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Commenting on civil service classification standards, jurisdictional classifications

By SHERRY HALBROOK

Over the last few months, the PEF Civil Service Enforcement/Research (CSE/R) Department has worked to meet member engagement and education needs, and has increased available resources, which are related to the work of the department, on the PEF website (via the Member Resources tab).

The resources are comprised of four sections, including a repository of guides on topics that can be easily accessed, shared, and downloaded. These Frequently Asked Questions cover a variety of topics, and include previous Communicator columns, and memos distributed by CSE/R.

This November 2019 column addresses the comment solicitation processes related to Tentative Classification Standards, and Jurisdictional Classification Standards, respectively. In discussions with PEF leadership, members, and field representatives, a recurring issue has been confusion surrounding the solicitation and submission of comments for: Tentative Classification Standards (TCS) and Jurisdictional Classification (JC) requests.

In response, PEF CSE/R has revised the memoranda that will be sent out with the reviews, designed to clarify the purpose and process of comment solicitation facilitated by PEF CSE/R. As you will see, the processes of TCS and JC comment solicitation, submission (content & format), and review are set forth by the state Department of Civil Service. The complete PEF CSE/R memo can be found via the Responding to a Request for Comments Solicitation, a review of which is highly recommended.

Members have demonstrated an interest in understanding the purpose and process for these comment periods, so hopefully information provided here will improve understanding of the comment solicitation and submission process.

Tentative Classification Standards

The DCS Division of Classification and Compensation (C&C) shares tentative title classification information with PEF through CSE/R mainly as a courtesy. The purpose of distribution is largely informational, and C&C is not in any way required to incorporate, or respond, to comments or revisions submitted by PEF.

Background:

PEF CSE/R routinely receives notification from the C&C, informing PEF of the establishment of new classification standards, or the revision of existing standards.

A Classification Standard is an official document that provides detailed collective information describing a class of positions.  They are descriptive, not restrictive; their purpose being to portray, for each class of positions, the duties and responsibilities which, if present in an individual position, will cause the position to fall in that class. Classification Standards are used for recruitment, selection and training of employees, the assignment of positions to negotiating units, performance evaluations, and the resolution of out-of-title-work grievances.

Solicitation and submission of comments:

CSE/R facilitates the solicitation process designed by the C&C. The guidelines for acceptable submission content and format set forth by C&C will always be included in any request for comment circulated by CSE/R.

Jurisdictional Classification Requests

CS/R routinely receives JC requests from the state Civil Service Commission (CSC), concerning exempt and/or non-competitive classification as requested by an agency. The CSC considers PEF’s submitted comments when the agenda item is before them at their monthly meeting. While the CSC considers PEF’s submission, the CSC is not required to incorporate, or respond, to PEF’s comments.

Background:

Article V, Section 6 of the NYS Constitution states, in part: “Appointments and promotions in the civil service of the state and all of the civil divisions thereof, including cities and villages, shall be made according to merit and fitness to be ascertained, as far as practicable, by examination which, as far as practicable, shall be competitive.”

By law, classified service positions are in the competitive jurisdictional class, unless the commission acts to approve placement outside of the competitive class. Agencies may request the commission to place existing jobs, or create new job titles, within the exempt, non-competitive or labor classes. Positions in these three jurisdictional classes may be filled outside of the normal competitive examination process.

Agencies must petition the commission to have positions removed from the competitive jurisdictional class. The agencies are required to provide descriptions of the duties for each job and state their justifications for removing the positions from the competitive class. The commission obtains supporting materials and analyses from the DCS Division of Staffing Services and the C&C.

Solicitation and submission of comments:

PEF CSE/R facilitates the solicitation process designed by the CSC. The guidelines for acceptable submission content and format set forth by CSC will always be included in any request for comment circulated by the PEF CSE/R.


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