Civil service audit could mean reclassifying some positions
The Urbana campus has begun preparing for a June audit by the State Universities Civil Service System.
“We’ve already received the data request (from SUCSS),” said Maureen Parks, executive director and associate vice president designate for the university’s Office for Human Resources.
She said campus human resources staff members are contacting units and departments to begin gathering information to prepare for the audit.
Parks said the standard audit is conducted every two years at each Illinois university and is designed to determine whether the campus is following the statutes regarding employment, classification and all other aspects of civil service employment. It also is designed to determine if the campus is properly exempting academic professionals.
“Each public state university has the exact same audit process and standards,” Parks said. “All of the same elements are reviewed on each campus.”
But this year’s audit is being viewed with some concern on the Urbana campus following the ongoing analysis of positions at UIC.
Parks said she’s already heard worries voiced by Urbana employees and plenty of rumors about the process.
A recent meeting of the Council of Academic Professionals drew a group of people concerned about the issue, and at the last meeting of the Senate Executive Committee, members promised more discussion of the topic.
Parks said it’s still too early to predict the audit’s implications in Urbana – or in Chicago, for that matter, since officials there have yet to complete the process.
“I do think (SUCSS) will be looking a little closer than they did in the past,” she said, “and there may be some changes in their interpretations.”
So far the classification changes in Chicago have been limited to the medical center, where nearly 260 of the 300 job classifications reviewed were re-categorized.
The changes were a response to findings of the biennial 2008 SUCSS audit for the Chicago campus that identified misclassifications, as well as a 2009 supplemental audit and preliminary results of the 2010 biennial audit that reported needed changes hadn’t been fully addressed.
Parks warned that comparing Chicago’s audit results to the upcoming audit in Urbana isn’t necessarily an apple-to-apple scenario.
“The fact that the medical center (conversion) was high may not be reflective at all of how it may stack up at the Urbana campus,” she said. “There are many, many classifications that are specific to the medical field. For example, the medical center is very different than the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.”
She said Chicago administrators are continuing to ferret out misclassifications based on the audit’s findings and the campuswide job analysis process, covering about 4,000 APs, could take another 18 months.
She said even if classification changes were made in Urbana, job descriptions wouldn’t necessarily change and administrators would have an opportunity to review them before any changes were made.
Parks said administrators have been concerned over the changes because reclassification could mean “a loss of flexibility” associated with filling academic professional jobs at the university. She said bumping rights associated with civil service positions might pose difficulties because APs normally perform “very specialized work” not easily transferable among units.
The Council of Academic Professionals has a statement on its website informing the approximately 4,400 APs on campus of the impending audit and the results of its task force study on the issue.