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Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program

The Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP) is an OPM-approved training program designed to develop executive core qualifications. Individual agencies administer their own OPM-approved SESCDPs. The SESCDP is a succession management tool agencies may use to identify and prepare future senior leaders. An SESCDP provides SES candidates with the training and development opportunities needed to enhance their executive competencies and increase their understanding of the wide range of Government programs and issues beyond their individual agency and profession.  Graduates of an OPM-approved SESCDP 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.  Agencies must have a written policy describing their program. All SESCDPs are announced on USAJOBS ( .


As indicated in revised 5 CFR 412, agencies must obtain OPM approval of their SESCDP before they conduct their next SESCDP and whenever there are substantial changes to the program.  Agencies must seek re-approval every five years thereafter. 

Mail or deliver requests for OPM approval to:

U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Senior Executive Services and Performance Management
1900 E Street NW, Room 7412
Washington, DC 20415

Federal Government Tools and Resources

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

  • SESCDP Website: Provides an overview description and information on the Federal Candidate Development Program (Fed CDP).
  • SESCDP Approval Checklist: This guide lists all the necessary requirements stated in 5 CFR 412.302 to assist agencies in obtaining OPM approval for their SES CDP.
  • SESCDP Announcement Template: This document is a standardized vacancy announcement template for a SESCDP, including required fields and example text.  Vacancy announcements must: identify if the announcement will provide for recruitment from all groups of qualified individuals within the civil service, or from all groups of qualified individuals (the announcement cannot exclude particular grade levels);  be open on USAJobs at least 14 calendar days including the day of publication; and include an announcement on USAJobs and reflect efforts to solicit applications from women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to help create and maintain a diverse SES workforce.   Use of this template is optional.
  • SESCDP Mentor Requirements and Use of Candidate Evaluation Form: This document provides SESCDP coordinators with information regarding mentoring requirements and the use of the standardized SESCDP Candidate Evaluation Form (optional).
  • SESCDP Candidate Evaluation Form: This document is a standardized SESCDP candidate evaluation form to assist mentors in documenting their candidate’s developmental progress specific to the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) and readiness for the Senior Executive Service.  Mentors must evaluate candidates and provide an assessment at the end of the program.  Use of this template is optional.
  • SESCDP Developmental Assignment Memorandum of Agreement: A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to "provide for the assigning, tracking, and accounting of personnel on a developmental assignment and to stipulate the roles and responsibilities of the Employing Agency, Gaining Agency, and SESCDP candidate."
  • Executive Development Plan Template: OPM's EDP Template. Please visit the Executive Learning and Development Wiki Page for more details.
  • SESCDP Roundtables: OPM periodically hosts interagency roundtables for SES CDP coordinators and other staff members. The SESCDP 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
  • SESCDP 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 SESCDPs Governmentwide.
  • SESCDP Developmental Assignment CriteriaThis document provides five SES functional criteria to assist in determining if an SESCDP developmental assignment is at the executive level.   If an agency is interested in hosting an SESCDP candidate for a developmental assignment, the agency should contact OPM at The agency will need to submit a description of the executive-level assignment to OPM for review and approval, using this template.
  • SES CDP Presentation on Evaluating the Effectiveness of CDPs: This presentation offers a review of logic modeling and a process to evaluate your CDPs. For more information on evaluating CDPs please contact OPM's SES CDP team at

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

  • DOE has developed a Leadership Development Guide, which contains description of over 550 courses, offered by 75 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.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

  • 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.

Also Helpful:

Agency SESCDP Overviews

Agency SESCDP Best Practices


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