Very generally, there are three types of federal employee training. Organizational training needs are determined at the high levels of organizations and are focused on overall mission. Occupational training needs are determined at lower levels, commonly by personnel offices, and focus on capabilities needed in general occupational areas. Individual training needs are identified by employees, supervisors and managers and include training needed to effectively perform assigned or planned duties. Agencies all have their own processes for determining needs and choosing which types of training will be provided and to whom.

Varied Approach to Federal Employee Training

Training is conducted both by government employees and by outside firms working under contract. This can encompass formally established schools and leadership training tracks, correspondence courses, academic courses, computer-based instruction, on-the-job training, individual self-development and numerous other variations.


Regulations governing federal employee training are at 5 CFR 410 and those governing supervisory, management and executive development are at 5 CFR 412.

These rules set standards for SES candidate development programs and require agencies to:

  • develop comprehensive management succession plans;
  • evaluate training programs regularly to assure that they align with agency strategic goals;
  • train new supervisors within one year of appointment, and retrain at least every three years (training must include strategies for mentoring employees, improving performance management and productivity, and conducting performance appraisals); and,
  • establish a program for the continuing development of current SES members (these programs must include the development and regular updating of an executive development plan and must provide for the developmental use of sabbaticals and long-term assignments outside the federal sector.

Federal Executive Institute

The Federal Executive Institute (FEI) serves as the government’s development center for senior executives. FEI’s Leadership for a Democratic Society programs concentrate on exchanging ideas on improving program performance and addressing areas of interagency cooperation and conflict with colleagues from other departments. Its Center for Executive Leadership provides programs directed toward executive competencies development, with emphasis on team building and organizational growth, and generates ongoing opportunities for lifelong learning. FEI also provides custom seminars and consulting services. See

Management Development Centers

The two Management Development Centers offer programs including continuing development, core leadership, leadership succession planning and custom designed services. See the above online address.