Published Date

January 1, 1946

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 38: Who Should Choose a Civil Service Career? (1946)

Civil service employment appeals strongly to lots of people; to many others it has practically no appeal in comparison to the opportunities and advantages they visualize in the varied fields of private enterprise.

The title of this pamphlet, Who Should Choose a Civil Service Career? raises a question that any group can discuss. Answers to that- question may vary widely in any discussion group. The important thing is for the discussion leader to plan his program so that the most significant advantages and disadvantages of a civil service career will be adequately covered.


How can civil service be discussed?

Readers of this pamphlet are probably interested individually in the best future jobs for themselves, or socially in the problem of helping others find the right jobs.

Discussion group leaders can bring out the advantages and disadvantages of civil service employment by any one of several methods: forum, panel, symposium, or informal group discussion. The desired goal is to conduct the discussion in a way that will be most interesting and beneficial to the members of any particular discussion group. The leader’s role is important in any type of discussion.

In a forum the discussion leader acts as chairman, introduces the principal speaker, and presides while the speaker answers questions from members of the group. A forum speaker should be familiar with both the advantages and disadvantages of civil service employment.

Two or more speakers usually participate in a panel. They ask and answer questions among themselves in a somewhat conversational manner while members of the discussion group look on. The discussion leader, acting as chairman, introduces the speakers, helps keep their discussion on major aspects of the subject, and then presides while members of the discussion-group question members of the panel. Panel members should read this pamphlet and other material on civil service before the meeting and have their discussion well outlined.

The leader’s role in the symposium resembles that of the forum. One speaker could discuss the advantages of civil service employment, and a second could discuss its disadvantages. A third might speak on civil service applications, and a fourth speaker could discuss veterans preferences.

If members of the discussion group are given an opportunity to read this pamphlet or other materials on civil service before the: meeting, or if several persons in the group have firsthand knowledge of civil service employment, the subject might be covered satisfactorily by devoting the entire meeting to informal discussion. The discussion leader would introduce the subject, then start off the discussion by raising one or more major questions and inviting members of the group to express their own ideas.

The leader’s preparation of the program and his manner of actually conducting the meeting will largely determine whether the discussion will be successful. Members of a group will quickly sense whether the leader is well informed, whether he is objective and impartial, and whether he really encourages members of his group to get into the discussion. The successful leader will be well informed, sincere, objective, and informal; he will not try to dominate the discussion or to inflict a prejudiced point of view on his group.

Leaders will find numerous suggestions for planning and conducting discussion meetings in EM 1,Guide for Discussion Leaders. EM 90,GI Radio Roundtable, will be a helpful guide for persons faced with the problem of conducting discussion meetings by radio or on loud-speaker systems of the Armed Forces Radio Service. Both pamphlets arelisted at the end of this pamphlet among “Other GI Roundtable Subjects.”

Questions to stimulate discussion

Important questions are raised in the main headings and subheads of this pamphlet. Further questions which discussion leaders may find helpful are suggested below.

  1. Why do the activities of government today require personnel that is more highly trained than those of 20 or 30 years ago? Who should determine the policies of government? Who should be responsible for executing those policies? What should be the proper division of functions between the elected and appointed personnel?
  2. Is the spoils system necessary to maintain the party system of government? Are there loopholes in present civil service practice whereby the spoils system may be practiced and the merit system defeated? Does merely passing a civil service law insure the maintenance of honest and efficient government? Why is an alert public opinion necessary to guard the merit principle?
  3. Do you approve of the classification plan in civil service? Should civil service be applied more generally to city and county government? Should the civil service principle be applied in the hiring and firing of public school teachers?
  4. Does career service in government make for greater efficiency? Should government service be regarded as a profession? Could the organization of government be simplified without reducing efficiency? Is so-called “red tape” of government necessary?
  5. In addition to having a Civil Service Commission, is it necessary to have a personnel management office in each department and agency of government? Why are employee relations offices important for government workers? Should administrators and supervisors be given special training in personnel management?
  6. What types of individuals should stay out of civil service employment? In civil service employment which is more important: to have security or to have an opportunity to serve the public? What types of individuals should be particularly encouraged to go into government work?
  7. Does national, state, county, or city government offer the greatest opportunities for service? For advancement or the individual worker? What are some advantages and disadvantages of foreign service?
  8. Is the “reserved occupation for veterans” idea sound public policy? Should civil service positions require higher educational requirements? Does career service for government employees tend to create “bureaucrats”? Does private enterprise have its “bureaucrats”? Should public employees be encouraged to get private experience and then re-enter-government service? Are civil service opportunities for individual talents and personal initiative as neat as those in private enterprise? In what ways do you think civil service could be improved?


For Further Reading

These books are suggested for supplementary reading if you have access to them or wish to purchase them from the publishers. They are not approved nor officially supplied by the War Department. They have been selected because they give additional information and represent different points of view.

Better Government Personnel. By Commission of Inquiry on Public Service Personnel. Published by McGraw-Hill Book Co., 330 West 42d St., New York 18, N. Y. (1935). $2.00.

Trained Personnel for Public Service. By Katharine A. Frederic. Published by National League of Women Voters, 726 Jackson Place, N. W., Washington, D. C. (1935). 25 cents.

The Business Value of the Merit System. By National Civil Service Reform League, 67 West 44th St., New York 18, N. Y. (1941). Free on request.

Civil Service in Modern Government: A Study of the Merit System. By National Civil Service Reform League (1936). 25 cents.

Your Federal Civil Service. By James C. O’Brien and Philip P. Marenberg. Published by Funk and Wagnalls Co., 354 Fourth Ave., New York 17, N. Y. (1940). $2.50.

Opportunities in Government Employment. By Lawrence J. O’Rourke. Published by Garden City Publishing Co., Garden City, New York 20, N. Y. (1940). $1.00.

History of the Federal Civil Service, 1789 to the Present. By United States Civil Service Commission. Published by United States Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. (1941). 25 cents.