Newly released OPM data on the SES show that in 2014 it took 18.4 years of federal service on average to reach that level—the highest generally available to career federal employees.

Only 359 persons were newly hired into the SES in that year, underscoring why the move to that level is so difficult, in a federal workforce of 2.1 million excluding the Postal Service and intelligence community.

The figures show that of 7,794 SES members as of that point, 7,014 were career, 682 were political appointees, 96 were under limited terms and two were emergency appointees. They have been in their current position for 3.4 years on average.

By gender, 66 percent were male, 34 percent female; 79 percent identified as white, 11 percent as black/African American and 4 percent as Hispanic/Latino, with others making up the rest. Ninety-two percent reported having no disability.

By agency, the largest number is in Defense, 1,208, followed by Justice, 767, and DHS, 598. By location, 51 percent are in the District of Columbia. Another 14 percent are in Virginia and 11 percent in Maryland, in most cases in the capital’s suburbs.