Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Innovation in Recruiting and Hiring: Attracting the Best and Brightest to Wisconsin State Government

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Innovation in Recruiting and Hiring: Attracting the Best and Brightest to Wisconsin State Government

Article excerpt

The Department of Employment Relations (DER) is Wisconsin state government's central personnel/human resource management agency. DER's mission is to ensure that state government is staffed by a skilled, dedicated, and diverse work force. Within DER, the Division of Merit Recruitment and Selection (DMRS) administers Wisconsin's civil service hiring system by recruiting, testing, and evaluating applicants; creating lists (employment registers) of qualified applicants; and referring best-qualified candidates to agencies for interviews. DMRS' mission is to:

* Provide Wisconsin's citizens with merit-based, open and accessible competition for state jobs; and

* Provide Wisconsin's state agencies with qualified job candidates who represent the diversity of the state's labor force.

DMRS serves over 40 state agencies, 26 University of Wisconsin campuses, over 38,000 state employees, and tens of thousands of job applicants. Each year, DMRS administers over 1,000 civil service exams and other applicant evaluations, assesses over 70,000 applicants, creates over 1,000 employment registers, and enables agencies to hire or promote up to 4,000 employees.

During the last four years, DMRS has implemented a series of innovative hiring programs to create a more responsive and efficient civil service hiring system. These programs enable Wisconsin public service to recruit and hire the skilled, committed, and diverse work force state government needs to provide high-quality services to Wisconsin's citizens. These innovations have received national recognition:

* The International Personnel Management Association (IPMA) selected the Wisconsin Department of Employment Relations as the 1994 recipient of the Agency Award for Excellence (for large agencies). Hiring innovations at the DER were a key factor in the award selection.

* The hiring programs were selected as a national finalist in the Ford Foundation/Harvard University 1995 Innovations in American Government Award Program. Only 30 finalists were selected from over 1450 nominations nationwide, and the nomination was the only personnel program selected as a finalist.

* The hiring initiatives received a 1994 Exemplary State and Local (EXSL) Award from Rutgers University's National Center for Public Productivity. DMRS's innovations were among 25 winners selected nationwide. DMRS is the only personnel program ever to receive an EXSL Award.

* The innovations also received the National Association of State Personnel Executives 1994 Eugene H. Rooney Award for "innovative state human resource programs."

* The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) will feature the hiring innovations in an upcoming report to the President and Congress. After surveying the states to identify personnel innovations, the MSPB selected Wisconsin as one of five states with particularly innovative personnel programs that may be transferrable to the federal government.

The Need for Reform

In this era of "reinventing government," public sector organizations must provide responsive, effective, and efficient service to their citizens. To do this, government agencies must be able to attract and hire skilled and dedicated public servants. In 1993, the National Commission on the State and Local Public Service concluded that government agencies must "end civil service paralysis" by creating more responsive hiring systems. Similarly, the National Performance Review concluded, "To create an effective . . . government, we must reform virtually the entire personnel system."

Even in this era of public sector reorganization and downsizing, hiring the best and the brightest is critical. In fact, when hiring is limited, it's more important than ever to ensure that when government does recruit, it attracts and hires talented people.

In Wisconsin, hiring innovations were driven by the reality that traditional civil service hiring processes were not working effectively. …

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