Classified government employees should be hired and promoted based on their qualifications, not their political connections. This is the subtext of a bipartisan bill that would expand the powers of the Civil Service Commission to include the authority to fire classified employees who are unfit for their jobs.
Sen. Mary Camacho Torres and Speaker Tina Muna Barnes filed Bill 312-35 in the 35th Guam Legislature on Monday.
The proposed bill would empower CSC to terminate, dismiss, or demote a probationary classified employee whose personnel action is in violation of personnel laws or rules.
While Guam law already authorizes the CSC to conduct investigations and declare null and void illegal personnel actions, agencies can avoid terminating or demoting an employee by simply ignoring the CSC’s decision and not issuing an adverse action within the 90-day time frame.
To remedy this, Bill 312 would allow the CSC to directly serve the employee notice of adverse action following a “null and void” finding, with or without the agency’s concurrence. The measure would also remove the 90-day rule from such investigations and impose a personal fine on any agency official who unjustifiably refuses to cooperate or delay an investigation.
“Recent court decisions make it necessary to modify existing statutes to improve the enforcement procedures in the investigating, nulling, and voiding of illegal personnel actions,” said Daniel D. Leon Guerrero, executive director of CSC. “This proposal will aid the Civil Service Commission in pursuing its mission to protect the merit system.”
To ensure that classified employees who’ve passed probation and consistently met the requirements of their job are not affected, Torres’ measure would establish a statute of limitations, where the commission can only take action within six months of the effective date of the personnel action in question—requiring the CSC to act quickly within the employee’s probationary period.
“This bill ensures fair hiring practices are implemented across the board,” Muña Barnes said. “I am grateful to work alongside Senator Torres as we do what’s right for the people.”
“Bill 312 simply reinforces what our Organic Act established decades ago: that persons appointed to the classified service must qualify for the job," Torres said. “I thank the Commission for working with me to protect Guam’s merit selection process, and hope my colleagues will support this measure.”