Category Archives: Civil Service

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Social Media and the Hatch Act

Source: Office of Special Counsel, July 27, 2010

In light of the many questions the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has received concerning Social Media, OSC provides the following guidance on the issue, in the form of frequently asked questions concerning less restricted and further restricted federal employees (see questions one through eleven) as well as federal agencies (see questions twelve through fourteen).

Note: This guidance refers primarily to Facebook and Twitter in the following questions due to the popularity of those sites for social networking, but the advice provided in response to these questions applies equally to all other social media, such as Myspace, Linkedin, etc.

Florida’s HR Reforms: Service First, Service Worst, or Something in Between?

Source: Elsie B. Crowell and Mary E. Guy, Public Personnel Management, Volume 39 No. 1, Spring 2010
(scroll down)

Despite the original intent of civil service reform as set forth in the Pendleton Act of 1883, some states have implemented reforms that drastically alter the HR function as envisioned by early policymakers. The State of Florida offers an example of such reforms. This paper reports a study of how selected state employees perceive and interpret the outcome of Florida’s 2001 civil service reform and privatized HR administrative processes. Respondents give mixed reports on the civil service reform but uniformly report that it has become more difficult to manage the HR function since it was outsourced.

Overtime Work And Incident Coronary Heart Disease: The Whitehall II Prospective Cohort Study

Source: Marianna Virtanen, Jane E. Ferrie, Archana Singh-Manoux, Martin J. Shipley, Jussi Vahtera, Michael G. Marmot, and Mika Kivimäki, # European Heart Journal, published online May 11, 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Aims: To examine the association between overtime work and incident coronary heart disease (CHD) among middle-aged employees.

Conclusion: Overtime work is related to increased risk of incident CHD independently of conventional risk factors. These findings suggest that overtime work adversely affects coronary health.
See also:
Memo to boss: 11-hour days may be bad for you
Source: Ben Hirschler, Reuters, May 11, 2010

2009 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government

Source: Partnership for Public Service, May 2009

On May 20, the Partnership released the 2009 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. The rankings released today evaluate employee satisfaction across government in 278 federal agencies and subcomponents. Overall, employee satisfaction is up 2.4 percent, from 61.8 to 63.3, with 71 percent of agencies improving their Best Places to Work index score since the last rankings in 2007.
See also:
Press Release
Washington Post Coverage

States Strengthen Whistleblower Protection Laws

Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Press Release, April 16, 2009

States Moving Past Federal Government in Safeguarding Civil Servant Disclosures

Many states are adopting new laws to protect their civil servants who report waste, fraud and abuse, according to a legal analysis released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). While the level of whistleblower protection varies widely across the country, several states are enacting safeguards that surpass those afforded to federal employees.

PEER has completed a detailed analysis of every state’s laws, ranking each on 32 factors affecting the scope of coverage, usefulness and remedies.
See also:
See which states have the strongest and weakest whistleblower laws
Look at breakdown of whistleblower protection provisions among states
View highlights of recent state legislation
Find out about the whistleblower law in your state

State Government “Little Hatch Acts” in an Era of Civil Service Reform: The State of the Nation

Source: James S. Bowman and Jonathan P. West, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 29 no. 1, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The defining characteristic of modern public service–insulation of civil servants from political manipulation and protection of the public from partisan administration of the law–is undergoing change as a result of contemporary civil service reform. It is in this context that “little” state Hatch Acts, laws modeled after the 1939 federal statute, are examined. This exploratory analysis reports survey and interview data from officials charged with implementing their state’s law to gauge its effectiveness in today’s reform era. After a review of the literature and a description of the methodology, the findings are presented, followed by a discussion of their implications for the future.

To “Re-Hatch” Public Employees or Not? An Ethical Analysis of the Relaxation of Restrictions on Political Activities in Civil Service

Source: James S. Bowman and Jonathan P. West, Public Administration Review, Vol. 69 no. 1, January/February 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examines the ethical content of legislation regulating the political activities of civil servants. The analysis is done using the “ethics triangle,” a tool that encompasses the interdependence of results-based utilitarian ethics, rule-based duty ethics, and virtue-based character ethics. The discussion begins with the importance of the problem, followed by its evolution and current status. After describing the methodology, the central section investigates the values at stake. The conclusion provides a synthesis of the findings, explores the implications of the study, and attempts to answer the question posed in the title of the paper.

Civil Service Changes for a Better Future

Source: William L. Bransford, Public Manager, Vol. 37 no. 3, Fall 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article examines how the changes made in the years following 1978 affect the sustainability of the federal government today as the “brain drain” becomes a reality. The government now has more difficulty recruiting new employees. A laborious application process and pay system, with questionable fairness and adequacy, have created barriers to entry to the Senior Executive Service, where much of the brain drain will occur. OPM is a shadow of its former self: with no FPM, a limited merit system oversight role, and a fee charged for many services, from training to security clearances and background checks. A multitude of different personnel systems–from banking agencies to the Securities and Exchange Commission to the new National Security Personnel System–make it more difficult for OPM to manage the government and for Congress to oversee it.

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.

The Future Is Now

It’s one thing to attract young people to government jobs. It’s another to keep them there.
November 2007

There’s been a lot of emphasis in states, counties and cities on hiring the new generation of the “best and the brightest.” Toward that end, some have spruced up their Web sites so that applying for a job is as simple as buying a book online. They’ve set up booths at job fairs, run newspaper ads and gone on hiring forays in neighboring cities. A number of governments send cadres of recruiters to college campuses.

Here’s the sad news: Many of these efforts aren’t dissimilar to turning on the spigots in your bathtub — while the drain is wide open.

“Our members talk about how young people aren’t staying in their public-sector jobs,” says Leslie Scott, association manager of the National Association of State Personnel Executives. “They can attract them, but they may not stay.” In Texas last year, for example, there was a 36.9 percent turnover among those who were under 30, compared with 9.4 percent in the 40- to 49-year-old group.