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Rockville still hunts HR

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Published on: Thursday, May 23, 2013

By Holden Wilen

ROCKVILLE – More than a year after Carlos Vargas’ resignation as Rockville’s human resources director, the city still has not hired a replacement.

Vargas resigned in May 2012 while Saul Ewing conducted an investigation into employee claims of claims of discrimination, harassment, tampering of personnel files and employee evaluations, and illegal disclosure of medical information. Colette Anthony has filled the position in an acting role since Vargas’ resignation.

The city hired Mercer Group to begin the search for a new HR director early last month. City Manager Barbara Matthews said Mercer was in Rockville the week of April 8 to interview city staff and get input to help with putting together a candidate profile and job advertisement, which was released earlier this week.

Matthews said the timeline is for Mercer to review potential candidates and make recommendations around July 1. At that point, Matthews said, Mercer will perform background checks on all of the candidates – this will take another two weeks. Matthews said she hopes to actually be interviewing candidates by mid-to-late July.

“My hope is we will have someone identified by August 1,” Matthews said. “Now when someone is actually on board it will depend on what their personal circumstances are. The August 1 date is a good date in terms of having a candidate named. When he or she starts will depend on their personal circumstances.”

The new HR director’s main responsibilities when starting the job will be implementing changes to meet the recommendations of the Saul Ewing report that were made in November. According to the candidate profile, the main issues facing the human resources department are:

• Personnel policies, procedures, and regulations need to be evaluated, updated, communicated, and applied fairly and consistently throughout the organization.

• A compensation and classification study has not been conducted for some time and will get underway in fiscal year 2014.

• The city’s performance evaluation system needs to be evaluated and improved, including the development of a more job specific evaluation tool and implementation of an online system.

• The existing organizational development and training programs should be assessed and refined to enhance the professional growth opportunities and evolving skill sets of all city employees.

• A comprehensive analysis of the department's organizational structure is needed to address concerns regarding the responsiveness and consistency of information provided by the department.

• Processes and procedures need to be assessed for possible streamlining through the use of technology.

Though a new HR director will not be in place until Aug. 1 at the earliest, Matthews said there are some changes that can and should be implemented before the new HR directors comes aboard.

One of the main things Matthews said she is working on is revising the policy and procedures manual. Instead of giving pieces of it to the mayor and council, Matthews said she wants to provide a complete draft all at once. The process for putting together a draft could take as long as three months, she said, but she hopes it will be closer to the end of July.

“I would imagine the manual will be to the mayor and council prior to the new director starting,” Matthews said. “It is not something I feel like we can wait on. It would be great to have someone here to help with that process, but that is just life.”

Another change Matthews said she is looking to make is to initiate some new training. The new HR director will do a full-blown assessment of the city’s training procedures, but Matthews said she wants to figure out what initial training should be done.

Matthews said she wants to perform a compensation and classification study to see how the city’s pay ranges and salaries compare to the marketplace. The city is behind in the process, she said, and the study should be done every three to five years.

Reader Comments - 1 Total

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Posted By: Catlin Fox On: 5/29/2013

Title: What?

More smoke rises from the ashes of city hall. A year without critical leadership has left the city in no better condition. What has Matthews been doing since she came on board? NOTHING but string the citizens of Rockville along with talk of change. She has not fired one of the abusive managers. Please report on what she has done except launch a study in April. The new city manager has been sitting back collecting a big fat paycheck on our dime and could not figure out to start the selection process to select a new HR director until 6 months later. OMG!!!! My 5 year old could do better.
We paid TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS for a cover up sham. Investigators who never spoke to former staff whk came forward blowing the whistle on the abuses reported/mentiones in these articles. Sounds like a waste of funds unless the real intention was to try to squash the employee moral after leading them and the citizens to think the city cared. What the city wants is us to go away. How much money are we paying these top managers? I request the Sentinel to profile the salieries of Matthews, Daniels, Berg, Swift, Kimball and the rest of those mentioned in the news articles.
Where did the others mentioned in the articles like Hall, Pouche Flarety, Vargas go?
Someone reported that maybe Vargas and Shanks are working at the county. Someone needs to see if this is true.
The Mayor and council seem powerless to do anything but hire people like Matthews to completely ignore them and BS the Sentinel and the citizens.
I am far from done making my views known here and will be posting again. This will not go away till heads roll at the city and those responsible for the abuses have all been fired.


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