Government » The American Bureaucracy » Toward a Merit-Based Civil Service

Toward a Merit-Based Civil Service Summary


The merit-based system of filling jobs in the government bureaucracy elevates ability and accountability over political loyalties. Unfortunately, this system also has its downsides. The most common complaint is that the bureaucrats are no longer as responsive to elected public officials as they once had been. This, however, may be a necessary tradeoff for the level of efficiency and specialization necessary in the modern world.

Practice Questions

  1. Briefly explain the benefits and drawbacks of a merit system.


1. A benefit of the merit system is that it helps to ensure the most qualified applicants are given the position. A drawback is that the bureaucracy is less responsive to the will of elected leaders than under patronage.


pay schedule: a chart that shows salary ranges for different levels of positions vertically and for different ranks of seniority horizontally

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