Updated Framework for Developing SES

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Government executives are expected to possess the leadership capabilities to lead in a continuously changing political climate with evolving performance expectations, and must continually broaden their perspectives and strive for continual professional executive development. To help executives continually learn, adapt to dynamic conditions, and achieve excellence in performance, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management recently released the Framework for the Continuing Development of Federal Senior Executives.

This framework is intended to provide agencies a “clear, comprehensive, and flexible structure for ongoing executive development,” writes Mark D. Reinhold, associate director of employee services for OPM, in a memo about the framework.


Federal agencies are legally required to establish programs for the continuing development of their senior executives. According to the framework, all senior executives should annually engage in developmental activities, and should pursue developmental assignments at least once every three to five years to broaden their perspective, such as rotations to new executive positions, interagency projects, and sabbaticals or assignments outside the federal government.

The executive development framework also incorporates mandatory training, recommended key leadership behaviors, developmental objectives, and developmental opportunities at each specific stage of an executive’s lifecycle of learning. For instance, some of the mandatory training focuses on ethics, how to conduct performance reviews, and mentoring, to name a few. Executives also are encouraged to review the framework to assess their current state of development and create a plan to strengthen specific competencies.

“Through continual learning and development, senior executives may broaden their leadership and technical skills, experience, and perspectives, while promoting increased collaboration across the federal government,” explains the framework. “This preparation is critical for the federal government to succeed in its workforce planning and talent and succession management.”

The Framework for the Continuing Development of Federal Senior Executives is the result of OPM’s partnership with the federal Chief Learning Officers Council (CLOC). The CLOC working group incorporated in the guidance mandatory training, recommended key leadership behaviors, developmental objectives, and developmental opportunities at each specific stage of an executive’s lifecycle. The framework is located on OPM’s Manager's Corner, a cost-free web portal containing leadership development resources, accessed through HR University.

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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