A recent article suggesting OPM and CSC, together with a contracted consultant, are on a mission to conduct a study for the purpose of increasing the compensation of affected and covered CNMI government employees seems to contradict and conflict with laws and its own regulations. The law, in particular the budget appropriations, disallows the anticipation of future costs not germane to current budget needs of government, whether it be personnel or operational costs.
The government procures positions to operate the business of governing. Hence, the personnel management system of the CNMI government is one huge procurement enterprise bigger than its procurement and supply division work. It is the positions used that give rise to payments; it is never the employees or persons. This is a basic distinction and the OPM director and the consultant should have complete and useful input to the CSC on this matter. Disregarding a basic concept of public personnel management and lack of expert advice only shows that what is being pursued has no logical outcome.
Because positions in the budget makes the cost of government real, any study concerning positions should be derived and ascertained by appropriate job evaluation to give the price and value of positions. This information when validated should be the legal documentation and justification for payment to persons. Thus the cost of labor follows acceptable valuation methods and justifies the legal premises upon which the CNMI government decides its ability to pay for positions it lawfully authorizes to run and operate its governing business. In other words, even with the most advanced job evaluation methodology findings and recommendations, it would be a matter whether the government could afford the price tag of such undertaking.
Even where dire need to conduct job evaluations of positions used by the CNMI government is hopeful, OPM and CSC should clean and remove the clutter of its position classification system. But, even before this undertaking is placed on the drawing board, it is more important for the OPM to review the consistency, stability, validity, sustainability, appropriateness, and compliance nature of its personnel rules and regulations in the hope that it would meet present and future changes of its personnel management and human resources management jurisdictions within the CNMI government. Obsolescence of positions and procedural practices certainly come to a halt when regulatory mandates and legal standards are far pacing administrative actions whose policies are being promulgated by tardy and outdated regulatory constructs.
When the system approaches of personnel rules and regulations are stratified and clarified for what would work and legal, OPM would be in a position to do all the right outcomes under the only consideration that incorporates all the merit principles a government affirms as its only and useful standards. To do otherwise, would amount to irreversible harm to the taxpayers that foot the bills of governing. This is so basic, no one in the CNMI government would need a hired consultant to do what is already possible by utilizing its own internal capacity for all types and complexities of public personnel management work the CNMI government wish to achieve.
Francisco R. Agulto
Kannat Tabla, Saipan