The Public Service:

Issues Affecting Its Quality, Effectiveness, Integrity, and Stewardship

GGD-89-73: Published: Jun 6, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 1989.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the activities of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) relating to merit system principles, prohibited personnel practices, and the administration of the public service.

GAO found that: (1) problems in recruiting and retaining qualified staff hampered the federal government's ability to maintain the quality of its work force to deliver services; (2) much of the difficulty in recruiting quality personnel was due to the federal government's noncompetitive pay structure; (3) ineffective planning and the lack of sound information on work-force operations also hampered the quality of public service; (4) compensation and morale problems threatened the government's ability to retain experienced leadership; (5) the key factors to effective public service were better training and performance management, but inconsistencies in training, problems in performance pay and appraisals, and other performance management difficulties continued; (6) the federal government needed to improve the administration of government ethics and the integrity of administrative procedures and systems; (7) OPM did not effectively monitor agencies' compliance with government personnel procedures; (8) OPM needed better guidance to implement the federal government's drug-testing program; and (9) MSPB improved its performance of employee appeal processing and complied with laws for awarding court-reporting contracts.

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