Civil Service Commission (United States)

The United States Civil Service Commission was a government agency of the federal government of the United States which was created to select employees of federal government on merit rather than relationships. In 1979, it was dissolved as part of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978; the Office of Personnel Management and the Merit Systems Protection Board are the successor agencies.


In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant and Congress passed Civil Service reform law that created the first United States Civil Service Commission, that was implemented by President Grant and funded for two years by Congress lasting until 1874. However, Congress who relied heavily on patronage, especially the Senate, did not renew funding of the Civil Service Commission. [1] President Grant's successor, President Rutherford B. Hayes requested a renewal of funding but none was granted.

President Hayes' successor, James A. Garfield, advocated Civil Service reform, but was assassinated by a rejected office seeker, Charles J. Guiteau, any legislation. Guiteau wanted a job via the spoils system, also known as patronage.

Pendleton law

President Garfield's successor, President Chester A. Arthur, took up the cause of Civil Service reform and was able to lobby Congress to pass the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act in 1883. The Pendleton law was passed in part due to public outcry over the assassination of President Garfield. The Pendleton Act renewed funding for the Civil Service Commission and stipulated a three-man commission to run Civil Service whose commissioners were chosen by President Arthur. The Civil Service Commission administered the civil service of the United States federal government.[2] The Pendleton law required certain applicants to take the civil service exam in order to be given certain jobs; it also prevented elected officials and political appointees from firing civil servants, removing civil servants from the influences of political patronage and partisan behavior.[3] President Arthur and succeeding Presidents continued to expand the authority of the Civil Service Commission and federal departments that the Civil Service was covered. The Civil Service Commission, in addition to reducing patronage, also alleviated the burdensome task of the President of the United States in appointing federal office seekers.

Under the Commission Model, policy making and administrative powers were given to semi-independent commission rather than to the president. Reformers believed that a commission formed outside of the president’s chain of command would ensure that civil servants would be selected on the basis of merit system and the career service would operate in a political neutrality fashion. Civil Service Commissions typically consisted of three to seven individuals appointed by the chief executive on a bipartisan basis and for limited terms. Commissioners were responsible for direct administration of personnel system, including rule-making authority, administration of merit examinations, and enforcement of merit rules.

1978 reorganization

Effective January 1, 1978, functions of the commission were split between the Office of Personnel Management and the Merit Systems Protection Board under the provisions of Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1978 (43 F.R. 36037, 92 Stat. 3783) and the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. In addition, other functions were placed under jurisdiction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

Chairmans of the commission

Name From Until
George W. Curtis[4] January 1, 1872 January 1, 1874
Dorman B. Eaton Mar 9, 1883 [5] Nov 1, 1885 (resigned) [6]
Alfred P. Edgerton Nov 9, 1885 [7] Feb 9, 1889 (removed) [7]
Charles Lyman May 13, 1889 [8] Dec 15, 1893 (resigned) [9]
John R. Procter Dec 15, 1893 [9] Dec 12, 1903 (died) [10]
John C. Black Jan 17, 1904 [11] Jun 10, 1913 (resigned) [12]
John A. McIlhenny Jun 12, 1913 [13] Feb 28, 1919 (resigned) [14]
Martin A. Morrison Mar 13, 1919 [14] Jul 14, 1921 (resigned) [15]
John H. Bartlett Jul 15, 1921 [15] Mar 12, 1922 (resigned) [15]
William C. Deming Mar 1, 1923 [16] Feb 6, 1930 (resigned) [17]
Thomas E. Campbell Jul 11, 1930 [18] c. 1933 (resigned)
Harry B. Mitchell May 19, 1933 [19] Feb 26, 1951 (resigned) [20]
Robert Ramspeck Mar 16, 1951 [21] Dec 31, 1952 (resigned) [22]
Philip Young Mar 23, 1953 [23] Feb 11, 1957 (resigned) [24]
Harris Ellsworth Apr 18, 1957 [25] Feb 28, 1959 (resigned) [25]
Roger W. Jones Mar 10, 1959 [26] Jan 4, 1961 (resigned) [27]
John W. Macy Mar 6, 1961 [28] Jan 18, 1969 (resigned) [29]
Robert E. Hampton Jan 18, 1969 [29] c. 1977 [30]
  • Alan K. Campbell, 1977-1978
  • Alan Campbell 1979–1981
  • Don Devine 1981–1985
  • Constance Horner 1985–1989
  • Constance Newman 1989–1993
  • Kay Coles James 2001–2005
  • Linda M. Springer 2005–2008
  • (Acting) Michael Hager 2008–2009
  • (Acting) Kathie Ann Whipple 2009

See also

  • United States civil service


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.