1995 Finalist
State of Wisconsin
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards

In 1993, the National Commission on State and Local Public Service issued a report titled "Hard Truths/Tough Choices," which concluded that there was a "civic service paralysis" amongst government agencies that had been induced by ineffective hiring procedures. The systems described by this report included complex application and hiring processes that ultimately prevented organizations from finding the best possible candidates for employment. This complexity fostered perceptions of government as comprised of faceless, unresponsive bureaucracies wherein hiring was not merit based.

The address these issues, the Wisconsin Division of Merit Recruitment and Selection (DMRS) developed a set of new practices to streamline the hiring process and make it more user-friendly. These four new practices: The Entry Professional Program (EPP), the Critical Recruitment Program (CRP), Walk-in Civil Service Testing, and the Job Online Bulletin Service (JOBS) were the core of DMRS's new strategy.

EPP allows the state to more effectively compete for entry-level talent by nearly eliminating multiple choice testing requirements and introducing a detailed and focused application process. The shift in practice in the early stages of the hiring process allows applicants to more fully understand position requirements and, therefore, to assess his or her interests and abilities as they pertain to the opening. For high demand positions, DMRS retains the use of multiple choice testing, but uses it only to efficiently and quickly narrow applicant pool. DMRS's walk-in testing also allows job-seekers to participate in employment screenings at one of several state-wide locations.

CRP is used for government positions that are hard to fill because of competition with the private sector. This new practice streamlines the hiring process and allows agencies to offer positions to desired applicants in a more timely manner. The final component of DMRS's comprehensive new hiring strategy is its online job board, known as JOBS. JOBS widens the applicant pool from which DMRS can draw to fill open positions, similarly augmenting the department's ability to remain competitive with the private sector.

Once combined, these practices increased timeliness, improved candidate quality and diversity, and increased the number of recruits and hires. Between 1991 and 1994, the time it took DMRS to create a list of qualified applicants, including the fourteen to twenty-eight day recruitment period, dropped from 64 to 44 days. In a pilot survey conducted by DMRS, ninety-seven percent of responding managers reported improvements in the quality and diversity of their hires.