In response to the exodus of senior managers and executives in the federal workforce, the White House issued several executive orders this month to help prepare and cultivate the next generation of leadership.

Nearly a quarter of senior managers in the federal workforce are expected to retire by 2017.

Reacting to that drain of leadership, the White House developed three programs to foster new leaders within the ranks as well as to retain current executives and hire new executives.

At an event in Washington this month, President Obama told senior leaders the government must also learn how to adapt to the needs of the 21st century and an economy that is vastly different from what government workers served in the 1930s.

“We want the next generation of leaders to have the experience of solving problems and building relationships across the government.  Because one thing that we have to acknowledge is that our government often statutorily was organized for the needs of the 1930s or ‘40s or ‘60s, and too often, we get stove-piped at a time when we need people with different skillsets and different agencies to be working together,” Obama said at the leadership gathering on December 9.

To accomplish this, one of the executive orders calls for the creation of the White House Leadership Development Program for Future Senior Career Executives. In this program, ambitious and experienced workers will be given the chance to work at different agencies on high-priority assignments and bring back what they learned to their home agency. The White House hopes this promotes a culture of interchanging ideas among agencies to better serve the public.

However, the ultimate aim of this program is to develop senior executives from within the ranks.

The executive orders also call for the creation of the White House Advisory Group on Senior Executive Service Reform, which will study how the government can hire and retain senior executives.

According to a George Washington University study released this year, the federal government experienced a 36 percent increase in senior executive turnover over a five year period beginning in fiscal year 2009. The growth in turnover was largely due to retirements.

However, other factors contributed: “federal personnel policies that resulted from the impacts of the recession’s financial crisis, pay compression … awards suspension, (and) sequestration,” according to the study.

“Americans don’t trust government like we used to.  Part of that is a very deliberate strategy of trying to undermine government.  Part of it is political opportunism,” Obama said at the executive leadership gathering. “But part of it is our need to constantly adapt to the demands of the 21st century. That’s why we need you, and that’s why we need the best and brightest of coming generations to serve.”

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