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There is no classification specification for CEA, class code 7500, as the CEA category is set apart in civil service. The CEA program was established in 1964 to recognize the unique selection, status and pay considerations appropriate to high level, policy-influencing civil service positions in the various state departments. The concept of the CEA category is outlined in Government Code section 18547: "Career executive assignment" means an appointment to a high administrative and policy influencing position within the state civil service in which the incumbent's primary responsibility is the managing of a major function or the rendering of management advice to top-level administrative authority. Such a position can be established only in the top managerial levels of state service and is typified by broad responsibility for policy implementation and extensive participation in policy evolvement. Assignment by appointment to such a position does not confer any rights or status in the position other than provided in Article 9 (commencing with Section 19889) of Chapter 2.5 of Part 2.6.
CEAs are to be limited to only the highest, most critical positions that have continuous, direct interface with department directors and constitute the executive management team. CEAs must have a decisive role in their department's policy-making, and should have regular involvement in department-wide policy and program management. The influence of the position should be comparable to other CEA positions within the department or other similar departments. Significant policy creation and program management responsibility are a mandatory aspect of CEA positions. CEA positions must possess the authority to directly influence policies or manage programs pertaining to the departmental mission. CEAs must serve as the chief policy-maker within their respective program area.
New policy can come from various sources, including new state and federal legislation, regulations, and other higher level policies such as Executive Orders. A CEA may continually revise or implement existing policy if the position is required to ensure that the program/organization stays in compliance with frequently changing higher level policies, court orders, or laws and rules. Departments need to keep in mind that there is a distinction in responsibility between:
While the first may support a CEA allocation, the second alone probably would not. Developing operational procedures is not defined as high-level policy-making. The depth and breadth of the role of the individual in the development of policy is a critical consideration in determining whether a position meets the statutory requirements for a CEA.
A CEA position may not be approved if CalHR determines the proposed position overall has:
CEA examinations are open to all applicants who possess the knowledge and abilities, and any other requirements as described in the examination bulletin. Eligibility to take a CEA examination does not require current permanent status in civil service.
Applicants must possess the ability to perform high administrative and policy-influencing functions effectively. Such overall ability is demonstrated by the following more specific knowledge and ability requirements:
(a) Knowledge of the organization and functions of California State Government including the organization and practices of the Legislature and the Executive Branch; principles, practices, and trends of public administration, organization, and management; techniques of organizing and motivating groups; program development and evaluation; methods of administrative problem solving; principles and practices of policy formulation and development; personnel management techniques; the department's or agency's equal employment opportunity objectives; and a manager's role in the equal employment opportunity program.
(b) Ability to plan, organize, and direct the work of multidisciplinary professional and administrative staff; analyze administrative policies, organization, procedures, and practices; integrate the activities of a diverse program to attain common goals; gain the confidence and support of top level administrators and advise them on a wide range of administrative matters; develop cooperative working relationships with representatives of all levels of government, the public, and the Legislative and Executive Branches; analyze complex problems and recommend effective courses of action; prepare and review reports; and effectively contribute to the department's or agency's equal employment opportunity objectives.
These knowledge and abilities are expected to be obtained from the following kinds of experience (experience may have been paid or volunteer; in State service, other government settings, or in a private organization):
Supervisory/ administrative experience in a line or staff activity, including the execution and/or evaluation of program policies.
Broad administrative or program manager experience with substantial participation in the formulation, operation, and/or evaluation of program policies.
Extensive managerial and program administrative experience which has included substantial responsibility for a combination of management functions such as program planning; policy formulation; organization coordination and control; and fiscal and personnel management.
Where high technical professional qualifications are of primary importance in performing the duties of a given CEA position, then the above required experience may have been in a staff capacity exercising professional skills to influence and contribute to program, policy, and methods of providing those professional services. Primary examples are medical doctors and attorneys.
When examining for a CEA position, desirable qualifications should be developed and listed on the bulletin. The purpose of the desirable qualifications is to provide the department with a means of evaluating competitors, as well as providing competitors with a means of determining their own relative competitiveness. The desirable qualifications also serve as a guide for competitors to provide appropriate information on their applications and statements of qualifications.
The initial pay level of a CEA is determined by CalHR*, but is typically based on the size of the department, the CEA organizational level, and the functional role of the CEA relating to the proposed CEA allocation.
*Departments with signed CEA Delegation Agreements have authority to set CEA levels and salaries within their CalHR–determined salary cap.
Size of the Department (# of PYs)
Small (Up to 800)
2nd or 3rd Org Level
SPEC, SA, PMR, PRJ,
DBC, DDR, ASSIST
2nd Org Level
1st Org Level
Medium (801 - 8,000)
3rd or 4th Org Level
Large (8,001 - 17,000
4th Org Level
SPEC, SA, PMR, PRJ
3rd Org Level
Mega (17,001 +)
5th Org Level
Responsible for a single or multiple program crossing departmental lines.
By definition or constitutional authority, the Director is the Chief Executive Officer of a department. This is the highest organizational level with responsibility for all aspects of an organization or in a mega department over significant arms of the organization.
Positions are responsible for rendering broad management advice that significantly impacts a wide spectrum of departmental policies. Consider the extent to which the concentration of policy responsibility may weaken the policy-influencing role of line positions in the same program or department. Positions typically serve as special advisers to Boards or Commissions. Positions should only be established at Level A. Use of the SA at a higher level requires CalHR approval, unless the department has a CEA Delegation Agreement.