Merit System Principles

Personnel management is based on and embodies the Merit System Principles. The merit system principles are the public's expectations of a system that is efficient, effective, fair, open to all, free from political interference, and staffed by honest, competent, and dedicated employees. As the Department of Army experiences continued change in the management of human resources (centralization, deregulation, delegation, etc.), it becomes increasingly important that line supervisors and managers incorporate the merit system principles into every decision process they use.

The merit system principles are:

    1. Recruit qualified individuals from all segments of society and select and advance employees on the basis of merit after fair and open competition which assures that all receive equal opportunity.

    2. Treat employees and applicants fairly and equitably, without regard to political affiliation, race, color, religion, national origin sex, martial status, age, or handicapping condition, and with proper regard for their privacy and constitutional rights.

    3. Provide equal pay for equal work and recognize excellent performance.

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

    5. Manage employees efficiently and effectively.

    6. Retain and separate employees on the basis of their performance.

    7. Educate and train employees when it will result in better organizational or individual performance.

    8. Protect employees from arbitrary action, personal favortism, or coercion for partisan political purposes.

    9. Protect employees against reprisal for the lawful disclosure of information in "whistleblower" situation (i.e., protecting people who report things like illegal and/or wasteful activities).


U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) The OSC is an independent investigative and prosecutorial Executive branch agency. Its mission is to:

  • Receive and investigate allegations of prohibited personnel practices;
  • Provide secure channel for disclosure of violations of law, gross mismanagement, waste of funds, etc. (whistleblowing).
  • Enforce Hatch Act (restrictions on political activity).

    Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB is an independent agency in the Executive branch that serves as the guardian of the Federal Merit Systems. The MSPB's mission is:

    • Hearing and deciding employee appeals from agency actions;

    • Hearing and deciding cases brought by the Office of Special Counsel involving alleged abuses of the merit systems;

    • Conducting special studies of the civil service; and

    • Providing oversight of significant actions and regulations of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to determine if they are in accord with merit system

Content last reviewed: 1/7/2005-SKH


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This page was last revised: 11/23/2011