The Federal Executive Institute was founded in 1968. President Lyndon B. Johnson directed the Civil Service Commission (predecessor of the Office of Personnel Management) to establish “an advanced study center” to “increase the capacity of top civil service executives and professionals” in order to “improve the quality of government for the American people.”    

Civil Service Commission Chairman John Macy reached out for help in developing a plan for the Institute. They designed a university-like organizational climate, an adult learning model, and a focus on leadership versus technical excellence. In his letter announcing FEI, President Johnson, wrote that it would “prepare executives for a future that no one can predict.”      

The Commission located FEI in Charlottesville, Virginia, which offered opportunities for collaboration with the University of Virginia (and was also 112 miles from Washington). FEI was housed in a hotel called the Thomas Jefferson Inn. A ten-member faculty and small support staff opened the first program, which was scheduled for October 14 through December 15, 1968.     

Through the years since 1968, FEI’s mission has been consistent – to provide executive leadership development through academics, a learning environment, and a commitment to public service. It has served over 25,000 senior Federal leaders in Charlottesville and at agency sites around the U.S. and the world. It improves the performance of government agencies by working with federal executives who are exceptional leaders, understand their constitutional role, possess a broad corporate view, and take pride in serving the American people. As part of the Office of Personnel Management, the Institute reflects OPM’s commitment to professional excellence through the design and delivery of its programs.    

For over 40 years, FEI has re-grounded executive participants in the constitutional framework of the Federal government and encouraged introspection through small group work. The Institute helps them build learning communities with the faculty – communities in which everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner.    

FEI’s long, inter-agency, residential program has been eight, seven, and three weeks in length. Now called Leadership for a Democratic Society, it is a four-week program offered ten times a year, and it links individual development to improved agency performance.  Program elements are developed and polished based on information gleaned from FEI’s constant contact with the leaders of the federal government and on insights derived during over 40 years of experience in executive development.    

In addition to the Leadership for a Democratic Society program, FEI offers two- to five- day interagency courses that allow senior leaders to focus on critical skills, study them in depth, and practice using them.  Over twenty programs are offered each year in Charlottesville, Washington, DC, and other locations.    

FEI’s custom programming focuses on organizational improvement efforts. Custom programs help agencies transform themselves, develop their leadership cadres, and plan strategically.  Many are delivered through long-term strategic partnerships that develop agency capacity to implement improvement strategies. Some custom sessions are held in Charlottesville, but most are at agency sites throughout the United States and the world.    

Through these programs, FEI have served over 25,000 senior executives since 1968, when its charter directed establishment of “an advanced study center” to “improve the quality of government for the American people.”

Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 1:18 PM