In The News › End the bumping rule at New Orleans City Hall: An editorial

Sep 23, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: City Government, Civil Service, Orleans Parish

End the bumping rule at New Orleans City Hall: An editorial

Friday, September 23, 2011
By Editorial page staff
The Times-Picayune

Earlier this year, the Landrieu administration asked the Civil Service Commission to change the city’s controversial “bumping rule” — a provision that lets workers whose positions are eliminated “bump” others with less seniority elsewhere in city government. The rule is an anachronism that makes no sense, and the administration is right to seek a change.

But months have passed, and the commission has postponed a vote on the matter at least twice, including once at the request of the administration.

Meanwhile the administration has only a few weeks left before it has to present next year’s budget. So it’s time for the commission to act on the matter and get rid of this inefficient rule.

The administration is seeking the change as part of an effort to get more flexibility in personnel decisions at a time of fiscal constraint. Under the city’s plan, the mayor would have the ability to designate “organizational units” within City Hall and designate, with City Council approval, the unit’s budget. If a budget shortfall occurs in a unit, the mayor could then call for layoffs that would not bump personnel in other departments.

The Bureau of Governmental Research, which supports ending the bump rule, has said the “organizational unit” language is too broad, and that’s a valid concern that the city needs to address. But eliminating the bump rule makes sense. The policy can trigger chain reactions that force good employees out while requiring the city to unnecessarily retrain workers.

Some city employees worry that eliminating the bumping rule is a way for the administration to institute massive layoffs. The mayor and his top aides have repeatedly denied that and asked for a deferral on the matter once to allay employees’ fears.

The arguments for keeping the bump rule are not convincing. Lisa Hudson, personnel director for the Civil Service Department, has said that the “overriding factor” in applying the bumping rule is not seniority but annual performance ratings. She said people with the worst evaluations are supposed to go first if positions are eliminated, and seniority is considered only when employees have similar evaluations.

But the annual performances at City Hall are a joke.

According to BGR, only 31 of the city’s 4,315 employees were deemed as needing improvement in 2010. Even more shocking, one lone city worker received an unsatisfactory rating.

The defenders of the bumping rule cannot seriously argue that the city has only one bad employee, right?

New Orleanians know better. David Osborne, a consultant hired to evaluate City Hall’s workforce, said in March that New Orleans had “the least competent city government I’d ever seen in this country.”

That’s a disservice to residents, who have long suffered the inefficiency and bad performance of many city workers. It’s also unfair to ask good city employees to work under a rule that could force them out to protect the job of a more senior worker, regardless of their performance.

As the administration has said, the bump rule is “wasteful and inefficient.” That’s something we can’t afford.

Sep 23, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: City Government, Civil Service, Orleans Parish

Fair Use Notice

This site occasionally reprints copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues and to highlight the accomplishments of our affiliates. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is available without profit. For more information go to: US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.