Jerry Brown proposes merging state HR agencies

Gov. Jerry Brown today proposed merging the State Personnel Board and the Department of Personnel Administration into a single California Department of Human Resources, an effort to cut bureaucracy and save taxpayers millions.

“Study after study has called for consolidating the state’s redundant and disjointed personnel systems. It’s time to make those recommendations a reality,” Brown said in a news release. “As a unified, streamlined department, CalHR will save taxpayers millions of dollars and make government more efficient.”

Brown’s office said more than half a dozen reports and studies have been issued since 1995 by the Little Hoover Commission, Legislative Analyst’s Office, California Performance Review and California Research Bureau, calling for a comprehensive reorganization of the state’s personnel management system. California’s complex, outmoded structure makes it harder to recruit, hire, promote, classify and discipline state employees, they say.

For example, a department planning a reorganization of internal programs must consult with both agencies on classification, status and layoff issues; with DPA on pay, labor relations and all terms and conditions of employment; and with SPB on selection, promotional relationships and transfer determinations.

Brown’s office says merging the agencies will reduce positions by 15 to 20 percent, saving up to $5.8 million; there’ll be more savings as the new department streamlines operations and replaces outmoded personnel practices. The reorganization, taking effect July 1, 2012, would also lead to a consolidation of office space.

Current DPA Director Ronald Yank said the merger “will improve access to services for personnel staff, state employees and future job-seekers. We’re committed to making this work.” And SPB Executive Officer Suzanne Ambrose said it “strengthens our leadership role and allows us to focus on high-level issues such as workforce planning and developing the next generation of state employees.”

Brown sent his plan today to the Little Hoover Commission and to the Office of Legislative Counsel, as required by law. The commission will review the plan and make recommendations to him and to the Legislature, while the Legislative Counsel will draft bill language. After the plan is submitted to the Legislature, lawmakers have 60 days to consider it, and it will take effect automatically unless rejected by a majority vote of either house.

Article VII of the State Constitution will require that the five-member State Personnel Board continue to serve as an independent appellate body overseeing the merit principle.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.