Insight on the Presidential Management Fellows Program
Friday, October 31, 2014

For more than 35 years, the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program has been the government’s premier initiative for recruiting and developing top talent from graduate schools across the country. 

How do participants’ first impressions of the program and their federal agencies compare to how they felt at the conclusion of the two-year fellowship? Are the fellows still committed to public service? What changes need to be made to ensure the program remains a critical pathway to federal service for high-achieving individuals?


The Partnership for Public Service (PPS) sought to answer these questions. In 2014, the Partnership, with assistance from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), surveyed members of the PMF class of 2011 after completing their two-year fellowships to assess the program’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as participants’ satisfaction with their supervisors and rotational and work assignments. In 2011, the Partnership surveyed the same group about their initial impressions of the PMF program and their agencies. 

The findings, based on 101 responses from 470 fellows, reveal some positive aspects of the program and some areas of improvement for agencies and OPM: 

  • 80 percent were satisfied with their overall experience in the program
  • 84 percent were satisfied with their rotational assignment
  • 87 of the 101 fellows were offered full-time federal employment, with 83 accepting offers. 

The study also uncovered some opportunities for improvement to achieve continued success. For example, many were dissatisfied with level of recognition they received, opportunities for learning and growth, as well as the abilitiy to work with motivated and knowledgeable peers. 

Bottom line: There is a disconnect between OPM’s vision for the PMF program and federal leaders’ implementation.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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