By Mayor Brian Arrigo
On Monday, the UMass-Boston Collins Center for Public Management presented to the City Council a Human Resources report and analysis. The report outlines the city’s most glaring HR deficiencies — most notable being that Revere is by far the largest city in the Commonwealth without an HR Director. It identifies years of nonexistent or inconsistent hiring practices, a lack of adequate personnel policies, and insufficient training and support for employees.
As part of my administration’s commitment to building a professional, accountable, transparent city government, we have already begun to implement many of the recommendations of this report.
The timing of this report and our actions to correct these deficiencies are made all the more glaring by the $4 million judgement against Brockton just last week for alleged discriminatory HR policies. The city is now putting in place the kinds of codified policies and procedures that will help prevent a similar ruling against Revere, and it is what makes hiring a full time HR Director so important.
The first step in making the HR Department operational was conducting a full audit of current practices. You can see the full report at www.revere.org/hrreport. Revere has hired an HR consultant to begin implementing some of the most critical recommendations of the report. With the report complete, we are now beginning the process of hiring a full time HR Director.
One of the most important tasks of our HR department will be to ensure that the best and the brightest are hired to city positions. In the last year, we have taken a number of steps to correct systemic hiring problems. In my administration’s early days, it was clear that the city had not previously conducted proper hiring processes for all positions. Some departments reported to our HR consultants past instances where they arrived at work one day to find a new employee they’d never heard of — often with no relevant qualifications — reporting for duty.
Political connections should neither qualify nor disqualify someone from the key functions necessary to work for a city.
You can rest assured those practices have ended. The culture around hiring practices in City Hall has changed.
Over the last year, we actively solicited applications for open positions, held interviews, and asked department heads to help select the most qualified, hardest working, and best candidates for those positions. We are proud of these changes, but there is so much more work to be done — work that can only be accomplished properly by trained and experienced HR professionals.
The Collins Center recommends the City take further steps to ensure we are recruiting the most qualified candidates possible for all positions — regardless of who they are or where they are from. We must recruit for the best talent, including people with experience working for other cities and towns or at the state level.
In addition to issues with our hiring systems, the HR Report notes the lack of personnel policies ranging from conflict of interest and employee conduct to discrimination and harassment. The HR Consultant has already begun to draft these policies and more, which will ultimately go into an Employee Handbook. There should never be questions about what you expect of your government, and what management and staff expect of one another.
Other important findings in the Collins Center report include the lack of new employee orientation, a lack of position descriptions, lack of disciplinary and performance policies, and the lack of training for staff and managers.
In response to the report, this year I am introducing Revere’s first ethics ordinance for city staff. We will ensure full compliance with state conflict of interest laws. Working in conjunction with the State Ethics Commission, we have organized the first on-site ethics training for employees in March. I know that the vast majority of city employees are ethical and hard-working. We must now work together to end any misperceptions.
In my conversations with residents over my time as Mayor, when I was running for Mayor, and before that as a City Councilor, the topic of interactions with City Hall has come up often. You should expect professional interactions with City Government. I expect that too. You should expect that the most qualified and best people are working to serve your needs. We all deserve the best from our City Hall. And if you work for the city, you should know what is expected of you.
We will continue to work to create a City Government you can be proud of. I hope and expect that you will let me know where we can improve – because I intend to deliver on this promise.