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January 17, 2007

Blagojevich Administration announces move to new electronic hiring system
Web-based application system to increase transparency and access to state jobs, reduce potential for manipulation or special treatment

CHICAGO – Top officials from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s office and the state’s Department of Central Management Services (CMS) today announced the State will move to a web-based electronic hiring system that will significantly expand access to state employment while increasing transparency and consistency in the state hiring process. Upon completion, all state agencies under the Governor’s authority will convert to a centralized, electronic system for posting job openings, accepting applications and tracking status. Processing all job applications through a uniform electronic system will reduce the potential for human error as well as intentional manipulation.

“The state’s hiring system has gone significantly unchanged for the past 20 years, despite revolutionary advances in technology. And while we’ve taken steps in recent years to improve the system, what we’re announcing today will finally bring our hiring system into the computer-age. That means thousands more people will be able to find out about and apply for state jobs. They’ll be able to go online and check the status of their application. And with all applications going into the same electronic database, records can’t be lost or given preferential treatment. Once it’s up and running, we will have a system that’s more accessible, more transparent and more accountable than ever before,” said Deputy Governor Sheila Nix.

At a press conference this morning, Administration officials provided a demonstration of the concept, which was developed in coordination with Deloitte Consulting and the law firm Schiff Hardin after an extensive review of the state’s hiring systems as well as best practices across both public and private sectors.

• Under the new system, the state will provide a single online repository of all open state positions. Interested candidates will be able to browse openings and apply online. Those without home access to the internet will be able to visit dozens of state facilities across Illinois to apply on-line, or submit a paper application that will then be entered into the electronic system by a data entry group separate from the personnel department. Currently, the state accepts only paper applications for most positions.

• If an interested candidate does not find a specific position they wish to apply for, they have the option of submitting a profile with their professional background and interests. As openings become available that meet their criteria, the system will send a message notifying the candidate about the opening and how to apply. The application will contain questions and fields for information specifically required for the position that is open.

• An electronic system will help ensure that hiring decisions are based only on qualifications and other required considerations like veterans’ status. When applicant information is forwarded to the CMS Examination group to be graded, the system will conceal personally-identifiable information and only provide information required for assessing a candidate’s background and experience in relation to the specific requirements of the open position.

• In addition, when state agencies request an “eligibility list” of all candidates who meet the requirements for a specific position, the list will not include any personally-identifiable information about candidates.

• Under the existing paper-based system, the entire application, including the candidate’s name and referral information, is forwarded to graders. Eligibility lists generated for agencies contain candidates’ names.

• Converting to an electronic hiring system will make it easier for candidates to track their progress. Once a person has applied for a specific position, he or she will be able to log on to a secure section of the system at any time to check the status of his or her application.

• In addition, having a central database of all job candidates, grades, eligibility lists, interview results and selections will make it easier for auditors to review the fairness and effectiveness of the hiring process.

• Job applicants will enjoy a higher level of security as their personal information is stored in a secure electronic database rather than paper files.

• Using an electronic hiring system will help reduce redundancy for CMS as well as for candidates, and – as a result – reduce delays or backlogs in the input and grading processes.

• Job-seekers will be able to register their personal profile and basic professional background in one place, and each time they apply for an open position, the previously-entered profile information will automatically be included in the application, eliminating the need to re-enter the same information in every application. The change cuts down on the time needed to fill out an application and improves accuracy. Last month, CMS had to return more than 500 applications to job-seekers because they were incomplete or illegible.

• By only accepting applications for open positions, rather than the long-standing practice of accepting applications for all titles regardless of whether positions are actually open, CMS will dramatically reduce the demand on its grading division. Since January 2003, CMS has received and graded approximately 550,000 applications – many came in for titles or positions that were not open. Only about 9,400 people, or less than 2% of all applicants, were hired.

CMS today posted a Request for Information (RFI) inviting interested vendors to provide information about their electronic recruiting and application-tracking products. A Request for Proposals is expected to be posted early this spring, after RFI responses have been reviewed. CMS’ goal will be to have the new system in place by the end of 2007.

While the new electronic system is being developed, the state is taking steps in the interim to expand access to state jobs. Beginning February 15, 2007 all open state jobs will be posted at www.cms.illinois.gov . Applications for high-demand, high-turnover positions will be available online.
Also beginning in mid-February, all lists CMS generates for eligible external candidates will not contain the name or identifying information about the candidates.

The new electronic hiring system is the latest and most comprehensive step in the Blagojevich Administration’s effort to improve the integrity and fairness of the state hiring process.

• During his first year in office, Gov. Blagojevich signed into law the most aggressive ethics package in state history. The new law established an independent Executive Inspector General to investigate allegations of misconduct in state government, including in the hiring process.

• In July 2003, CMS consolidated all off-site, mobile administration of civil service testing to its more secure employment centers in Springfield, Chicago, Rockford, Champaign and Marion.

• In November 2004, access to eligibility lists was restricted to CMS. Previously, every agency’s personnel office had access, and agencies could look at how many candidates were on eligibility lists for openings before positions were formally opened.

• As of May 2005, civil service testing is done entirely on an automated computer system unless there is a warranted special request for a paper test. The move to electronic testing was intended to help cut down on compromised tests.

In just the last year:

• A liaison was named within CMS to process all referrals and inquiries regarding hiring. The new liaison works separately from those involved in the interviewing, grading and hiring process, so a wall exists between those dealing with candidates and those responsible for providing an unbiased assessment of candidates’ qualifications.

• New guidelines were issued to provide clear and uniform standards for hiring public administration interns and the Administration continues putting these safeguards in place: openings must be posted; candidates must be recent college graduates, or recent or current graduate school students; internships must be for a period of at least one year, and no more than two years; and an intern cannot qualify for permanent state employment until he or she has received certification for successfully completing his or her internship.

• A new policy was initiated to prohibit geographic transfers for any employee who has worked less than two years in a specific location, unless the individual is in a bargaining unit position or prior approval is obtained from the director of CMS.

• A policy was initiated that restricts part-time positions from becoming full-time unless the position was occupied by the same individual for over a year, or the director of CMS determines in writing that to do so would be in the best interests of the State.


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