LIMA — There has been some controversy regarding Mayor Berger’s proposal for a pass/fail model for eligibility tests for appointment to city positions, and frankly I don’t understand the opposition. This proposal protects the integrity of the civil service hiring process, while allowing administrators to look at a larger pool of candidates to find the person most suited for the position.
As proposed, the Civil Service Board will continue its functions and will advertise for and accept applications for specified positions. Then through the use of appropriate, validated testing instruments and interviews, the Civil Service Board will provide the city administration with an eligible list of candidates deemed qualified for the advertised positions. The department seeking to fill a position may then interview and hire the best candidate from the eligible list.
I know of no company that voluntarily limits their hiring options to three or even 10 candidates when more qualified candidates are available for consideration. Hiring an employee is a complex task of identifying that person with a specific mix of knowledge, skills and abilities to be the face and voice of your organization for 25 years or more. Something this complex and vital should not be attempted through a one dimensional linear process such as test, rank and appoint, yet the city continues with this anachronistic model in spite of the known deficiencies.
Opposition to the pass/fail model appears to be based on false assumptions. Let me address the two concerns that have been stated.
1. Pass/Fail lowers the standard.
This is a false assumption for several reasons:
• The tests are not being modified. Therefore the standards are not being lowered.
• Test scores by themselves are poor indicators of job performance or likelihood of success on the job.
• A passing test score confirms that a candidate has an acceptable level of knowledge
• Candidates making the eligibility list have scores in a very narrow range. The average difference from top to bottom over the last five tests is less than 7 points when residency/military bias is removed.
• Once an acceptable level of knowledge has been established factors such as character, integrity and motivation become paramount to the organization. Skills can be taught, character cannot.
2. The administration wants to subvert the civil service process.
The role of the Civil Service Board remains the same as now. The CSB still approves qualifications and confirms that candidates are qualified for appointment. Appointments will still be made from a list of qualified candidates generated by the CSB.
This proposal allows the city to assemble a work force with the best skills and qualities. This proposal provides every qualified candidate an opportunity for consideration.
This is an appropriate and reasonable measure that benefits all stakeholders and should be adopted immediately.