Civil Service HR policies are to be radically revamped after the Government published a far-reaching modernisation programme.
The controversial performance-related pay scheme will be extended but the Government has calmed union opposition with the new measures.
The three-year plan, costing £100m, is based on six themes including diversity, performance management and leadership. It is the culmination of a year-long review involving top mandarins, unions and ministers.
The Civil Service, which employs 460,000 staff, has been criticised in recent years over race, sex and disability discrimination, poor performance management and inconsistent pay policies.
Tough targets on recruitment and promotion of ethnic minority staff have now been set. Initial targets on a number of other issues, including implementing a new vision and values statement, defining leadership qualities and extending 360-degree feedback, have been set for April.
Other policies include a new competency framework for all staff and more flexible working and targeted early retirement of senior staff to create more promotion opportunities.
But the Government is to continue to link performance appraisals with pay, with the system revamped to raise the level of performance-related bonuses.
Signs of racial bias in performance appraisals have plagued the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions for more than a year, leading to union protests and threats of tribunal claims. But civil service unions have backed the Government's initiative.
Charles Cochrane, secretary of the Council of Civil Service Unions, said, "It is not so much learning the lessons from the private sector but recognising that there are a lot of good things going on outside the Civil Service, and also inside it."
By John Robinson