(a) Merit personnel systems are based on the principle that an organization is best served by motivated, competent, honest and productive workers. In a merit system, employees are hired, promoted, rewarded, and retained on the basis of individual ability and fitness for employment without regard to race, color, sex, religion, age, or national origin. Central to this principle is the protection of employees from discrimination, improper political influence and personal favoritism.

Terms Used In 4 CFR 2.4

  • Equitable: Pertaining to civil suits in "equity" rather than in "law." In English legal history, the courts of "law" could order the payment of damages and could afford no other remedy. See damages. A separate court of "equity" could order someone to do something or to cease to do something. See, e.g., injunction. In American jurisprudence, the federal courts have both legal and equitable power, but the distinction is still an important one. For example, a trial by jury is normally available in "law" cases but not in "equity" cases. Source: U.S. Courts

(b) Equal employment opportunity is an integral part of every merit system. Affirmative action plans, designed to provide a work force reflective of the Nation’s diversity, must assure that both in operation and results the merit system reflects equal opportunity at every step of the personnel process.

(c) GAO personnel systems shall embody 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 substantially 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 work force should be used efficiently and effectively.

(6) Employees should be retained on the basis of the 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 protected against arbitrary action, personal favoritism, or coercion from partisan political purposes and prohibited from using their official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the results of an election or a nomination for election.

(9) Employees should be protected against reprisal for the lawful disclosure of information which the employee reasonably believes evidences: a violation of any law, rule or regulation; or mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.