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Senior Executive Service Senior Executive Service FAQs

  • In an agency covered by the Senior Executive Service (SES), SES positions include positions classified above GS-15 that include duties involving one or more of the functional criteria (executive or managerial) identified in law. Scientific and professional (ST) positions include positions classified above GS-15 that are not SES positions (i.e., do not involve executive and management responsibilities) and are engaged in research and development in the physical, biological, medical, or engineering sciences, or a closely related field. Senior level (SL) positions include positions that are not SES positions and are classified above GS-15 based on other factors. In an agency that is not covered by the SES, either an SL or an ST position may perform duties that involve one or more of the SES functional criteria.
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  • You must first identify a position to apply for. Agencies announce their SES vacancies on OPM's website USAJOBS. From there, you may download information on vacancies of interest to you, complete the application procedures, and submit your application to the agency that has the vacancy. The agency submits the executive core qualifications of the person selected to a Qualifications Review Board (QRB) convened by OPM. The QRB must certify all selectees before they can be appointed to the SES. Further information about the selection process is available elsewhere on this site.
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  • No. The reason is that 5 USC 2108(3) which defines the term "preference eligible" provides that this term does not include applicants for, or members of, the Senior Executive Service.
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  • Yes. When detailed, an individual temporarily leaves his/her position of record but retains his/her pay and benefits. Agencies must compete any detail to an SES position that could result in assignment of a non-SES employee for a period more than 240 days unless the employee is eligible for a noncompetitive career SES appointment.  Agencies must receive OPM approval before detailing for longer than 240 days a non-SES member to an SES position that supervises other members of the SES.
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  • Criterion A cases are based on demonstrated executive experience. Candidates must demonstrate that they have experience/competence in all 5 ECQs. Criterion B cases are based on successful participation in an OPM approved SES Candidate Development Program (SESCDP). Candidates who compete governmentwide and successfully complete a CDP are eligible for non-competitive appointment to the SES. (However, successful completion does not guarantee placement in the SES.) Criterion C cases are based on the candidate's having special or unique qualities that indicate a likelihood of success in the SES. Candidates must demonstrate that they have the qualifications for the position and the potential to quickly acquire full competence in the 5 ECQs. The package submitted for QRB approval must contain the agency's assessment of why the selectee uniquely qualifies for the position, and an Individual Development Plan that focuses on the specific ECQs that need to be enhanced.
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  • The SES insignia or emblem represents a keystone -- the center stone that holds all the stones of an arch in place. This represents the critical role of the SES as a central coordinating point between Government's political leadership which sets the political agenda and the line workers who implement it. Members of the SES translate that political agenda into reality. The upright lines in the center of the keystone represent a column in which individual SES members are united into a single leadership corps. There is no particular symbolism to the number of lines, which has varied over the years with different iterations of the logo. The SES insignia may not be modified.
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  • No. Because the Fundamental Competencies are cross-cutting, they should be addressed over the course of the ECQ narrative. It is not necessary to address them directly as long as the narrative, in its totality, shows mastery of these competencies on the whole.
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  • Agencies are permitted to use the SES insignia for official Government business. The insignia may not be modified.
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  • No. OPM will not pre-review ECQ statements. To do so would be a conflict of interest since we administer the Qualification Review Boards, and would also provide the requestor with an unfair advantage over other applicants.
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  • No. Whether acting or detailed, the employee retains his/her current rate of pay.
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  • No. You will be assessed on each ECQ, not on the individual competencies (although you are expected to demonstrate mastery of the Fundamental Competencies somewhere within your narrative statement).
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  • Yes. When acting, an individual takes on additional responsibilities of the SES position without leaving his/her position of record. This acting authority is meant to cover a short-term absence or vacancy.
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  • All SES vacancies are advertised on USAJOBS, where you can download announcements for vacancies of interest to you.
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  • The "Guide to Senior Executive Service Qualifications" contains information about the ECQs and samples you may use to develop your own statements.
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  • No. Compensatory time is a form of premium pay; SES members are not eligible.
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  • Yes.  SES Candidate Development Programs are competitive programs designed to develop the executive qualifications of employees with strong executive potential.  Participation in an SESCDP is not a prerequisite for obtaining an SES appointment
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  • The basic system description uses a five-level rating system:  Level 5 – Outstanding, Level 4 – Exceeds Fully Successful, Level 3 – Fully Successful, Level 2 – Minimally Satisfactory and Level 1 – Unsatisfactory.  Agencies may use agency-specific labels, which they must include in their additions to the basic system description.
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  • In order to be eligible for a sabbatical, SES Career appointees must complete seven years of service in SES position(s) or SES equivalent civil service position(s) (grade level above a GS-15 or equivalent), and at least two of the seven years specifically must be in the SES.  SES members may not be eligible for voluntary retirement at the time the sabbatical begins.  A sabbatical may not be granted to the same individual more than once in a 10-year period.
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  • No. Credit hours are a form of premium pay; SES members are not eligible.
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  • Training is delegated to the agencies (5 U.S.C. 4103(a)).  Each agency is responsible for developing its own programs.  You should check with your agency to obtain information on training your agency specifically requires for SES members.  Agencies are required to develop learning programs and opportunities for the continued development of their executives. All Federal employees are required to take a set of Federal Mandatory training courses including IT Security Awareness, No Fear Act, and EEO training.  Executives are required to take Ethics Awareness training as well.  Check with your Executive Resources office for a schedule of these mandatory courses at your agency.
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Total Count: 42, Number of Pages: 3, Page: 1
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