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Senior Executive Service 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 Governmentwide 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 Governmentwide. 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 412.302(c):

  • an Individual Development Plan (IDP), based on individual needs and competencies;
  • at least 80 hours of formal 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:

Agencies can also find information on counting previous training toward SES CDP requirements in the Grandfathering Training memo.

Federal Candidate Development Program (Fed CDP)

The Senior Executive Service Federal Candidate Development Program (Fed CDP) assists Federal agencies in meeting their succession planning goals and contributes to the Government's effort to create a high-quality SES leadership corps. OPM sponsors this program periodically. The Fed CDP is an intensive program containing educational components including classroom training, interagency experiences, rotational assignments, mentoring, coaching, field experiences, and web-based learning. The program also exposes the candidates to the best leaders in the Federal Government. Those candidates who complete the program and obtain certification by an SES Qualifications Review Board (QRB) may be selected for an SES position anywhere in the Federal Government without further competition.

You may obtain additional information about the program through the Fed CDP website.

Entrance into the program is highly competitive. Individuals interested in this program can start preparing to apply for upcoming opportunities by reviewing the competencies covered by the Executive Core Qualifications.