250 state jobs
hang in balance

A personnel report focuses on
positions exempt from civil
service requirements


Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2003

>> A state Department of Human Resources report recommends that 250 exempt positions be abolished and replaced with civil service positions. A story on Page A3 yesterday incorrectly said the report recommended either abolishing the exempt positions or making them civil service positions.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at

A new state report recommends the Legislature cut 250 state jobs exempt from civil service rules, by either abolishing the jobs or placing them under civil service.

An additional 533 of the total 2,174 exempt positions are still under review, said Human Resources Department Director Kathy Watanabe, who prepared the report.

Workers in the targeted exempt positions would have to reapply for their jobs under civil service guidelines. Watanabe said present job-holders should not be automatically given the job, but should compete for the position.

"I would recommend strongly that they not be grandfathered in," Watanabe said. "There is a strong likelihood that the incumbents would be the best qualified, but grandfathering defeats the merit principles of civil service."

The report did not list examples of jobs that should be eliminated or placed under civil service.

The report is the first one performed by the state, although it was called for by a 2001 state law.

The state has 20,765 civil service workers, not including the University of Hawaii, which has 7,186 workers, and the Department of Education, which has 16,900.

The department with the most positions exempt from civil service rules is Accounting and General Services, because of the nearly 1,000 incidental workers who perform cleanup, security, ticket-taking and other functions at Aloha Stadium.

Those workers should not be part of civil service, Watanabe said, because they are hired "intermittently and irregularly where the limited amount of work required is such that it cannot serve as a primary employment."

Watanabe said she found more than 90 state laws calling for exempt positions. If the original reason is no longer valid, the job should be turned over to civil service, she said.

State workers that handle personal services for state officials or are gubernatorial appointees fall under the exempt classification. Others include special assistants to department heads, private secretaries or practicing attorneys.

Another category is for executive protection personnel who guard the governor and lieutenant governor, during work and in their private lives.

"Executive protection personnel are privy to many confidential governmental matters and also to personal matters," the report said. "The individuals providing this service must be skilled but must also be persons with whom the executive is comfortable and in whom he or she has confidence.

"Such appointments must inherently be 'at will' since the confidence and comfort of the executive served is paramount."


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