Final Report and Recommendations: The 21st Century Federal Manager

February 2004 - For three years, from 2001-2003, the Academy conducted a study for the Human Resources Management (HRM) Consortium of the challenges that face Federal managers in the 21st century.

Recognizing that their had not been a comprehensive and focused look at federal managers and their specific challenges and needs, the HRM Consortium sought to use this study to paint a picture of the behaviors, skills, and competencies of successful Federal managers in the 21st century.

As a result of the study, the Academy produced five reports. The first four covered specific issues that arose during the study, including:

  • Changing roles and competencies;
  • Selection, development and management of first-line supervisors;
  • Environmental issues, latest trends, and agency initiatives related to senior executives and middle managers; and
  • Leader development and succession planning.

This fifth report integrated the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the first four reports, incorporated new developments and data available subsequent to their publication, and presented a comprehensive set of recommendations.

Key Findings

The Panel recommendations were organized around four topics:

  1. Federal managers need to recognize the cost of poor leadership; 
  2. Federal agencies need to consistently treat their leadership cadre as a driving force for organizational outcomes;
  3. “Top leaders” need to demonstrate a leadership style of daily decisions and actions that close the gaps and avoid the costs of poor leadership; and 
  4. Congressional and executive branch leadership need to address the fundamental question, "Is there a better way to ensure that the top leaders of agencies commit to and engage in leadership acquisition and development?"

The Panel found that there was an enormous gap between what is expected of federal leaders and what they are capable of delivering. Closing this gap was deemed essential to the fundamental well-being of the United States.