A letter from Gov. John Hickenlooper on state hiring

April 11, 2014


Dear State Employees:

You've heard us say before that facts matter. This week, the Denver Post published stories that misrepresent facts about state hiring. We wanted to take a few minutes today to give you information about state hiring so you can feel confident in your employer's practices when you are talking with your friends, family and neighbors about your work.

Amendment S, which voters passed in November 2012, modernized the State's 92-year-old personnel system. It was unanimously supported by the General Assembly -- and endorsed by The Denver Post -- and the state has received national recognition for these improvements (including from the National Association of State Personnel Executives and Governing Magazine).

We expanded veterans' opportunities to work for the state, extended the length of time temporary employees can work for the state, and made changes to the hiring process and residency requirements for state employment. In the first year of implementation, these changes reduced the time it takes us to fill a position from 90 to 60 days - a time savings that also translates to reduced costs for the state. It also helps you by ensuring your teams can quickly fill vacancies with high quality people.

Amendment S also exempted the Senior Executive Service and six specific positions that already existed (deputy directors, chief financial officers, public information officers, legislative liaisons, human resource directors and executive assistants to the department director) from the State Personnel System, effectively making them "at will" employees. To date, 107 of the state's more than 33,000 positions have been reclassified as "at-will" as a result of Amendment S. These positions are required to be posted and undergo an open, competitive selection process. They are not hired by the Governor, but are selected by the executive directors in the departments.

Additionally, the State Personnel Director issued guidance that non-classified employees under the Governor's purview should be compensated equivalent to their classified counterparts. Non-classified staff received the same raises as their classified colleagues in July 2013.

Please also know that Amendment S has not cost the state $21 million, as reported by the Denver Post. This calculation is actually based on the total increase in all state employee salaries since November 2012 - not just the 107 people reclassified under Amendment S.

That total cost is also misleading because it was pulled from a database that does not reflect actual payroll dollars; it miscalculates part-time and seasonal workers' salaries as full-time costs. Additionally, it does not account for federal and grant funding the state receives to offset the costs of some new programs. Nor does it consider the fact that the time period being analyzed also happens to correspond to the economic recovery.

We have thoroughly reviewed all hiring related to Amendment S and remain confident in the changes made that ensure the state can recruit, reward and retain a talented workforce. We appreciate all you do each and every day in service to the people of Colorado.

We are also confident that hiring decisions in our administration have stayed above partisan politics and reflect the highest ethical standards.

If you have questions or concerns, please talk with your human resources director or contact the Department of Personnel & Administration.

Thank you,