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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 18, 2018 09:43 AM
From: Senator Mike Folmer and Sen. Randy Vulakovich
To: All Senate members
Subject: Civil Service Commission Reforms
In 2016, we introduced legislation that was signed into law as Act 69 of 2016 to bring some modest modernizations to the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission by allowing them to:
  • Notify applicants of job openings or tests by email;
  • Expand the “Rule of Three” to create stronger pools of job candidates to fill positions by permitting the Commission to provide lists of more than three candidates, and;
  • Bring “vacancy-based hiring” to the Civil Service Commission by allowing them to post actual job vacancies rather than general lists of job classifications

The full Senate also amended a House bill that was signed into law as Act 167 of 2016 to:
  • Prevent Civil Service Commissioners from being active in politics or being employed by another government entity;
  • Establish a uniform method to apply for both civil service and non-civil service positions, and;
  • Allow appointing authorities to select the type of exams the Commission uses to develop lists of candidates for agency positions

The goal of these changes was to better meet the needs of the Commission’s customers: people seeking employment with the Commonwealth – especially veterans. Unfortunately, neither of these laws have been implemented, which has led us to the conclusion the Civil Service Commission itself needs to be streamlined.

With this in mind, we will be introducing legislation to move the following responsibilities from the Civil Service Commission to the Commonwealth’s Office of Administration:
  • Merit-based hiring;
  • Civil service applications;
  • Certifications;
  • Examinations, and;
  • Promotions

Merit-based hiring would not be affected under this legislation. Agencies would continue to hire individuals based upon their qualification.

Also, agencies and professions currently covered by merit hiring would continue to be subject to merit hiring.

Under our legislation, the State Civil Service Commission would retain its current organizational structure with an executive director. The Commission would also maintain jurisdiction over appeals from employment decisions, including authority and responsibility to:
  • Conduct hearings and render determinations;
  • Exempt positions from civil service, and;
  • Audit Commonwealth compliance with the Civil Service Act

The latter is to provide checks and balances relating to the transfer of merit-based hiring and employment from the Civil Service Commission to the Office of Administration.


Many of these changes are not new and have been offered in previous legislation. The changes we are proposing are supported by both the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Office of Administration.

We hope you will join with us in sponsoring these much needed and long overdue Civil Service Commission reforms.

Introduced as SB1037