Established the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) as a federal analogue to the National Labor Relations Board in the private sector, including formalization in law of employees' rights to join unions and engage in collective bargaining on certain subjects.
Established a system of productivity-related merit pay for GS-13 to GS-15 federal employees (those just below the SES levels), financing this through a reduction in previous comparability (cost of living) increases.
Provided explicit protection for "whistle-blowers" and employees calling attention to government malpractices.
Set up experiments giving line managers more control over personnel decisions.
The MSPB was authorized by the l978 act to adjudicate appeals for federal employees or job applicants. The MSPB, through its special counsel, was given the power to subpoena, the power to require agencies to investigate and report on whistle-blowers' allegations of agency malpractice, and the power to refer possible criminal acts to the Attorney General's office for prosecution. The MSPB special counsel will, like ombudspeople, keep a public list of noncriminal matters referred to it by whistle-blowers. The MSPB was also given the following disciplinary powers: removal, grade reduction, suspension, reprimand, up to five years' debarment from federal employment, and up to $l,000 in civil fines. Disciplinary action against presidential appointees, however, will be referred by the counsel to the president rather than to the MSPB.
The Senior Executive Service (SES) was composed of non-presidentially appointed officials above the GS-l5 level of the general personnel schedule and below Level III of the executive schedule. The FBI, CIA, DIA, NSA, GAO, Foreign Service and government corporations' employees are exempt from the SES. For other agencies, the OPM determines the number of SES positions every two years. SES positions need not be staffed by normal career civil service procedures, though the OPM is required to set criteria for judging SES candidates for career positions. Also,no more than l0 percent of all SES positions may be staffed by noncareer appointees and at least 70 percent of SES positions must be filled by individuals having five or more continuous years of civil service experience just before their SES appointment.
A key feature of the SES is the requirement that each agency set up an annual performance review system for each SES employee, in accord with OPM regulations. These performance reviews were to be the basis for either incentive bonuses or possible removal from the SES. Annually up to 5 percent of SES employees were to be named "meritorious executives" and given incentive bonuses of up to $l0,000. Up to l percent were to be designated "distinguished executives" and receive $20,000 bonuses. Other SES employees were to receive up to 20 percent of their base pay for performance awards, though no more than 50 percent of an agency's SES employees could receive such an award in a given year.
At the same time, a skeptical Congress cut the percentage of SES members eligible for bonuses form 50% to 25%, and the Reagan administration trimmed it further to only 20%. This spread cynicism throughout the senior civil service, a cynicism reinforced by inequities created by certain rulings of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Again, calls arose for reuniting the functions of the OPM, FLRA and MSPB to achieve a coordinated personnel policy.
Overall, the CSRA had far less impact than anticipated. Budget processes and evaluation practices in the departments changed little. Later Reagan administration personnel reforms focused on efficiencies to be achieved in payroll automation and standardization and less on the broader issues raised by the proponents of the CSRA.
Source: D. Garson, by permission.