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Training and Development Policy Wiki

Page History: Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program

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Page Revision: 3/27/2013 10:32:58 AM

Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program

Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SES CDP) is an OPM-approved training program designed to develop executive core qualifications. The SES CDP is one succession management tool agencies may use to identify and prepare future senior leaders. SES CDPs provide SES candidates at the GS-14, GS-15, or equivalent levels with training and development opportunities to enhance their executive competencies and broaden their understanding of the wide range of Federal Government programs and issues beyond their agencies and professions. 

Requirements for SES CDPs are found in 5 CFR 412.301 and 412.302. Agencies must obtain OPM approval before they may conduct a program or whenever there are substantial changes to the program. Agencies must seek re-approval every five years thereafter.  

An SES CDP must last a minimum of 12 months. Recruitment for SES CDPs is either from all groups of qualified individuals within the civil service, or all groups of qualified individuals whether or not in the civil service. 

Candidates from outside the Federal Government and/or employees serving on other than career or career-type appointments (e.g. term, temporary) are considered "non-status." These candidates must be appointed using the Schedule B authority outlined in 5 CFR 213.3202(j). Schedule B authority is a temporary appointment and may not exceed or be extended beyond 3 years. These candidates may not be used to fill a permanent position. Candidates on a Schedule B authority must be assigned to a full-time non-SES position. 

Graduates of an OPM-approved SES CDP who are selected through civil service-wide competition and are certified by OPM's Qualifications Review Board (QRB) may receive a career SES appointment without further competition. These graduates are eligible for noncompetitive career appointment to an SES position for which they meet the professional/technical qualification requirements. It is important to understand that QRB certification does not guarantee placement in the SES.

Solve Problems

(How can my agency’s program meet the requirements of 5 CFR 412?)

To graduate from an SES CDP, candidates must complete the requirements of the program in 5 CFR 412.302 and all additional requirements established by their agency. Each candidate must have a documented development plan based upon the candidate's competency-based needs determination. The plan must address the following:

  • Executive Core Qualifications
  • Crucial leadership challenges for senior executives
  • Increased knowledge and understanding of the overall functioning of an agency so the candidate is prepared for a range of positions and responsibilities
  • Interaction with senior employees outside the candidate's agency to foster a broader perspective
  • Governmentwide or multi-agency applicability in the scope and nature of the training 

Candidates must also complete:

  • Formal interagency and/or multi-sector training lasting at least 80 hours. The training must address the ECQs and their application to SES positions Governmentwide. A training experience must include interaction with senior employees outside the candidate's agency.
  • Developmental assignment(s) totaling at least 4 months of full-time service outside the candidate's position of record. One assignment must be at least 90 continuous days in a position other than, and substantially different from, the candidate's position of record. The purpose of the assignment is to broaden the candidate's experience and/or increase his or her knowledge of the overall function of the agency so the candidate is prepared for a variety of positions. The assignment(s) must include executive-level responsibilities and differ from the candidate's current and past assignments. The assignment(s) should challenge the candidate with respect to leadership competencies and the ECQs.
  • A mentor who is a member of the SES or otherwise determined by the ERB to have the knowledge and capacity to advise the candidate, consistent with the goals of the agency SES CDP. All mentors must be approved by the ERB.

The focus of the entire program should be on closing competency gaps identified at the beginning of the program. If all of the requirements are met and the candidate's competency gaps(s) have not been fully addressed, the agency will need to provide additional training or other developmental opportunities to the candidate prior to QRB certification. Here is a checklist to help you get started with developing your program, and some tools to assist your candidates to meet the requirements.

Executive Development Plan
OPM developed an Executive Development Plan template for agencies to use.
Here is the link to the template:

For more information on EDPs, please go to the Individual-Development-Plans.

80-hour Interagency Training Requirement
The Department of Energy developed a Senior Executive Courses and Seminars guide.  The guide contains description of over 350 courses, offered by 56 colleges, universities, and OPM. Each course is matched to a particular ECQ though some course may have more than one ECQ. Please note that course descriptions and information on dates, locations, and cost are taken directly from the course catalogs of institutions of where they are offered. Please check the institution's website prior to registering.

NASA developed an executive development resource portal. The portal is designed to provide members of the SES community with a structured approach to training, networking, and other opportunities.
Here is a link to the portal:

Developmental Assignment
OPM hosts a website listing of SES CDP developmental assignments to help SES CDP candidates find developmental assignments outside their current agency. Here is the link to the website:

If an agency is interested in hosting an SES CDP candidate for a developmental assignment, the agency should contact OPM at The agency will need to submit a description of the assignment to OPM for review and approval. Once these assignments are reviewed and approved, they will be posted on this website. 

Agencies should use this website as a tool to offer opportunities for all SES CDP candidates and encourage their candidates to use this website when searching for developmental assignments.

Developmental Assignment Memorandum of Agreement  template, which outlines the understanding between the Employing Agency and the Gaining Agency, is also available on the OPM SES CDP Developmental Assignment webpage.

Does your agency use any tools to assist candidates in meeting the SESCDP requirements? If so, please share your comments with the training & development community.

Stay Current

(Which agencies have SES Candidate Development Programs?) 

Here are agencies who have implemented SES CDPs. Click on the agencies below to learn more about their programs.

The Department of Commerce Action Learning Team has provided a very useful presentation, and report highlighting how best practices can be leveraged in placing SES CDP graduates successfully.  There are many great takeaways to be shared here.  Take a look at both the PowerPoint presentation, as well as the report on these links:

Has your agency implemented an SES CDP?

Find Opportunities

(Where can SES CDP coordinators find training opportunities?) 

OPM periodically hosts interagency roundtables for SES CDP coordinators and other staff members. The SES CDP Roundtable is an opportunity for agencies to network, share best practices, and learn from others involved in running SES CDPs. If you are interested in attending these roundtables, please contact

Discover Helpful Tools and Resources

(What other tools and resources are available for me?)

Law and Regulation:

  • 5 U.S.C. 3396
  • 5 CFR 412.301 and 302

OPM SES Website - Candidate Development Programs

SES Candidate Development Program Study and Innovative Practices Report
This report was developed as an independent third party study of SES CDPs in the Federal Government. The report provides an overview and analysis of success factors, notable practices, and key recommendations for SES CDPs Governmentwide.

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