With the NH Senate’s support for the Health Protection Plan being used as a vehicle to move forward NH’s own version of Medicaid Expansion, Governor Hassan has asked members of her administration to help ramp up state resources for the anticipated start of this program on May 1, 2014. As part of that effort, the Department of Administrative Services and the Department of Health and Human Services have worked together to launch a rapid recruitment and training effort.
We have been receiving multiple inquiries from SEA members in HHS and other Executive Branch agencies as a result of the rapid recruitment effort, primarily because the state cleared a simultaneous posting of these positions to in-house and external audiences. SEA President Diana Lacey confirmed with both Acting Director of Personnel Sara Willingham and HHS Commissioner Nick Toumpas that the simultaneous posting is in no way an attempt to diminish the candidacy of internal (Executive Branch) applicants.
In fact, if ever there was a time that in-house candidates had an advantage, it would be now. Current state employees have already passed criminal record background checks and may already have the experience required for these jobs. Based on the significance of this particular program and its compressed timeline to launch, in addition to the support of Governor Hassan it is anticipated that normally preferred resignation periods within the Executive Branch may be actively waived as management throughout state service see this as an all hands on deck moment.
Even though these postings are open statewide, both internally and externally, an important consideration for some current state employees is that HHS is in the midst of a large redesign, due to its recent implementation of Medicaid Care Management. This means HHS is in transition, to a degree, and that functional shifts that directly affect employees are taking place. For employees uncertain about their future, the positions that are needed for the Health Protection Plan present an exciting new opportunity.
Like many challenges HHS employees have faced through the years due to underfunding, Commissioner Toumpas has been heavily relying on transferring employees and reclassifying them into new functions, rather than going through the longer process of recruitment (which could potentially leave many employees without a job). This new rapid recruitment effort is somewhat unique in that the Department anticipates there will be an insufficient number of HHS employees that are qualified for the full amount of positions needed as soon as May 1 and who actually want those jobs (wherever they may be located in the state). As such, statewide internal and external recruitment would eventually be needed, and yet come too late if the Department did not move on multiple fronts to meet this heavy workload demand.
It is important for HHS workers to know that Commissioner Toumpas is going to take currently vacant positions and request that they be reclassified into permanent Family Support Specialist positions (and other classifications required for this program). As those reclassifications are completed, several of the employees that are recruited in this rapid recruitment wave will be transferred into those permanent positions as they become available. Please do not be concerned by the fact that these rapid recruitment positions have temporary position numbers; they are merely being used as a vehicle to deal with time constraints. If you apply for one of these jobs and are selected for it, your current employee status (including your seniority, longevity, etc.) will not be affected. If you are a current HHS employee and are worried about the future of the position you currently hold, and you believe you may qualify for one of these rapid recruitment positions, we encourage you to apply for these jobs.
Typically, under Personnel Rules in-house vacancies post for at least five days. On rare occasions, that has not happened due to a determination made by the Director of Personnel. Nonetheless, we are hopeful that everyone involved in this rapid recruitment effort is putting their best foot forward to meet the demands the anticipated May 1 launch. Should you have any questions or concerns about this simultaneous posting issue, please feel free to contact your SEA steward or field representative. If you are interested in applying for one of these positions and have questions or concerns about the career opportunity, please contact the HHS Human Resources Office.