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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) sabbatical program for Senior Executive Service (SES) members to determine: (1) the costs of sabbaticals; (2) the positions to which SES members returned after their sabbaticals; (3) whether participants remained in federal service for at least 2 consecutive years after completing their sabbaticals, as required; and (4) whether agencies considered the program worthwhile.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management 1. The Director, OPM, should assess the sabbatical program's contribution to the development and effectiveness of SES members through study or work experience and as an incentive for recruitment and retention. The study should define what would constitute an appropriate level of use for the program and determine what can be done to reduce the level of attrition by SES members who have completed their sabbaticals. If OPM determines that participation should be increased, it should also assess how factors such as those identified in the GAO review are precluding SES members from participating.
Closed - Implemented
The OPM Task Force on Executive and Management Development is developing new policy. OPM has taken action to make SES members more aware of the sabbatical program. OPM has included information on sabbaticals in a pamphlet distributed to all members of SES and have publicized some of the sabbaticals taken by SES members to generate interest in the program.

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