OIG Releases Audit of City Hiring Timeliness

OIG Releases Audit of City Hiring Timeliness

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed an audit assessing the timeliness of the City’s hiring, a process involving the Department of Human Resources (DHR), the Office of Budget and Management (OBM), and the departments hiring employees. The audit found that in 2013 it took the City almost half a year—an average of 176 days—to fill vacant positions. The City did not have goals for how long it should take to fill vacancies, nor did it reliably track information about how long it took to fill a vacancy. A slow hiring process can deter or discourage candidates, and may impair departments’ operational effectiveness.

As part of the City of Chicago’s hiring process DHR works with the hiring departments to make each hire and OBM approves a department’s request to start the hiring process. In addition, each year OBM reduces each department’s personnel budget by a turnover amount—based on the estimated time that positions will be vacant due to turnover throughout the year and thus no salary or wages will be paid.

OIG’s audit established that,

  • in order to ensure that departments would not exceed their personnel budget, OBM required departments to realize their turnover amount early in the year, which led departments to hold positions vacant by an average of 76 days after removing four departments that OBM stated are not subject to this process.

OIG recommended that OBM change its practice of front-ending turnover, which forces departments to delay the hiring process for some positions. Instead, OBM should work with departments to ensure that they manage their budgets while utilizing natural turnover throughout the course of the year. OBM disagreed stating it believes its current methods are appropriate and its communication with departments is sufficient to provide a transparent hiring process.

  • once started, the average hiring process took approximately 101 days with nearly one-third of new hires starting work more than 120 days (or about four months) after their departments requested permission to begin posting, recruiting, and evaluating candidates for the position. Hiring departments determined when to initiate the process without advice from DHR or OBM regarding when they should submit hiring requests in order to fill positions at the earliest date approved by OBM.

Because the City lacked official performance goals for the timeliness of the full hiring process and did not track the time-to-hire for vacancies, OIG was unable to identify specific points and causes of these months-long delays. OIG therefore recommended that DHR and OBM define time-to-hire goals that include all relevant hiring process activities and that DHR monitor the hiring process to identify and fix delays. DHR partially agreed with OIG, stating that it would implement new methods for tracking milestones in the hiring process and identify sources of delay. DHR also committed to setting a time-to-hire goal for each hiring sequence in collaboration with the hiring department. However, DHR will not partner with OBM to monitor the amount of time positions sit vacant without any action taken to fill them or the amount of time it takes for OBM to approve and forward positions to DHR.

“The timely hiring of talented public servants when and where they are needed is a critical component of continuous improvement of City services and operations,” said Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, “In a competitive job market, employers have to move expeditiously to get the best and the brightest and to minimize the adverse operational impact of vacancies. Yet we found that the City neither knew how timely its current hiring system is, nor did it have performance goals or standards to assure its ability to compete. In order to effectively serve as advisors to departments both DHR and OBM need to transparently facilitate hiring activities based on industry expertise informed by performance goals and measurements.”

The full report, and the City’s response to the findings, can be found online at OIG’s website: http://bit.ly/AHRTM.

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