Frequently Asked Questions
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- How many students apply each year and out of that number, how many are selected as Finalists?
- How do Finalists learn about possible Federal Agency PMF appointment opportunities?
- Who can hire a PMF?
- When can an agency hire a PMF?
- Do Federal Agencies reimburse PMFs for their relocation costs or other recruitment incentives upon appointment?
- What are the responsibilities of the PMF Program Office, hiring agency, Agency PMF Coordinator, Human Resources Office, and the hiring official/supervisor?
- What are the requirements for a PMF?
- What is the timeline for the Fellows' developmental journey in the program?
- 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?
- Is there a sample Individual Development Plan (IDP) Fellows and agencies can refer to?
- Is there a sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Fellows and agencies can refer to for external rotational opportunities?
- Is there guidance on the ERB Certification process?
- Is there guidance on the PMF conversion to a permanent or term position?
- Do Federal Agencies provide Student Loan Repayment or Loan Forgiveness for Fellows?
- Can an agency request an appointment eligibility extension if it cannot bring a Finalist onboard by the deadline?
- When and how is my agency to submit the one-time reimbursement fee to OPM when we hire a PMF?
- Can a PMF move between positions/agencies during their fellowship?
- If an agency does not have a position to convert the PMF into, what options are available?
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. Please note the PMF Program is highly competitive.
2. How do Finalists learn about possible Federal Agency PMF appointment opportunities?
The PMF Program Office is transitioning to a new PMF Talent Management System (TMS). The PMF TMS is where agencies will post appointment, rotational, and training opportunities. Finalists may contact Agency PMF Coordinators directly. Effective with the announcement of PMF Class of 2017 Finalists, all PMF appointment opportunities MUST be posted to the PMF TMS.
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.
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.
See FAQ #15 below on extending a Finalists' appointment eligibility in the agency cannot onboard prior to the appointment eligibility deadline.
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.
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.
7. What are the requirements for a PMF?
Each Fellow will have the following:
- Participant Agreement with the agency
- Assigned a senior-level mentor (who is a managerial employee outside of the Fellow's chain of command)
- 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.
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 (makes its decision). ERB certification is required for conversion.
- Approximately 30 days prior to 2-year anniversary date, the Fellow is notified by the agency of the outcome of the ERB evaluation.
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.
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.
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. However, agencies should follow their own policies and procedures for external rotations. NOTE: A PMF may complete the required developmental assignment within their organization, appointing agency, or to another Federal Agency. Federal Agency is defined as those within the Executive Branch.
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. Agencies should review their Pathways MOU with OPM regarding extensions. 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.
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) and 5 CFR 315.201(b)(1)(xv)), and only within the agency as a whole. For example, if the PMF is converted to a term appointment in FEMA, he/she may be noncompetitively converted to a permanent position within FEMA or DHS.
Appointments must be effective by the expiration of the individual's PMF excepted service appointment, including extensions. No conversions 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. A similar FAQ for Fellows can be found under the Current PMFs\FAQs webpage.
Additional information can be found on the Agencies\Resources webpage.
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 and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program can be found at the Student Loans webpage.
15. Can an agency request an appointment eligibility extension if it cannot bring a Finalist onboard by the deadline?
Yes. An agency may request an appointment eligibility extension for a Finalist who (1) has been made a tentative PMF appointment offer AND accepted the offer, but cannot onboard as a PMF by the applicable appointment eligibility deadline, or (2) to a Finalist who applied for an advertised PMF appointment opportunity and the agency has not conducted interviews or made tentative job offers prior to the appointment eligibility period deadline.
The request is done by the hiring agency's designated Agency PMF Coordinator via the OPM Form 1305, PMF Appointment Eligibility Extension Request Form. The form can be found under at the Agencies\Resources webpage.
If approved, the PMF Program Office will notify the requesting agency via email and record the pending appointment showing a placeholder date of "12/31/20xx" under the Entry on Duty (EOD) start date field in the PMF TMS. It is the Agency PMF Coordinator's responsibility to maintain records in the PMF TMS once the Finalist onboards as a PMF. Any changes in the appointment offer must be communicated with the PMF Program Office and the extended Finalist.
NOTE: Only one approved extension is allowed per Finalist. If for whatever reason the appointment offer is rescinded or the Finalist declines after the appointment eligibility deadline, the Finalist loses appointment eligibility. If additional time is needed beyond the initial approved extension, the Agency PMF Coordinator must submit a new OPM Form 1305.
16. When and how is my agency to submit the one-time reimbursement fee to OPM when we hire a PMF?
A Federal agency must submit a one-time reimbursement fee to the PMF Program Office within 30 days of a Finalist accepting a tentative PMF appointment offer. The reimbursement fee covers the costs associated with the recruitment, assessment, selection, and placement of Finalists into PMF appointments; PMF Program Office operations and support to stakeholders; various training and developmental opportunities for stakeholders; and, the PMF website and automated systems.
The PMF Program Office is a government-wide, full-cost recoverable, revolving fund program. By the time a Finalist accepts a PMF appointment offer, the PMF Program Office has already incurred significant expenses. Timely submission of the PMF reimbursement is critical to cover program expenses. The Fellow may not be allowed to participate in any program sponsored training and development activities (e.g., PMF Orientation, PMF Training Forums, and Graduation) until reimbursement is received; this would include any activities for Fellows and agencies. Instructions and financial forms to use for submitting the reimbursement fee can be found under the Agencies\Resources section. All financial inquiries and submissions must be sent via email to email@example.com.
In regards to 5 CFR 362.406(d) covering the movement between agencies (commonly referred to when a PMF reappoints from one PMF position\agency to another), the regulations state if the "move occurs with the first 6 months of the Fellow's appointment, the original appointing agency may request reimbursement of one-quarter of the placement fee from the new appointing agency." In such occurrences, the PMF Program Office is not involved and such action would need to be handled between the losing and gaining agencies. When a reappointment occurs with the first 6 months of the fellowship, the impacted Agency PMF Coordinators should ensure the reimbursement fee has been addressed. The obligation to submit the full PMF reimbursement is still borne on the original appointing agency.
17. Can a PMF move between positions/agencies during their fellowship?
Yes. The PMF Program regulations allows for Fellows to transfer from one PMF position/agency to another. This process is commonly referred to as a "reappointment". The Fellow must meet the qualifications of the new position and cannot have a break in service. A break in service means he/she cannot resign from their current PMF position and start the new PMF position days later; the Human Resources Office or Agency PMF Coordinator can explain this. Finding a reappointment opportunity is the Fellow's responsibility. Fellows are not able to log into the PMF TMS to search for appointment opportunities as these are reserved for Finalists seeking their initial appointment.
If a PMF reappoints from one position/agency to another position/agency, he/she will need to re-evaluate their training and development requirements in consultation with their new supervisor and Agency PMF Coordinator. For example, if the PMF was initially appointed into a Budget Analyst position and all of their training and development was related to that position or their target position, but then reappoints to a Human Resources Specialist position, he/she may need to re-start their training and development requirements based on their new position. It is the new appointing agency's responsibility to ensure the PMF completes all training and development requirements for their target position before obtaining ERB certification and conversion.
Also, the PMF must be able to meet the qualifications of the newer position and the newer position cannot exceed the full promotion level (FPL) of the previous position. For example, if the PMF's current FPL is to a GS-12 (or equivalent), then the newer position cannot exceed a GS-12 (or equivalent); this is because the PMF did not initially compete for a position with a higher FPL.
A Fellow cannot reappoint to another PMF position/agency after obtaining ERB certification.
When a reappointment occurs, the PMF should fill out an OPM Form 1306, PMF Appointment Intake Form, and submit to their new Agency PMF Coordinator and to the PMF Program Office to ensure the appointment information for the newer position/agency is recorded in the PMF Talent Management System (TMS). The form can be found under the Current PMFs\Resources section on the PMF website.
The process to record reappointments in the PMF TMS has been automated. The losing Agency PMF Coordinator would initiate a reappointment and the gaining Agency PMF Coordinator must accept.
If the PMF reappoints within the first 6 months of their initial appointment, the losing agency may request the gaining agency to reimburse them 25% of the PMF reimbursement placement fee the losing agency has submitted to the PMF Program Office. The placement fee is typically owed by the initial appointing agency and must be submitted within 30-days of the Finalist accepting a tentative PMF appointment offer. The PMF Program Office is not involved in situations where a PMF reappoints between agencies during the first 6-months. Any reimbursement between agencies, such as the 25% mentioned above, is handled between the losing and gaining agencies.
Reappointments are discouraged as the PMF's current agency has already invested significant time, resources, and funds. It is critical the PMF Program Office is aware of any such reappointments and that the PMF TMS is updated.
18. If an agency does not have a position to convert the PMF into, what options are available?
An agency may not have a position to convert a Fellow for a variety of reasons (e.g., a change in the agency's mission, budget shortages, a re-organization, or staffing adjustments). The following general options may be available and are based on the assumption there is no performance, conduct, or suitability issues:
- Assuming the Fellow will obtain a favorable certification from their agency's Executive Resources Board (ERB), the agency may noncompetitively convert the Fellow into a term position. A term position may last up to 4 years (beyond the Fellow's 2-year fellowship). The agency may then noncompetitively convert the former Fellow into a permanent position within the competitive service at any time before the end of the term appointment within the agency as a whole (5 CFR 315.201(b)(1)(xv)). For example, if the PMF is converted to a term appointment in FEMA, he/she may be noncompetitively converted to a permanent position within FEMA or DHS.
- The Fellow's Agency PMF Coordinator can reach out to other Sub-Agency PMF Coordinators or HR Offices within their agency to see if they have positions that may be available to reassign the Fellow (during their fellowship and prior to obtaining a favorable ERB certification). NOTE: A PMF may only convert at the agency that conducted the ERB certification.
- The Fellow's Agency PMF Coordinator can reach out to other Agency PMF Coordinators (at other agencies) to see if they have positions that may be available to transfer the Fellow (which must take place by the end of the Fellow's 2-year fellowship and prior to any favorable ERB certification). A current list of Agency PMF Coordinators can be found here: https://apply.pmf.gov/coordinators.aspx.
- If none of the above options are available, the Fellow would either resign or the agency would terminate the appointment.
- A Fellow, who resigns or is terminated, may be eligible to reapply to the PMF Program to become a Finalist or request reinstatement from the original appointing agency at a later date (5 CFR 362.407(b)).
It is recommended that the agency explore the possibility of reassigning the PMF to another position within their agency or a sub-agency before using the other options. A Fellow can only convert to a term or permanent position at the agency that conducts the ERB certification process. If the agency does not have a permanent position to convert the Fellow into, it may convert the Fellow to a term position lasting no more than 4 years. The agency may then noncompetitively convert the Fellow to a permanent position anytime during the term appointment. A similar FAQ for Fellows can be found under the Current PMFs\FAQs webpage.