Click here to skip navigation Home  |  Subject Index  |  Important Links  |  Contact Us  |  Help

U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

Advanced Search


Skip Navigation

Recruitment & Selection

Candidate Development Programs

Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Programs (SESCDPs) are OPM-approved training programs designed to develop the executive qualifications of employees with strong executive potential to qualify them for and authorize their initial career appointment to the SES. CDPs include a variety of activities that prepare candidates for success in the SES. In addition, CDPs advance the goal of a "corporate SES," a diverse corps of career executives who share a Government-wide perspective. These executives share values and a common identity that reach beyond their individual professions or agencies. They are well positioned to lead change both within their agencies and throughout Government.

All CDPs address the five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) that embody the leadership skills needed to succeed in the SES. These skills apply to all SES positions and are in addition to the technical qualifications that agencies specify for particular positions. OPM's Guide to Senior Executive Service Qualifications describes these leadership skills (competencies) and the behaviors associated with the ECQs.

Typically, CDPs are 18-24 months and are open to GS-14s/15s or employees at equivalent levels from within or outside the Federal Government. Each agency decides how large its program will be, based on its executive resources needs.

Agencies use merit staffing procedures to select participants for their CDPs. Most CDP vacancies are announced Government-wide. After certification by an OPM-administered Qualifications Review Board (QRB), CDP graduates, who competed at least government wide, are eligible for noncompetitive career appointment to any SES position for which they meet the professional/technical qualifications requirements. (Note that QRB certification does not guarantee placement in the SES.)

Agencies may tailor CDPs to meet their particular succession planning needs and organizational missions. However, programs must include the following items required by 5 CFR 412.104:

  • an Individual Development Plan (IDP), based on individual needs and competencies;

  • at least 80 hours of training that addresses the ECQs and includes individuals from outside the candidate's agency;

  • at least 4 months of developmental assignments outside the candidate's position of record; and

  • an SES mentor.

Current CDP vacancies are listed in OPM's website:

OPM periodically sponsors the SES Federal Candidate Development Program (Fed CDP) to assist Federal agencies in meeting their succession planning goals and contributes to the Government's effort to create a high-quality SES leadership corps. This program is sponsored periodically. To learn more about the program, click on Fed CDP.