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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Agencies

Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. How many students apply each year and out of that number, how many are selected as Finalists?
  2. How do Finalists learn about possible Federal Agency PMF appointment opportunities?
  3. Who can hire a PMF?
  4. When can an agency hire a PMF?
  5. Do Federal Agencies reimburse PMFs for their relocation costs or other recruitment incentives upon appointment?
  6. What are the responsibilities of the PMF Program Office, hiring agency, Agency PMF Coordinator, Human Resources Office, and the hiring official/supervisor?
  7. What are the requirements for a PMF?
  8. What is the timeline for the Fellows' developmental journey in the program?
  9. What qualifies as training for the 80 hours of training our agency is required to provide the Fellow each year of their two-year fellowship?
  10. Is there a sample Individual Development Plan (IDP) Fellows and agencies can refer to?
  11. Is there a sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Fellows and agencies can refer to for external rotational opportunities?
  12. Is there guidance on the ERB Certification process?
  13. Is there guidance on the PMF conversion to a permanent or term position?
  14. Do Federal Agencies provide Student Loan Repayment or Loan Forgiveness for Fellows?
  15. Can an agency request an appointment eligibility extension if it cannot bring a Finalist onboard by the deadline?

1. How many students apply each year and out of that number, how many are selected as Finalists?

Historically, the PMF Program has seen an increase in the number of applicants. The number of applicants has ranged from approximately 3,000 to more than 8,500; the number of Finalists has varied from 500 to over 800. For the past three years, applicants have averaged a 1 in 10 chance of becoming a PMF. Now with the expanded eligibility from the Pathways Programs regulations, we are estimating a significant increase in applicants. Please note the PMF Program is highly competitive.

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2. How do Finalists learn about possible Federal Agency PMF appointment opportunities?

The PMF Program Office is transitioning to a new PMF Talent Acquisition System (TAS). As soon as additional details become available, this FAQ will be updated. In addition, a Job Fair event is conducted exclusively for PMF Finalists participating agencies. The PMF TAS is where agencies will post appointment, rotational, and training opportunities. Finalists may contact Agency PMF Coordinators directly; therefore, we encourage agencies to post their appointment opportunities to the PMF TAS.

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3. Who can hire a PMF?

Participation in the PMF Program (a component of the Pathways Program) is open to all Federal Agencies in the Executive Branch who have an approved Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with OPM*. Agencies excepted from the competitive service may participate after entering into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with OPM. In addition, Legislative and Judicial Branch agencies may participate by entering into a MOA with OPM. Please contact the PMF Program Office for additional guidance. For a current list of participating agencies and their Agency PMF Coordinators, go to the List of Coordinators webpage.

* Additional information about the MOU requirement and the impact the Pathways Programs regulations has on the PMF Program can be found in the "Pathways Transiton and Implementation Guidance" under the Agencies\Resources webpage.

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4. When can an agency hire a PMF?

Agencies have 12 months from the official announcement of Finalists to hire them as Fellows from a large, prestigious pool with diverse backgrounds and skills. Agencies should plan accordingly to make PMF appointment offers to Finalists, ensure ample time for completing any background investigation, verify degree completion, and bring onboard prior to the appointment eligibility deadline.

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5. Do Federal Agencies reimburse PMFs for their relocation costs or other recruitment incentives upon appointment?

Each Federal Agency determines whether it will pay relocation costs or offer other recruitment incentives. Finalists should inquire with participating agencies before accepting an appointment offer. And agencies should follow their internal policies for such incentives, including any Service Level Agreements.

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6. What are the responsibilities of the PMF Program Office, hiring agency, Agency PMF Coordinator, Human Resources Office, and the hiring official/supervisor?

Please see the Agencies\Agency Responsibilities webpage for the duties of all those involved at the agencies. Responsibilities of the PMF Program Office can be found on the About Us\Meet the Team webpage.

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7. What are the requirements for a PMF?

Each Fellow will have the following:

  • Participant Agreement with the agency*
  • Assigned a senior-level mentor*
  • Individual Development Plan
  • Performance plan and yearly evaluations
  • 80 hours of formal interactive training each year of the fellowship*
  • At least one developmental assignment 4 (four) to 6 (six) months in duration
  • Certification by the agency's Executive Resources Board (ERB), or equivalent, determining the Fellows successful completion of the PMF Program

Hiring officials and supervisors should consult with their respective Agency PMF Coordinator for additional details. *Per the Pathways Programs regulations, effective with the PMF Class of 2013 and forward.

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8. What is the timeline for the Fellows' developmental journey in the program?

Agencies assist Fellows along their 2-year developmental journey in the program. It is the responsibility of the PMFs and their agency supervisors to negotiate the developmental activities and work responsibilities that will prepare the PMF for the targeted position at the conclusion of the program. Fellows may consult with the assigned mentors and Agency PMF Coordinators, as well. The typical fellowship cycle consists of the following:

  • Within 45 days of appointment, agency approves Individual Development Plans (IDPs) designed to impart the competencies required of the target position and place the PMF on a performance plan
  • Within 90 days of appointment, agency assigns a mentor
  • Throughout fellowship, agency provides opportunities for training, developmental assignments, rotations, and other activities in support of the IDP
  • Approximately 90 days prior to the 2-year anniversary date of the start of the fellowship, the Fellow, Agency PMF Coordinator and supervisor prepare for the ERB certification
  • Before 30 days prior to 2-year anniversary date, the agency's ERB (or equivalent) evaluates the PMF to determine successful completion of the program. ERB certification is required for conversion.
  • 30 days prior to 2-year anniversary date, the Fellow is notified by the agency of the outcome of the ERB evaluation.
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9. What qualifies as training for the 80 hours of training our agency is required to provide the Fellow each year of their two-year fellowship?

Specifically, 5 CFR 362.405(b)(2) states that for each PMF, the agency must provide a minimum of 80 hours of formal interactive training per year that addresses the competencies outlined in the IDP. Mandatory annual training, such as information security and ethics training, does not count towards the 80-hour requirement. On-the-job training does not count towards the 80 hours requirement. The ERB ultimately decides whether the training requirements have been met when certifying the PMF. The PMF Program Office does not dictate what constitutes as formal interactive training; this interpretation is up to the appointing agency.

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10. Is there a sample Individual Development Plan (IDP) Fellows and agencies can refer to?

Yes. The PMF Program Office has created an OPM Form 1302, PMF IDP, which PMFs and agencies can use at their discretion. This form can be found under the Current PMFs\Training and Development\Individual Development Plan webpage. Agencies may need to tailor their own IDP form to fit their needs or meet newer Pathways Programs regulatory requirements.

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11. Is there a sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Fellows and agencies can refer to for external rotational opportunities?

Yes. A sample MOU is available under the Agencies\Resources webpage. NOTE: A PMF may complete the required developmental assignment within their organization, appointing agency, or to another Federal Agency.

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12. Is there guidance on the ERB Certification process?

The ERB, Executive Resources Board, (or equivalent) can establish its own procedures for conducting the review and certification, but must consider whether:

(1) The PMF has met all of the requirements of the program, as outlined in the program regulations found at 5 CFR 362.405,

(2) Has demonstrated successful performance according to the Fellow's performance plan, and

(3) Has achieved the developmental expectations set forth in the Individual Development Plan (IDP). This may be conducted through a document review or other methods agreed upon by the ERB. 

The ERB certification process must be started in time to be able to notify the Fellow of the results 30 days prior to the 2-year anniversary of the fellowship and the procedures consistently applied to all Fellows under the ERB's purview. Typically, the ERB process starts 90 days prior to the 2-year anniversary date. NOTE: It is crucial for Fellows, supervisors, and Agency PMF Coordinators to monitor the deadlines during a PMF's fellowship. PMF appointment extensions should not be granted for administrative delays; extensions are for rare and unusual circumstances. A Fellow must convert to the agency that ERB certified him/her.

The results of the ERB certification are recorded by the Agency PMF Coordinator in our on-line systems.

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13. Is there guidance on the PMF conversion to a permanent or term position?

5 CFR 362.409 states a Fellow must complete the program within time limits prescribed in 5 CFR 362.404, to include any agency-approved extension. At the conclusion of that period, the agency may convert, without a break-in-service, an ERB-certified Fellow to a competitive service term or permanent appointment. Those who are noncompetitively converted to a competitive service term appointment may be subsequently converted noncompetitively to a permanent competitive service position (5 CFR 362.107(b)). Appointments must be effective on or before the expiration of the individual's PMF appointment, including extensions. No permanent appointments are allowed prior to full completion of the 2-year fellowship.

A PMF must meet the citizenship requirement to be converted to a permanent position. The agency is not required to convert or appoint a PMF who is not certified by the ERB.

Additional information can be found on the Agencies\Resources webpage. Based on the Pathways Programs regulations (5 CFR 362), there are some differences in conversion requirements for the Class of 2013 and beyond versus Fellows from previous classes. Hiring officials and supervisors should consult with their Agency PMF Coordinator for details.

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14. Do Federal Agencies provide Student Loan Repayment or Loan Forgiveness for Fellows?

Federal Agencies are authorized to repay student loans under the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program, as provided for in part 537 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations. Some agencies participate in the program. Finalists should ask the hiring agency if it participates when interviewing for appointments. Additional information about the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program can be found at the Student Loans webpage.

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15. Can an agency request an appointment eligibility extension if it cannot bring a Finalist onboard by the deadline?span>

Yes. If an agency makes a PMF appointment offer to a Finalist and the Finalist accepts before the appointment eligibility deadline, the agency may formally request an appointment eligibility extension. The request must come from the hiring agency's designated Agency PMF Coordinator via email to pmf@opm.gov stating the Finalists' name; projected start date; projected position, series, and grade (e.g., Program Analyst, GS-0343-09); agency/sub-agency of position; and, the reason for the request (e.g., due to a lengthy background investigation). If approved by the PMF Program Office, the requesting agency and Finalist will be granted a 90-day extension and recorded in the PMF TAS. It is the Agency PMF Coordinator's responsibility to maintain records in the PMF TAS once the Finalist onboards as a PMF. Any changes in the appointment offer must be communicated with the PMF Program Office. NOTE: An approved extension is only valid for the agency and the Finalist. If for whatever reason the appointment offer is rescinded or the Finalist declines after the appointment eligibility deadline, the Finalist loses appointment eligibility.

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UPDATED: 06-24-2014