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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Civil Service to Legislature: Govt’s hiring policies, practices reviewed

Prompted by a lawmaker’s concern that non-qualified individuals are able to enter the government workforce, Civil Service Commission chair Herman R. Deleon Guerrero assured the Legislature that government hiring policies and practices are continuously being reviewed and adjusted to improve personnel efficiency and effectiveness.

Deleon Guerrero said the tasks ahead are very challenging but are currently being addressed.

“Ensuring that the government follows fair and non-discriminatory hiring practices is a major concern of OPM [Office of Personnel Management] and the Commission. I must point out, however, that the CNMI Constitution allows the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, and each mayor to hire employees who are excepted from the Civil Service Rules and Regulations,” Deleon Guerrero said in a Jan. 24 letter to Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) and House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan).

Rep. Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan) said yesterday that his earlier statements raising concerns about unqualified individuals getting government jobs, including at the governor’s office during the previous administration, is meant as a constructive criticism.

The commission chairman said he applauds the lawmaker’s concerns and welcome lawmakers’ desire to make government operations fair to all and effective for all.

“However, very often, these concerns can be resolved or, at least, clarified for accuracy, by discussing the issue with the director of personnel or by bringing it to the attention of the Civil Service Commission. This will assist the [OPM] and the Civil Service Commission by making them aware of the Legislature’s or their constituent’s concerns and to ensure that the congressman or congresswoman has full and accurate information on the matter,” he told lawmakers.

In his three-page letter, Deleon Guerrero said the commission tasked OPM to review and prepare all CNMI employee grievances to include all pending files that go back as far as 2006.

This backlog resulted from a lengthy period of time when the commission lacked enough commissioners to function, he said.

“Available documents and records are being put together at this time to prepare for an investigation into each case to allow for their resolution,” Deleon Guerrero told lawmakers.

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