The Volcker Alliance and Partnership for Public Service Issue Joint Statement on 40th Anniversary of Civil Service Reform Act


The Volcker Alliance
Neilia Stephens

Partnership for Public Service
Onamé Thompson


WASHINGTON – The Partnership for Public Service and the Volcker Alliance join together today to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Civil Service Reform Act and to highlight the goals and principles guiding Renewing America’s Civil Service – a joint initiative to overhaul the outdated federal service system. The two nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations, dedicated to improving government effectiveness, also offer support for initiatives announced today by the administration to address critical skill gaps in the federal workforce.

Partnership for Public Service President and CEO Max Stier released the following statement.

“In 1978, Congress and the president took bold steps to update civil service laws that had not been touched in decades. They enshrined the merit system principles in law to guard against corruption and established a new framework for managing federal personnel. While the merit system principles remain a bedrock, much of the framework governing hiring, pay and performance management is outdated,” said Stier.

“Today the administration announced steps to address critical skill gaps in fields such as cybersecurity, IT and STEM disciplines. While we have not seen full details, the goals of these new initiatives are consistent with the principles of Renewing America’s Civil Service. The Partnership and the Volcker Alliance commend the administration for focusing on hiring and pay challenges, and for reaffirming the importance of the merit system principles. However, it is imperative that Congress and the White House work together to examine and legislatively address the full range of important civil service issues next year.”

The Volcker Alliance President Thomas W. Ross added to Stier’s sentiment with the following statement.

“It has been 40 years since the last meaningful civil service reform legislation. Currently, hiring practices in government are antiquated, overly burdensome and not competitive with the faster moving private sector. It is time for government to adapt to market trends,” said Ross. “Today’s announcement by OPM shows a positive shift in how the federal government plans to address critical hiring needs. The goals outlined by OPM today appear to align with the Renewing America’s Civil Service initiative.”

The passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 marked the last time that Congress comprehensively addressed federal personnel management. The creation of the federal pay and classification structure dates back even further to 1949. In today’s fast-paced, knowledge-based world, the federal government still operates in a decades-old civil service framework designed for a workforce that was largely clerical. The government’s way of managing talent makes little sense for today’s workforce, which increasingly is comprised of individuals with professional and technical skills.

The joint effort of the Partnership and the Volcker Alliance have resulted in a set of goals and principles for today’s leaders. These goals and principles are grounded in the belief that good government starts with good people, and that the longstanding merit system principles foster political neutrality, diversity and stability of the federal workforce – all of which are essential to building and restoring the trust of the American people in their government.  Inspiring public service—and ensuring that the government can attract and retain top talent—is a critical responsibility of our government’s leaders. To read through a complete list of Renewing America’s Civil Service guiding goals and principles click here.

The Partnership for Public Service and the Volcker Alliance developed these goals and principles with the assistance of an advisory panel of leaders who have had senior executive experience in both the public and private sectors:

Paul A. Volcker, chair of the advisory panel; chairman, The Volcker Alliance; former chairman, Federal Reserve Board of Governors
Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University; former governor of Indiana and former director of the Office of Management and Budget
Tom Davis, director, federal government affairs, Deloitte; former congressman from Virginia and former chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Ted Kaufman, former senator from Delaware
Lester Lyles, chairman of the board, USAA; former Air Force vice chief of staff and former commander of Air Force Materiel Command
Hank Paulson, chairman, Paulson Institute; former secretary of the Treasury and former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs
Penny Pritzker, co-founder and chairman, PSP Capital Partners and Pritzker Realty Group; former secretary of Commerce

During the past 17 years, the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service has been dedicated to making the federal government more effective for the American people. We work across administrations to help transform the way government operates by increasing collaboration, accountability, efficiency and innovation. Visit to learn more. Follow us on social @RPublicService and subscribe today to get the latest federal news, information on upcoming Partnership programs and events, and more.

The Volcker Alliance advances effective management of government to achieve results that matter to citizens. The nonpartisan Alliance works toward that objective by partnering with other organizations—academic, business, governmental, and public interest—to strengthen professional education for public service, conduct needed research on government performance, and improve the efficiency and accountability of governmental organization at the federal, state, and local levels. Visit to learn more. Follow us on social @VolckerAlliance and subscribe to the Volcker Alliance newsletter for the latest news and developments. The Volcker Alliance is a 501(c)(3) organization.


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