The Civil Service Commission had a busy start to the new fiscal year with four meetings during the month, each of several days’ duration.
“We have a lot of projects in progress and more planned for this upcoming year,” said commission chair Herman R. Deleon Guerrero. “We are working with the Legislature and the governor to accomplish some of the initiatives from this past year and to get some new ones started for this year to come.”
Deleon Guerrero pointed out that during the past year the commission ended the 12-year freeze on promotional increases and had been working with the governor and the Legislature on the still frozen within-grade increase and the bonus for employees at step 12.
“These are important issues that we are continuing to work on. It’s a matter of funding, but we believe that it is important to recognize an employee’s performance. The Legislature and the governor agree—it’s just the money that’s preventing it from happening.”
According to the chairman, the commission is also still waiting for the Legislature to act on the new compensation bill, House Bill 19-03, that it initiated last year.
Charles Calvo, chairman of the Budget and Fiscal Committee, emphasized the importance of this endeavor. “The current salary schedule is 24 years old. It’s outdated and can only partly be used. It’s time for a change.”
Also, in March 2015, the commission and the Office of Personnel Management relocated to Spring Plaza in Gualo Rai.
“Any government employee who has not seen your new OPM office should come, visit and take a look around,” said Personnel director Isidro Seman.
With the move, the commission also renovated the space next door to OPM for its office, meeting place, and hearing chamber.
The new commission office and hearing chamber had its grand opening on Sept. 25, with the governor cutting the ribbon.
Deleon Guerrero said he was speaking to civil service employees when he said, “We had this chamber built for a purpose, to make sure that employees know we are here for their appeals and grievances when they become necessary.”
“OPM and the commission are here to serve all civil service employees, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan,” added Arsene Borja, the commissioner from Tinian. “Our goal, both OPM’s and the commission’s, is to develop and have in place regulations and systems that will both help the government run smoothly and, at the same time, make sure that employees’ rights are respected.”
The commission has a full quorum, plus one extra, ensuring it has sufficient members to conduct business. After the resignations of commissioners Augustina Kukkun and Eric L. Plinske, the governor appointed Catalina Tebit to the commission. Two positions still remain vacant: the commissioner from Rota and one from Saipan.
“I am grateful to the governor and the Senate for the confidence they showed in me,” said Tebit. “I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners on the many plans we have been discussing this past month.”
Commission vice chair Felicitas “Tee” Abraham said: “We have many very important projects. I especially want to see the restoration of the public internship program. It’s an important program that will help get our new graduates into the government workforce. I also want to obtain funding to help provide our employees with additional training and development to help expand their skills and abilities.”
Deleon Guerrero said the coming year will be a busy one, following up on actions already started and initiating new projects. Some planned emphases this year include:
Working with the Legislature to finalize and to enact into law the proposed new salary schedule;
Revitalizing the government’s internship program for college graduates lacking work experience;
Obtaining federal funding and assistance for human resource training and programs for the commission, staff of the Office of Personnel Management, and other government employees;
Pushing for progress on the frozen annual within-grade increase and bonus programs; and
Updating the Personnel Service Systems Rules and Regulations.
Deleon Guerrero applauded the cooperation the commission has been receiving. “The tasks we face are very challenging, but with the administration and the Legislature as partners in achieving these goals, we can make them happen. We all share the responsibility to make the government and its employment practices more effective and we must all work together for the benefit of all employees and the community.” (CSC)