Civil Service Reform After Two Years:

Some Initial Problems Resolved but Serious Concerns Remain

FPCD-82-1: Published: Nov 10, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 10, 1981.

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The Civil Service Reform Act requires GAO to submit annual reports to the President and Congress on significant activities of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Merit Sytems Protection Board (MSPB), including the Office of the Special Counsel. In addition, GAO was asked to include the activities of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) in its reports.

The startup and transition problems of funding, staffing, and office space that seriously impaired MSPB, the Office of the Special Counsel, and FLRA in their first year are slowly being resolved. However, the Federal hiring freeze and budget cuts curtailed some plans for full operations. OPM has continued to make progress by preparing regulations and studies to evaluate the Act's impact on personnel management. OPM is working toward the goal of more consistency in Senior Executive Service (SES) allocation requests and authorizations. Executive pay increases would alleviate the tendency to consider factors other than job performance when granting bonuses and would create appropriate differentials among SES pay levels. GAO believes that more time should be allowed before implementing merit pay to allow for pretesting and training. Implementation of the Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program has been slow pending the resolution of a number of issues. OPM has initiated important steps to manage its research and demonstration programs; however, funding for the program has been significantly reduced. In addition, GAO believes that the Special Counsel's office could better manage its whistleblower responsibilities; the early retirement provision of the Act should be repealed, and OPM should grant agencies early retirement authorizations only in reduction-in-force situations; the Act should be amended to extend protection to employees of Government corporations; and additional organizational and membership changes would improve the Interagency Advisory Group.

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