CP11 - Comptroller Civilian Career Program


1. General

The PMI Program was established by Executive Order 12384 in 1977. It is designed to attract to the Federal Service outstanding individuals from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have an interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policy and programs.

By drawing graduates from diverse social and cultural backgrounds, the PMI Program provides a continuing source of trained men and women to meet the future challenges of public service. During this 2-year internship program, a PMI will expand his/her knowledge of the Federal government, acquire in-depth knowledge of the Army mission and programs, develop basic management skills, and prepare to enter a generic position of a specific grade at the end of the program.

2. Selecting PMIs PMIs are graduate degree recipients who have successfully completed a rigorous application and screening process. PMIs are competitively nominated by their schools; have a record of academic excellence; and possess leadership ability. Most have prior professional work experience. The specific criteria for eligibility includes:

  • Completion of a master's degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university during the current academic year;
  • Demonstrated exceptional academic achievement;
  • Demonstrated capacity for leadership;
  • Demonstrated potential for future professional growth; and,
  • Demonstrated commitment to a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reviews applications and selects semi-finalists to participate in a structured assessment center process consisting of individual and group interviews and a writing exercise. The criteria used to evaluate applicants include interest in government service; demonstrated leadership; interpersonal and team skills; a wide range of quality of accomplishments; analytical thinking; policy and program evaluation; written expression; and, oral communication.

An average of more than 500 PMI finalists are selected depending on the number of potential positions available and are eligible for placement with an executive agency. Many are hired based on interviews held at an OPM sponsored Career Fair. Competition for PMIs is keen. The Executive Order limits OPM to select 400 PMIs. However, there are numerous career opportunities within the Federal Government.

3. Career Development

The PMI Program places a strong emphasis on career development. During the two-year internship, PMIs experience a myriad of challenging career opportunities. Federal agencies arrange for seminars, briefings and conferences, as well as on-the-job training and other developmental opportunities. Agencies also provide PMIs with rotational assignments that expose them to another area of their agency, another agency or another branch of the Federal Government. According to OPM, a minimum of one rotational assignment is required for PMIs. PMIs receive an initial two-year appointment to an excepted service position in the federal government. At the end of their successful internship, PMIs may be converted to a permanent federal position. The decision to convert a PMI to a permanent position is made by the federal agency to which the PMI is assigned.

Each PMI is assigned to a mentor who guides and assists in planning and coordinating career development experiences during the internship. The PMI, supervisor, mentor, and agency coordinator work together preparing a 3-Year Individual Development Plan (3yIDP). The PMI and his/her supervisor plan developmental assignments and formal training activities that enhance both technical and management/leadership training. The OPM PMI Program Office provides structured career development activities through its own programs and facilitation of Career Development Groups.

OPM is asking agencies to take more responsibility for developing PMIs, subject to their government-wide standards. These standards include completing the IDP, 80 hours of formal training a year, and a minimum of at least one rotational assignment lasting at least 60 days.

The Army has traditionally established additional requirements to that of the ones required by OPM. Two examples of these increased requirements are: each CP 11 PMI will conduct at least two 90-day rotational assignments over the two year intern period; and each CP 11 PMI will be required to successfully complete, at least 80 hours of formal training per year.

4. Planning the Internship

Once the PMI arrives, a planning meeting should be held to formalize expectations discussed during the job interview and to begin to plan the next two years. Since the Army will provide most of the PMIs technical training, these experiences should be thoroughly planned and designed to meet the PMI and the agency's needs. Former PMIs and supervisors report that internships are most successful when PMIs and supervisors establish clear goals at the start while maintaining flexibility throughout the two-year program. The agency PMI coordinator and local Intern Program Manager will be an important resource person for the PMI, supervisor and mentor during these first few months and throughout the internship.

5. Individual Development Plans

CP 11 PMIs as well as all CP 11 careerists will be required to develop a 3yIDP. Within the first three months of the internship, the intern should prepare his/her 3yIDP. The 3yIDP is a training and development guide for the PMI's internship and the first year of continuous employment. Federal regulations on the PMI Program require agencies to provide individual development planning for PMIs in order to set goals and plans for use of training resources. It also allows the PMI to establish contacts and become familiar with various components of the federal government. The IDP is a planning document to be reviewed periodically and revised as appropriate.

The IDP should include planned rotational assignments and the learning objectives for each rotation, short- and long-range goals, and training activities, including participation in the PMI Program training conferences. The IDP must be reviewed and signed by the PMI, the PMI's supervisor, and his/her mentor. OPM does not require a specific format for the IDP. The learning objectives outlined should include the core competencies of the Multi-Disciplined Financial Analyst. Ideally the PMI should be exposed to all 17 core competencies through rotational assignments, on-the-job training and formal training. The PMI must fulfill all accreditation requirements for Level I and ideally Level II as well.

Preparing the IDP will take time. The PMI should speak to several people to plan his/her rotations to include: managers of other organizations, managers in other departments and agencies (if appropriate), current or former PMIs, the agency PMI coordinator, the supervisor, and the mentor. The PMI may review training course catalogs to select pertinent courses to help achieve the necessary learning objectives. The PMI should also review IDPs of previous PMIs to get ideas for rotations, training, and other career development activities.

6. Performance Standards and Evaluations

The supervisor is responsible for completing the PMI's first two 6 months and subsequent annual performance evaluation. After each rotation, the rotational supervisor should complete an evaluations. A copy should be provided to the PMI Coordinator and the supervisor. The supervisor will then incorporate the rotational performance evaluations into one annual evaluation in accordance with the agency's policies and procedures. PMIs must have a satisfactory annual performance appraisal to be promoted during the internship and to be converted to a permanent competitive position at the end of it. The supervisor and mentor will work closely with the PMI to correct any unsatisfactory performance.

7. Assignments

PMIs should be assigned projects that challenge them and take advantage of their capabilities. PMIs represent an important pipeline to future government management and leadership. They need to be developed in-house both technically and managerially. Since the PMI Program regulations require agencies to train PMIs in both technical and professional competencies, PMIs should learn the skills and duties of permanent staff, when feasible, especially for the target position. Although highly desirable, some rotations may not always afford PMIs the full range of responsibilities given a permanent employee. However, PMIs can still have a high degree of responsibility for a project of more limited scope.

While OPM is responsible for providing orientation and graduation sessions for the PMIs, supervisors should also ensure that PMIs' work assignments include a mix of both programmatic duties and leadership and management-related experiences. Developmental experiences related to management might include involvement in developing budgets or work plans, participation on an organizational task force, or leading a small workgroup. Some projects should expose the PMI to high-level managers and provide insight into the managers' responsibilities.

8. Rotations

Rotations are an important part of the PMI experience. They allow PMIs to contribute to different programs, develop a broad understanding of the agency's mission, acquire a variety of professional skills, and lay the foundation for future managerial/supervisory responsibilities. Rotations must be carefully planned. Before a rotation is finalized, a written learning objective planning memo should be developed. After action memos will be prepared to evaluate the PMI's success in meeting these objectives (sample provided). Ideally, rotations should have the following characteristics:

  • Extend for two to three months and involves different types of work assignments
  • Include interaction with as many different parts of the department as possible
  • Focus on developing specific professional skills or fulfilling particular managerial competencies
  • Complement the PMI's existing knowledge or professional interests
  • Allow PMIs to gain different perspectives on his/her agencies either by moving around in the agency or rotating to a related program inside or outside the Federal Government (at discretion of agency-e.g., OMB or Congress)
  • Allow a PMI based in a region to rotate to a headquarters location and vice-versa

A minimum of one 60 to 90-day rotations is required. These rotations should be at the installation, major subordinate command, major command, and Headquarters, Department of the Army levels. For many PMIs, more will be appropriate. Overall, the number and time allotted for rotations will vary greatly.

9. Career Development Groups (CDG)

The purpose of a CDG is to provide educational and developmental activities, programs, and experiences for the PMIs within the group. The CDG is another avenue through which PMIs can acquire their managerial-track competencies, learn the views and insights of key government managers and officials, and foster relationships with other PMIs and agencies. Planning and participating in these activities provide PMIs with opportunities to practice organizational development and theories, group dynamics, management techniques, and interpersonal skills. CDGs are also an important source of support and networking. CDGs are comprised of approximately 20 to 25 PMIs from a cross section of federal agencies/departments, with one group leader/advisor and a co-leader/advisor, typically a high level manager. Washington-based CDGs usually meet once a month for program meetings and/or group activities. Regionally based CDGs generally hold monthly conference calls to plan training activities and discuss issues and concerns of PMIs in the regions. In addition, the CDG leader/advisor is an important resource for individual group members to identify developmental and training opportunities, network with other agencies, and gain valuable insight from the leader/advisor's extensive federal experience.

CDGs should focus on government wide issues and not the special issues of the PMI's agency. Therefore, supervisors and mentors are encouraged to help PMIs find additional activities that increase their understanding of the agency and its place within the federal government. (For example, in the past PMIs went on a Staff ride to the Gettysburg Battlefield). PMIs should attend at least one such special event per year.

10. PMI Program Activities

CP 11 PMIs are expected to attend the PMI Program-sponsored training conferences and participate in the activities of their Career Development Group (CDG). These activities are intended to broaden the PMI's knowledge of the Federal Government, enhance their management skills, and develop a network with other PMIs and government executives and officials. Agencies/departments pay a fee to OPM for PMI screening, selection and placement, and career development. Associated travel and per diem expenses are paid by the agency.

11. Training Conferences

The OPM PMI Program office hosts several training programs for PMIs over the two-year internship such as orientation and graduation training programs. These programs are an important component of PMIs' training and generally include a variety of important program information on specific management topics and government issues. Conferences are in or near Washington, D.C. and last from 1 to 3 days each. The agency/department is responsible for PMIs travel and per diem when they attend training programs.

12. Expenses

OPM charges an annual program fee of $3600 per PMI which supports the program operations, recruitment, screening and selection activities, tuition for OPM sponsored training conferences, and Career Development Group seminars. Expenses for PMI activities vary according to location. Since many of OPM's training conferences are held in or near Washington, D.C., regional PMIs will have higher travel expenses. Most CDG activities for Washington-based PMIs take place in the Washington area; however, Washington-based CDGs may plan occasional activities and programs outside the Washington metropolitan area.

13. Roles of the Players in the PMI Program

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities of the various players throughout a PMI's two-year tenure are important to the success of the PMI Program and the individual PMI. Each participant in the PMI Program contributes greatly to the overall development of the PMI, both individually and in concert with other participants. Communication and coordination enhance the PMI's experience, and the agencies involved in the program. The major players in the PMI Program are listed below, along with their primary responsibilities:

Supervisors. Supervisors provide instruction, guidance, and feedback to PMIs. The success of PMIs and the PMI Program is due in large part to the interaction PMIs have with their supervisors. A PMI supervisor is responsible for:

  • Meeting with the PMI to establish the office's expectations and conditions for evaluating performance and achieving developmental objectives;
  • Completing the PMI's performance evaluation;
  • Assisting the PMI in the development of an IDP which allows for a reasonable number of rotations;
  • Monitoring the execution of the PMI's IDP;
  • Maintaining contact with the PMI's rotational supervisors;
  • Assisting with administrative issues, e.g. travel, health benefits, etc.
  • Providing time during work hours for the PMI to attend CDG activities and OPM/PMI-sponsored training conferences;
  • Assigning the PMI appropriate work;
  • Initiating all appropriate personnel actions in a timely manner;
  • Providing regular feedback and guidance;
  • Maintaining a basic knowledge of the PMI Program; and
  • Helping PMIs develop and evaluate potential rotational assignments.

PMIs. A PMI is offered many different learning opportunities throughout his/her 2-year program. However, the PMI must also take control of his/her own career development, and advancement by:

  • Being flexible and developing a professional reputation;
  • Developing and following up on the goals established in the IDP;
  • Achieving goals and objectives established for each rotation by the PMI and his/her supervisor;
  • Participating in all OPM- and agency-sponsored career development activities;
  • Being an active member of the CDG and accepting leadership roles whenever possible; and
  • Working closely with the agency PMI coordinator, supervisor, mentor, and CDG leader/advisor, and selecting rotations with both long- and short-range career goals in mind.

Mentor. Mentors are valuable sources of information and advice for the PMI. They help the PMI understand the Federal Government, the Army, and his/her position in the agency. A mentor/PMI relationship is very personal and can contribute greatly to a PMI's success. Each CP 11 PMI will be assigned to a SES mentor. The responsibilities of the mentor include:

  • Playing a key role in the PMI's career development;
  • Providing guidance, advice and support to enhance the professional development of the PMI;
  • Serving as a resource for rotational opportunities;
  • Linking the PMI into a wider network;
  • Helping to develop and evaluate potential rotations; and
  • Reviewing the PMI's IDP.

PMI Coordinator. The Army's PMI coordinator is the liaison between the PMI, the department, the OPM PMI Program Office, and supervisors. Providing funding for PMI initial costs to OPM. The PMI Coordinator is responsible for:

  • Working with agency managers to identify PMI positions;
  • Acting as a resource person for the PMI, supervisor and mentor;
  • Helping PMIs and supervisors identify and clarify responsibilities and commitments;
  • Providing funding to OPM for PMI initial costs.

Intern Program Manager. Each MACOM and agency has an Intern Program Manager who is responsible for:

  • Conducting and orientation to agency mission and structure;
  • Acting as a resource person for the PMI, supervisor and mentor;
  • Helping PMIs and supervisors identify and clarify responsibilities and commitments;
  • Guiding the PMI and the supervisor in the design of the IDP with goals and objectives; and
  • Receiving and reviewing all rotational agreements and evaluations, and insuring that all OPM and requirements are met; and, providing information on external and in-house technical and managerial training opportunities for the PMI.

Rotational Supervisor. The rotational supervisor is the manager responsible for the PMI during the temporary assignments outside of the intern's core area. These supervisors are responsible for:

  • Insuring that the PMI is assigned a full and appropriate workload;
  • Developing objectives to be accomplished during the assignment;
  • Communicating the objectives to the PMI prior to the beginning of the assignment; and
  • Evaluating the intern's performance during the rotation and providing an assessment to the supervisor.

Office of Personnel Management - PMI Program Office. The PMI Program Office is responsible for the overall coordination of the program within the various agencies/departments of the Federal Government. The PMI Program Office is responsible for:

  • Overseeing the PMI recruitment, selection, screening and placement components;
  • Providing structured career development activities, including orientation and graduation programs, as well as other career development activities and programs; and
  • Working as a conduit for communication among all those involved in the PMI Program: PMI coordinators, supervisors, mentors, CDG advisors/leaders, and PMIs.

14. Beyond the Internship

PMI positions are 2-year Schedule A excepted service appointments at the GS-9/11 grade levels. After successfully completing the program, PMIs are eligible for a non-competitive conversion to a GS-12 competitive career or career-conditional service appointment.

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