State follows the law in hiring personnel for special projects
A RECENT article regarding the legislative auditor's report on the state's hiring practices requires further clarification ("State audit suggests agencies skirt laws on hiring," Star-Bulletin, Dec. 28
Regarding the auditor's finding that the executive branch circumvents hiring procedures and takes advantage of the flexibility in the statutes to fill and deploy positions, as the auditor understands, current statutes authorize the exemption of positions that are assigned to a project.
Further, projects also can be staffed by temporary or permanent civil service positions through reassignments or deployments. The establishment of temporary positions and hiring of personnel with specific expertise or skills for special, research and demonstration projects is a procedure that is authorized by law.
WHILE CURRENT statutes do not prescribe criteria for the exemptions, the Department of Human Resources Development has developed criteria and uses a defined approach in its due diligence review of exemptions for these projects. There is continual vigilance in the review of project extensions to ensure compliance with the law.
The auditor states that the executive branch should routinely provide information to the Legislature. Since 2003, human resources department has annually reviewed exemption provisions and exempted positions and submitted comprehensive reports on its findings to the Legislature. Further, the administration continues to review laws regulating civil service exemptions and monitoring their use and application.
REGARDING THE deployment of positions within and between departments, such deployments are the exception. Further, deployments are an effective and efficient means of addressing workload requirements and utilizing in-house skills to cope with temporary workload requirements that are critical to the department's operations. Deployments are also clearly more cost effective than hiring more employees and paying for fringe benefits and training.
Through the General Appropriations Act, the Legislature appropriates funds and identifies a specific number of authorized permanent positions for each state agency. Additionally, the Legislature has promulgated statutes that enable the executive branch to establish additional temporary positions to address problems and opportunities that may arise subsequent to the passage of the spending bill.
THE FLEXIBILITY provided by the law allows the state to cope with such occurrences as natural disasters or new federal mandates, without having to wait until the next legislative session before taking action. The establishment of temporary positions is a valuable tool and component of the process.
Finally, it should be noted that these additional temporary positions are funded within spending limits authorized by the Legislature and are abolished when they are no longer necessary, as opposed to permanent positions, which result in ongoing expenses for salaries and fringe benefits.
The state's management review processes and controls have and continue to guide state agencies in the efficient and effective use of existing resources.
Georgina K. Kawamura is director of the state Department of Budget and Finance. Marie C. Laderta is director of the state Department of Human Resources Development.