The White House’s budget proposal, noting that “the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 turns 40 this year,” says that “it is time to reconsider where that law has succeeded and where it has failed.”

The document cites reports from the GAO, OPM, the National Academy of Public Administration and “scores of books and articles” saying that policies under that law contribute to the government’s difficulties in recruiting, rewarding and otherwise managing the workforce it needs.

The basic GS pay system, dating to a very different government just after World War II, is “insensitive to both market forces and individual performance,” it says, resulting in a patchwork of “statutory fixes devised to bypass the existing system. Such laws typically allow specific agen-cies to work around intractable parts of the outdated civil service structure.”

The administration “intends to partner with Congress to cull statutory and regulatory rules that have over time created an in¬creasingly incomprehensible and unmanageable civil service system,” the budget says.

“The administration will propose changes in hiring and dismissal procedures to empower federal managers with greater flexibility,” it says. “Agency managers will be encouraged to restore management prerogatives that have been ceded to federal labor unions and create a new partnership with these entities that maintains the prima¬cy of each agency’s obligation to efficiently and effectively accomplish its public mission.”

Among areas of interest it named are: appeals processes that discourage management from taking disciplinary action against employees who are “simply unable or unwilling to perform at acceptable levels”; the “failure of federal performance management systems to adequately differentiate the performance of individuals”; and union contracts that “can have a significant impact on agency performance, workplace productivity and employee satisfaction. The administration sees an opportunity for progress on this front and intends to overhaul labor-management relations.”

Details were left for later, however; some may come in a management agenda document projected to be released in March.