HARRISBURG, Pa., June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Auditor General Jack Wagner today praised Gov. Ed Rendell's decision to name Adjutant General Jessica Wright to the State Civil Service Commission.
Wagner had recommended that the governor appoint a military veteran to the Civil Service Commission in a 2008 report that criticized the civil service commission's failure to aggressively enforce veterans' preference provisions in the filling of state jobs.
"I have worked with Maj. Gen. Wright on a variety of veterans' issues through the years and have found her to be a strong and forceful advocate on issues of greatest importance to active and retired veterans,'' said Wagner, a Vietnam combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient. "With the unemployment rate for Pennsylvania veterans higher than the statewide average, I am certain that she will be the fierce voice for veterans that has been missing on this vitally important state agency.''
Wagner's special performance audit found that, because of inadequate policies and oversight by the State Civil Service Commission, 25 state agencies filled at least 589 civil service employment positions without considering eligible veterans seeking employment, even though the agencies requested employment lists that included these veterans with test scores among the top three highest-scoring job candidates. Wagner initiated his audit after receiving a complaint from a veteran, which alleged that the commonwealth had not been applying veterans' preference in its employment decisions or had been applying the preference in an unsatisfactory manner.
Appointing a military veteran to the Commission was one of the recommendations contained in Wagner's special performance audit.
"Our military veterans put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms,'' Wagner said. "By their service and sacrifice, these brave men and women have demonstrated personal and professional qualities that any employer should value.''
Maj. Gen. Wright has served as the Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania National Guard, a cabinet-level position, since February 2004. She commands all Air and Army National guard units allocated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and oversees six state-owned veterans' homes and programs for Pennsylvania's 1.1 million veterans offered through the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Among the issues that she and Wagner collaborated on was preserving the commissary and other services at the Charles E. Kelly Support Facility for active and retired military veterans in suburban Pittsburgh, and the funding of veterans' services organizations in the state budget.
The State Civil Service Commission administers the merit system in Pennsylvania. It covers 60,000 employees in 38 state agencies and about 8,000 employees at more than 300 local government agencies and certain housing authorities.
It also administers the veterans' preference provisions established by the Military Affairs Code for civil service examinations under its jurisdiction. Veterans' preference provides 10 additional points on civil service examinations and certain hiring preference for eligible veterans.
Of the more than 83,000 state government employees in Pennsylvania, approximately 58,000 throughout 38 different state agencies are covered by civil service, according to the governor's office.
If confirmed by the Senate, Maj. Gen. Wright would succeed Marwan Kreidie, who was appointed the State Civil Service Commission by Gov. Rendell in 2004.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the Commonwealth's elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts approximately 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department's Web site at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
Contact: Steve Halvonik 717-787-1381
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General