The Civil Service Commission has criticized the Consumer Product Safety Commission for what the CSC said was continued favoritism, preferential treatment, misuse of consultants, promotion of unqualified applicants, manipulation of promotion procedures and misuse of appointment authorities.
The findings were part of a scathing report on the agency's personnel practices. The report, sent to the CPSC yesterday, was obtained by The Washington Post.
The Civil Service Commission cited 30 cases in which the CPSC "fiolated personnel laws, regulations and requirements."
The report specifically names CPSC chairman S. John Byington and other officials, although the report released to the Post had the names blacked out. Sources close to the infestigation were able to supply the names.
"Most of the violations occured," the report said, 'as a direct result of actions taken or sanctioned by either Mr. Byington or Mr. (Albert) Dimcoff. Mr. Byington played a principal role in the improper competitive appointments of Mr. William McCarney and Ms. Jeanne Devers. He was personally responsible for the improper assignment of Mr. Richard Rapps to the schedule A position of Director, Office of the Secretary."
In a telephone interview last night, Byington called the accusations 'hogwash." He said they were politically motivated because he was one of only two remaining Republicans in an agency top spot.
And, Byington said, of the 30 cases cited, 15 are women and four are blacks (including one of the women).
"Part of the problem in the damn system that I have been screaming about," Byington said, "is the difficulty in getting women and blacks in. One mechanism of utilizing the services of competant women or blacks is in a consultancy or expert system. If you can't use them that way and they can't break into the buracracy then you are effectively excluding them from government."
Byington has on several occasions criticised the Civil Service System. In one recent speech he said that one third of all civil service employees were of no value to his agency.
The report by the Civil Service Commission specified the following violations:
Preferential treatment and personal forvoritism to certain individuals:
Misuse of the "expert" and "consultant" appointing authority, "both to hire favored candidates who could not be hired through regular civil service processes and using them to perform duties that are required to be filled through open competitive procedures."
"Promotion of unqualified applicants, misuse of career promotions and manipulation of merit promotion procedures to reach favored candidates."
"Manipulation and misuse of other expected appointing authorities in order to provide preferential treatment to certain individuals, and,"
"Improper classification of certain positions."
The reported also mentioned structural problems in many of the CPSC promotion and hiring programs.
"To understand fully the reason for the violations," the report stated, "one must realize that they occured aginst a backdrop of management unconcern for and, in some instances, outright contempt for principles of merit. Such attitudes not only condoned, but, in fact, invited merit system abuses."
According to a senior personnel specialist at the CPSC, in an affidavit to the Civil Service Commission:
"During the past year, I have watched our personnel program which had just begun to pick itself up from the inherent personnel problems of a new agency and to gain the support and recognition of top management, fall to what I consider a puppet function, totally manipulated by management . . . a management which operates under a 'might makes right' philosophy, where there is no regard for Civil Service rules or regulations and more tragically for the individual employees who suffer because of the inequities of such a philosophy."
In some cases, the report stated that Byington was told of improper activities in an earlier report, but the same type of activities were found to be occuring months later.
"Both Byington and Dimcoff have expressed concern," the report states, "over what they believe to be a lack of flexibility in the present civil service system. It is our perception that they used this concern as a basis for justifying their improper actions."
Byington said that most of the accusations in the report concerned practices that were in effect in March, 1977, when the Civil Service Commission reportedly gave him a "clean bill of health."
"Of these 30 charges," he said, "10 require no action because there has been either a settlement or the action is moot or action is in progress."
Eight more require just that we review them, and send some papers back to the Civil Service Commission," he said. "They were clerical problems."
"In another eight," he added, "we just have to redo the actions because of technical violations. Only in the last four will action have to be taken. Three will have to be severed and one will change position. And two of them are women."
The report suggests corrective action that mostly includes future policies at the agency.
Citing the "general disregard for civil service requirements and merit principals," the Civil Service Commission said its recommended corrective actions "should bring about the requisite improvement."