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There are two key differences in succession planning programs between business

and in governmental settings. (And it is worth pointing out that governmental

entities may themselves differ across international, federal, state,

municipal, county, and other governmental bodies.)

One difference is that some governmental entities have civil service systems

that prohibit (by law) the naming of individuals to fill positions without

competitive job searches. In some jurisdictions, all jobs must be posted. Individuals

are then ranked according to their qualifications compared to the requirements

listed on job descriptions. That approach means, in practical

terms, that a government entity can commit to develop anyone who wishes to

be developed—a method sometimes called a talent-pool approach. But identifying

individual successors in advance may not be possible.

A second difference has to do with who may be regarded as the key customers

of the effort. In business, the CEO plays the single most important role

as customer. But in some governmental entities, the agency director is a political

appointee who carries out the will of an elected official. In practical terms,

that means that the most important owners of the SP&M process will be those

government civil servants who do not change with the winds of every political

election. They possess the collective institutional wisdom of the organization

in their heads, and they must be appealed to on the grounds of a legacy if a

government-agency SP&M program is to work. In many cases, government

succession programs bear different titles and are called workforce planning or

human capital management initiatives.29