President Carter's new authority to streamline and reorganize federal agencies will have almost no impact on the way the government's 2.7 million workers are hired, paid, promoted, retired or fired.
The White House fact sheet on the reorganization of the bureaucracy has nearly six pages of questions and answers. Both questions and answers were worked up, asked and answered by the Office of Management and Budget, which will run the reorganization.
One of the questions asks: "Will the reorganization project treat the civil service system as a given?"
The answer, probably written by the same person who asked the question, is: "No." It goes on to stay that effective management of federal programs "is no possible if the rigidities of the existing system go unchallenged . . ." It promises a major study of the entire civil service system.
Insiders expect all kinds of studies, but little action. That's because the civil service system is a jigsaw puzzle of laws based on merit, politics and special interest that Congress isn't about to unravel even if most of its members belong to the same party as Jimmy Carter.
Reorganization authority itself cannot change the federal pay systems, retirement programs or the procedures the government must go through to hire or fire someone. Legal changes can be made in some areas, but few of the "rigid" (some would call them merit) rules of the government's personnel system can be changed by reorganization.
One of the few personnel areas the White House can change - Congress willing - is the method of slecting, assigning and retaining career government executives in the "supergrade" (Grade 16 through 18) levels that pay from $39,629 to $47,500.
As outlined here Feb. 25, the Carter administration is working on a proposal to put several thousand career supergrade executives into a new system.They could be put under contract to agencies, moved about more easily and be subject to greater control from agency heads.
For the most part, however, reorganization isn't expected to change the bread-and-butter items of pay, promotion and pension in government. Congress could to some extent, change the rules, set up an area wage system for professional and do other things. But that isn't likely, and it certainly won't be accomplished by reorganization.
Meanwhile, as the first step in reorganizing to make the government smaller, more efficient and more economical, the White House has asked for $1.6 million in immediate funds, and 32 new (temporary it says in the briefing message) employees to get things rolling.