Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Career Service Audit, Unexpected Conclusions

The Legislative Auditor General conducted an audit of the State's Career Service System to address legislators' concerns that poor-performing employees are difficult to dismiss. The audit highlighted Florida, Georgia and Texas as states that have limited merit systems, but failed to conclude whether or not Utah would benefit from a change.

The audit did conclude that managers have used poor judgement while conducting performance evaluations and while implementing discipline for employees. One glaring example from the presenter's PowerPoint showed an employee who was disciplined for downloading 52 pornographic images on a state computer, in violation of the IT Acceptable Use Policy. The employee was rated "successful" in an evaluation, despite the blatant violation.

Committee members commented that the audit highlights poor training of managers and the failure of management to use built-in discipline measures. Representative Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, went so far to say that the merit system was not on the chopping block, but that he would personally take action if DHRM cannot address the management issues raised by the audit.

UPEA believes that the years of hard work and relationship building with legislators regarding this specific issue, contributed to the positive comments regarding state employees and the merit system. While no action was taken specifically with the audit, the Committee sent the review to the Government Operations and Political Subdivisions interim committee for their input. UPEA will continue to monitor the Career Service Status issue as further information arises.

The recommendations of the audit included:
The Legislature consider the following options regarding the state’s career service system:
Maintain the current system with improvements.
***Adopt a procedure similar to that in the judicial branch, in which an employee could be dismissed after being formally disciplined twice.
***Implement changes that have been made in other states, including the following:
***Phasing out career service status for supervisors and higher positions.
***Phasing out career service status for employees who change positions within the state system.
***Requiring all new employees to be hired at will.
***State agencies require all new managers to attend the DHRM training course on how to be effective managers.
***DHRM place greater emphasis on encouraging all managers in the state to attend their training course “The Art and Science of Supervision.”
***DHRM consider whether management training should be required for all managers in the state.
***DHRM ensure all agency managers use Utah Performance Management.