Problem Identification:
The City’s personnel-related practices (hiring, promotion, job reclassifications, etc.) represent a major impediment to efficient and effective management.

Recommended Action:
Institute workforce planning initiatives and create “critical” hiring lists for job classifications that experience high levels of personnel turnover or regular departmental demand. Additionally, strong consideration should be given to conducting a comprehensive review of the Personnel Department.

Cost Savings, Organizational, Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:

Estimated Annual Impact:
While the immediate financial impact cannot be estimated, the City’s ability to hire and promote qualified candidates in a timely fashion will reduce the operational impact of vacancies and the overtime or contract costs incurred when departments allow a position to remain vacant.

Estimated Implementation Costs:
Can be accomplished with existing resources.

Barriers to Implementation:

Projected Implementation:
90 – 120 days

Next Steps:
Begin interim workforce planning initiatives and develop a listing of critical position classifications upon which the Personnel Department can focus recruitment efforts. Evaluate the desirability of conducting a comprehensive assessment of the City’s personnel-related practices.

All of the departments studied through the Greater Baltimore Committee/President’s Roundtable Management and Efficiency Review project cited the City’s personnel-related practices (hiring, promotion, job reclassifications, etc.) as a major impediment to efficient and effective management. While the Personnel Department did not fall within the scope of this effort, it would represent a glaring omission of this report were the City’s personnel-related issues not referenced herein.

The FY99 report of the City’s Millennium Group does a very credible job of encapsulating the sentiments of the City personnel that have participated in the Management and Efficiency Review effort:

The mission and goals of the City personnel system were found to be consistent with the dominant intent of the City Charter, which is to assure fairness in hiring and promotions, and guard against political or other undue influence. It is important to note, however, that the Charter also includes an objective to ‘promote the efficient delivery of services to the public.’ The personnel department was found to place far more emphasis on the fairness and integrity of the process than it does on meeting the needs of the agencies it serves. On an individual basis, personnel staff members often try to be responsive to customer needs, but there is very little policy emphasis on supporting the ongoing work of City agencies, helping to carry out citywide objectives, or facilitating citywide change.

It must be reemphasized that this quote is representative of the sentiments relayed to the six project teams and is not an organizational reality that the Greater Baltimore Committee/Presidents’ Roundtable executive volunteers observed firsthand. That said, it seems undeniable that personnel practices are an area in need of improvement as illustrated by the
following chart:

Source: FY99 Millennium Group Report, relying on information from the Internal Personnel Management Association and the Society for Human Resources Management.

While the project teams cannot offer an informed assessment of the City’s Personnel Department, their interactions with the five studied departments left the distinct impression that steps could be taken’short of a comprehensive overhaul of Personnel Department’to partially alleviate departments’ personnel-related problems. These steps include instituting workforce planning and prioritizing requests to the Personnel Department.

There exist no constraints that prohibit City departments from making workforce planning a management priority. Rather than perpetually bemoaning the perceived shortcomings of the Personnel Department, department manager should make efforts to project future workforce needs by evaluating existing employees’ length of service tenure to anticipate retirements and reviewing and monitoring information related to turnover rates for specific job classifications where high degrees of turnover have been historically observed.

To the extent possible, departments must begin to anticipate and forecast personnel needs rather than continuing the request-driven practices that result in hiring and promotion delays. Additionally, this type of planning should enable departments to identify the job classifications where need is most critical. By focusing on the truly critical needs, departments should be more capable of articulating their most pressing hiring problems to the Personnel Department.