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Mid-level Leadership Development Program (MLDP)

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TSA’s Mid-Level Leadership Development Program (MLDP) is one of the agency’s leadership development initiatives aimed at building the next generation of mid-level leaders at TSA. The purpose of the MLDP is to prepare participants for critical leadership positions through the use of concentrated and focused training, shadowing, mentoring, and other developmental leadership opportunities. The focus of MLDP is to build an adequate leadership bench strength capable of replacing leaders who retire and/or leave, as-well-as retain experienced personnel with strong, demonstrated leadership skills.

While the MLDP is an important source for applicants for TSA mid-level leadership positions, successful completion of the program does not guarantee selection for such a position. Note: Participants will compete with other applicants for any announced vacancies.

The MLDP is implemented on a recurring basis following a two year cycle. The number of participants selected for each iteration of the program will vary depending on the number of projected vacancies in the targeted mid-level management positions.

MLDP Goals

  1. Provide upward mobility for TSA employees;
  2. Provide leadership competencies needed for success in mid-level leadership positions at TSA;
  3. Increase the diversity of TSA’s leadership bench; and
  4. Maximize retention of TSA’s leadership talent.

MLDP Feeder Pools and Target Positions

In general, the MLDP target positions represent mid-level management in TSA’s core functional areas. The feeder pools for participants of the MLDP will include positions one or more levels below the target positions for the program.

Program Participant Feeder Pools (MLDP Candidate’s Current Position – Full Performance Level):

  • Office of Security Operations (OSO) (Field Employees): SV-G Band, SV-H Band and SV-I Band
  • Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service (OLE/FAMS): LE personnel at the SV-I Band and Non-LE personnel at the SV-G-Band, SV-H Band and SV-I Band

Target Positions:

    OSO, Field - FSD Staff:
    • Administrative Officer – SV-J Band, Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director (Baggage and Passenger Screening) – SV-I and SV-J Band, Assistant Federal Security Director (Generalist) – SV-I and SV-J Band, Assistant Federal Security Director (Mission Support) – SV-J Band, Assistant Federal Security Director (Inspections, Operations, and Screening) – SV-I and SV-J Band, Transportation Security Manager – SV-H and SV-I Band, Supervisory Transportation Security Inspector (Aviation) SV-J Band, and other leadership positions deemed critical at the SV-I and SV-J Band
    • Assistant Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge – SV-J Band, Supervisory Federal Air Marshal – SV-J Band, Assistant Federal Security Director -Law Enforcement (LE) – SV-J Band, and Non-Law Enforcement (LE) supervisory positions

Program Structure

As part of the agency’s succession planning efforts, the MLDP is intended to complement the Senior Leadership Development (SLD) Programs and is managed from a National Program Office (NPO) within the Office of Human Capital (OHC). Regional Coordinators/Regional Operations Officers are responsible for managing the program in their area or region. Program Managers are responsible for assisting participants in the development and execution of their individual development plans.

The following organization chart visually represents the various stakeholders of the MLDP:

MLDP 2012 Application Process

To access the MLDP announcement and application on

  • Go to
  • In the Jobs Search Field, enter the program announcement number ID: 479471
  • Click SEARCH.
  • In the upper left corner where it says NARROW YOUR SEARCH: PUBLIC OR STATUS JOBS --> click on STATUS
  • The announcement should appear on the list.
  • Directions for applying and submitting your forms can be found under the HOW TO APPLY tab at the top of the announcement page. TSA employees interested in participating in MLDP 2012 will compete in a rigorous and competitive application, interview and selection process.

The application process is designed to identify high performing employees who also have high potential for more advanced leadership roles. General eligibility requirements include:

MLDP Criteria Description

Employment Status

A candidate must be a Permanent Full Time Employee.

Length of Service with TSA

A candidate must have at least one year of service with TSA.

Supervisory Experience

Have a minimum of one year permanent supervisory experience (this requirement does not apply to OLE/FAMS applicants), as of Thursday, July 8, 2011, that is clearly documented on your resume. (Supervisory experience is defined as supervising one or more employees, conducting performance appraisals, and having the authority to certify personnel leave. This includes supervisory experience obtained prior to joining TSA and detail assignments do not qualify.)
Supervisory experience is defined as having supervised one or more employees, conducting performance appraisals, and having the authority to certify personnel leave.

Acceptable Performance Review

A candidate must have received a minimum of a passing, acceptable, evaluation on record.

Review Official Personnel File

A candidate’s personnel file may not contain adverse personnel actions within the past two years.


Experience at SV-G Band, SV-H Band,
SV-I Band,or SV-J Band

Writing Assessment

All MLDP candidates need to currently be a field employee or OLE/FAMS employee at the G-Band, H-Band, I-Band, or J-Band at TSA.
A candidate must meet the writing qualifications as specified in the application process.

Supervisor’s Endorsement

A candidate must provide a completed endorsement from their direct supervisor or another TSA supervisor at the SV-J Band or above. This endorsement should address required competencies, including specific behaviors observed.
MLDP Endorsement Form (doc, 102kb)


A candidate must complete a biographical inventory as described in application materials.


A candidate is required to complete a telephonic interview that will be conducted by a three member panel to include a subject matter expert, a manager and a “trusted neutral” person.


Timeline of Activities:

MLDP 2012 Frequently Asked Questions

What Band levels are eligible for the 2012 Mid-Level Leadership Development Program (MLDP)?

  • TSA Field Employees (Airports) representing the Office of Security Operations (OSO): G, H and I-Band level
  • Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service (OLE/FAMS): FAMs I-Band and Non-Law Enforcement (LE); G, H and I-Band level

What are the target positions for MLDP 2012?



Federal Security Director Staff Positions:

  • Administrative Officer – J Band
  • Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director (DAFSD)– I/J Band (Baggage and Passenger Screening)
  • Assistant Federal Security Director (AFSD) (Generalist) – I/J Band
  • AFSD (Mission Support) – J Band
  • Assistant FSD (AFSD) I and J-Band (Inspections, Operations, and Screening)
  • Transportation Security Manager (TSM) H and I-Band
  • Supervisory Transportation Security Inspector (Aviation) J-Band
  • Other leadership positions deemed critical at the I and J Bands
  • Assistant Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge (ASAC) (J-Band)
  • Supervisory Federal Air Marshal (SFAM) J-Band
  • AFSD-Law Enforcement (LE) (J-Band)
  • Non-Law Enforcement (LE) supervisory positions

When is the application period for MLDP?

  • The application period will be open from June 9 – July 8, 2011.

What does a ‘PM Site’ mean?

  • While centrally managed, MLDP is locally implemented at various locations known as MLDP Program Manager (PM) Sites. Each site has an assigned MLDP PM, who is responsible for assisting participants in the development and execution of their individual development plan (IDP).

Can I still apply for the MLDP even if my location is not a PM site?

  • Yes, all eligible TSA field and OLE/FAMS employees can apply for the MLDP. Should you be accepted into the program, you will be assigned to a MLDP PM Site in your region.

I am a MLDP PM. What are the requirements for the Structured Interview Panel?

  • All interviewers must be current TSA employees; and
  • To the extent possible, the makeup of the Structured Interview Panel should reflect the diversity of the TSA workforce, with respect to such things as: race, ethnicity, gender, etc.
  • The MLDP interview should be conducted by three (3) trained interviewers. At least one (1) of the interviewers must be outside of the business unit (e.g., airport, headquarters division), and must be a TSA employee. The Structured Interview Panel should include:
    • The PM or Area Director/Area Staff at any Band who will serve as the expert on the structured interview process and facilitate consensus;
    • External panel member at the I Band or above (not from your home airport or location, could be another PM at the I-Band level or above);
    • Senior Leader at the I-Band level or above (ideally not in the interviewee's direct chain of command).
  • In addition, panel members must complete the Structured Interview Training course on the OLC, and review and become familiar with the TSA Administration Guide. All individuals involved in the interview process must complete the Non-Disclosure Agreement Form. Each business unit should maintain all nondisclosures.

How will the program be advertised at those airports in our region that do not have a PM?

  • For airports that are not designated as MLDP PM Sites, of which there is no PM, there are several ways the MLDP will be advertised:
    • An official TSA Broadcast Announcement will be sent out to TSA personnel from Sean Byrne, the Assistant Administrator, of the Office of Human Capital, announcing the program and dates for applying.
    • All FSDs will receive an email from the Regional Operations Officers referencing the TSA Broadcast, requiring them to encourage all qualified applicants to apply. Ultimately, FSDs will be responsible for getting the word out to personnel at their airport, as well as assigned MLDP PMs.

    All MLDP PMs will receive an email from the MLDP National Program Office, which will include a broadcast announcement that will be sent to applicants reminding them that they have one week remaining to apply to MLDP 2012.

How will non-selected applicants be notified?

  • OPM will send out notifications to non-selected applicants:
    • Applicants who did not meet minimum qualifications, and
    • Applicants who met minimum qualifications but did not meet the cut-off score.

Are panel members participating in the structured interview process allowed to charge expenses for travel, such as: airfare, hotel and per diem, if we have to travel for the interviews?

  • All structured interviews with candidates will be conducted telephonically. You will have to fund any travel associated with interviews locally. One option is to conduct the interviews telephonically – with panel members dialing in remotely (in lieu of traveling from one location to another).

How are target positions selected?

  • The ERC, in cooperation with all TSA lines of business, worked through a systematic succession planning process to identify target positions. They looked at the criticality of positions to fulfilling the Agency’s mission, well prepared bench strength present in TSA, attrition rates, and other factors.

What is the purpose of a succession plan? Why does TSA need one?

  • Succession planning is a systematic approach for:
    1. Shaping the leadership culture;
    2. Building a leadership pipeline/talent pool to ensure leadership continuity;
    3. Developing potential successors whose strengths will best fit with the Agency’s needs;
    4. Identifying the best candidates for categories of positions; and
    5. Concentrating resources on the talent development process, yielding a greater return on investment.

    Succession planning identifies those jobs considered to be the organization’s lifeblood and too critical to be left vacant or filled by anyone but the best qualified persons. Succession planning is critical to mission success and creates an effective process for recognizing, developing and retaining top leadership talent.

Who is responsible for succession planning in TSA?

  • All TSA leaders are responsible for ensuring the future health of the organization's leadership. The Executive Resources Council (ERC) is directly responsible for approving all succession planning policies and programs.

What are the differences between the leadership development programs and leadership training?

  • Leadership development programs are generally longer in duration with the goal of preparing participants for future target positions. Leadership training prepares TSA leaders to operate at a higher performance level in their current positions.

Will employees at TSA headquarters (HQ) be eligible for MLDP 2012?

  • Based on positions deemed critical by the ERC for the Agency, OSO and OLE/FAMS were top customers for MLDP 2010, and will be for MLDP 2012.  The program will not be implemented at TSA HQ. TSA is continuing to develop and implement a systematic succession planning system to assess and build the bench strength and diversity necessary to effectively address future leadership needs.

How does successful completion of leadership development programs lead to promotions?

  • Successful completion of the developmental activities during all of the leadership development programs is intended to increase an individual’s preparedness (and competitiveness) for target positions, but does not serve as a guarantee for promotion nor selection to a position.

Do I have to go through a development program to move up to a target job?

  • No. MLDP graduates will be more competitive for target positions; however, program participation is not a requirement for any target position at TSA.

How are external (to TSA) applicants dealt with?

  • Applicants from outside of TSA are not eligible to apply for MLDP.

How many participants graduated in recent years?

  • The first iteration of the MLDP concluded with 422 graduates in December 2008. MLDP 2010 concluded with 242 graduates.

If I am not eligible for these programs, what development options are available to me?

  • Development in TSA is not limited to the Succession Plan’s formal development programs. Many lines of business have career advancement possibilities; e.g., Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) can move into a Lead, then a Supervisory TSO, and possibly a Security Manager position. TSA offers all employees the opportunity to work with a Career Coach and provides the Career Coaching website: and the Career Toolbox: These are excellent resources for persons wanting to advance in their career, or change careers.

Someone on my staff is interested in applying to the MLDP; however, she does not have one year of service with TSA. She meets all other eligibility requirements. What guidance can you provide me as a response?

  • To be eligible for MLDP all applicants must have at least one year of service with TSA. The staff member can apply for the next cycle of MLDP, which occurs on a two-year cycle.

According to the MLDP announcement, "MLDP endorsement forms are available at: ." I have not been able to find the necessary forms. Is there another location where I might be able to find the form?

  • The MLDP Endorsement Form is currently being updated and will be available on:, via the program announcement and on the MLDP Internet site, once the application period opens.

I have a Transportation Security Officer who meets all of the requirements except the time in grade. Can she qualify with a waiver? And if so, what's the procedure?

  • In order to be eligible for the program, all MLDP participants must meet every requirement specified. No waivers or exceptions will be accepted.

I am interested in applying for the MLDP. I would like to get clarification regarding the Endorsement Form. In the middle of the application period, my supervisor will be transferred to a different location. Whom do I request the endorsement from?

  • Endorsement Forms can be completed by your direct supervisor or another TSA supervisor (whom you have worked with) at the J-Band level or above.

I am interested in the program, however, would like to find out how much travel may be involved and how long I would be assigned away from my home airport.

  • The average length of a detail assignment is 30-60 days. Shadowing assignments range from two to seven days. Travel requirements will vary depending on individual needs, per the individual’s IDP activities, and availability of local funds.

What are the MLDP competencies candidates will be interviewed on for the MLDP 2012 cohort?

  • The competencies that candidates will be interviewed on for the MLDP 2012 cohort are:
    • Accountability
      Holds self and others accountable for measurable high-quality, timely and cost effective results; determines objectives, sets priorities and delegates work; accepts responsibility for mistakes; complies with established control systems and rules.
    • Leadership Capacity
      Instills mutual trust and confidence. Creates a culture that fosters high standards of ethics. Behaves in a fair and ethical manner toward others, and demonstrates a sense of corporate responsibility and commitment to public service.
    • Operations Management
      Directs all aspects of a program to ensure that work progresses toward achieving goals and objectives; assesses short- and long-term resource requirements and advises leadership on ways to address these requirements; evaluates overall program effectiveness, and adjusts strategies as needed, to ensure performance standards are met.
    • Oral Communication
      Makes clear and convincing oral presentations. Listens effectively. Clarifies information as needed.
    • Team Building
      Inspires and fosters team commitment, spirit, pride and trust; facilitates cooperation and motivates team members to accomplish group goals.


For any questions regarding MLDP, e-mail the MLDP National Program Office at

Latest revision: 13 December 2012