The new leadership at the Civil Service Commission vowed to work expeditiously on pending grievance cases and promised an impartial hearing and fair judgments on all issues before them.
Civil Service Commission executive director Andrew Orsini gave this assurance while lauding the passage of Public Law 17-80, which returned control of the Office of Personnel Management to the commission for purposes of administrative efficiency.
OPM was previously under the purview of the Governor's Office.
Orsini said there are currently 40 grievance and appeal cases pending at the commission, some filed as long as three years ago. The delay in resolving these cases was blamed mainly on the difficulty of finding qualified and willing board members as well as the complexity of the board's authority.
Due to the lack of quorum, the commission's seven-member board has not issued any decision since February 2008.
Under the old law, the commission board can only render a decision if two-thirds of the board-five members-are present. Any decision must be unanimous.
Under the newly enacted P.L. 17-80, the board is still composed of seven members but four members are already enough to declare a quorum.
Current board members are chair Herman DLG. Guerrero, vice chair Eric Plinske, and members Charles Calvo and Augustina Kukkun. The new board first met in December 2012.
Orsini, who has been serving the civil service commission for over 17 years, is tasked to guide and assist the new board. He said the agency is now in a transitional period and among its priorities is the relocation of OPM and the commission's office to a government unit on Capital Hill. Saipan Tribune learned that $240,000 is needed to complete the renovation of the new office. Orsini intends to seek the help of the Office of the Governor and the Legislature to secure the funds for this purpose.
The current commission office in Garapan is being leased from a private owner.
Orsini also underscored the importance of the agency's independence and autonomy when rendering decisions in cases involving government employees. This is the why, he said, most members of the commission board come from the retired sector and private entities.
Due to the board's incapacity since 2008, many of the persons involved in pending cases have either relocated off-island or changed their addresses. That means the agency's first order of business is trying to track down these individuals, said Orsini. All cases filed before the Civil Service Commission has no statute of limitations and can be pursued anytime unless withdrawn.
Saipan Tribune learned that there are about 5,000 government employees that are under the oversight of the commission. In the case of autonomous agencies, employees have the flexibility to file a complaint with the commission if they are dissatisfied with their department's decision.