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CEDB Frequently Asked Questions

General Information about CEDB

1. What is the Corporate Employee Development Board (CEDB)?

The CEDB was established to help identify the best qualified employees from across VA to attend select high-impact leadership development programs. These programs require a large financial and/or time investment, and are known to be effective developmental activities. The CEDB application process is a competitive, fair, and transparent method to solicit applicants and select the best qualified participants to attend these programs. The CEDB process allows VA’s senior leadership to take a corporate approach toward leadership development and identify talented leaders from across VA. Governance and funding fall under the AS HR&A.  Tuition and associated TDY/travel are HCIP funded.

2. What is the purpose of the CEDB?

The CEDB is one of VA’s leadership initiatives offered to high-potential, high-performing GS 13 – 15s and Title 38 equivalent employees to create a diverse pipeline of well-trained leaders.  The program equips leaders to handle the challenges and ever-changing environments that Veterans face on a daily basis.

3. What is the goal of sending VA employees to these leadership development programs?

The goal is to develop a cadre of VA leaders as corporate assets who are prepared to play a part in VA’s overall success and mission accomplishment. After completing the programs, CEDB participants may be reassigned to new positions at VA to meet Departmental requirements. The Secretary and Chief of Staff are focused on developing strategic leadership skills among senior members of the organization. These leaders will play an increasingly important role in driving innovation and helping shape strategic planning and integrated policy at VA.

4. Why is the CEDB offering these particular leadership programs?

The CEDB offers a variety of prestigious leadership development programs, including Federal Executive Institute and several graduate-level academic programs provided by military institutions. All of these programs have a reputation for providing high-quality leadership training, and VA graduates report that their experiences in these programs provided relevant and lasting benefits. In addition to the quality of their curricula, the military-based programs offer VA participants the opportunity to immerse in the military culture and gain new insights into how to better serve Veterans upon their return to VA.

The CEDB programs offered for Academic Year 2016-2017 provide opportunities that are valuable and practical for participants, their organizations, and the Department as a whole. Programs may continue to be added or removed as time goes on based on feedback about their effectiveness and alignment with VA’s leadership development requirements.

5. Why are CEDB programs limited to the GS-13 level and above?

The CEDB process is reserved for high-investment programs that are meant for participants who already have some leadership experience and responsibility. Leadership development opportunities for employees below the GS-13 level are more widely available and do not require the CEDB’s resource-intensive competitive selection process.

6. How can I find out more about leadership development at VA?

VA needs leaders who are equipped to handle the challenges and ever-changing environments that our nation’s Veterans face on a daily basis. That means having a deep understanding of VA’s functional and strategic objectives.

VA Learning University (VALU) offers many options for VA employees at all levels to develop their leadership competencies and career planning . In addition, VA organizations may also sponsor leadership development opportunities that are funded by their organizational budgets. Please contact your organization’s human resources representative or learning officer for more information.

7. Who pays for tuition and travel?

VALU pays tuition and travel; your office will not need to pay.

8. Do I need a travel card to pay for travel?

While a travel card is not required, it is strongly encouraged especially if you need to make hotel reservations.

9. If VA enters a temporary travel freeze, will participation be impacted?

No, CEDB is funded separately.

10. Is the CEDB composed of members from a specific area, or from throughout VA?

The CEDB is composed of members from throughout VA.

11. If I am not invited to apply due to incorrect information, what should I do?

Since VALU verifies your qualifications using VA’s system of record (PAID), if you think PAID is incorrect, please contact HR and have your record corrected.  You need to provide proof to VALU that you are eligible and PAID is in error.

12. What financial impact will I have if I change agency within the continued service agreement period?

As long as employees stay within the Federal Government, the continue service agreement will not be enforced.


Information for Applicants

13. Am I allowed to apply to more than one CEDB program?

Yes, employees may apply for more than one CEDB program. When applying, employees select the program of their choice one at a time, and submit their applications separately.

14. Can I be selected to more than one program?

No, the CEDB selects participants and makes sure than no participant attends more than one program to give the opportunity to other employees to participate.

15. Can I provide priorities and preferences to the program that I select?

No, once you indicate for which program(s) you wish to be considered, selection is based on your rating compared to the ratings of all other applicants for that school. The CEDB may also take into account your background and respective organization when determining which program will provide the most benefit to your development.

16. How many program seats are available?

This number is still undetermined for the 2016-2017 academic year.  However, the CEDB website will be updated frequently and will include these numbers when available. 

17. What are the steps in preparing an application?

There are three main steps in preparing a CEDB application:

  • Step 1: Pre-screening – Employees interested in applying must complete a brief questionnaire in TMS by The Pre-screening Questionnaire will be closed at midnight on January 29, 2016, to allow VALU to determine whether they meet the minimum qualifications to be eligible to submit an application.  Please note that you will not be able to complete a full application if you miss this deadline.
  • Step 2: Full application – Employees validated as eligible complete an online application form consisting of basic demographic questions, questions about past experience with the programs, a 2-page resume, and an essay component where you describe how your current experience demonstrates a standing on each of the five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs). Some programs also require a Bachelor’s Degree transcript to be submitted with the application.
  • Step 3: Leadership Endorsements – Completed applications are routed to the applicant’s leadership to provide input on the applicant’s qualifications to participate in the program and to provide additional comments

18. How long will it take before I am notified of my pre-screening results?

Usually within five business days.

19. How do I know my career status?

Career status is shown in the SF-50 box 24.  If you SF-50 does not show the correct career status, please contact your local Human Resources Directorate to have it corrected.

20. Can I complete the application before I complete the pre-screening questionnaire?

No, you will receive an e-mail message with a link to the application only after your questionnaire is completed, submitted, and your pre-screening complete. 

21. Are the EQC write-ups and other documents required to be submitted with the application and by the same deadline?

Yes, if your application is submitted without all the required supporting documentation, it will be considered incomplete and will not be processed.

22. I am a Title 38 employee. How do I know if I meet the “GS-equivalent” qualifications to apply for the CEDB programs?

The following determinations have been made for Title 38 equivalents to GS grades for the purpose of eligibility for these programs only. Where indicated, information must be included in your application highlighting your experience in the areas listed. Only Title 38 employees meeting these experience requirements will be considered. Although Physicians are listed as GS 15’s in the PAID system, their GS equivalent for the purposes of this program is based on their assignment, specifically, their Tier as cited in the table below. If you have any questions about your GS equivalent, please contact your VHA Human Resources POC team.




Less than GS 13


GS 13 only if demonstrated nursing leadership experience and use of creative approaches to management of complex patient care


GS 13 or GS 14


GS 15


Less than GS 13


GS 13 or GS 14 only if demonstrated duties which include emphasis on strategic planning and administrative/managerial responsibilities


Less than GS 13


Less than GS 13


GS 13


Less than GS 13


GS 13 or 14


GS 15


GS 15


GS 15


GS 15


GS 15


23. How long does it take to complete the CEDB application process?

Employees should allow sufficient time to complete the online application. The number of hours required for completing the application will vary from person to person. The application consists of a few demographic questions about the applicant, a few program-specific questions, a resume and ECQs write-ups. The resume is limited to 2 pages, each and these sections will probably be the most time consuming parts of the application. Use Times New Roman, 12 pt, single spaced. DO NOT include any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as name, address, e-mail, or SSN.

24. Where can I find the ECQs?

You can find full description of the ECQs on the OPM Web site:

In addition, the application tool list all ECQs.

25. Can we draw our experience from other agencies, or is it restricted to VA only??

You can draw your experience from other agencies or employers.

26. How can I determine how many characters are in my ECQ description  to be sure I stay within the 2000 character limit?

The best approach for developing the essay is to draft it first using Microsoft Word. Using the Word Count feature in Microsoft Word to monitor the length of your essay and be sure that it does not go over 2000 characters (with spaces). There are two ways to pull up the Word Count feature:

  • Click "Words" on the bottom left of the Word document.
  • Or, go to the Review tab, then click on Word Count in the Proofing section of the ribbon.

The ECQs are:

1.         Leading Change

2.         Leading People

3.         Results Driven

4.         Business Acumen

5.         Building Coalitions

27. How do I identify the correct people to provide the leadership endorsements?

Applications will have two leadership endorsements, as illustrated in the table below.

Endorser Levels

Applicants from VHA

Applicants from VBA

Applicants from all other VA Organizations

Level 1

Direct Supervisor

Direct Supervisor

Direct Supervisor

Level 2

SES-level Supervisor or Medical Center Director

SES-level Supervisor or Area Director

SES-level Supervisor

Please note that, given variation in organizational and leadership structures across VA, each organization is responsible for clarifying the appropriate CEDB leadership endorsers. You must coordinate with your Human Resources Point of Contact (HR POC) to ensure that you identify the correct leadership endorsers on your application.

28. What happens after the completed and endorsed applications are submitted?

The CEDB will score and evaluate all applications based on a blind process that removes applicants name and other recognizable information from submissions.  The CEDB then recommends the highest scoring and most qualified candidates for each available program seat. The CEDB will then submit its recommendations to the Secretary and Chief of Staff for review and approval. Following final approval, selected participants will be notified and selection results will be announced.

29. How much is the CEDB influenced by the leadership endorsements when they are reviewing applications?

CEDB reviewers will consider endorsements provided by the applicant’s leadership as an information point, along with all the other information provided in the application package, as they form their own unbiased assessment of the applicant’s qualifications. While leadership input is a valuable part of the overall application, it does not override the CEDB’s objective, independent review of the qualifications reflected in the application. Fairness is one of the most important tenets of the CEDB application review process. Therefore, the process was designed so that leadership may not “screen-in” or “screen-out” any application based solely on their endorsement.

30. What criteria are used to assess the applications?

Because the goal of the CEDB programs is to build leadership capability in VA, the criteria for assessing the CEDB applications are closely based on the VA Leadership Competencies. The Leadership Competencies serve as a useful foundation for evaluating the CEDB applications for several reasons:

  • They are relevant to anyone who serves in a formal leadership role
  • They are well defined at several proficiency levels, which help define success for leaders across the Department
  • They are vetted and approved by VA leadership

31. Since the FEI has its own admission criteria for GS 14s that is above and beyond VA’s, what can GS14s do to meet it?

Write strong ECQ write ups and make sure you have strong endorsements.

32. What happens if there are not enough qualified applicants to fill all the available program seats?

In this situation, the CEDB would proceed without filling all available program seats rather than recommending an unqualified applicant.

33. What happens if someone is selected for a program but chooses not to attend?

There can be a major consequence for VA when selected applicants decline these opportunities; accordingly, there is a penalty for declining. VA engages in partnerships with the institutions providing the leadership training programs, with the agreement that VA will send qualified candidates to attend each program seat that is offered. If selected candidates decline the opportunity to attend, VA may not be able to fill these seats, and there is a possibility that the institutions will be unwilling to offer program seats to VA again in the future.

During the application review process, the CEDB makes every effort to identify qualified alternates for every program, to allow for flexibility if the primary candidate is unable to attend. Selected employees will be given a reasonable timeframe after notification during which to consider their ability to participate in the program. During this timeframe, the selected employee may decline the opportunity without penalty. The employee will be allowed to apply for any CEDB program(s) in the future. However, if the employee accepts and commits to attend the program, but later declines the opportunity, the employee will not be allowed to apply for any CEDB program(s) for the following year.

34. If I am selected, how will VA support me while I attend the program?

Your VA organization will continue to pay your salary while you attend the program. Corporate VA will pay for all program fees and other related expenses (e.g., travel, meals, lodging), according to VA policy on training participation and Temporary Duty (TDY) assignments. Administrative liaisons at VA will also be available to assist participants with questions about program logistics and other relevant policies and procedures. Participants who enroll in long-term TDY programs will also be assigned a mentor who will serve as a guide throughout the program.

35. When will I know if I will be reassigned to a new position when I return to VA after participating in a CEDB program?

While any CEDB participant could be reassigned to a new position in VA after completing the program, reassignments are most likely for participants in the long-term residential programs. As these programs conclude their academic year, VA senior leadership, including the Chief of Staff, reviews the leadership requirements across the Department to determine whether the returning CEDB graduates are qualified to meet those needs and where they are best suited. You and your current supervisor will be consulted before the final reassignment decision is made. In general, CEDB participants are informed about reassignment decisions before they complete the program and return to VA.

36. What is the acceptance rate for the CEDB?

It changes every year depending on the number of applicants, the number of seats, and the number of applicants selected to participate.

37. If I live locally to the school I have been selected, do I have to accept overnight accommodations?

If overnight accommodations are offered to you and you do not wish to accept them, you are expected to arrive in class on time every day.

38. If I do not live within 50 miles of the George Washington University or the American University, can I still apply?

No, because travel for these two programs will not be authorized.

39. Do I need to submit university transcripts with my application?

No, you do not need to submit university transcripts with your application.

40. Do I need a Security Clearance?

No, you do not need a security clearance for any of the programs.


Information for Supervisors

41. Can I prevent my employee from applying for a CEDB program if his/her absence from work would be detrimental to my organization?

No. You will be able to provide input about the applicant’s qualifications on the CEDB application, but the process does not allow leadership to prevent an employee from applying. The goal of the CEDB is to identify highly qualified employees across VA who can become effective VA leaders in the future. By definition, these high performing employees are likely to be very valuable and effective employees in their organizations. While it is understandable that the organizations want to avoid losing these valuable employees, VA senior leadership expects supervisors to embrace the corporate approach to identifying these highly qualified future leaders and helping them develop to their full potential for the good of the Department.

VA leadership and the CEDB are sensitive to avoiding undue burden on individual organizations while still focusing on building a robust, talented pool of future VA leaders. For the 2015-2016 academic year, selected VA employees have several opportunities to participate without lengthy periods of absence.

42. What are my options for backfilling my employee if s/he is selected to attend a long-term CEDB program?

The employee’s position remains encumbered while s/he participates in the CEDB program, and VA is obligated to continue paying the employee’s salary. The organization has the option to hire temporary employee or engage contractor support to continue supporting the organization’s workload while the permanent employee is on leave to participate in the CEDB program.

43. Will my employee be reassigned to a different position after completing the program?

While any CEDB participant could be reassigned to a new position in VA after completing the program, reassignments are most likely for participants in the long-term residential programs. Once employees are reassigned to new positions, their former positions become unencumbered, vacant positions. In that situation, you are free to hire a permanent employee for the position via the typical VA hiring process.

44. When will I be notified to provide an endorsement?

As soon as the employee has completed the application and the HR POC has competed the review. The CEDB Application Tool generates an automated e-mail message that notifies the supervisor that the application is ready for endorsement.


For more Information

45. Who can I contact if I have more questions or need help or more information about the application process?

For more information, please contact VALU’s CEDB Program Administrators:

David Austin: 202-632-7919

Rhonda Carter: 202-632-7340