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USA CIVIL SERVICE EXAM: In the United States, the federal civil service is defined as “any office appointed by the federal administration, whether in executive, legislative or judicial power, with the exception of those services that are uniformed.


At the beginning of the 19th century, officials were freely appointed by the president – and therefore, they were also freely dismissed. This way of managing the public function implied a politicization of the civil service. This situation was modified by the Pendleton Act of 1883 and subsequent reforms. By 1909, some two-thirds of the civil servants in the service of the federal administration were already selected by criteria based on merit through oppositions. Since the entry into force of the Hatch Act of 1939, public employees are not allowed to carry out political activities during the time they remain in office, but certain positions of the high civil service, including some heads of diplomatic missions and government agencies they continue to be named based on their political allegiances.

Competitive service and Excepted service

At the federal level, in the United States, the public function is divided into Competitive service and Excepted service. Competitive service would be that general part of the public function in which the candidates compete with each other to achieve a position through an access exam. Excepted service, on the other hand, is that part of the administration related to intelligence, the diplomatic service and, in general, national security. In this case, whenever the access is taken into account the merits of the applicant, other factors are also determined by the agency or department to which access is sought. Examples of agencies that make up the Excepted service would be, among others, the FBI, the CIA or the National Security Agency.

Number of employees

According to figures provided by the Office of Personnel Management, as of December 2011, there were approximately 2,790,000 public employees at the service of the federal administration3 4 5 (non-uniformed personnel). These figures would include the three areas of power (legislative, executive and judicial) as well as the more than 600,000 employees of the Postal Service (United States Postal).


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