Employment with the Federal Government is governed by laws which go above and beyond what is required for the private sector. Congress has established principles that are designed to make sure that similar work receives similar pay, across the entire government.
The Merit System Principles are nine basic standards governing the management of the executive branch workforce. The principles are part of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, and can be found at 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b), which is quoted below.
The Pendleton Act of 1883 replaced the political patronage system that had existed until that time with a merit-based system for filling most civil service positions. The drafters of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 believed that this merit-based system had broken down over the ensuing century. Thus, they codified the merit principles and created a new agency, the Merit Systems Protection Board, as the "vigorous protector of the merit system."
Consult the sub-topics from the menu to your right to learn more about how the Merit System Principles are implemented throughout the Federal Government using Pay Plans, Pay Grades, Job Series, and Locality Pay differentials
SECTION 2301, TITLE 5, UNITED STATES CODE
(b) Federal personnel management should be implemented consistent with the following merit system principles:
1.Recruitment should be from qualified individuals from appropriate sources in an endeavor to achieve a work force from all segments of society, and selection and advancement should be determined solely on the basis of relative ability, knowledge and skills, after fair and open competition which assures that all receive equal opportunity.
2.All employees and applicants for employment should receive fair and equitable treatment in all aspects of personnel management without regard to political affiliation, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or handicapping condition, and with proper regard for their privacy and constitutional rights.
3.Equal pay should be provided for work of equal value, with appropriate consideration of both national and local rates paid by employers in the private sector, and appropriate incentives and recognition should be provided for excellence in performance.
4.All employees should maintain high standards of integrity, conduct, and concern for the public interest.
5.The Federal work force should be used efficiently and effectively.
6.Employees should be retained on the basis of adequacy of their performance, inadequate performance should be corrected, and employees should be separated who cannot or will not improve their performance to meet required standards.
7.Employees should be provided effective education and training in cases in which such education and training would result in better organizational and individual performance.
8.Employees should be--
A. protected against arbitrary action, personal favoritism, or coercion for partisan political purposes, and
B. prohibited from using their official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for election.
9.Employees should be protected against reprisal for the lawful disclosure of information which the employees reasonably believe evidences--
A.a violation of any law, rule,