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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO sponsored a symposium on transforming the civil service. GAO noted that: (1) the symposium brought together leading private and public sector employers and former federal officials to discuss new human resource management approaches; (2) there were eight overlapping personnel management principles that focused on people as assets, organizational missions, accountability, appropriate organizational structures, integrating personnel management into an organization's mission, continuous learning, integrated information management, and sustained leadership; (3) symposium participants found that a comprehensive rather than a piecemeal approach to human resources management was more effective; (4) although some federal agencies have adopted some of these management principles, attitudinal, political, and structural barriers hamper wider acceptance; (5) although some of the principles could be adopted without changing any laws, others would require congressional action and increased civil service decentralization; (6) recent legislation and the National Performance Review have recognized the value of these management principles; (7) the federal government should retain its merit system core values while allowing federal agencies more flexibility to meet their disparate needs; and (8) Congress must take into consideration the fundamental differences between government and private sector functions in applying these management principles.

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