OIG Releases Follow-Up of City Hiring Timeliness Audit

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed a follow-up to its December 2015 audit of the City’s hiring process. Based on the Department of Human Resources (DHR) and Office of Budget and Management’s (OBM) responses, OIG concludes that while the City has begun implementation of corrective actions related to the development, tracking, and analysis of performance goals, it has not implemented corrective actions to address other OIG recommendations.

The purpose of the 2015 audit was to determine if the City filled vacant positions in a timely manner. Our audit found that the City took an average of nearly six months to fill vacant positions. OIG concluded that a significant portion of the unacceptably long time lapse to fill a vacancy arises from OBM protocols intended to prevent annual personnel spending from exceeding City Council appropriations, but which in fact suppress department access to personnel appropriations to levels well below the amounts allocated by the City Council, with potential adverse operational impacts. In addition, the City had not set formal goals for how long the full hiring process should take and did not otherwise track the time-to-hire for filling departments’ vacancies. Finally, the City had no procedures in place to identify or measure hiring delays and had not established guidelines to assist departments in timing their hiring requests to meet the schedules set out in their budgetary hiring plans.

Based upon the results of our audit, we recommended that,

  • OBM ensure the disposition of departmental requests to hire reflects the true disposition, and that it formally and expressly communicate to hiring departments any denial of a request (no matter the disposition) and the reason for denial;
  • OBM reconsider requiring departments to postpone filling vacancies until they have achieved their budgeted turnover amount; and
  • DHR work with OBM to define time-to-hire goals that include all relevant hiring process activities, and develop procedures to measure steps of the hiring process in order to identify and remedy sources of delay.

In response to the audit, OBM and DHR described a number of corrective actions they would take regarding the development, tracking, and analysis of performance goals. They disagreed or declined to take corrective actions with respect to other findings and recommendations that bore directly upon processes and protocols that unduly delay hiring to that may impair operational equities across City departments and operations.

In May 2017, OIG inquired with DHR and OBM regarding the status of the corrective actions the Departments committed to in response to OIG’s audit and any other actions they may have taken. Based on DHR’s and OBM’s follow-up response, OIG concludes the Departments have begun implementation of corrective actions related only to the creation and tracking of performance measures that, once fully implemented, may reasonably be expected to provide the tracking tools necessary to identify and address hiring delays.

“While we appreciate the partial corrective actions DHR and OBM are undertaking in response to OIG’s audit, this remains a missed opportunity to address an issue that undermines effective planning and personnel management in many City departments and operations, to the possible detriment of the effective delivery of services to the public, says the Inspector General, Joe Ferguson.  “We strongly encourage the new Budget Director and her staff to reconsider OIG’s findings and recommendations and look forward to providing assistance in any future effort to rectify these issues through corrective action.”

The City Hiring Timeliness Audit Follow Up can be found online.

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