Get access

The Federal Civil Service: The Demise of an Institution


James R. Thompson is an associate professor in the Graduate Program in Public Administration at the University of Illinois–Chicago where he teaches courses in public personnel management, information technology, and public management. Before earning his doctorate, he worked in local government in New York state at the city and county levels. His research focuses on organizational change and bureaucratic reform in the public sector and the modernization of human resource management practices in government. He and Dr. Hal Rainey are currently working on a book on the modernization of the Internal Revenue Service. E-mail:


Recent changes in federal personnel practices, ostensibly for the purpose of “performance,” serve to deprive the civil service of its moral content and hence to undermine its viability as an institution.