President Carter's first legislative proposal for streamlining the federal bureaucracy is not expected to make any change in the way the government's 750,000 clerical, technical and administrative workers are paid. Nor is it likely to include any significant changes in federal labor-management relations.
Administration officials have sent tentative outlines of the civil service reform package to key federal agency chiefs, asking them to comment by Feb. 17 so that a package can be sent to the president for his approval. Civil Service reform is one of the key elements of the president's 1978 legislative program, and insiders say the White House hopes to have a bill calling for major, far-reaching changes ready for Congress by March 1.
The president has approved some of the major changes in general, but has not given his final okay to the reform package. He won't until sometime after Feb. 17 when agency comments are back, and the Civil Service Commission and Office of Management and Budget work up their final recommendations. The package is of vital importance to the bureaucracy because it will suggest changes in the way government workers are hired, paid, promoted, disciplined and fired. Since the mood of the country seems to be in favor of some "reform" of the government, and Democrats dominate Congress, the President's plans are expected generally to have smooth sailing.
Some flak already has developed as a result of press reports, and administration statements, on such items as the care and feeling of executives, major changes in paying supervisors and rank-and-file employes, and union relations, and a watering down of veteran's preference benefits.
Key personnel officials were briefed yesterday on the current status of the "reform" proposals at a closely guarded session in the Civil Service Commission. They were given copies of the proposals that also were sent Monday to key political appointees in departments and agencies for their comments.
Generally, the reform proposals follow the lines already reported. They suggest Senior Executive Service for top federal and political managers who would be given the chance for quick advancement, bonuses and added mobility, in return for more on-the-job risk taking.
The proposals also say that employes should be put on probation when moved up to midlevel supervisory jobs and include other plans for streamlining appeals system to make personnel actions - from hiring to firing - move quicker.
The newest round of proposals does not mention labor-management "reform" - which has made union leaders touchy - and it doesn't propose splitting the government work force along clerical vs. professional lines for pay purposes.
Under the latter plan, a rehash of a report worked up by former Vice President Rockfeller, the government's clerical, technical and administrative employes would be taken off the national federal pay scale. Instead, their salaries would be linked to the going rate for similar jobs in private industry.
Many federal workers feel they would lose out in that deal. Their unions are prepared to fight it. Insiders at the meeting yesterday believe CSC-OMB have decided not to include that controversial pay plan in the first draft they send to the President, and he to Congress. They think it could kick up enough opposition to block other sections of the streamlining bill that the president wants passed fast.