TITLE 5 - US CODE - CHAPTER 23 - MERIT SYSTEM PRINCIPLES

5 USC 2301 - Merit system principles

(a) This section shall apply to
(1) an Executive agency; and
(2) the Government Printing Office.
(b) Federal personnel management should be implemented consistent with the following merit system principles:

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(1) Recruitment should be from qualified individuals from appropriate sources in an endeavor to achieve a work force from all segments of society, and selection and advancement should be determined solely on the basis of relative ability, knowledge, and skills, after fair and open competition which assures that all receive equal opportunity.
(2) All employees and applicants for employment should receive fair and equitable treatment in all aspects of personnel management without regard to political affiliation, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or handicapping condition, and with proper regard for their privacy and constitutional rights.
(3) Equal pay should be provided for work of equal value, with appropriate consideration of both national and local rates paid by employers in the private sector, and appropriate incentives and recognition should be provided for excellence in performance.
(4) All employees should maintain high standards of integrity, conduct, and concern for the public interest.
(5) The Federal work force should be used efficiently and effectively.
(6) Employees should be retained on the basis of the adequacy of their performance, inadequate performance should be corrected, and employees should be separated who cannot or will not improve their performance to meet required standards.
(7) Employees should be provided effective education and training in cases in which such education and training would result in better organizational and individual performance.
(8) Employees should be
(A) protected against arbitrary action, personal favoritism, or coercion for partisan political purposes, and
(B) prohibited from using their official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for election.

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(9) Employees should be protected against reprisal for the lawful disclosure of information which the employees reasonably believe evidences
(A) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or
(B) mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
(c) In administering the provisions of this chapter
(1) with respect to any agency (as defined in section 2302 (a)(2)(C) of this title), the President shall, pursuant to the authority otherwise available under this title, take any action, including the issuance of rules, regulations, or directives; and
(2) with respect to any entity in the executive branch which is not such an agency or part of such an agency, the head of such entity shall, pursuant to authority otherwise available, take any action, including the issuance of rules, regulations, or directives;

which is consistent with the provisions of this title and which the President or the head, as the case may be, determines is necessary to ensure that personnel management is based on and embodies the merit system principles.

5 USC 2302 - Prohibited personnel practices

(a) 
(1) For the purpose of this title, prohibited personnel practice means any action described in subsection (b).
(2) For the purpose of this section
(A) personnel action means
(i) an appointment;
(ii) a promotion;
(iii) an action under chapter 75 of this title or other disciplinary or corrective action;
(iv) a detail, transfer, or reassignment;
(v) a reinstatement;
(vi) a restoration;
(vii) a reemployment;
(viii) a performance evaluation under chapter 43 of this title;
(ix) a decision concerning pay, benefits, or awards, concerning education or training if the education or training may reasonably be expected to lead to an appointment, promotion, performance evaluation, or other action described in this subparagraph;
(x) a decision to order psychiatric testing or examination; and
(xi) any other significant change in duties, responsibilities, or working conditions;

with respect to an employee in, or applicant for, a covered position in an agency, and in the case of an alleged prohibited personnel practice described in subsection (b)(8), an employee or applicant for employment in a Government corporation as defined in section 9101 of title 31;

(B) covered position means, with respect to any personnel action, any position in the competitive service, a career appointee position in the Senior Executive Service, or a position in the excepted service, but does not include any position which is, prior to the personnel action
(i) excepted from the competitive service because of its confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character; or
(ii) excluded from the coverage of this section by the President based on a determination by the President that it is necessary and warranted by conditions of good administration; and
(C) agency means an Executive agency and the Government Printing Office, but does not include
(i) a Government corporation, except in the case of an alleged prohibited personnel practice described under subsection (b)(8);
(ii) the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and, as determined by the President, any Executive agency or unit thereof the principal function of which is the conduct of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence activities; or
(iii) the Government Accountability Office.
(b) Any employee who has authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action, shall not, with respect to such authority
(1) discriminate for or against any employee or applicant for employment
(A) on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, as prohibited under section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e–16);
(B) on the basis of age, as prohibited under sections 12 and 15 of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 631, 633a);
(C) on the basis of sex, as prohibited under section 6(d) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206 (d));
(D) on the basis of handicapping condition, as prohibited under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 791); or
(E) on the basis of marital status or political affiliation, as prohibited under any law, rule, or regulation;
(2) solicit or consider any recommendation or statement, oral or written, with respect to any individual who requests or is under consideration for any personnel action unless such recommendation or statement is based on the personal knowledge or records of the person furnishing it and consists of
(A) an evaluation of the work performance, ability, aptitude, or general qualifications of such individual; or
(B) an evaluation of the character, loyalty, or suitability of such individual;
(3) coerce the political activity of any person (including the providing of any political contribution or service), or take any action against any employee or applicant for employment as a reprisal for the refusal of any person to engage in such political activity;
(4) deceive or willfully obstruct any person with respect to such persons right to compete for employment;
(5) influence any person to withdraw from competition for any position for the purpose of improving or injuring the prospects of any other person for employment;
(6) grant any preference or advantage not authorized by law, rule, or regulation to any employee or applicant for employment (including defining the scope or manner of competition or the requirements for any position) for the purpose of improving or injuring the prospects of any particular person for employment;
(7) appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position any individual who is a relative (as defined in section 3110 (a)(3) of this title) of such employee if such position is in the agency in which such employee is serving as a public official (as defined in section 3110 (a)(2) of this title) or over which such employee exercises jurisdiction or control as such an official;
(8) take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action with respect to any employee or applicant for employment because of
(A) any disclosure of information by an employee or applicant which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences
(i) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or
(ii) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety,

if such disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law and if such information is not specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs; or

(B) any disclosure to the Special Counsel, or to the Inspector General of an agency or another employee designated by the head of the agency to receive such disclosures, of information which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences
(i) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or
(ii) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety;
(9) take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, any personnel action against any employee or applicant for employment because of
(A) the exercise of any appeal, complaint, or grievance right granted by any law, rule, or regulation;
(B) testifying for or otherwise lawfully assisting any individual in the exercise of any right referred to in subparagraph (A);
(C) cooperating with or disclosing information to the Inspector General of an agency, or the Special Counsel, in accordance with applicable provisions of law; or
(D) for[1] refusing to obey an order that would require the individual to violate a law;
(10) discriminate for or against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee or applicant or the performance of others; except that nothing in this paragraph shall prohibit an agency from taking into account in determining suitability or fitness any conviction of the employee or applicant for any crime under the laws of any State, of the District of Columbia, or of the United States;
(11) 
(A) knowingly take, recommend, or approve any personnel action if the taking of such action would violate a veterans preference requirement; or
(B) knowingly fail to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action if the failure to take such action would violate a veterans preference requirement; or
(12) take or fail to take any other personnel action if the taking of or failure to take such action violates any law, rule, or regulation implementing, or directly concerning, the merit system principles contained in section 2301 of this title.

This subsection shall not be construed to authorize the withholding of information from the Congress or the taking of any personnel action against an employee who discloses information to the Congress.

(c) The head of each agency shall be responsible for the prevention of prohibited personnel practices, for the compliance with and enforcement of applicable civil service laws, rules, and regulations, and other aspects of personnel management, and for ensuring (in consultation with the Office of Special Counsel) that agency employees are informed of the rights and remedies available to them under this chapter and chapter 12 of this title. Any individual to whom the head of an agency delegates authority for personnel management, or for any aspect thereof, shall be similarly responsible within the limits of the delegation.
(d) This section shall not be construed to extinguish or lessen any effort to achieve equal employment opportunity through affirmative action or any right or remedy available to any employee or applicant for employment in the civil service under
(1) section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e–16), prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
(2) sections 12 and 15 of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 631, 633a), prohibiting discrimination on the basis of age;
(3) under section 6(d) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206 (d)), prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex;
(4) section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 791), prohibiting discrimination on the basis of handicapping condition; or
(5) the provisions of any law, rule, or regulation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of marital status or political affiliation.
(e) 
(1) For the purpose of this section, the term veterans preference requirement means any of the following provisions of law:
(A) Sections 2108, 3305 (b), 3309, 3310, 3311, 3312, 3313, 3314, 3315, 3316, 3317 (b), 3318, 3320, 3351, 3352, 3363, 3501, 3502 (b), 3504, and 4303 (e) and (with respect to a preference eligible referred to in section 7511 (a)(1)(B)) subchapter II of chapter 75 and section 7701.
(B) Sections 943 (c)(2) and 1784 (c) of title 10.
(C) Section 1308(b) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
(D) Section 301(c) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980.
(E) Sections 106 (f),2 7281 (e), and 7802 (5)2 of title 38.
(F) Section 1005 (a) of title 39.
(G) Any other provision of law that the Director of the Office of Personnel Management designates in regulations as being a veterans preference requirement for the purposes of this subsection.
(H) Any regulation prescribed under subsection (b) or (c) of section 1302 and any other regulation that implements a provision of law referred to in any of the preceding subparagraphs.
(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no authority to order corrective action shall be available in connection with a prohibited personnel practice described in subsection (b)(11). Nothing in this paragraph shall be considered to affect any authority under section 1215 (relating to disciplinary action).
[1] So in original. The word “for” probably should not appear.
[2] See References in Text note below.

5 USC 2303 - Prohibited personnel practices in the Federal Bureau of Investigation

(a) Any employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who has authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action, shall not, with respect to such authority, take or fail to take a personnel action with respect to any employee of the Bureau as a reprisal for a disclosure of information by the employee to the Attorney General (or an employee designated by the Attorney General for such purpose) which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences
(1) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or
(2) mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

For the purpose of this subsection, personnel action means any action described in clauses (i) through (x) of section 2302 (a)(2)(A) of this title with respect to an employee in, or applicant for, a position in the Bureau (other than a position of a confidential, policy-determining, policymaking, or policy-advocating character).

(b) The Attorney General shall prescribe regulations to ensure that such a personnel action shall not be taken against an employee of the Bureau as a reprisal for any disclosure of information described in subsection (a) of this section.
(c) The President shall provide for the enforcement of this section in a manner consistent with applicable provisions of sections 1214 and 1221 of this title.

5 USC 2304 - Responsibility of the Government Accountability Office

If requested by either House of the Congress (or any committee thereof), or if considered necessary by the Comptroller General, the Government Accountability Office shall conduct audits and reviews to assure compliance with the laws, rules, and regulations governing employment in the executive branch and in the competitive service and to assess the effectiveness and soundness of Federal personnel management.

5 USC 2305 - Coordination with certain other provisions of law

No provision of this chapter, or action taken under this chapter, shall be construed to impair the authorities and responsibilities set forth in section 102 of the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 495; 50 U.S.C. 403), the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 (63 Stat. 208; 50 U.S.C. 403a and following), the Act entitled An Act to provide certain administrative authorities for the National Security Agency, and for other purposes, approved May 29, 1959 (73 Stat. 63; 50 U.S.C. 402 note ), and the Act entitled An Act to amend the Internal Security Act of 1950, approved March 26, 1964 (78 Stat. 168; 50 U.S.C. 831–835).