Vote ‘Yes’ on Amendment S
There has long been bipartisan agreement that Colorado’s personnel rules need updating, and Amendment S on this year’s election ballot is the latest attempt to do so.
The Daily Sentinel laid out some of the reasons we support the measure more than a month ago (when it was still referred to as Referendum S, instead of Amendment S as it appears on the ballot). But it’s worth reiterating the reasons for that support, now that mail ballots are being sent, early voting is less than a week away and voters are paying more attention to the election.
The primary reason Amendment S was drafted and put on the ballot for voters to decide is that it would make it easier for state officials to hire the most qualified person for important state jobs.
Currently, all but a handful of state employees — mostly department heads — must take a test, with the final three candidates to be chosen from those with the top three test scores. The aim was to make the hiring process as objective as possible, and free it from political patronage.
But in practice, the tests frequently don’t involve consideration of topics most important to the job at hand. What’s more, they don’t allow state personnel officials to give adequate consideration to other criteria, such as written exams and oral presentations. Amendment S would allow these to be considered, along with the recommendations of search committees.
Additionally, the amendment would allow up to 325 state jobs (out of roughly 32,500 currently subject to the basic personnel rules) to be exempt from those rules. Those jobs would include deputy department heads, chief financial officers, legislative liaisons, public information officers, human resources directors and a few others.
As Gov. John Hickenlooper noted last month, the current rules can make it difficult to hire the best person for top administrative posts such as those listed above, because the hiring process can take so long and highly skilled candidates may find jobs elsewhere. Additionally, the testing system often doesn’t provide a system for the best candidates to demonstrate their skills.
Amendment S would enlarge the pool of finalist job candidates from three to six, as well as allowing a comparative analysis of candidates’ resumes and job experience.
The current system is antiquated and does not meet the needs of a state government that must seek qualified employees in a highly competitive environment.
The argument that approving the measure would somehow lead to a 21st century Colorado version of notorious 19th century political patronage systems for hiring and firing does not hold water. There are plenty of checks and balances and oversight to prevent that from occurring.
Vote “Yes” on Amendment S.