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Assessing Executive Performance in a Technically-Driven Public Sector Organization: An Analysis of Political Appointees at the US Department of Energy Open Access

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The myth that political appointees who comprise presidential administrations are selected for their outstanding leadership and professional qualifications is followed closely by the one claiming cabinet government is a viable source of policy formulation in the United States. Both PAS (those requiring Senate confirmation) and non-PAS appointees are given authority over, and responsibility for, the performance of their agencies, but if unsuccessful, to whom are they really accountable? The White House? Congress? or the American Public? Despite changes in administrations, the turmoil of presidential transitions, and the asynchronous comings and goings of political appointees, members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) play a stabilizing but much less visible role in maintaining the functions of government. This dissertation analyzes appointees' leadership effectiveness over the past three decades of the Modern Presidency. Specifically, it investigates those attributes associated with success in leading a technically-driven organization in the public sector - the US Department of Energy. Research data was obtained by surveying permanent SESs who are directed by, and answerable to, the myriad of political appointees who continually enter and exit the federal government.

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