Many of the government's 78,000 top and middle management personnel could be forced to choose between status or security under a Carter Administration, mobile and responsive bureaucracy.
Under the plan - still in the study stage - key jobs ranging from Grade 14 to Grade 18 (with pay ranges from $28,000 to $47,500) would be marked for an elite corps called Executive and Management Service (EAMS). It would operate under a different system of pay, rewards and security than that of the regular civil service.
EAMS who wanted jobs slated for the EAMS - or those who wanted to keep them - would be required to accept conditions that would make them subject to transfer, reassigment and demotion without many existing civil service job guarantees or appeal rights. Working opting for the EAMS, under the plan, would not have the same semi-automatic within grade pay raises or bedrock promise of job tenure that goes with most civil service jobs.
In many respects the EAMS proposal (it has also been referred to in study documents as the EAMS) is a direct descendent of an elite corps of political and career executives twice proposed by the Nixon Administration. The EAMS has some differences, among them the fact that probably will be much bigger and go much deeper into the career civil service ranks.
The old Nixon proposal (Carter aides blanch at the comparison) was called the Federal Executive Service. Originally it was intended to include 5,000 to 8,000 top career and political executives whose assignments would be mobile, and based on 3 to 5-year contracts or agreements. The Democratic Congress was reluctant to buy the idea of career bureaucrats put on contract to a Republican-dominated White House. The contract scheme has been dropped, as has Republican domination of the White House.
Civil Service Commission and the Office of Management and Budget have created a joint task force to work up legislative proposals leading to the creation of the super-executive corps. It will also consider the addition of more Schedule C. and Noncareer Executive Assignment jobs to the middle and top layers of government which are now numerically dominated by career employees.
Unlike the Nixon Administration plan, which would have been limited to the so-called supergrades (GS 16, 17 and 18), the Carter plan would include many line management jobs down to Grade 15, and possibly officials hint, even down into Grade 14. Grade 14 now has 49,379 employees; Grade 15, 24,532 and Grade 16, 3,309; Grade 17 990 and Grade 18 has 348 career civil service positions. There are about 3,000 other jobs at those levels in special scientific pay categories, the VA medical and surgical department, Foreign Service and related agencies. They would not - at least under the present planning - be included in any EAMS corps of super-executives.
CSC and OMB brass emphasize that while much groundwork has been done on the executive service plan, no final decisions have been made and none will be until the task force completes its work - maybe within the next 90 days. It is expected that whatever they come up with will require congressional action and, obviously, Carter's okay.
One problem facing the task force - in addition to the suspicions (maybe with good reason) of the career bureaucracy - is what forms of protection should be built into the system. They want to make it possible to give incentives for individuals to enter the high-risk jobs, but give them fall-back options, such as a demotion with saved pay, or transfer out of a line management job if workers can't do the job, or don't like it.
A Capitol Hill aide said, "we don't know much about the idea yet. We will take a careful look at it. Don't assume because this is a Democratic operation that it will have smooth sailing in the House.
Impact of a new government executive corps would be world-wide. It would have a special meaning here in Washington, which is where most of the rank is. At least 8 of every 10 federal supergraders (GS 16, 17 and 18 employees) lives and works in the metro area and the capital is also heavy with Grade 14 and 15 workers because most agengies have headquarters here.
By dipping down into the Grade 14 and 15 ranks for jobs for the new executive service, the changes could also effect thousands of workers in the 10 regional sub-capital cities (New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Kansas City, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Philadelphia) and in area offices of major agencies like HUD, HEW, Defense, Justice, Small business Administration, Commerce, Interior and Agriculture.