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The Daily Q: How do state employees get hired?

How do state employees get hired? An overlooked section of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget bills includes proposals to ease hiring and promotion rules for state employees, The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports this morning. The rules, designed in the 19th century to prevent political patronage, require most applicants to compete for openings and promotions through an examination…

How do state employees get hired?

An overlooked section of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget bills includes proposals to ease hiring and promotion rules for state employees, The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports this morning. The rules, designed in the 19th century to prevent political patronage, require most applicants to compete for openings and promotions through an examination process. Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said the measures will allow the administration “to meet agency missions effectively and increase diversity in state government,” while public employee unions say the proposed changes will leave the state hiring process vulnerable to favoritism and other abuses.

The New York World would like to know: What is the current process for hiring a state employee?

If you have information or insights to share, please comment below, write us, or tweet to @thenyworld.

What we found

State jobs are divided into two categories: “competitive” and “non-competitive.” The latter don’t require an exam and include positions like electricians, highway equipment operators and hospital attendants. Competitive jobs make up most of the positions in state agencies and require people to go through an examination process.

According to the New York State Department of Civil Service, which administers and sets the date for the exam, testing can consist of a few components including a written multiple-choice test, a job simulation, essay, and an evaluation of training and experience. The requirements vary for each job.

It can take up to four months for an applicant to receive his or her score. Agencies request the list of those who tested and usually send letters to the highest-scoring eligible applicants. Those still interested in the position are interviewed. However, the law does not require agencies to go through this interview process. Applicants are kept on an eligible list for up to four years to be considered for future positions. Good timing is just as important as a high score: Once a test for a particular position is administered, it can take years before it is offered again.

Stephen Madarasz, a spokesperson for the Civil Service Employees Association, said the exam was created for a reason and the administration should work on using it effectively, not eliminating it. “Anyone who says it’s cumbersome is because they’re not administering it properly,” he said. He contends that the exam has been “diluted” in recent years to include a wider pool of candidates.

The union notes that the state also uses provisional workers, who do not go through the testing process and are then kept on for longer periods of time through reappointment. “We’re not arguing we shouldn’t be doing more, but go in the opposite direction,” Madarasz said. “Make it so we follow the rules more clearly instead of circumventing them.”

The Department of Civil Service said it would not be able to provide information by our deadline.