1203 - Career Executive Assignments (CEA)



Audience List

  • Agency Secretaries
  • Agency Undersecretaries
  • Department Deputy Directors
  • Department Directors
  • Examination Officers
  • Personnel Officers


This policy

  • Provides the process for establishing or significantly revising a Career Executive Assignment concept.
  • Provides the Career Executive Assignment levels and salary ranges.
  • Provides the eligibility requirements for a Career Executive Assignment appointment.


Government Code section 19889 charges the California State Personnel Board (SPB) with establishing a system of merit personnel administration specifically suited to the selection and placement of executive personnel, commonly known as Career Executive Assignments (CEA). The Board designates positions of a high administrative and policy influencing character for inclusion in or removal from the CEA category.


Establishing and Revising CEA Assignment Allocations

California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 548.5, provides a delegated process for departments to establish or revise CEA concepts. This includes a 30-calendar day public review period for CEA requests.

The regulations for establishing and revising CEA concepts do not change any authority or procedures associated with CalHR’s delegation of CEA levels or salaries as determined by departmental signed CEA Delegation Agreements. Departments must continue to document actions taken under their delegated authority using the CalHR 881 form.

CEA Levels and Salary Ranges

Effective July 31, 2013, CalHR consolidated CEA levels from five to three:

  • Levels 1 and 2 became Level A.
  • Levels 3 and 4 became Level B.
  • Level 5 became Level C.

The Civil Service Pay Scales designate a single salary range for all CEA levels, currently $6,913 - $12,136. To provide departments that have a valid, signed CEA Delegation Agreement the flexibility to establish salaries above the specified maximum salary range of the approved CEA level, departments may increase a CEA salary above the approved level. However, the department’s agreed-upon CEA salary cap may not be exceeded.

The current monthly salary ranges for these three levels are as follows:

  • Level A           $6,913 - $9,937
  • Level B           $9,625 - $11,465
  • Level C          $10,688 - $12,136

With prior approval from CalHR, high-level positions requiring licensure as a physician, attorney, or engineer may be granted a salary into the restricted zone, currently $12,137 - $15,885 per month. CalHR has no authority to grant salary exceptions beyond the maximum of the restricted zone.


The minimum qualifications to take a CEA exam are as follows:

Minimum Qualifications

All applicants must possess the knowledge and abilities, and any other requirements, described in this bulletin.

Note: Eligibility to take a CEA examination does not require current permanent status in the civil service.

While eligibility to take a CEA examination is not restricted to persons with current permanent status in the civil service, the basis of a person’s CEA eligibility impacts his or her employment rights when and if his or her CEA position is terminated:

  • Employees who at the time of the CEA appointment were not employed by the state but who had previously worked for the state and had gained permanent civil service status have reinstatement rights under Article 5 (commencing with section 19140) of the Government Code, as specified in section 19889.4.
  • Employees whose eligibility was based upon a legislative or nonelected exempt executive branch position are able to compete in his or her appointing power’s promotional examinations for which he or she meets the minimum qualifications of the class to which he or she seeks appointment. These employees may request a deferred examination, as specified in Government Code section 18993.
  • Employees who at the time of his or her appointment to a CEA were from outside state civil service have the right to take a deferred examination for any open eligible list in existence at the time of the termination of the CEA for which he or she meets the minimum qualifications of the class to which the appointment is sought, as specified in Government Code section 19889.4.


Departments that wish to establish a new CEA position or significantly revise the concept of an existing CEA position will complete the CEA Position Request Form (CalHR 881) and submit the form to CalHR’s Personnel Management Division (PMD) CEA email mailbox (CEA@calhr.ca.gov). Departments must use the current version of the CalHR 881 form.

To streamline the publishing of departmental CEA Action Proposals in a timely, complete and efficient manner, PMD requires the necessary CEA concept information must fit within the space provided on the form. Additional attachments are not accepted. Departments must submit the saved CalHR 881 form in a live fill-and-print portable document format (PDF). Departments should also submit a signed, static PDF version of the form. Both versions should be submitted to the CEA email mailbox (CEA@calhr.ca.gov).

In accordance with the new regulation, PMD will place the department’s submitted CEA Action Proposal information on our public website for the required 30-calendar day public notice period. During this 30-calendar day period the CEA Action Proposal is subject to opposition from any interested party, as well analysis by PMD.

If no opposition is filed during the 30-calendar day period, the proposed CEA concept will be established without a hearing by the five-member SPB. If the submitting department has a valid, signed CEA Delegation Agreement, PMD will also work with the department to revise the CEA salary cap to include the new CEA concept.

If upon analysis PMD determines there are significant concerns with the proposal, PMD may withdraw the proposal and seek clarification from the requestor. If a valid opposition as determined by PMD is submitted within the 30-calendar day period, PMD staff may request departments submit additional substantiation and documents such as letters of support, organizational charts and duty statements. After careful review and analysis, PMD staff may either disapprove the proposal or schedule it for hearing by the five-member SPB, similar to the previous process.

Presence of a departmental CEA Action Proposal on CalHR’s public website is not an indication of CalHR’s endorsement of the request.

For guidance in determining an appropriate CEA Level, refer to the CalHR 881, page 6 of 16, the CEA Level Guidelines Worksheet.






  • PML 2013-027: PML 2013-027 - 8/16/2013 - Changes to the Career Executive Assignment (CEA) Program
  • PML 2015-031: PML 2015-031 - 10/15/2015 - Career Executive Assignment Minimum Qualifications and Reinstatement and Examination Rights
  • PML 2015-038: PML 2015-038 - 12/23/2015 - New Process for Establishing and Revising Career Executive Assignment Allocations

Web Pages

  • Pay Letter 16-20: Summary of Revisions to the California State Civil Service Pay Scales
  • Pay Scales: State of California Pay Scales

Authorized By

Melissa Russell
Chief, Personnel Management Division

Contact Person

Personnel Management Division
Personnel Program Consultant , Personnel Management Division
Phone: 916-909-3709
Fax: 916-327-1886
Email: pmd@calhr.ca.gov

Superseded Policies

Not Applicable.


View History

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Table of Contents

1000 - Equal Employment Opportunity

1100 - Selection

1200 - Appointments

1300 - Exempt Employees

1400 - Benefits and Insurance

1500 - Work Schedules

1600 - Third Party Pre-Tax Parking

1700 - Compensation

1800 - Savings Plus

1900 - Bona Fide Associations

2000 - Collective Bargaining

2100 - Leave

2200 - Travel/Relocation

2300 - State Owned Housing

2400 - Employee Recognition

2600 - Layoffs

2700 - Retirement

2800 - Training

2900 - Workforce Planning

3000 - Examination and Hiring

3100 - Drug-Free Workplace

3200 - Medical Screening

3300 - Apprenticeships

3400 - Temporary Assignment

3500 - Classification Plan