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United States federal civil service

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  • J. Michael Farren
    John Michael Farren (born 1953 in West Hartford, Connecticut) is a former American attorney who served as Deputy White House Counsel in the Office of Counsel to the President under the 43rd President...
  • Hon. William H. Potter (1816 - 1887)
    "William H. Potter was born at Potter Hill, R. I., Aug. 26, 1816. He was the seventh in descent from Vincent Potter, one of the judges who condemned Charles I. of England to death, and the family histo...
  • Jack Z. Anderson, U.S. Congress (1904 - 1981)
    John Zuinglius Anderson, a Representative from California; born in Oakland, Alameda County, Calif., March 22, 1904; moved with his parents to Santa Cruz, Calif., the same year, and to San Jose, Calif...
  • Sgt. (USA), Benjamin Jacobs (1841 - 1923)
    Benjamin Jacobs served in the Union Army during the Civil War in the 90th New York Infantry. He enlisted on 8 Oct 1861 in Brooklyn, NY into Company G with the rank of Private. He was promoted to the ra...
  • C. Louis Kincannon (1940 - 2012)
    Charles Louis Kincannon (December 9, 1940 – December 15, 2012) was an American statistician who served as the Director of the United States Census Bureau from 2002 to 2008. Kincannon had joined the C...

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United States federal civil service

In the United States, the federal civil service was established in 1871. The Federal Civil Service is defined as "all appointive positions in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, except positions in the uniformed services." (5 U.S.C. § 2101). In the early 19th century, positions in the federal government were held at the pleasure of the president—a person could be fired at any time. The spoils system meant that jobs were used to support the American political parties, though this was gradually changed by the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and subsequent laws. By 1909, almost two-thirds of the U.S. federal workforce was appointed based on merit, that is, qualifications measured by tests. Certain senior civil service positions, including some heads of diplomatic missions and executive agencies are filled by political appointees. Under the Hatch Act of 1939, civil servants are not allowed to engage in political activities while performing their duties.

According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), as of December 2011, there were approximately 2.79 million civil servants (civilian, i.e. non-uniformed) employed by the US Government. (This includes executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. This also includes more than 600,000 United States Postal workers.)

The U.S. civil service includes the Competitive service and the Excepted service. The majority of civil service appointments in the U.S. are made under the Competitive Service, but certain categories in the Diplomatic Service, the FBI, and other National Security positions are made under the Excepted Service. (U.S. Code Title V)

U.S. state and local government entities often have competitive civil service systems that are modeled on the national system, in varying degrees.

List of federal agencies in the United States