Senior Executive Service:

Reasons the Candidate Development Program Has Not Produced More SES Appointees

GGD-88-47: Published: Apr 20, 1988. Publicly Released: May 24, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined why federal agencies did not more frequently use the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Candidate Development Program (CDP) when making Senior Executive Service (SES) appointments, focusing on the: (1) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); (2) Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); (3) Department of Agriculture (USDA); (4) Department of the Interior; (5) Office of the Secretary of Defense; and (6) Veterans Administration (VA).

GAO found that: (1) during fiscal years 1982 through 1986, certified CDP candidates received 141, or 15 percent, of the agencies' 956 career SES appointments; (2) agency officials who selected CDP candidates emphasized general management background, while officials who made SES appointments typically selected non-CDP candidates who had technical proficiency and agency experience; and (3) the conflict between CDP candidate selection and SES appointment practices lowered the program's credibility to both potential candidates and management. GAO also found that a lack of OPM guidance and agency commitment prevented agencies from: (1) envisioning CDP as a major source for SES appointments; or (2) taking advantage of the expedited SES appointment process for certified CDP candidates. In addition, GAO found that USDA, Interior, and EPA plan to make greater use of CDP as a source for SES appointments through changing the candidate selection process and justifying non-CDP-candidate SES appointments. GAO believes that agency management views significantly influenced use of and reliance on CDP for SES appointments.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: OPM continues to work with agencies to monitor CDP. OPM has developed a package for applicants describing SES CDP as well as agency CDP and contacts. OPM leadership is reexamining this area and looking for new approaches to accomplish the desired results. Recommendation is based on work done prior to 1983, and it is highly unlikely that recommendation over 6 years old will suddenly be implemented. In future work on the CDP program, GAO will revisit this issue.

    Recommendation: To better achieve OPM expectations for CDP, the Director, OPM, should determine what actions OPM could take to enhance the use of CDP. This could be done by OPM in conjunction with other federal agencies or by the SES advisory board as part of its examination of SES-related policies.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management


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