One year after the start of the bureaucracy's reformation, Uncle Sam is:
Hiring more women, minorities and outsiders for top jobs than ever before.
Cutting red tape that had stifled creativity.
Handling labor and personal job disputes quicker.
Providing a forum for whistle-blowers to do their thing without fear of exile or retribution.
Setting up a merit pay system that will remind managers and superiors, with each paycheck, how well they are doing their jobs.
While not everybody in goverment service would agree with all the above, that is what came out of the first annual report to the stockholders -- the taxpayers -- yesterday. Those reporting were the three top officials who jobs were created by the Civil Services Reform Act. It went into effect last January.
To show that not all is completely well, the press conference had to be held on neutral soil -- the State Department.
The officials making the report were Ronald W. Haughton, chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority; Ruth T. Prokop, chair of the Merit Systems Protection Board, and Alan K. Campbell, director of the Office of Personnel Management. All three agencies sprang from the old Civil Service Commission, which was abolished by the reform act.
Haughton said his agency, which acts as referee in labor-management fights, has taken new authority from the reform law and cut its backlog of 1,000 inherited cases to 50. Encouraging informal, lower-level settlements has helped the agency keep its head above water.
But Haughton said it is now getting four times as many unfair labor practices cases as it did when it was part of the CSC. (Haughton thinks that is a good sign, since it indicates a healthier, more active labor-management program in government.)
Prokop said her new whistle-blower protecting agency has cut back on the "mountain of cases" it inherited, and expanded "due process" for employes who allege illegal or improper actions have been taken against them.
Prokop says the merit board has struck a balance between protecting genuine whistle-blowers from reprisals and employes who try to cover incompetence or other job related problems by claiming to be whistle-blowers.Her agency, which can order agencies to reinstate workers or block transfers is now beginning a major oversight operation into sexual harassment in government.
Campbell, director of the OPM, said the major benefits of reform are yet to come. He said installation of merit pay systems in agencies will result in better management (it will be limited to Grade 13 through 15 supervisors-managers) and improved morale, at least among those who get merit raises.
Campbell said he was delivering an upbeat report because reform has done well and promises better still.
The OPM chief said the new Senior Executive Service already is proving its value. He noted that 98 percent of the Grade 16 through 18 executives eligible for the high-risk, high-reward SES joined it and appear to like the "new challenges." Campbell said more women, minorities and outsiders are coming into the "supergrade" federal ranks, which have traditionally been in-house, white male preserves.
Campbell reported that the new system, which makes it easier to fire incompetents probably will not produce a big rash of firings. The reason for this, he said, is that the existence of the system has "already changed the atmosphere" in some agencies, since both workers and bosses know the system is there.