The Partnership for Public Service’s new Agency Performance Dashboard provides digestible insights on 24 federal agencies, including workforce trends such as demographics, employee engagement, employee education and organizational finances. Each dashboard offers one of the most comprehensive looks at agency trends, performances and workforce data available to the public in one place; its content will update as data evolves and as new features are added.

By making this information available to the public, federal stakeholders, congressional staff and journalists, the dashboard sheds light on key agency insights and has the potential to hold agencies accountable to meet the needs of customers and federal employees. A few representative insights from the dashboard’s federal workforce demographic and retirement data are included below.


The Partnership’s Agency Performance Dashboard spotlights the racial, ethnic and gender breakdown of the Senior Executive Service, or SES, at each of the 24 featured agencies. In light of President Biden’s new executive order on strengthening diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the federal workforce, this data is especially important.

As of September 2021, 23.2% of government-wide SES members identified as people of color—a group that includes those who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino, or more than one race.

Notably, a few agencies had significantly higher or lower numbers. For example, the Defense Department and the State Department—not including Foreign Service—had just 16% and 17% of their SES identify as people of color, respectively. As of September 2021, these percentages were the lowest of any agency on the dashboard.

On the other hand, the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest percentage of SES members that identified as people of color—38.6% at OPM and 43.8% at HUD.

In addition, 36.2% of all SES members government-wide identified as female as of September 2021.

HUD and the Department of Health and Human Services are well above this government-wide average.

At HUD, 54.2% of SES staff identified as female; at HHS, 56% of SES identified as female. These notable exceptions in gender representation contrast with other agencies such as the Justice Department, where only 26.6% of SES members identified as female, or the Department of Energy, where only 25.7% of SES personnel identified as female.

Retirement eligibility

For decades, government officials have worried about a “retirement tsunami”—a large wave of retirements that could drain the government of institutional knowledge and leave agencies unprepared to deal with big challenges.

The Agency Performance Dashboard provides insight on this issue by displaying the retirement eligibility of employees at each agency in both fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2025.

Government-wide, 18% of the federal workforce was eligible for retirement in fiscal 2021 and 31% will be eligible in fiscal 2025.

These are worrisome numbers, particularly given that some agencies have even higher retirement eligibility rates. For example, 29% of all HUD employees were eligible for retirement in fiscal 2021 and 44% will be eligible in fiscal 2025—the highest percentages of any agency on the dashboard.

Overall, the Agency Performance Dashboard—which will update as new data emerges and new features are added—benefits both federal agencies and the American public. Agencies can use the dashboard to glean insights about their operations and workforce, identify areas for improvement, and discuss best practices with other departments across government. For the public, the dashboard provides easily accessible information about how agencies work, thus enabling greater government accountability and transparency.

For more insights into the 24 agencies featured, view the Agency Performance Dashboard, which also includes information on agencies’ social media presence, the status of their political appointments, their employee engagement scores and more.

Certain challenges – such as national emergencies, large-scale attrition, new mission requirements and the need for new talent – require federal agencies to rapidly grow their workforce. With support from the Democracy Fund, the Partnership for Public Service identified the most effective and widely applicable strategies for surge hiring.

Evidence indicates that civil servants’ trust in government is tied to several critical trends in the federal workforce, including employee engagement, productivity and retention.

But despite a long history of tracking public trust in government, few researchers have addressed the factors that affect federal employees’ trust in the federal system. Filling this knowledge gap could improve employee well-being and performance and, as a result, help agencies meet their mission and improve government effectiveness.

The Partnership for Public Service, with support from Deloitte, is working to better understand federal workforce trust in government and what agencies and administrations can do to improve it. Focusing on the executive branch, our research aims to show the levels, drivers and effects of civil servants’ trust in career and politically appointed leaders, as well as employees’ trust in civil service institutions—which we define as the laws and regulations that guide and protect civil servants and the entities that enforce and safeguard these rules to ensure fair, ethical and effective federal workplaces.

Today, we are sharing three key findings about civil servants’ trust in civil service institutions.

These findings come from a December 2021 online survey of 475 current federal employees—ranging from the GS-7 to the Senior Executive Service levels—representing 35 agencies, as well as 20 one-on-one interviews and 2 roundtable discussions with past and present federal leaders.

What we found

First, survey respondents and interviewees indicated only a modest level of familiarity with civil service institutions.

Six institutions featured most prominently in our research interviews and roundtable discussions: the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Office of Special Counsel, the Office of Government Ethics, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, inspectors general, and federal workforce rules set out in Title 5 of U.S. Code.

Survey respondents reported being “a little familiar” to “moderately familiar” with these institutions on average. Respondents were most familiar with EEOC and inspectors general and least familiar with Title 5—a surprising fact given that this statute governs salary scales, performance management, insurance and retirement benefits, and other aspects of employees’ day-to-day work.

Detailed Responses

Second, survey respondents and interviewees indicated a correlation between levels of familiarity with and trust in civil service institutions. They reported generally moderate levels of trust in the institutions with which they were familiar—echoing their incomplete understanding of them—and also noted that opaque civil service processes, like investigations and enforcement actions, can limit trust in them.  

For example, survey respondents who are familiar with the Merit System Protection Board, the Office of Special Counsel, the Office of Government Ethics, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and inspectors general—entities that safeguard civil service rules—trust them between “a moderate extent” and “a large extent” on average.

Detailed Responses

Additionally, survey respondents reported between "a small extent" and “a moderate extent” of trust in the laws and regulations designed to protect civil servants—such as the Merit System Principles, which guide federal workforce management, and federal Prohibited Personnel Practices.

The lower levels of trust in civil service protections than in the entities that enforce them correlates with respondents’ relatively low familiarity with Title 5, which authorizes the Merit System Principles and Prohibited Personnel Practices.

Detailed Responses

Similarly, respondents familiar with Title 5 trust the effectiveness of workforce rules slightly less— about “a moderate extent” on average—than they trust the entities that enforce them.

Detailed Responses

The evidence of correlation between familiarity and trust suggests that knowledge about civil service institutions is an important metric and that building awareness among federal employees about civil service rules and the entities that enforce and safeguard them could increase federal workforce trust.

Third and finally, federal employees' trust in civil service institutions is shaped by their perceptions of how leaders understand, adhere to and enforce civil service rules.

For example, interviewees and survey respondents connected their concerns about leaders' bias or favoritism influencing hiring, performance management and promotions to their trust in civil service institutions. Furthermore, some respondents said they wouldn’t report a civil service violation—even if they know how to—citing lack of trust in leaders to prevent retribution or facilitate an effective investigation.

This connection suggests that efforts to increase federal workforce trust in government should focus on improving civil servants’ trust in their leaders, which raises a number of questions that we’ll address in a forthcoming blog post and our final report.

For example, are there variations between civil servants’ trust in their leaders’ intent and competence to uphold civil service rules and protections? Do civil servants trust career and politically appointed leaders differently? If so, how do those trust gaps impact employees’ day-to-day work? And could leadership development efforts help increase trust in federal leaders?

Stay tuned for more in our next blog post—and our final report, which will be released in May and include a set of recommendations for increasing federal workforce trust in government.

Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to join the next generation of public servants by applying for paid federal internships through the Future Leaders in Public Service Internship Program, an initiative run by the Partnership for Public Service and supported by Schmidt Futures

The program comes at a critical time. 

Young talent in government is severely underrepresented compared to the broader labor market. Our analysis shows that less than 7% of the federal workforce is under the age of 30, and almost one-third of federal workers will be eligible for retirement over the next five years.  

Young people have the skills, creativity and perspectives to grow a culture of innovation in government and help the federal workforce confront the biggest challenges facing our country.

They also face student debt and an uncertain job market. 

The Future Leaders in Public Service works to address these issues by offering paid internships that provide students with valuable work experience, an expanded professional network, and a better understanding of both the importance and impact of public service. 

In all, the program provides future federal leaders with the professional opportunities they need today. 

How does the program work?

Students selected for the Future Leaders in Public Service Internship Program will participate in a 10–12-week summer internship at the Departments of Commerce or Transportation and receive a $4,000 stipend.

For both the summers of 2022 and 2023, the program will place 200 students in paid federal internships that run from May to August. Participants will also receive professional development training and networking opportunities to foster a greater interest in public service careers and facilitate valuable professional growth. 

How can you join the program?

Applications are open until Jan. 31, 2022. Visit the Future Leaders in Public Service Internship Program webpage to learn more about eligibility requirements and the application timeline.

Public-private talent exchanges enable federal agencies to deploy civil servants to the private sector, host private sector employees on detail, or both. In turn, they facilitate cross-sector collaboration that improves public service and supports private enterprise.

 However, the federal government has yet to realize the full potential of these programs.

In collaboration with EY, the Partnership for Public Service recently released a report examining several current and previous federal talent exchange initiatives. The report aims to help federal agencies better understand the benefits and challenges of talent exchanges—and more effectively use them.

The benefits

Talent exchanges foster knowledge sharing between government and the private sector. Participants gain new skills through different types of hands-on learning experiences that can be valuable to additions to typical employee training. This professional development and public-private collaboration help agencies recruit and retain critical talent and make new connections outside government.

The challenges

Most of the challenges surrounding talent exchanges involve creating the program itself—more specifically, the logistics involved in starting and implementing the program, including staff time and effort, partner relationship management and recruiting participants. In addition, each public-private talent exchange needs to comply with federal laws and regulations—obligations that are often more difficult to fulfill than they sound.


To combat these challenges, Congress should work with agencies to build ethical and productive talent exchanges. For example, members of Congress should design programs in collaboration with  participating agencies to ensure regulations are followed and to maximize benefits.

Furthermore, when seeking legislative support for a talent exchange, agencies should first identify the resources and legal authorities they require to launch an effective exchange program. To do this, agencies should work with federal ethics officials and program managers who have already implemented or administered federal talent exchanges to learn from their experiences.

Public-private talent exchanges are a promising strategy that can help agencies manage their talent and achieve their mission. When implemented properly, they offer several important benefits to our federal government.

Read more from the report “Trading Places: The Benefits, Challenges and Potential of Federal Public-Private Talent Exchanges.

To solve our nation’s biggest challenges both today and in the future, our government needs to recruit and retain vital young talent. Our new blog series, “Academic Profiles in Public Service,” will reinforce these efforts by featuring professionals working in academia who previously served in the federal government. These profiles aim to inspire students and recent graduates to consider a career in public service and highlight the positive impact federal employees can make on our country.

Annica Wayman, former division chief at the U.S. Agency for International Development and current associate dean in the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, spoke with us about her time working in public service and the benefits a career in government can offer recent graduates.

What made you interested in a public service career?

Wayman: When I was pursuing my Ph.D., I was worried whether academia was the right path for me. I knew that I received a load of technical skills throughout my education and I thought that they could be used in a different capacity than teaching and research. Once I graduated, I decided to choose the industry route instead of academia [and] received a position at Becton Dickinson developing anesthesia-related products. After a few years, I knew I needed to take my interests into public service.

What did you accomplish as a public servant that you could not have accomplished working in the private sector?

Wayman: During my American Association for the Advancement of Science fellowship and job immediately following at the U.S. Agency for International Development, one of my projects involved starting a program called Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement and Research, or PEER. This program enabled developing country scientists to partner with scientists that are supported by federal agencies. To date, PEER has been fortunate enough to fund almost 400 researchers in over 50 countries. If it weren’t for my work as a public servant, through USAID and PEER, I wouldn’t have been able to help build a program that benefits multiple countries around the world and creates lasting impact for new research.

What advice would you offer young professionals pursuing a career in public service?

Wayman: Throughout my time working for the federal government, I grew to appreciate the broad array of research that’s being done and the impact it has on our country. If you have a research background and want to continue that in the federal government, you can collaborate with many different agencies. Once I was in the federal government, it was interesting to see how PEER research connected with other federal partners to make an impact on the recipients of our work.

What is one word you would use to describe public service?

Wayman: It’s hard to think of a single word to describe public service because it was my dream job, but I would say “impactful.” While working for USAID, I was able to combine my love for research, collaboration and development to solve problems that enhanced society. Working in the federal government allows you to have the opportunity to help people. You get a true public service feel and it makes you want your work to be as impactful as possible. This type of altruistic impact not only benefits you, but the country as well.

Read more public service profiles and posts in our “Academic Profiles in Public Service” series here. To learn more about pursuing a career in the federal government, visit Contact us at if you or someone you know would like to be profiled in the future.    

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Recruiting and hiring for open federal positions is an important part of any human capital role. Whether it is entry-level talent coming right out of school or more experienced talent that is needed on a short- or long-term basis, finding the right person can be time consuming and challenging.

Before you begin a new talent search, however, you must decide exactly what hiring authority you will use to staff the open position. Identifying this hiring mechanism can be challenging, especially if your agency has not previously used a particular authority. While agencies have made increasing use of the direct hire authority—and a handful of other authorities as well—to bring on new staff, they often overlook other options.

Myth: I don’t have the correct hiring authority to get the people my agency needs.
Reality: The Office of Personnel Management and Congress may have already delegated to you the authorities you need.

According to a 2016 Government Accountability Office report, agencies used a total of 105 hiring authorities to fill more than 196,000 new appointments in fiscal year 2014. However, agencies filled 91% of these positions using only 20 hiring authorities.

The report notes that OPM officials are unsure as to whether agencies know the other authorities available to them, or whether they have tried using those authorities and found only 20 to be the most effective for bringing on new talent. A full list of hiring authorities can be found on the OPM website.

Using different types of direct hiring authorities

Agencies also have the option to use different forms of the direct hire authority. Below are three examples showing how agencies could make creative use of direct hiring to fill their critical talent needs.

  1. Fellowship Programs. Under Schedule A(r), federal agencies can use fellowships for direct hire purposes. Programs such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology Policy Fellowship and the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative are two examples of fellowship programs using this type of direct hire authority.  
  2. Intergovernmental Personnel Act. The Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program allows individuals from academia, nonprofit organizations, state, local and tribal government, federally funded research and development centers, and other eligible organizations to work in a federal agency for up to two years. Recently, the Partnership for Public Service launched the IPA Talent Exchange to help agencies better use this hiring method.
  3. Intermittent employment. Occasionally, agencies have had opportunities to hire talent with specific skills based on the needs of the federal government. During COVID-19, for example, the Small Business Administration used temporary direct hire authority to bring on new staff that helped quickly distribute loans to small businesses. At other times, agencies have been able to more easily hire candidates skilled in areas like cybersecurity and IT.

Tips for success

It is likely that some offices at your agency already use these time-tested authorities to solve hiring challenges. We recommend that you try to partner with that office to develop your own hiring program. Building on existing programs—as opposed to launching new ones—is often more efficient and reliable, and saves taxpayer dollars.

If you are new to hiring in the federal government, we recommend that you start by asking your chief human capital officer about the hiring programs that work well. Be sure to ask questions like, “How is the agency satisfying its largest hiring needs outside the Washington, D.C., area?” and “Which agencies have recently led a hiring turnaround and are looking for a federal HR partner like you to expand the program?”

Answering these questions may lead you to great talent that you can onboard quickly to meet your needs.

To learn about another federal HR myth, read our blog post on managers’ options for compensating high-performing employees.

To solve our nation’s biggest challenges both today and in the future, our government needs to recruit and retain vital young talent. Our new blog series, “Academic Profiles in Public Service,” will reinforce these efforts by featuring professionals working in academia who previously served in the federal government. These profiles aim to inspire students and recent graduates to consider a career in public service and highlight the positive impact federal employees can make on our country. Burt Barnow, former director of the Office of Research and Evaluation at the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and a current professor of policy and economics at George Washington University, spoke with us about his time working in public service and the benefits a career in government can offer recent graduates.

What made you interested in a career in public service?

Barnow: I have always had an interest in the federal government, but it wasn’t until I was receiving my Ph.D. that I knew I wanted to learn more about a career in public service. My professors were using quantitative approaches to their evaluations of government demonstrations and programs, utilizing various methods to test out different training programs and welfare programs. I found this all very exciting and I wanted to be a part of it. As an economics professor, I realized that I strived to do more than research and wanted to be more involved in actual programs.

What did you accomplish as a public servant that you couldn’t as a professor?

Barnow: During my time as the director of the Office of Research and Evaluation within the Employment and Training Administration, I spearheaded multiple initiatives to make government research and evaluations work better. We were responsible for the federal training programs and we utilized statisticians to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs. I thought that it would be better to have statisticians, economists and other social scientists involved in this process, so I did something a little bit unusual. I took the data that the statisticians had collected, and I put out a request for proposals from other social scientists to look at this data and tell us how effective the programs were.

By reaching out to other researchers, we were able to lay the groundwork for how government programs should be evaluated. The studies that resulted from this effort, which included a variety of inconsistent findings, convinced the Department of Labor to use randomized controlled trials to evaluate future demonstrations and programs even though it was challenging to implement the random assignment.

What advice or knowledge would you offer young professionals as they look for careers in public service?

Barnow: A lot of people think that working in the federal government or public service is boring and that you won’t gain much experience from it. But I feel like I was involved in something important when I was working for the Department of Labor. I wasn’t just sitting behind a computer analyzing research and writing articles all day—I was designing programs and evaluation techniques that really had an impact on the federal government.

Students and recent graduates should also know that when you are working in public service, you’re not only benefiting the country, but you are benefiting yourself as well. There are great jobs out there and you can move up in some of them—from an entry-level job all the way to the Senior Executive Service.

What one word best describes your experience working in public service and why?

Barnow: Satisfying. Through my work in public service, I felt like I was able to come up with ways to make our federal programs better. I was able to learn more about the federal government and its training initiatives. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to create a lasting impact on the federal government.

Read more profiles and posts in our “Academic Profiles in Public Service” series here. To learn more about how recent graduates can pursue a career in the federal government, visit Contact us at if you or someone you know would like to be profiled in the future.  

Talent exchange programs—which enable agencies to deploy civil servants to the private sector, to host private sector employees on detail or both—can bolster the federal workforce and enable it to adapt to the vanguard of the private sector.

In a recently released report, “Trading Places: The Benefits, Challenges and Potential of Public-Private Talent Exchanges,” the Partnership for Public Service and EY spoke with two civilian employees of the Navy. They participated in the Defense Department’s Public-Private Talent Exchange, which has facilitated more than 30 exchanges since the program launched in 2019. Both employees cited professional development as the biggest benefit of their six-month experience working in the private sector.

“It’s probably the single most career-changing experience that the Navy has afforded me, and I have been really appreciative of that,” said Emily Nash, the Navy Surface Warfare Center’s chief of staff.

“I liked what I was doing. I was learning a lot about subject matter that I had no background in but was maturing very quickly along the learning curve.”

“It was a big pivot point in my career and kind of opened my eyes … seeing the good and the bad and being able to bring that back,” echoed Meghan Chu, a deputy director at the Naval Supply Systems Command.

Chu credits her detail—during which the COVID-19 pandemic began—for learning what soon became an invaluable skill. “They really taught me how to run a remote team,” she said.

According to Chu, this preparation enabled her to thrive as a leader when she returned to DOD even though the agency was not fully prepared for remote work. “I actually started running a new team, having never even met most of those people face to face, and I credit all of that to my [exchange] experience.”

Nash and Chu, however, also encountered challenges when on deployment to the private sector.

Chu said it can be difficult to acclimate to a firmly established company culture, especially during a short exchange. One of the biggest challenges of a public-to-private exchange, she explained, is getting up to speed on a host company’s priorities, processes, practices and work culture in short order. It’s a question, she said, “of how to bring on people without going through the full onboarding process.” With little time to fully assimilate into and build peer trust at a host company, Chu continued, “you’re probably not equipped to perform work at your level [there] in a six-month period.”

Nash, meanwhile, spoke to the benefit of experiencing new challenges at her company. “My biggest challenge was saying no to the level of work that they were requesting. I was getting deeper and deeper, and gaining more experience and taking more of a role on the team there,” she said.

“For me the greatest challenge, but also [the greatest] benefit [of the exchange] was that I got to dig in deep.”

Though different, these two experiences in DOD’s Public-Private Talent Exchange speak to the value of exchange programs for the federal workforce. Whether agencies are looking to foster professional development, build relationships with the private sector or provide a dynamic experience for employees, talent exchanges represent an exciting opportunity for the federal workforce.

Read more in “Trading Places: The Benefits, Challenges and Potential of Federal Public-Private Talent Exchanges.

To solve our nation’s biggest challenges both today and in the future, our government needs to recruit and retain vital young talent. Our new blog series, “Academic Profiles in Public Service,” will reinforce these efforts by featuring professionals working in academia who previously served in the federal government. These profiles aim to inspire students and recent graduates to consider a career in public service and highlight the positive impact federal employees can make on our country. David Grise, retired federal prosecutor at the Department of Justice and current Legal Studies professor at Morehead State University, discussed with us the value of a career in public service.

Why were you interested in public service? What kept you in the federal government for so long?

Grise: I graduated from law school with a deep interest in the public good, and I felt that I could do work at the Department of Justice that was consistent with my personal values. The federal government also allowed me to hit the ground running. They don’t have enough employees for people to carry someone else’s briefcase.

I also wanted to work in a place where my own financial benefit would not be impacted by my decisions, which left me free to do what I thought was right. This allowed me to concentrate on practicing law, as opposed to being a businessperson.

How did you come to realize that the federal government was a place where you could make a difference?

Grise: I had a professor in law school who told me about all the things he got to do as an employee of the Department of Justice. And when I look back on my career now, I am very thankful that I was there for 32 years because I got to do really interesting things all within the department.

I remember going two miles deep into a coal mine, interviewing pathological liars and praying with victims. I sat next to the attorney general of the United States as he testified before Congress. I got all of these experiences, including the ability to work overseas for three years in the U.S. Embassy in Albania, without ever leaving the Department of Justice.

Was there a moment in your career that affirmed your passion for public service?

Grise: When I had worked for the department for just two weeks, I attended a meeting where the lawyers reviewed each other’s cases, and I was asked for my opinion. I was very grateful that I worked in a place where, even though I had very little experience, the people who had been there for 30 years turned to me and said, “What do YOU think?”

Another moment that let me know I was in the right place was when I won in court on an issue, but the judge made the decision on the wrong basis. When I asked a colleague for advice on how to proceed, she asked me, “Did you get a job with the Department of Winning, or with the Department of Justice?” So I told the court about my concerns with the basis of the decision, and eventually became the ethics advisor for about 100 people within the department.

What was your biggest accomplishment working in the federal government?

Grise: My greatest accomplishment is that after 32 years in the federal government, after prosecuting many cases, I could say no one ever asked me to lie. And no one ever asked me to make a decision based on politics. 

Why do you think it’s important for young people to go consider a career in public service?

Grise: Having bright young people go work for the federal government is a win-win. Those young people get meaningful experience very quickly. The federal government gets the energy, adaptability and new ideas which those new graduates provide. And the taxpayers get their money’s worth.

To learn more about pursuing a career in the federal government, visit and read the first post in the Academic Profiles in Public Service series featuring Eileen Harrington, former executive director of the Federal Trade Commission and current professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Contact us at if you, or someone you know, would like to be profiled in the future.