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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Public service reform’s first phase implemented in Treasury Dept., OMB

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Monday the implementation of the first phase of the Public Service Administrative Reform consisting of new job classifications and salary adjustments, which were reflected in the first 15 days of April.

The first phase was implemented by way of a pilot project in the Treasury Department and in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but it is expected to be expanded to workers in 65 government agencies.

“After nine months of work, today we begin to see the results of the first phase of the Public Service Administrative Reform in a group of Treasury and OMB employees, which were the two agencies selected to develop the pilot plan that seeks to improve the working conditions of all government employees,” the governor said. “The purpose of the project is to improve the organizational structures in the agencies, the recruitment of personnel, compensation and opportunities for professional development.”

Pierluisi said the “historic project” has been taken on by the Treasury, OMB and the Office of Administration and Transformation of Human Resources (OATRH by its Spanish initials), in coordination with the Financial Oversight and Management Board.

At this stage, the Public Service Administrative Reform has resulted in salary increases for some 108 Treasury employees and some 48 OMB workers, mainly from the fiscal component. The changes are the product of a new organizational structure that was developed individually in each agency, tempering the functions of personnel to the real needs of the government. The changes focused on critical areas such as finance, accounting and technology, the governor explained.

“We are determined to update the operation of the government, to invest in the training and retraining of personnel, seeking maximum operational efficiency, recruiting the best talent with competitive salaries and developing a long-term succession and knowledge transfer plan,” Pierluisi said.

Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea emphasized that it is the first time that pay scales have been revised in the department in more than two decades and thanked all the parties for making it possible.

“Since I came to the Department five years ago, I have been vocal and consistent in calling for better working conditions for my co-workers, including decent compensation,” Parés Alicea said. “I thank the governor for prioritizing our collaborators and the [oversight] board for recognizing our request and allocating the resources to do justice to all public servants. This Public Service Administrative Reform is ambitious; the implementation of this pilot project is only the beginning and requires the commitment of all of us who are part of the government. I trusted my work team and today the results we have anticipate a positive future for the agency.”

The Treasury chief said technological advances and digitization have been key to good performance and the provision of services to citizens, but acknowledged that behind the numbers and the results are the employees.

OATRH Executive Director Zahira Maldonado Molina said her office’s goal is to ensure the optimal use of the human resources of the Puerto Rico government.

“This pilot project allows us to refine details for implementation in January 2023 in the central government,” she said. “Our objective is to retain the valuable personnel that we have and also attract new talent to the public service of Puerto Rico.”

OMB Director Juan Carlos Blanco said that in designing the pilot project he relied on the behavior of the labor market to adjust scales and offer employees fairer compensation.

“This is the first time that the government will have new and modern salary scales, created from a market analysis,” he said.

The oversight board issued a statement later on Monday saying that a capable, motivated civil service is essential for Puerto Rico’s future.

“That is why we, the Oversight Board, have been working with Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi and his administration to implement the comprehensive Civil Service Reform that began as a pilot program last August and reached one of its first milestones today,” the board said.

Over the past eight months, the oversight board said, it has collaborated alongside the Treasury Department and the OMB to support the commonwealth in building a strong model for implementing human capital reform across the central government.

“Today, we are pleased to celebrate one of many pilot milestones,” the board said. “Not only are pilot employees at Treasury and OMB earning a market-based salary for the first time, but the agency will now have the necessary human capital infrastructure to tackle the difficult challenges ahead through modernized organizational structures, updated job classifications and targeted new positions for recruitment.”

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