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Last Updated: 5/6/2014
Budget Issue: Shortcomings in review process for state employee classifications led to incongruities with law
Program: State Civil Service Classifications
Finding or Recommendation: Adopt supplemental report language for 2014-15 directing the Department of Human Resources and the State Personnel Board to submit a joint report by January 10, 2015 concerning (1) the state's civil service classification review process and (2) the efforts to ensure the recreation state's recreation therapist classifications comply with state law.
Further Detail

State Has Thousands of Job Classifications. The State Personnel Board (SPB) has established approximately 4,500 job classifications in the state civil service. Each classification delineates a distinct job title and duty description. Positions in each classification generally are filled on the basis of a competitive examination that is specific for the classification.

Professional Prerequisites Governed by Statutes. For some professions, state law establishes prerequisites that must be satisfied before an individual may represent himself or herself as a member of that profession. These prerequisites often include some sort of education, examination, certification, and fee administered by a professional board or association. Current law often specifies civil and/or criminal penalties for individuals practicing a profession without satisfying the necessary prerequisites.

CalHR Reviews Classifications to Conform to Law. Unless state law specifies otherwise, state professional classifications should require state employees to meet the same certification requirements established for other professionals in their field. The task of ensuring the state’s civil service classifications conform with professional requirements established in law is a difficult but important task. The Department of Human Resources (CalHR) indicates that it reviews classifications to ensure compliance with state law on a case-by-case basis by (1) identifying and reviewing proposed legislation that affects professional certification requirements for existing state classifications and (2) reviewing state statutes to ensure new state classifications conform to law. If diligently followed, CalHR’s case-by-case approach should be sufficient in ensuring classifications comply with the law.

Some Classifications Do Not Conform to Law. The CalHR submits addenda to current memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC). The JLBC determines whether addenda must be approved by the Legislature. On April 1, 2014, CalHR submitted to the JLBC an addendum to the MOU between the state and Bargaining Unit 19 (represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). This agreement revealed that the state’s three “Recreation Therapist” classification duty statements do not require state-employed recreation therapists to meet the certification requirements mandated for all recreation therapists in California under the Business and Professions Code (see Section 17505.2). As a result of this omission from the duty statement, more than half of the 300 recreation therapists employed by the state were reported to not possess the certification required by state law in March 2014. The CalHR currently is working on correcting the three classifications to ensure they comply with state law and expect the process to be complete by the end of 2014.

Other State Classifications May Be Inconsistent with State Law—or Become So. Given the state’s experience with recreational therapists, it is possible that other state classifications also may need to be corrected. In addition, in any year, a classification or a law that affects a classification may change. Ensuring that all of the state’s 4,500 classifications remain consistent with the law in the future is a difficult but important activity. Without a policy that reviews classifications for these changes, the state is vulnerable to the legal and financial risks resulting from employing people who are considered unqualified under the law.

Recommend Legislature Adopt Supplemental Reporting Language. We recommend that the Legislature adopt supplemental reporting language for 2014-15 directing CalHR and SPB to submit a joint report by January 10, 2015 that identifies the administration’s plan to (1) identify shortcomings in the prior classification review process that led to incongruities with state law, (2) delineate which departments—CalHR, SPB, or other departments—are responsible going forward to review existing classifications and proposed classifications to ensure compliance with state law, and (3) correct classifications on a timely basis. Below is the language we recommend that the Legislature adopt.

Item 9800-001-0001—Augmentation for Employee Compensation

1. State Civil Service Classification Review Plan. On or before January 10, 2015, the State Personnel Board (SPB) and the director of the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) shall submit to the chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the chairs of the fiscal committees of the Legislature a joint report concerning the state’s civil service classification review policy. Specifically, the report shall (1) identify the shortcomings in the state’s classification review process that led to incongruities between state civil service specifications for recreation therapists and state law, (2) delineate which departments—CalHR, SPB, or other—are responsible for reviewing existing and proposed state employee classifications to ensure compliance with state law and the steps they will take going forward to carry out these responsibilities, and (3) report on the state’s status in ensuring that recreation therapists meet the professional standards set forth in law.