The UPEA Board of Directors met to discuss the Career Service System Follow-Up Audit and the Governor’s proposed budget, which has been given to the legislature for consideration.  As UPEA board members we want to inform you about legislation that may have a significant impact on employees.

During the upcoming legislative session, UPEA will track House Bill 104, State Employment Amendments, sponsored by Representative Christofferson (R-Lehi), which proposes to reduce the number of CAREER SERVICE employees by offering supervisors an incentive to transition to AT-WILL status. The UPEA Board of Directors opposes any proposal to diminish the career service system.

There are certain aspects of HB 104 that UPEA supports, such as improving the grievance process and implementing a pay-for-performance structure.  While we support most items in the bill, we formally oppose the component that removes the CAREER SERVICE status for any public employee.

UPEA based this decision on the follow-up audit from the Office of the Legislative Auditor General.  Please click here for the complete report. The updated audit outlines several concerns:

  • In 2010, House Bill 140 changed the law by reducing the steps and timelines of the grievance process to give agencies the ability to resolve grievances at the department level.  The updated report identifies an “increase in dismissals of career service employees, whose dismissal rates are now similar to those of non-career service employees.”

  • The 2010 audit recommended the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) provide training for managers.  The follow-up audit indicates this recommendation was not implemented or only partially implemented.

  • Currently, there is no consistent, agency-wide training for managers.  The follow-up report states, “management training has increased, but it does not include performance management training for supervisors or annual refreshers.”

  • There is not a way to track whether the Utah Performance Management (UPM) system is currently being used by managers.

UPEA’s concern is that DHRM did not follow the guidelines in the original 2010 audit.  As a result, managers and supervisors have not received the proper training to successfully perform the most critical aspect of their jobs – employee supervision.

The UPEA Board believes the recommendations from the original and follow-up audit reports should be implemented before changing the career service system. Both reports provide a clear narrative of the career service system benefits, such as:

  • “Some supervisors in Utah may believe that elements of the career service system, such as the grievance process, hinder the removal of poor-performing employees.  The data gathered from 2017 to 2021 show only a small number of poor-performing employees who filed grievances.”

  • Only 30% of managers have received some form of management training.

  • Only 16% of employees have performance plans in the UPM system.

The follow-up audit is highly critical of DHRM for not implementing a management training and tracking system.

On a related note, the Governor released his budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year.  In his proposal, Governor Cox states, “At-will employment leads to more efficient management and a stronger focus on performance.”  UPEA opposes this statement.

The Governor’s budget includes significant salary increases for state employees including targeted funding for employees below market.  We are optimistic about these proposals and will work throughout the session to highlight these needs.

Please stay engaged with UPEA during the legislative session. As a board, we would like to thank you for your membership and hope you will encourage your coworkers to join us.

Respectfully,

UPEA State Board and Officers

UPEA Executive Director