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Succession Planning in State Health Agencies in the United States: A Brief Report

Harper, Elizabeth, DrPH; Leider, Jonathon P., PhD; Coronado, Fatima, MD, MPH; Beck, Angela J., PhD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: September/October 2018 - Volume 24 - Issue 5 - p 473–478
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000700
Research Reports: Research Brief Report

Objective: Approximately 25% of the public health workforce plans to retire by 2020. Succession planning is a core capability of the governmental public health enterprise; however, limited data are available regarding these efforts in state health agencies (SHAs).

Methods: We analyzed 2016 Workforce Gaps Survey data regarding succession planning in SHAs using the US Office of Personnel Management's (OPM's) succession planning model, including 6 domains and 27 activities. Descriptive statistics were calculated for all 41 responding SHAs.

Results: On average, SHAs self-reported adequately addressing 11 of 27 succession planning activities, with 93% of SHAs adequately addressing 1 or more activities and 61% adequately addressing 1 or more activities in each domain.

Conclusions: The majority of OPM-recommended succession planning activities are not being addressed, and limited succession planning occurs across SHAs. Greater activity in the OPM-identified succession planning domains may help SHAs contend with significant turnover and better preserve institutional knowledge.

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Arlington, Virginia (Dr Harper); JP Leider Research & Consulting, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Dr Leider); Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia (Dr Coronado); and Center of Excellence in Public Health Workforce Studies, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Dr Beck).

Correspondence: Jonathon P. Leider, PhD, JP Leider Research & Consulting, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (

This project was supported by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (3U38OT000161-03S2).

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2018 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.