Regents support Amendment S

Voters to decide on proposed reforms to state personnel system

The University of Colorado Board of Regents last week voiced its support for Amendment S, a ballot issue that Gov. John Hickenlooper and state lawmakers say will bring long-overdue reform to the state personnel system.

During its meeting at the University of Colorado Boulder, the board voted unanimously in favor of a resolution supporting Amendment S, which would increase flexibility for CU and other public employers. Because the targeted personnel rules are part of the Colorado Constitution, voters must approve the changes. The amendment was referred to voters unanimously by the General Assembly (as House Concurrent Resolution 12-1001).

“This ballot measure continues the work we’ve started with changing the state’s personnel system,” Hickenlooper said in June. “The changes would give state government more flexibility in retaining and recruiting top talent and would make Colorado an even more military-friendly state.”

Among the proposed changes included in Amendment S:

  • Job applicants would be judged based on “objective comparative analysis,” rather than test results alone. Hiring managers also would be allowed to consider up to six applicants rather than the current three highest-scoring applicants.
  • Temporary employment, now limited to six months, would be expanded to nine months in any 12-month period, with a four-month waiting period between appointments.
  • The state residency requirement for applicants would be removed for open positions located within 30 miles of the state border.
  • State Personnel Board members would be term limited.
  • Military veterans would be allowed to use preference points when applying to any position in the civil services system, rather than just at initial hire.

Colorado voters will decide on Amendment S on Nov. 6. If approved, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2013, at which point the Department of Personnel and Administration would begin a rulemaking process.

Amendment S aims to further the governor’s “Talent Agenda,” which also included changes to the State Personnel System that did not require Constitutional amendment. House Bill 12-1321, which took effect earlier this month, made these changes:

  • A certified employee separated from state service who is within five years of being eligible for full retirement has bumping rights. Any other certified employee separated from state service is not entitled to bumping rights, but may receive a separation incentive that includes a hiring preference, continuation of health benefits, educational training vouchers or placement on a re-employment list. No severance may exceed the equivalent of one week of salary for each year of service, up to 18 weeks.
  • The pay for performance program is replaced by a merit pay system that rewards employees based on performance and placement within the salary range. Higher education institutions may determine their own performance categories.

The State Personnel Director is in the process of establishing rules for the changes implemented by House Bill 12-1321 to be effective in the next budget cycle (fiscal year 2013-14). CU leadership is monitoring these changes carefully.

Employees are reminded that state law prohibits the use of university resources to advocate for or against a ballot initiative such as Amendment S. There is an exception for elected officials, including the Board of Regents, and it is permissible to use university resources to communicate the position taken by the regents.