Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

 

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Randy Babbitt

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 - 14:10
Randy Babbitt was sworn in as the FAA’s sixteenth administrator on June 1, 2009. Babbitt comes to the FAA from Oliver Wyman, an international management consulting firm where he served as partner.

Conversation with Authors Series with Russ Mills, Cass Moseley, Noel Greis, and Monica Noguiera

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 - 12:31

Conversation with Authors Series with Russell Mills, Cassandra Moseley, Noel Greis, and Monica Noguiera

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 - 12:24
Phrase: 
Exploring ideas to improve government effectiveness. We profile three Center reports with authors Russell Mills on regulatory partnerships at FAA, Cassandra Moseley on Collaborating on the front lines, and Professors Greis and Noguiera on enhancing food safety through collaboration and partnerships.
Radio show date: 
Tue, 11/09/2010
Intro text: 
Exploring ideas to improve government effectiveness. We profile three Center reports with authors Russ Mills on regulatory partnerships at FAA, Cass Moseley on Collaborating on the front lines, and Professors Greis and Noguiera on enhancing food safety through collaboration and partnerships.

Glenda Tate interview

Friday, December 14th, 2001 - 20:00
Phrase: 
Glenda Tate
Radio show date: 
Sat, 12/15/2001
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Glenda Tate
Complete transcript: 

Arlington, Virginia

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

MR. LAWRENCE: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the co-chair of The Endowment for The Business of Government. We created The Endowment in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. Find out more about the Endowment and our programs by visiting us on the Web at endowment.pwcglobal.com.

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our conversation today is with Glenda Tate, Assistant Administrator, Office of Human Resource Management, the Federal Aviation Administration. Welcome, Glenda.

MS. TATE: Thank you, Paul, it's really a pleasure to be here. I'm really excited to have an opportunity to share with you and the audience today what's going on in the Federal Aviation Administration.

MR. LAWRENCE: Well, that's great. Let's begin with my first question, which is I think we all know about the FAA from the Wright Brothers to air travel but, perhaps, you could take a minute to describe it's overall mission and its functions.

MS. TATE: Well, the Federal Aviation Administration has really two kind of separate functions. First of all, we have an operational capacity. And that is we're responsible for the air traffic services in the country.

But we also have a regulatory function, as well, where we're responsible for making sure of the safety aspect of making sure that the airlines that fly that they're safe, particularly in putting out rules and regulations that really talk to both maintenance and inspection and upkeep of aircraft, as well.

We also are responsible, as much of our audience would know, as of late, for the security operations, as well, in the aviation arena and more importantly, in the last few days or so, I think many of your readers certainly may have seen a lot about the FAA in the security arena, as well.

So, two kind of primary functions that we're responsible for. We're one of the few agencies, government agencies, if you will, that really has an operational capacity, and that is where we have a large number of our workforce, the air traffic controllers that are really engaged in monitoring air traffic control system throughout the country.

That's a little bit about what we do.

MR. LAWRENCE: And I'm sure only our most astute listeners understand the human resource responsibility. So, could you describe the activity of the FAA's Office of Human Resource Management for our listeners?

MS. TATE: Well, in human resources, we really see ourselves as a kind of strategic business partner in the agency. And we really see our role as an enabling capacity, if you will. We want to be sure that we have in place the infrastructure to be sure that we are both building the capacity around human capital, if you will, but, also, a support function to ensure that not only are we building that human capital, but that we are addressing issues around -- making sure that we are retaining the kind of workforce that we need, as well.

So we're a business partner, we are engaged in hiring, setting forth all kinds of human capital strategies, if you will, for the organization; planning for the future around our human assets and, also, in making sure that we are addressing the needs of individuals as they come into the organization, as well.

So both on the front end of making sure that we're recruiting and hiring appropriately; making sure that there is a model work environment when employees come into the organization and, also, on the retention end. One of the things we want to be able to do is to ensure that we are both recruiting individuals who are both interested in continuing to work for the Federal Aviation Administration, as well. And so the retention for us, is very important.

MR. LAWRENCE: Help me put this in context. How many employees are there at the FAA and what type skills do they have? You described such a diverse list of responsibilities earlier, I'm trying to imagine what type people you're trying to recruit and retain.

MS. TATE: Sure, Paul. We have about seven or eight really key occupations. We have about 48,000 employees who are working for the agency. And I want to tell you that we maintain a 24-hour, 365-day operation in the agency.

Some of our key occupations are, as I mentioned before, have to do with air traffic control, our aviation security function. We also have a great number of our employees who are responsible for system maintenance. So, for example, if you're flying, we want to be sure that the radar is operating appropriately. We have around 7,000 of our employees who are engaged in system maintenance.

But we also have individuals that are involved in aviation inspection. And so that we are working with the airlines, again, to ensure that planes are maintained in an appropriate manner.

We have a fairly large aviation research function, as well. So, in addition to some of these other key occupations I mentioned, we hire a great number of engineers. In all of the occupations in the engineering capacity, electronic engineers, structural engineers, electrical engineers. This is just to mention a few of the occupations.

MR. LAWRENCE: And how big is the Office of Human Resource Management?

MS. TATE: We have a headquarters organization, and then we have ten regional functions, if you will, that really are spread out throughout the country.

MR. LAWRENCE: And tell us about your career. How did you become an HR professional?

MS. TATE: Well, human resources is something that I started in this field about 20 years ago -- a little over 20 years ago. And I will tell you I have a great deal of passion around the human resources profession. Really interested in making sure, if you will, that we are staying on top of what we need to around human capital and how that really impacts an organization.

I think quite often we end up talking about organizations in the context of the mission, only the mission. But, if you will, the organization really is made up of its people. And any time we have the opportunity to put the human capital issue in the forefront; again, I have a great deal of passion around that. So I�ve been in the field for about 20 years.

I did spend some time doing other kinds of things, early working in program evaluation and that kind of thing. It's interesting, I started out in human resources, spent about 15 years there and then decided I wanted to so something else. And so, I left that and went to do some other things, working at the Office of Management and Budget for a while. And decided after about two, seven years, I guess, of doing that that I really wanted to come back in the human resources arena.

So, again, something I'm very interested in, and something I have a great deal of passion around.

MR. LAWRENCE: How did you develop this passion? Was it experiences, I mean, for a long time people thought of HR not as a strategic partner and doing a back office kind of function. How did you develop this passion?

MS. TATE: Well, I think just starting out in the field early on. Human resources used to be more of what I would call a kind of policing and enforcement function, if you will.

So we were engaged in making sure that we knew the regulations and making sure that most people adhered to those regulations. I left the organization, the function, if you will, and became a manger in, as I said, a program evaluation arena. And, really, at that time, almost sitting on the other side of the table, if you will, where I was using the resources from the human resources organization. At that time, we called it personnel, that I really began to understand the importance of this particular function.

So it was almost that I had to go over on the other side to see the real value of what human resources could -- the value that it could add in an organization. And so, I came back to this function with the passion because I had sat on the other side and had an opportunity to be able to look at it and say, here are the kind of things that we need to be doing.

We don't need to be policing and enforcing. We need to move to a place where we can be a strategic partner to actually help accomplish the mission of the organization. And it was with that notion that, as I said, I ended up back in human resources and, as I said, I'm still really excited about this kind of work.

MR. LAWRENCE: What drew you to a career in public service?

MS. TATE: Well, it was almost by accident, if you will. I started out working for the Corps of Engineers in Italy, right after I got out of college and I had an opportunity there to observe, in a foreign country, how the U.S. government was viewed. And it was with a great deal of respect. The folks there were almost in awe. We actually worked for the Corps of Engineers and we worked with citizens from Italy at that time.

And after working there for about two years and then I came back to the Washington, D.C., area, I decided that I wanted to work in the public sector. And that's sort of how I ended up in this capacity.

MR. LAWRENCE: Is there any one job or experience that best helped you get to your present position?

MS. TATE: Well, I think almost everything, every job that I've had, to be honest with you, has really had some impact on where I am now. There is something that you gain from every experience that you have. But if I had to choose one example, it would be the job that I took when I left human resources. It really had an impact on me. Because I had the opportunity, as I said, to really look at the operation that I had been in for so many years and to really be objective about what we were doing.

And so, I would say that that was probably the one position that I would think above all others probably had the most impact.

MR. LAWRENCE: All right, well, that's a good stopping point. Rejoin us after the break, when we ask Glenda Tate about the possibility of a new pay system at FAA. Can pay for performance become a reality? This is The Business of Government Hour. (Intermission)

MR. LAWRENCE: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and today's conversation is with Glenda Tate, Assistant Administrator, Office of Human Resource Management at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Well, Glenda, we know that Congress launched federal pay reform at the FAA in 1996, hoping to give the agency some flexibility. What are the key elements of the FAA's personnel reform?

MS. TATE: That's right, Paul. In 1996, FAA was effectively removed from all the personnel practices and provisions of Title V, which are the basic rules that, for the most part, the rest of the government operates from.

We retain most of the federal wide benefits programs, such as retirement, health benefits, and life insurance. And some of the fundamental policies, such as veterans preference and nondiscrimination. And we also chose to abide by merit principles.

Otherwise, over the last five years, we have created our own personnel practices and programs for filling jobs, for deciding pay, for managing performance, for training and developing employees and, also, for travel and relocation of employees.

Some of the things that we've been able to do are really, I think, rather exciting and also very interesting. But I think it's important from the onset to say that all of the policies that we have created in the personnel program at FAA have been created with a goal to help the agency really accomplish its mission.

So we didn't create new programs just for the sake of creating new programs. We wanted to maintain some flexibility. We wanted to maintain an opportunity to delegate responsibility as far down in the organization as we could. And we also wanted to position ourselves so that we could remain competitive as an agency.

One of the challenges I think that all government agencies are going to be facing in the next several years is the notion of how do we maintain our competitive edge? How do we compete for the best and the brightest with the private sector?

And so many of the things that we have put in place have been put in place with that in mind, maintaining that competitive edge.

MR. LAWRENCE: What have been the lessons-learned from this experience?

MS. TATE: Well, there were many. First of all, let me back up for a bit and talk a little bit about at least a couple of key things that we put in place.

We started out, really, looking at creating some flexibilities around filling positions. And so we have simplified the process. Our process allows a great deal of flexibility around sources of recruiting; around the appointing authorities that we have. In the rest of government, right now, you have several appointing authorities. For example, we have a temporary and permanent. That sounds pretty simple. But it gives us a great deal of flexibility when we're looking at how we want to fill a job. There are all kinds of flexibilities around starting salaries, ability to be able to negotiate salaries. So, our first emphasis was on simplifying both the recruitment and the staffing process.

And then I think the next key area that we worked on, and I could talk about this a little bit in detail is creating an infrastructure for compensation that would allow a great deal of flexibility, as well. Our compensation system is -- two things to remember about our compensation system. First, it is performance based and market based. Very, very significant, in that we have done away with the old entitlement and tenure-based compensation system.

So we worked on filling jobs. We worked on creating an infrastructure around compensation and we, also, have coupled that with a new performance management system, as well.

When you talk about lessons-learned, there are many, and I've got to tell you, I could spend a great deal of time on the show talking about lessons-learned. But I want to mention maybe a couple of areas.

First of all communicate, communicate, communicate. You just can't do enough of that. We started out doing a great deal of communication, but we have learned that you can never do enough. We have learned that it has to be continuous. It needs to be consistent and it needs to be frequent. And oftentimes it needs to be targeted to various audiences, as well.

The other thing that we learned was that we needed to not to be afraid to make corrections and adjustments as you go along. We have implemented a little and tested a little, implemented and tested a little. And so, as we go through the process, we give ourselves the opportunity to adjust as we go along. So, sometimes you have the notion of rolling out a new system and just sort of letting that be it. But it's important to allow for adjustments as you go along, as well.

One of the most important lessons is that the results of change take time, it really takes time. We have been under our new system now, for about 18 months. Any of the literature that you read around change, talks about somewhere between 7 to 10 years if you are implementing any kind of large-scale organizational change.

When we look at the China Lake example that was used where the employees went to a broad-banded system, it really took years to begin to see some of the benefits of that process. Well, we have implemented whole-scale organizational change in the FAA and we know that it's going to take time before we actually see the fruit of the systems that we put in place.

But we think we're on the right track. We have the opportunity now to negotiate pay, among other things, with our unions. And we believe, again, we're on the right track and a lot of opportunity to evaluate as we go through the process. But there are many lessons coming out of this and I think we will be, as we go through -- we've done -- one of the things we've done, and I think will help other organizations who may embark along this same path. We have evaluated at every step of the process and many times we've called for independent evaluations, so that we've got a good record of what has been working, what has not worked, so that, not only can we adjust, but we've got a good record so that we'll be in a position to help others, as well.

MR. LAWRENCE: You mentioned the new compensation system. Could you describe what this means for employees?

MS. TATE: Well, right now, the GS system allows for within-grade increases, for example. And our system does not. We have collapsed all of the jobs in the agency into nine categories. And so, for example, we might have a category of professionals or we might have a category of technical individuals. They are collapsed into these nine categories and within that there are broad bands of positions and levels of pay for those particular categories.

Now, what this means for the employees who are under this system is that, instead of pay increases being based on longevity and on tenure, pay increases now will be strictly based on organizational and individual performance. It's very, very different than the current system.

MR. LAWRENCE: You mentioned earlier that change takes a long time and there's often resistance to change, I'm wondering what steps you took to overcome that resistance?

MS. TATE: Well, many, many steps. I talked earlier about communicating; communicate, communicate. We have done a lot of outreach and marketing to our employees. I talked a little bit about the evaluation that's been done. But for the most part, we've focused on hearing from employees both before change was implemented so we are real big about doing focus groups, giving individuals an opportunity to tell us what they think even before we go into a new process. And even after it has been implemented. So, a lot of outreach, both verbally, we have all kinds of websites set up. We've sent our managers, our senior management team out to every region in the organization to hear from our employees about what's going on, you know, know are things working.

And then, I think the evaluations that I talked about has helped a great deal, as well, where we've had independent parties come in and talk to our folks, as well. So we have a lot of written communication, a lot of opportunity, 1-800 numbers for individuals to call in and to talk through with them what we're doing.

Again, I don't know that you can ever do enough of this and I think it's important to say that we are in the early stages of change and we are at the stage where we oftentimes feel the resistance. But I think we have an opportunity, as we have an opportunity to use the systems that we have put in place, I think you'll see a great deal of buy-in as we move forward.

MR. LAWRENCE: It's a good stopping point. When we come back, we'll discuss the many groups the FAA works with as it accomplishes this mission. We'll ask Glenda Tate about the challenges and lessons-learned these present.

This is The Business of Government Hour. (Intermission)

MR. LAWRENCE: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and today's conversation is with Glenda Tate, Assistant Administrator, Office of Human Resource Management at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Well, Glenda, in the last segment, you closed by talking about the compensation system, the types of categories and the pay banding. But I'm curious about the performance part of that.

MS. TATE: Paul, you may remember that I started out talking about this as a performance-based and a market-based system. And one of the things that I think is very unique about the system that we have. I talked about how one moves through the system, how one moves through the system in terms of getting pay increases.

What that means is that, at the beginning of the year, the agency sets its organizational goals. And these are goals for the FAA as a corporate entity. And within that, each organization has cascading goals, down to the individual level. And so, at the end of the rating period, what we're looking at is how well did the organization do and then how well did the individual do as it relates to those organizational goals. So that both performance expectations and goals and objectives are set at the beginning of the period and at the end of that period assessment is made as to how well an individual has done. So what's very different about this system is that there is a very finite process that is in place to both track the organization and the individual's contributions. So, again, unlike other systems in the government. Tenure is not as important in this system, the actual performance of the individual, as it relates to organizational goals is really the determining factor.

MR. LAWRENCE: Well, let me skip subjects here and ask about the mission of the FAA. It spans across the country and even internationally. What other federal agencies does the FAA interact with to accomplish this mission?

MS. TATE: Well, several. First of all, we interact with the Department of Defense, as it relates to the managing of the national airspace. We have a strong relationship with NASA organization on aviation innovation and research. And we also work very closely with the State Department and Commerce Department on international aviation issues.

MR. LAWRENCE: Everyone always talks about wanting there to be more collaboration across the agencies and, yet, it doesn't seem to happen and the FAA's doing a lot of it. What are the lessons-learned from working together?

MS. TATE: Well, I think it's real important, as in any collaborative environment. You have an opportunity to bring interested parties, stakeholders together to talk about both priorities; to talk about direction of the agency. I think its important if you are able to do that you're always going to end up with a better product.

We have many stakeholders in the agency and the work that we do impacts all of our stakeholders and numbers of people across the country. So the more opportunity you have to bring those people to the table early on to talk about things, like, research. What research should the agency be engaged in? To bring our partners in various corporations, associations, and government agencies together is going to be important as we move forward. And, as I said, any time you can bring folks together and work through collaboration, you're always going to end up with a better product.

MR. LAWRENCE: Well, the FAA also works closely with private aviation industries. Could you tell us about some of those public/private partnerships?

MS. TATE: Well, I'll just give you one example: We have a very strong research and development program in the agency. And we have a research and development advisory council that is really made up of representatives from the various corporations, associations, and universities and from other government agencies. And, for example, this group comes together and they take a look at, in the aviation research arena, you know, what are the things that we need to be doing in the safety arena? What are the pieces that we need to be focusing on as it relates to air-traffic issues, as it relates to airport technology? And so, this is one group that, again, basically decides on the research agenda for the organization and it participates in that research.

We have other partnerships. The administrator has a challenger session, at least once a year with members of the aviation industry. And she brings those individuals together with the management of the Federal Aviation Administration to talk about the strategic direction the organization is going in.

What are the priorities that FAA needs to be engaged in? And I think, over the years -- over the last few years, as we've been having these challenger sessions. I think it's real clear that it really makes for a very different partnership with those stakeholders.

MR. LAWRENCE: Well, what are some of the challenges working across the public and private sector?

MS. TATE: Well, I mentioned before about any kind of issue that you can think about in the air-traffic arena. I think one of the challenges has to do with just the way we think about the work that we do. If you look at a corporation and you look at a for-profit organization, if you will, when you contrast that with one that's engaged in public administration, I think some pretty obvious challenges come before you. And so one of the things that we often have to do as we come together in a collaborative fashion, is to be able, again, to work through those paradigms, to work through those various mind sets for the good of the whole.

MR. LAWRENCE: Throughout our conversation, we've talked about the mission-related activities of the FAA. But could you tell us a bit about your role and involvement in managing the agency as the head of the human resources?

MS. TATE: Well, one of the things that Administrator Garvey did, about three years ago when I came to the agency, is she decided that the human resources function should be on par with every other organization within the agency. And so, for example, in some agencies you might find the human resources function reporting to an administrative head. In the FAA it reports directly to the administrator. And so we sit as a strategic partner with various operating entities. We sit, again, as an enabler, as a function that is very, very focused on where the mission of the agency is headed. And, again, being able to step back and to be able to design processes and systems to be able to enable that mission. And so we're there as equal partners. We're there as infrastructure builders. We're there as enablers as we move down the path of trying to make sure that we've got an agency that is on-target, an agency that, in the human capital area remains competitive.

MR. LAWRENCE: One of the things I found interesting earlier was your description of the infrastructure around human capital development. I'm curious, how do you nurture good leadership skills in employees at the FAA?

MS. TATE: Well, I think in government, in general, and I don't know that it's just in government, but that's my experience and so I think I can comment on it. I think one of the challenges that we have as it relates to leaders is that we often take individuals who have done a very good job in a technical arena and we often, in government, promote those individuals to be our next managers and our next executives. And that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing to do. However, I think we need to be, in government and, certainly, in the FAA, engaged and very focused on looking at the leadership qualities that we're going to need now and into the future.

In FAA we have developed what we call twenty-first century skills. And what we're looking at are what are the leadership capacities, what is the capacity that we need to build in the organization in our new leaders? We think of leaders in FAA and we talk about them, not just as individuals who are managing an organization, but we believe that leadership skills are important at every level of the organization. And so we've identified those skills. We believe that you need to start grooming leaders very early, not just at the point that they are going to be a supervisor or a manager.

There are some individuals who will always do a very good job in a technical capacity and we need that as much as we do anything in the organization. There are others who might decide, well, I'm really good at the technical end of this, but I also am interested in the managing of people and the motivating of people. And so what we need to be able to do and what we are working on in the agency is being able to both identify those skills early on and then to be able to groom individuals throughout the organization as they are interested in developing these skills so that at the time we want to fill a supervisor or manager position, we already have pools of individuals who are ready to move into those positions.

MR. LAWRENCE: How does that grooming happen? Is it a formal process where people are plotted when succession planning is being worked?

MS. TATE: Well, actually, it's a process that we are looking to put in place in the organization. It's something that we are working through right now. And what we wanted to do was to not having it as something that is slotted, but we want to set forth the leadership skills, put those out there and incorporate those in training at all levels in the organization. So you're not targeting individuals, you are actually opening up an opportunity for individuals to gain these skills, either through our management training facilities or ad hoc courses that someone has taken or, in fact, through assignments, special assignments in the organization.

So it's process that we're promoting in the organization. We're incorporating those skill development pieces into all of our training programs in the organization in the non-technical arena.

MR. LAWRENCE: Well, great and it's time for a break. Stick with us through the break. In our last segment, we'll ask Glenda Tate about the future of HR at FAA.

This is The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

MR. LAWRENCE: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and today's conversation is with Glenda Tate, Assistant Administrator, Office of Human Resource Management at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Well, Glenda, we've heard that the FAA could lose as much a 60 percent of its workforce to retirements over the next several years. What kind of challenges does this present to the FAA and what solutions are you considering?

MS. TATE: Paul, you're right. Major demographic shifts in the FAA workforce have resulted in our taking a serious look at consequences for the agency. We believe that about 50 percent of FAA's current executives will be eligible for retirement by fiscal year '03 and about 53 percent of the senior managers that would most likely replace those executives, would also be eligible, as well.

So, normally, if you're looking at workforce planning, you would look at the level of worker that's planning to leave and you sort of look below that. And so, we find that at every level in the organization, we are seeing somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of the individuals that would be eligible to retire.

Now, we're not suggesting, nor do we believe, that all of those who are eligible would go out. OPM's data tells us that about 20 or 25 percent of those that are eligible may go. But I don't know that we've ever been in a time like we are now, where we have so many individuals that are eligible. So, I think the verdict is still out about what those real numbers will look like.

We have engaged in a very intense project at the agency to undergo and to look at workforce planning very seriously and we started out in a way that's a little bit unique, I believe. We decided to take a look at what the skills were that we were really going to need in our executives and in our managers. And based upon those skills, we went through a process to, first of all, assess what skills we had currently in the organization.

And so, we went through a 360-degree evaluation based upon what we're calling a success profile for managers and executives in the organization. We started at the top and I'll talk a little bit in a moment about what we're doing for those key occupations. But we went through a process to, first of all, figure out what were the skills that we had on-board, currently in the organization as related to that success profile.

So we recently went through a really interesting process where we used a 360-degree evaluation to get some data on our current executives. And then, based upon that, now what we're looking at is what's the gap and how do we fill the gap. And the process that we're using is that we just opened up for our managers, who would be interested in filling those executive positions, a process to go through the same 360 to understand individually where they are as it related to their development track. And then, based upon that, and we are designing both opportunities through mobility assignments and formal training to be able to then close that gap.

What's really dynamic about this program and, I think, very interesting, is that the individual employee who is interested in moving into a management position or executive position, will have their own personal data about how they show up against this success profile. And then, based upon that, that individual will be able to develop an individual development plan that can track closely the skill development that is necessary.

Now, this is very different than most of the senior executive development programs in government where we, generally, would come up with a certain number of employees and then they would go through a very intense training program geared for the executive workforce. In this process, individuals, again, have the opportunity themselves to develop a specific track.

We just finished round one of taking a look at the feeder pool for executives. And now we're looking at, again, we want to look at the data that we have available and determine, then, what we need to do in order to close that gap. It's very possible that we will end up, again, with very formal training programs, creating opportunities, as I said, for mobility assignments, those kinds of things. But we believe that through this process we will have a large cadre of individuals who will be eligible for and qualified at the appropriate time to move into the executive ranks.

Now, you might ask, so, what are you doing below that level? That takes care of the executive piece. What are you doing below that level? We have very intense workforce planning going on for what we consider our key occupations, as well.

We know that the average age of the entire FAA workforce was 43 years old in 1996, it's 45 years old right now. And so we know in every key occupation, we have some of these same concerns. And so we're looking at both the gap and we also have a national recruitment program that we're working through right now so that, as we understand what the attrition piece might look like, then we are able to have the interventions that are necessary to be sure that we have the capacity that we're going to need to have those positions.

MR. LAWRENCE: We talked about the people exiting the workforce, how about people entering the workforce? What advice would you give to a young person who's interested in a career in, say, public service?

MS. TATE: One of the things I think we would need to do is just really to start out to acknowledge with a young person that they may have heard that, in fact, the government may not be one of the best places to work. And so we need to sort of put that on the table. And then to begin to share with them that in government that there is always challenging work that needs to get done.

If I think about the FAA as an organization, there is no other place, there is no other organization in this country that you're going to be able to go to do the kind of work that we do in FAA. I think many other government agencies will be able to say the very same thing.

And so the first thing we want to do is to really sell what work gets accomplished in the government, what it's responsible for. And I think we can do a better job of that, quite frankly.

The other thing I think we want to talk about is job security. We want to talk about the comprehensive benefits packages that we have; the opportunity for career advancement; flexible work environment that we have. And so I think we have an opportunity to sell the government, instead of, quite frankly, assuming that individuals would just naturally want to come to work. We're going to have to do what every other private organization does and that is get out there and sell the opportunity to work in government.

I think the work that we do, again, is both challenging and I think it's exciting and having individuals get out and go out and recruit and be able to talk about these exciting careers, I think is really the path that we have to go on.

We have a lot to offer young people. We have a retirement system now that's very flexible. And so we have the opportunity for individuals to come in and to go do something else, to come back to work in government. And so, I think there's a lot more flexibility that we can offer young people than we've had the opportunity to in the past.

MR. LAWRENCE: What's your vision for the FAA's human resources over the next ten years?

MS. TATE: Well, I think one of the things that we've got to do is to ensure that the systems that we put in place really do what they're intended to do. I talked about having some pieces in place, the new compensation system in place, for example, for about 18 months.

I talked about the new staffing flexibilities that have been in place for the last few years. Because the agency has not been doing a lot of hiring, we haven't had as much opportunity as we will to use many of those flexibilities. So, I think one of our challenges is going to be to ensure that we reap the benefits, if you will, of the changes that we've put in place.

I think the other challenge is going to be around HR continuing to move to a consultant function, if you will. We are hoping that, over the next couple of years, that much of our transaction processing will be done in a centralized location; that managers will have the flexibility that they need through automation to make many of the decisions that they need to make at a very local level. And so the role of the human resources person, then, becomes that of advising and consulting on organizational change, organizational dynamics and giving the managers the authority and responsibility and flexibility to make the decisions that they need to make around their own workforce.

And so, I think there will be a challenge around staying strategic. One of the challenges for HR as we move forward is measuring the value that the HR organization adds to any particular mission function. And so, as we go forward, we're very keen on measurement. We are putting in place right now a balanced score card approach where we are actually looking at everything that we do in the organization to understand how it is going to contribute to the bottom line. If we put in a new performance management system, how is that impacting the mission of the organization? If it's a new pay system, how does that impact on the quality of candidates that we are able to attract?

And so, I think that we have, really, an opportunity, as we go forward, to move in that direction and to be able to really impact the mission of the agency.

MR. LAWRENCE: Well, Glenda, I'm afraid we're out of time. But I want to thank you for joining us today. We've had a very interesting conversation on important management topics. Thank you.

MS. TATE: Thank you, Paul, for having me.

MR. LAWRENCE: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Glenda Tate, Assistant Administrator, Office of Human Resource Management at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Be sure and visit us on the Web at endowment.pwcglobal.com. There, you can learn more about our programs in research and you can also get a transcript of today's very interesting conversation. Once again, that's endowment.pwcglobal.com.

This is Paul Lawrence, see you next week.