Within the next few weeks, between 50 and 100 top federal aides will be tapped for task force duty that could lead to a major overhaul of the bureaucracy - and to better jobs for some of the overhaulers.
The project in question is the White House-ordered "top-to-bottom" study of the way the government hires, punishes, promotes and pays its 2.8 million workers.
Civil Service Commission and the Office of Management and Budget are supplying the top brass for the reorganization. The study, and implementing legislative action could take 3 years. Some reforms, however, could be proposed and completed this year.
Most of the key personnel who will run the programs, including a proposed overhaul of the pay, hiring and internal disciplinary programs, labor management and use of executives, will come from the career ranks of government.
Project director Dwight Ink (on leave from American University) is still lining his top staff. But insiders believe the work will shake down to a group of task forces - from eight to a maximum of 11 - to study each area. They will recommend changes through legislation, administrative action or executive order.
The federal personnel community will supply many of the experts drawn for the task forces, although task force leaders will be people with broader managerial or policy backgrounds with knowledge of personnel operations.
People who get the task force assignments will have a very busy summer. And they could be in line for top jobs later on if their stars shine as a result of their task force work. outsiders will be included in each of the working groups, but career employees will predominate on the committees. In addition, affected federal agencies will supply and also run in-house programs dealing with the reorganization.
Some of the changes that could result from the task force studies and recommendations include:
The splitting of half a million clerical, administrative and technical white-collar workers away from the General Schedule pay system, which deals with nationwide rates for jobs. Instead, employees in those government occupations would be linked to the prevailing private industry rate in 100 or more localities.
Creation of a moderately high-risk executive corps (perhaps dipping as low as Grade 14) of employees who would trade off tenure and some other job guarantees for fast-action, fast-promotion policy and managerial jobs, serving at the will of the agency head.
Combination of various federal pay systems (like the Foreign Service and Veterans Administration medical schedule) into the regular white-collar GS pay system.
A new, quicker internal appeals system designed to shorten the time it takes to discipline, fire or clear an employee in adverse personnel actions.
A labor-management code for the government and its workers.
Whatever the final makeup of the task forces, it is a good bet that employees who get in on the ground floor in the planning stages will be in line later for more important, better-paying jobs in the new, revised bureaucracy.