Attempts to win approval of a new D.C. personnel system prior to the City Council's summer recess have collapsed, apparently as a result of unresolved issues and political problems.
The council's Government Operations Committee voted last week to table the personnel legislation indefinitely, a move that probably will delay any action until after the Sept. 12 primary election.
All five members of the committee are running for renomination or for higher office in the primary election.
The proposed legislation would largely detach the D.C. personnel system from the rules and procedures of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, which the city has followed for many decades in dealing with most of its 45,000 employes.
Ultimately, a single salary scale would replace several different wage programs now in effect.
Adoption of the new system has been controversial, since many employes do not want to give up the annual wage increases and fringe benefits assured by the federal system. Others want the broadened union bargaining procedures for wages and working conditions that are provided in the new bill. The various city unions have not adopted a single unified position on the measure.
The city's home rule charter requires that the city put its own personnel system into effect by Jan 1, 1980. Officials say it will take a year to organize the new system and write the rules and regulations under which it will operate.
Council member Arrington Dixon (D-Ward 4), chairman of the Government Operations Committee, said he had hoped to win approval for the legislation last February. But the committee has delayed action at each of its twice-a-month meetings since then.
At most meetings, numerous amendments were adopted, creating some confusion among council members and observers over what was - and was not - included in the bill at any given moment.
Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson and Fire Chief Jefferson W. Lewis appeared jointly before last week's meeting to appeal for more power to enforce discipline among uniformed personnel than the bill now would provide.
When it became clear that the discipline provision and other questions would not be resolved at the session, council member Marion Barry (D-At Large) moved to table the bill. It was approved by a voice vote.
Barry, a candidate for mayor, explained that he was not ready to vote on the bill. Dixon, a candidate for council chairman, said the bill could be revived at any time, but would not speculate when that might happen.
George R. Harrod, D.C. personnel director, said the delay was "the wisest thing that could be done," regardless of who is elected mayor this year.
Harrod had complained publicly that some amendments added by the committee to the bill would give too much power to the municipal employe unions at the expense of the mayor's administrative authority.
Steve Koczak, assistant to the national president of the American Federation of Government Employes, which represents 8,000 city workers, said the committee "got caught off on some rather complex issues that overwhelmed their ability to resolve, and . . . decided to put it off until September when some political issues will be clarified."