At a contentious City Hall meeting last week, New Orleans Chief Information Officer Allen Square spoke to about a dozen current and retired city employees about Mayor Mitch Landrieu's plans to overhaul the civil service system, which governs personnel procedures for thousands of city workers.
Square said he was there to gather input on draft proposals written over the summer by the Minnesota-based consulting firm Public Strategies Group (PSG). As evidence that the city hopes to improve the system for workers, Square pointed to an employee survey, released in September, showing dissatisfaction with the current system.
"With all due respect, we believe the survey was bogus," said Randolph Scott, head of the Concerned Classified City Employees group and a critic of the plan. "We'd like to hear from you what the city plans to do with civil service. These are very serious issues. You are threatening the careers of city employees."
Square asked that employees not see the proposed overhaul, which will have to be approved by the Civil Service Commission, as an attack on city employees. "I'm not a person who just sits back and says that civil service doesn't work," Square said. "The mayor believes in government, but he also believes that government has to work."
Discussion moved on to a list of recommendations, prepared by Scott and his group, for the administration to consider — the most significant of which was that the city provide adequate resources to the Civil Service Department. A lack of funding and personnel, not the civil service rules, is the main cause of inefficiency under the current system, Scott said.
Other items on Scott's list: Keep current layoff rules, reduce provisional appointments (made at management's discretion outside normal testing and evaluation procedures), create a uniform evaluation system, implement cost of living adjustments tied to the consumer price index, and eliminate overtime pay for executive employees. — CHARLES MALDONADO