What is the Pendleton Act of 1883?
The Pendleton Act of 1883 (also referred to as the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act) is a federal law that stipulated that government jobs should only be awarded based on merit and not on nepotism, favoritism or political affiliations. The Pendleton Civil Service Act provided, through the implementation of competitive exams, a framework for hiring government employees.
Crated during the Chester A. Arthur Administration, The Pendleton Civil Service Act, served as an answer to the tremendous public support of civil service reform that evolved after the assassination of James Garfield. Despite his previous love for the spoils system, Arthur became an adamant supporter of the Pendleton Service Act and civil reform in general. The Pendleton Act was formally passed into law in January of 1883.
The Pendleton Civil Service act was sponsored George H. Pendelton, a Democratic Senator of Oho, and written by Dorman Eaton, a steadfast opponent of the spoils system.
The Pendleton Act of 1883 made it illegal to demote or fire employees of the government on the premise of political affiliations or sentiments. To enforce this meritocracy, the Pendleton Act of 1883 also established the United States Civil Service Commission.
The Pendleton Act of 1883 only applied to Federal Government jobs; the enforcement powers of the legislation did not carry over to state or local jobs that were the foundation for political machines. As a result, the Pendleton Act
What is the United States Civil Service Commission?
Created in conjunction with the Pendleton Act, the United States Civil Service Commission is a three-man board that administers the civil service of the United States Federal Government. Created in response to the assassination of James Garfield by Charles Guiteau (a distressed man who was rejected from a government position) the United States Civil Service Commission aimed to end the spoils system (also referred to as patronage).
The Laws surrounding the Commission required applicants to take the newly-formed civil service exam; a passing grade was needed to apply for certain jobs. This test, in addition to creating a prerequisite for civil posts, the law impeded elected officials from firing civil servants from the influences of partisanship and political patronage.
The United States Civil Service Commission was split in January of 1978 between the Merit System Protection Board and the Office of Personnel Management. Other functions of the superseded Commission were placed under jurisdiction of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the Office of Special Counsel and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Why was the Pendleton Act Necessary?
Although the earliest Presidents offered Federal appointments based on skill and merit, subsequent administrations deviated from this policy. When Andrew Jackson took office in 1828, the “spoils system”, where political supporters and friends were unquestionably rewarded with federal posts, was in full swing.
The abuses and flaws of the spoils system yielded an inefficient and dangerous government. Political appointees were required to spend egregious sums of time and money on politically-based activities; these funds ultimately could have helped domestic and international problems. As the federal bureaucracy expanded, leaders of the Administration (most notably the President) were perpetually harassed by job seekers.
In Andrew Jackson’s administration, there were roughly 20,000 Federal workers; by 1884, this number ballooned to nearly 130,000. Furthermore, with the shift to an industrialized society, these federal jobs required more specialization and skilled-workers.
The Pendleton Civil Service Act transformed the nature of public service and the requirements associated with hiring federal employees.
Specifics Surrounding the Pendleton Act: What does it Say?
The premise of the Pendleton Act is that government jobs should be given based on merit and skill, as oppose to political affiliation or favoritism. In addition to the provisions mentioned earlier, the Pendleton Act also forbade employees to give political contributions or services to their respective parties.
The Pendleton Civil Service Act regulates and improves the civil service of the nation. By implementing tests and eliminating the spoils system, federal jobs are appointed based on specific skill sets and merit.
The Pendleton Act was enacted by the House of Representatives and the Senate to declare that the President is formally authorized to appoint, with the consent of the Senate, three individuals (no more than two shall be adherents of the same party) to assume the role as Civil Service Commissioners. These commissioners, who constitute the Civil Service Commission, may be removed, at any time, by the President of the United States. The vacancies left behind are filled accordingly based on the President’s wishes and with the advice of the Senate to conform to said conditions stipulated in the act.
Each commissioner is given an annual salary of $3,500 (this number obviously increased) and the individual remained salaried if he was discharged from his post.