The Merit System Principles

The Merit System Principles: Guiding the Fair and Effective Management

of the Federal Workforce

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1 Select employees on the basis of ability, through fair and open competition, to attain a representative workforce.

2 Treat employees and applicants fairly and equitably, with proper regard for their privacy and constitutional rights.

3 Provide equal pay for work of equal value and recognize excellence in performance.

4 Maintain high standards of conduct and concern for the public interest.

5 Use the Federal workforce efficiently and effectively.

6 Retain employees on the basis of performance and address inadequate performance fairly and decisively.

7 Train and educate employees to improve individual and organizational performance.

8 Protect employees against favoritism, political coercion and arbitrary action and prohibit abuse of authority.

9 Protect employees against reprisal for whistleblowing

A Report to the President and the Congress of the United States by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board September 2016




U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board 1615 M Street, NW

Washington, DC 20419-0001

September 26, 2016

The President President of the Senate Speaker of the House of Representatives

Dear Sirs:

In accordance with the requirements of 5 U.S.C. § 1204(a)(3), it is my honor to submit this U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) report, The Merit System Principles: Guiding the Fair and Effective Management of the Federal Workforce. With the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, Congress codified the Merit System Principles (MSPs) and the Prohibited Personnel Practices (PPPs). Together, the MSPs and PPPs guide agency leaders in managing the Federal workforce and inform Federal officials and employees of their responsibilities and rights.

Our research shows that Federal employees believe their agencies have varying success—and substantial room for improvement—in achieving the vision of the MSPs. Notably, surveys revealed a belief among both Chief Human Capital Officers and human resources staff that employees at all levels lack knowledge about how to fully adhere to the MSPs and avoid PPPs.

MSPB recommends that agencies take steps to educate employees on the MSPs and PPPs. Specifically, agencies should ensure that all employees receive training that is timely, tailored to their level of responsibility, provided by experts, and delivered effectively. To that end, this report includes a resource guide that explains each MSP and summarizes findings and recommendations from recent MSPB reports.

Because the MSPs are the foundation for an effective, merit-based civil service, it is essential that Federal agencies understand and fully support them. I believe that you will find this report useful as you consider how to sustain and strengthen the Federal civil service.


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