OIG Audit Finds That the Department of Human Resources Has Not Prioritized Employee Performance Evaluations and Does Not Ensure That City Departments Evaluate All Employees

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed an audit of the Department of Human Resources’ (DHR) management of the City employee performance evaluation process. OIG concluded that DHR does not ensure that City departments evaluate all employees and has not clearly defined the roles and responsibilities related to periodic evaluations. As a result, more than 10,000 City employees currently work in 7 City departments that report they do not conduct any performance evaluations, with another 6,000 City employees working in 13 other departments that report they do not regularly conduct performance evaluations of all of their employees.

OIG made several recommendations to help DHR ensure that employee evaluations occur, while still allowing for customization across City departments. OIG suggested that DHR should,

  • revise Personnel Rule XIV to define expectations and responsibilities for employee performance evaluations more clearly, and to require performance evaluations of all City employees on, at least, an annual basis;
  • report on departmental compliance with Personnel Rule XIV to the Mayor’s Office;
  • approve departmental evaluation policies and procedures, allowing for customization at the department level; and
  • consider implementing an automated process that allows for reminders, monitoring, real time tracking and reporting, and collection of evaluation records automatically.

In response, DHR stated that it will make clarifying revisions to Personnel Rule XIV. However, because revising a rule is a lengthy process, in the near term DHR will issue a Citywide performance evaluation policy requiring departments to designate the date of each employee’s annual evaluation and track on-time completion rates. DHR also stated that the Department will,

  • provide City departments with performance evaluation systems;
  • track whether or not departments are completing performance evaluations and provide periodic reports to the Mayor’s Office; and
  • consider implementation of an electronic employee performance evaluation module.

“Without regular evaluations, City employees lack critical guidance and incentive for continual improvement in the execution of their duties for the public, as well as the support for professional growth and development a model employer owes them,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “For management, evaluations are a critical accountability mechanism for optimizing achievement of program missions and duties. For these and other reasons, the Municipal Code of Chicago mandates regular employee evaluations, and requires their use as a basis for personnel decisions, such as salary increases, promotions, or disciplinary actions concerning the City’s 35,000-plus workforce. Their absence—which this audit reveals to be widespread—renders such decisions overly dependent on comparatively standardless, unaccountable management discretion, and vulnerable to appearances and suspicion of favoritism. The Department of Human Resources, to which the Municipal Code assigns the responsibility of enforcing Citywide compliance, is therefore to be credited for acknowledging the historical deficit in the practice of predecessors, accepting the recommendations to follow best practices and institute a more robust evaluation system, and, with the full support of the Administration, affirming its commitment to ensuring greater accountability for individual City departments and supporting fair and equitable employment practices.”

The full report can be found online at OIG’s website: bit.ly/DHRevaluations.

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The mission of the independent and non-partisan City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity by identifying corruption, waste, and mismanagement in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, or waste of any kind, we need to hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: www.igchicago.org.