaders negotiate the looming “fiscal cliff,” or “slope,” as some now refer to the perfect economic storm facing our country. These dutiful employees, who have contributed more than $103 billion to deficit reduction already, are facing the likelihood of a long-term extension to the ongoing pay freeze, in addition to further increases to pension contributions and other sacrifices as a part of any compromise that is offered and agreed to in order to avoid the combination of sequestration, the end of the Bush-era tax cuts, and reaching the national debt limit, all of which will negatively impact the national economy.

However, no matter how the fiscal cliff is resolved, we need to place attention back to another pressing issue that, if left unaddressed, will have enormous negative consequences on the country and further erode government recruitment and retention: the need for succession planning.

By 2014, more than half of the federal workforce will be eligible to retire. This number, however, does not take into account the many retirement-eligible federal managers and employees who will stay at their posts due to the current lackluster economy. It is daunting to imagine what the federal workforce will look like – and what will happen to the services they provide – when they decide to retire.

In order to prepare for the anticipated vacuum of human capital and to ensure that agencies are equipped to continue to meet their missions at cost-efficient and effective levels, it is vital that all agencies develop realistic and achievable goals for knowledge transfer and succession planning. Agencies need to identify key management successors, and all federal agencies need to educate their employees on – or, in some cases, develop – succession plans. Succession planning is essential to maintain fiscally sound federal budgets, timely delivery of vital services and protect our national security.

The Federal Managers Association (FMA) encourages all agencies to promote succession planning and knowledge transfer by emphasizing practical steps such as job shadowing, mentoring and training. Leadership development programs and mandatory training in knowledge transfer and succession should begin early in employees’ careers. FMA commends the efforts that agencies such as the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture have taken to address the increase of retirements and the impact they will have on the federal workforce.

The result of not investing in human capital by not developing succession plans could cause a destructive loss of institutional knowledge and significantly disrupt and damage the services all Americans rely upon and expect. By taking the time to give succession planning the consideration it deserves and taking steps to prepare for it, all agencies within the federal government will be much better positioned for the anticipated onslaught of babyboomer retirements in the near future.

For more information on how FMA works to protect your interests and to join our team, please visit us at our website.

Posted in Hear it from FMA

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