Federal officials believe the government, which now fires about one employe each workday for inefficiency, will step up that rate next year when streamlined dismissal procedures in the civil service "reform" take effect.
Both the Senate and House have cleared versions of the president's reorganization bill by overwhelming margins. Insiders expect a compromise package will be on Carter's desk within weeks.
One of the key provisions of the bill is designed to speed up procedures the government uses to fire "incompetents." The White House insists that it is too tough now, arguing that of the 19,955 people fired last year of all causes, only 226 got the ax because they were inefficient.
President Carter and his advisers believe that an outfit the size of the U.S. government - with 2.8 million civilian employes - must have more than 200 people each year who deserve the sack because they are inefficient.
While assuring civil servants and unions that the reforms will not mean a new firing binge, they do believe - and have managed to convince Congress - that the protective layers of hearings, appeals and burden of proof designed to protect bureaucrats from unfair pressure have made it almost impossible to get rid of people who just don't have it.
Of the nearly 20,000 fired last year for all reasons, government data shows that 2,287 resigned when threatened with dismissal. Another 4,261 were fired during their first-year probation period and 3,164 were fired for misconduct, which covers everything from untreatable alcoholism and drug abuse to punching out the boss or harassing fellow workers.
Another 418 people were fired for "suitability reasons" meaning that something in their background check made them unsuitable, in the governments eyes, for the job they held. As intriguing figure in the government dismissal statistics is the 6,557 who were fired for a variety or reasons that are not listed in the official firing explanations.
Government officials say that dismissals from the federal service range from a high of 23,000 to a low of about 12,000 a year. Over the past three years, the numbers fired were 18,891 during the 1975 fiscal year, 17,217 in 1976 and 19,905 in 1977.
Both President Carter and Civil Service Commission Chairman Alan K. Campbell downplay the new firing powers of the reform bill. They argue that the mere introduction of easier firing methods should serve to perk up marginal employes to do better work and motivate managers to help them out or get them out.
Some government officials concede in private that the difficulty of firing an employe for "inefficiency" has forced managers to resort to other charges - ranging from misconduct to medical reasons - to get rid of employes. IF they are correct, the new methods may introduce honesty into the always tricky business of firing anybody from any job. If they are wrong or the system is badly used by managers, the "reform" will be just another club the big guys use on the little guys. Statistics will not tell the full story, of course, but it will be interesting to look at the government firing picture this time next year.