United States Secret Service: Review of Organizational Change Efforts

November 2016 – The leadership of the U.S. Secret Service has initiated a multi-pronged effort to address concerns and begin transforming the agency.  To assess progress and expected effectiveness of actions underway, the Secret Service requested that the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) conduct an independent review of recent enhancements to its organizational management and business support functions in response to  recent recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Protective Mission Panel (PMP), the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s (HOGR), and several DHS Inspector General investigations and reports.

The Academy formed a five-member expert Panel with support from a professional study team to (1) evaluate the U.S. Secret Service’s management and operational policies, protocols, and practices and (2) recommend modifications to those reforms or additional steps to most effectively and efficiently meet the agency’s objectives and recommendations of the PMP and HOGR.  The Panel’s independent review examined the agency’s actions to address organizational culture and leadership; human capital issues, including hiring, training, staffing, attrition, morale, and discipline; budget; and technology.

Key Findings and Recommendations

The Academy Panel determined that the U.S. Secret Service has taken significant, wide-ranging, and important actions.  Specifically, the agency has made a substantial number of organizational, policy, and process changes to transform the way it does business; professionalize administrative, technical, and management functions; and address numerous staffing and employee issues.  Agency leadership has made these changes in a relatively short time, demonstrating a strong commitment to change.  The efforts underway are at various stages of implementation and crosswalk to concerns raised in the PMP and HOGR reports.

Based on its observations and analysis, the Panel issued eleven recommendations for additional improvements that should assist the Secret Service in achieving and institutionalizing its organizational transformation.  The Panel recognizes that the Secret Service’s existing efforts can serve as a foundation for an integrated transformation effort.  Time is needed to fully implement the many changes underway, as organizational transformations require long-term commitment and support from both internal and external stakeholders.  Now that these foundational elements are in place, the Panel believes that the Secret Service will need to move to a more integrated strategic management approach to further develop, sustain, and institutionalize its efforts.