A Critical Review of the Sweeping Federal Civil Service Changes: The Case of the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense

Source: Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 27, No. 4
By Jack Underhill and Ray Oman

This article critiques the proposed radical changes to the civil service system at the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense. It also summarizes the civil service problems and assesses whether the proposed changes would be likely to address those problems. It identifies the difficulties that one of the critical changes (merit pay or pay-for-performance) has encountered in the past. The article is critical of the proposed termination of the General Schedule system, which has served the civil service system so well in the past. It expresses concern about the proposed weakening of rights of employee appeals, protections, and meaningful union participation. The article argues that there are a number of problems facing the civil service, but that most of the changes do not address those problems. It lauds the major achievements of the federal service and cautions against radical changes that will have the effect of weakening it.

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