Two nonprofit groups dedicated to helping federal agencies improve their operations are merging in an effort to expand the services they offer.

The Private Sector Council, founded in 1983, will fold into the Partnership for Public Service, which was established in 2001. They announced the merger Friday.

Max Stier, president of the partnership, said the merger was proposed by Pete Smith, the council's president. "We are interested in the same result, the same mission, and we can better enable both organizations to achieve more by coming together," Stier said.

Smith said the merger will provide "a much more effective way of bringing private-sector capability into the government through a larger organization."

The council has operated with four staff members and a $1 million annual budget, but its influence in the government has been much larger. Federal agencies faced with tough management problems contact it to find corporate executives willing to volunteer time and offer advice on solutions. The council has worked on about 400 such projects since it began.

The partnership has operated with about two dozen staff members and a $5 million budget. It sponsors awards to honor federal employees, finances research and surveys aimed at improving the image of federal careers and promotes legislation and other efforts to improve federal recruitment.

Stier said the merger will strengthen the partnership by allowing it to expand its contacts with the business community through the council. The council will continue to operate under its name, as a program offered by the partnership, Stier said.

Smith said he will help the council make the transition and then serve as a consultant. The merger, he said, will allow him to move into "semi-retirement" and spend time traveling and writing.