The SES includes most managerial, supervisory, and policy positions classified above General Schedule (GS) grade 15 or equivalent positions in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.
These positions are excluded:
Administrative law judges, members of boards of contract appeal, and positions in independent Government corporations (e.g., Tennessee Valley Authority) and in certain financial regulatory agencies also are excluded.
There are two types of positions and four types of appointments in the SES:
Career Reserved positions are those which, as defined in law, are "to ensure impartiality, or public's confidence of impartiality of government." These positions can only be filled by career appointees.
General positions may be filled by any type of SES appointee -- career, noncareer, limited term or limited emergency.
Career appointments may be to a General or Career Reserved position; rights of the individual are the same in either case. Incumbents are selected by agency merit staffing process and must have their executive qualifications approved by a Qualifications Review Board (QRB) convened by OPM.
Noncareer appointments are approved by OPM on a case-by-case basis and the appointment authority reverts to OPM when the noncareer appointee leaves the position. Appointments may be made only to General positions and cannot exceed 25% of the agency's SES position allocation. Governmentwide, only 10% of SES positions may be filled by noncareer appointees.
A Limited Term appointment may be made for up to 3 years, is nonrenewable and must be to an SES General position which will expire because of the nature of the work (e.g., a special project).
A Limited Emergency appointment is also a nonrenewable appointment, may be for up to 18 months, and must be to an SES General position established to meet a bona-fide, unanticipated, urgent need.
The total number of limited appointments may not exceed 5% of SES positions allocated Governmentwide. Each agency has a pool equal to 3% of its allocation for making limited appointments of career or career-type employees from outside the SES. OPM must approve use of this type of appointment authority in other cases.