"We're taking a step today to end a decades-old culture that has weakened and muddled Rhode Island's personnel policies. Supervisors don't have the proper tools and safeguards in place to hold people accountable," said Governor Raimondo. "The vast majority of state workers are dedicated public servants, and they go above and beyond the public's expectation. But, in any large organization, there are people who fall short. Taxpayers--and good-standing state employees--deserve to know that we're going to be able to hold bad apples accountable."
The specific actions announced today are as follows:
•Beginning July 1, all attorneys on state payroll who represent the state in any legal capacity must provide annual documentation that they are in good standing with the state Supreme Court and Bar Association. Attorneys who fail to provide documentation may be disciplined or dismissed from state employment.
•Effective immediately, the State's Office of Internal Audit will regularly conduct random checks of employees who are required to hold certifications or licenses for their position. Employees who do not have up-to-date certification or licenses may be disciplined and could be dismissed from state employment.
•The Department of Administration will clarify that the state's personnel policies allow supervisors to discipline or dismiss employees who violate the professional standards or professional codes of conduct required by their licensing bodies.
•Upon entering state service, all new state employees will be required to sign an acknowledgement of their responsibility to maintain all licensures and certifications required for their position.
In addition to the personnel reforms announced today, the Governor also directed Senior Counsel Adi Goldstein to lead a complete review of all outstanding or pending litigation of over $100,000 and report her findings to the Governor within the next 30 days. Goldstein previously led a division of the U.S. Attorney's Office under former U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha.
After taking office, Governor Raimondo introduced several personnel reforms for legislative consideration that sought to enhance accountability by extending the probationary period for new hires and reclassifying more senior positions as unclassified. To date, these proposals have not been enacted.
The Governor has also implemented performance reviews for non-union employees. For the first time, Rhode Island state government reached an agreement with state employee unions to implement reviews for union employees. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the Governor and state employees have agreed to modernize disciplinary processes.
Earlier this week, the Governor directed the Department of Administration to regularly cross-reference the master list of state attorneys against the lists of licensed attorneys maintained by the RI Bar Association and the State Supreme Court.