Federal Government Jobs

Helping job hunters find, apply for, and land government jobs

SES History

SES Jobs

The Senior Executive Service History

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs), Technical Qualifications (TQs),
Managerial Technical Qualifications (MTQs), or Professional Technical Qualifications (PTQs)

The Senior Executive Service (SES) was established by Title IV of the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) of 1978 (P.L. 95-454, October 13, 1978) and became effective on July 13, 1979. The CSRA envisioned a Senior Executive Service whose members have shared values, a broad perspective of government and solid executive skills. Its stated purpose was to “ensure that the executive management of the Government of the United States is responsive to the needs, policies, and goals of the nation and otherwise is of the highest quality.” (continued)


SES Menu (Continued)

History of the SES

The Government’s senior executives would be held accountable for individual and organizational performance. To achieve this purpose, the CSRA gave greater authority to agencies to manage their executive resources and assigned OPM the responsibility for government wide leadership, direction, and oversight.

Under the CSRA, the SES was set up as a “third” service, completely separate from the competitive and excepted services. It replaced over 60 separate executive personnel authorities covering from one to several thousand positions. Top management positions that had been subject to disparate rules and practices, with requirements for prior approval of almost every personnel action, were joined into a unified and distinct personnel system that provided for considerable agency authority and flexibility.

Since 1979, OPM’s approach to executive resources management has gradually evolved from the traditional regulatory and procedure-oriented approach to one that focuses on leadership, provides expert assistance and quality services to agencies and executives, and preserves merit principles and other government wide interests. Our goal today is to maintain a proper balance between the agencies’ need for flexibility and OPM’s responsibility to preserve the government wide interests of a corporate, merit-based executive service.

The SES application packages are complex to say the least and often require professional assistance. It is helpful to consult with professional certified Executive SES Writers who have experience writing executive resumes. They write hard-hitting ECQs (Executive Core Qualifications) that tell the real story behind your ability to Lead Change, Lead People, Drive Results, Build Coalitions and employ Business Acumen. Professionally prepared application packages will include all 27 core fundamental competencies throughout your five ECQs and your TQs (Technical Qualifications) must provide succinct examples of your experiences, accomplishments and results.

Examination Process

Federal agencies review, rate, and rank applicants based on the executive qualifications and the professional/technical qualifications (if any) listed in the vacancy announcement. They also make final selections from among the best-qualified applicants and submit a case to OPM for Qualifications Review Board (QRB) consideration of the selectees.

Recruitment Incentives

Exceptional difficulty in recruiting highly qualified applicants for SES positions may result in payment of recruitment or relocation bonuses up to 25% of base pay (up to 100%, if approved by OPM), waiver of the dual compensation restrictions that apply to civil service retirees, or designation of the position for critical pay authority whereby total annual salary may be established up to the Executive Schedule Level I rate (currently $183,500 per annum). Recruitment incentives are noted in the “Application Information” column.

Candidate Development Programs

Some, but not all, federal agencies have SES Candidate Development Programs to identify and develop potential executive talent. QRB certified graduates of OPM approved SESCDPs advertised to “all qualified civil service appointees” or “all qualified persons” are eligible for a career appointment to the SES without further competition. However, graduates are not guaranteed a SES position.


Senior Executive Service (SES), Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs),
Technical Qualifications (TQs), Managerial Technical Qualifications (MTQs)
or Professional Technica

Return to top of page