- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Doug Ducey has suspended the head of the Department of Economic Security’s ability to terminate agency employees and installed a personnel monitor in the wake of a large number of dismissals.

DES Director Tim Jeffries said Tuesday that it was his idea to give the Arizona Department of Administration final say over firings at the agency, The Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/2eaLtxu). The Governor’s Office said that was not the case, and that firing power was taken from Jeffries and his management team.

Daniel Scarpinato, Ducey’s spokesman, said the governor will install state Deputy Human Resources Director Nancy Gomez at DES.

“She will not only review the firings, she will be approving them,” Scarpinato said.

Scarpinato said no other agency directors have lost the power to fire employees, but the governor may install additional safeguards at other agencies.

The move comes a week after The Republic reported that DES had dismissed a record 475 workers from Jan. 1, 2015, through September. The newspaper also reported that one fired DES employee was dismissed without cause just months before qualifying for full state retirement.

Jeffries said his agency’s services have not been hindered, and that most of the fired employees have been replaced. He said the total workforce at DES was only 19 positions smaller than when he started last year.

Ducey had instructed Jeffries and other agency heads to reduce unneeded staff and make the state’s workforce leaner and more efficient. Since Ducey took office in January 2015, more than 1,500 state employees have been involuntarily terminated. A Republic investigation found the majority of those terminated were 40 or older.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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