It used to be, before 1883, that civil servants and applicants for federal government jobs would lobby Congress and political parties for appointments, at all levels. Congress would extort campaign contributions in return, leading to a downward spiral of incompetent governance.
Then President Garfield was assassinated by someone who campaigned for him but was spurned for a job after Garfield’s election. So Vice President Chester A. Arthur, on taking over the presidency, lobbied and got passed the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883. That law created the Civil Service Commission, which existed until 1979, when it was replaced by MSPB, OPM, and FLRA (Federal Labor Relations Authority).
From the First Annual Report of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, 1884:
There can be no more emphatic evidence that the old [spoils] system had become intolerable than the passage of the [Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883], by which members of Congress made a patriotic surrender of so much of their patronage.
Member of Congress, pursued alike by the importunate appeals of those seeking office as a charity and by the clamor and threats of those demanding it as a reward for partisan work, were no longer independent. They were almost forced to devote to office-seeking the time needed for legislation, and to foist incompetent supernumeraries upon the public treasury which it was their special duty to protect.
http://mspbwatch.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/first-ar-of-the-uscsc.pdf, page 11 (emphasis added).
As mentioned above, today we don’t have an official patronage system by which Congress collects campaign contributions from partisan civil servants. But isn’t there a de facto spoils system when lobbyists write more legislation than do the politicians?