No Time to Wait: Building a Public Service for the 21st Century

July 2017 – The Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust sponsored this National Academy of Public Administration (Academy) study to determine how the federal government's human capital challenges can best be addressed. The Academy formed a five-member Panel of Fellows with expertise in human capital management to conduct the study and produce a White Paper.

The federal government faces profound problems in making government work for the American people in large part because its human capital system is fundamentally broken. The Panel determined that there is a genuine urgency in the need to address these human capital challenges and recommended that the federal government establish a new human capital systems--grounded in mission first, principles always, and accountability for both--that provides agencies with the flexibility to effectively manage their missions. Specifically, the Panel's recommended system would:

  • Provide individual agencies the flexibility to create human capital systems that meet the needs of their missions;
  • Uphold the core principles on which a civil service ultimately depends; and
  • Establish a governance and accountability structure that balances flexibility and core principles while using collaboration and data analytics to redefine accountability and to accelerate the system's ability to adapt to the future.