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Federal Government to Abandon Written Civil Service Exams in Hiring

June 23, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Reagan administration is set to use college grade point averages and scores from a job-related skills test to hire individuals for government service, abandoning the traditional civil service written examination, according to a published report.

The Washington Post reported in Thursday’s editions that the Office of Personnel Management would announce Thursday that it will drop the written examination requirement and allow college graduates with grades between 3.0 and 3.25 on a 4.0 scale to be hired on the spot by government agency recruiters.

Others could be hired after passing an Individual Achievement Record skills test which OPM said measures ″the full range of relevant personal qualities required for successful job performance.″

″We want the strongest possible civil service and we’re going to get it under this plan″ OPM Director Constance Horner told the newspaper.

She said the current system is ″intellectually confusing, procedurally nightmarish, inaccessible to students and very difficult to explain.″

She said current testing procedures are ″so slow and cumbersome″ that many of the best candidates for jobs went elsewhere.

Horner said she hoped the details of the plan could be worked out so the government could begin using the new hiring system by next April.

But Robert M. Tobias, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, told the Post he had ″a lot of concern about Horner’s proposal.″

″Hiring on the basis of GPAs is contrary to congressional intent that hiring be done through a competitive exam that is nationwide in scope,″ he said.

Horner’s proposal also was criticized by her OPM predecessor, Donald Devine, as ″a sad day for the civil service when it can’t have an objective civil service exam.″

The government has had no entrance test for more than 100 jobs since 1982 when the Professional and Administrative Career Examination (PACE) was discarded after it was found to be racially discriminatory.

Since then, hiring has been done using a temporary special Schedule B process of interviews, recommendations and college grades that U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens ruled last year was declared ″arbitrary and capricious.″

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