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Judgment is needed to protect true merit

That managers are important in the operation of an entity is a commonplace. The proverbial statement that "A fish rots from the head down," apparently attributed to the Turks, is no doubt ancient in origin.

Nonetheless, the Ottoman Empire was known for having a complex bureaucracy, so it is apropos in discussing the federal government's employment practices and the work of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

The Board has issued a report reminding all federal agencies of the importance of qualified managers and their role in the hiring process. While technology has been developed and put in place to assist in the hiring of agency employees, the manager should still be using their judgment and discretion to select candidates for positions that demonstrate the efficacy and integrity of the Civil Service system.

When a manager defers to technology, favoritism or abdicates their role entirely through their general incompetence and  lack of understanding of the work being done by their employees, the agency or department can be deeply damaged.

It can spawn a great deal of acrimony, demoralization and dissention within an agency and tremendously complicate the ability of the department, division or group to accomplish the job they were all hired to do.

The MSPB points out that it is essential for the process to be fair and open, and that "human judgment" must be used to reach that result. Technology can help and may speed the process, but because of the complexity of many government jobs, the human manager must be qualified to make the appropriate decision.

Fedweek.com, "MSPB Stresses Role of Managers in Hiring," December 3, 2014

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