Senior Executive Service (SES) - Institute on Governance

Senior Executive Service (SES)

The development of a Senior Executive Service (SES) as an elite cadre of top-level management in a civil service through mentoring, informed selection and training and development.

Decorative photo of Downtown Ottawa

An SES system is one of the key pillars which enables a civil service to perform optimally in. response to the challenges of today.

A modern SES system develops senior executives who can lead the transformation of the public service into a functioning 21st century public service.  Senior public service executives need to be focused on delivering results in the context of a democracy; resilient to the many setbacks along the way while capable of motivating staff to deliver significant change in a compressed period; and critical thinkers, who can effectively and efficiently balance the costs and benefits of various options.

An SES system will:

  • ensure a balance and fairness in appointments of senior management of the civil service, creating a complementary cadre to serve the whole country;
  • ensure that senior officials understand their role as leaders in building and maintaining public trust in government and its institutions and to motivate them to perform to the best of their ability;
  • incorporate a selection system that selects only the best and brightest for the SES;
  • put in place an agile system of continuous development and training for the cadre;
  • incorporate a performance system that objectively measures the output and impact of individual SES officers and rewards them on the basis of their performance; and
  • ‘fast track’ the modernization process through enlisting the services of the most able and innovative people inside (and outside) the civil service.

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