WILKES-BARRE — An overhaul of the state’s job website and improvements to the application process are helping to make commonwealth employment more attractive to job seekers, according to the governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency — GO-TIME.
“For many years, outdated hiring processes have made it difficult for state agencies to compete with other employers in the job market,” said Secretary of Administration Sharon Minnich. “This is the first step in a much bigger effort to transform how we recruit and retain talent in state government.”
The new website — www.employment.pa.gov — lists non-civil service vacancies, as well as test announcements for civil service positions. Previously, individuals had to go to two different websites for information on testing and employment.
The website also includes a comprehensive list of high school, college, and graduate school student internship programs that were previously dispersed across multiple websites.
Non-civil service postings are now vacancy-specific and include the position title, work location and description of duties. Previously, individuals had to apply to general job categories without knowing the exact position or if any openings were available.
“The hiring process is more transparent for applicants and for managers,” said Minnich. “Job seekers know they are applying to a specific job that needs to be filled, and managers know that applicants are both interested in the work and available for the position.”
Job seekers can also subscribe to be notified by email when vacancies become available, rather than constantly revisiting the site to check for new postings. The website and online job application are both mobile-device friendly.
The new vacancy-based job postings are currently available for only non-civil service positions The Office of Administration (OA) is working with the state Civil Service Commission to implement vacancy-based postings for the positions it fills. Approximately 70 percent of all positions in state government are civil service.
OA is also working with the commission to fully transition its test announcements and online application process to employment.pa.gov. This will enable individuals to view and apply for state government jobs on one website, using the same online application.
To learn more about GO-TIME, visit www.governor.pa.gov/go-time.
DEP proposes plan to improve
safe drinking-water oversight
The state Department of Environmental Protection is proposing to increase the number of inspectors who ensure safe drinking water is delivered from the state’s more than 8,500 public water systems to more than 10 million Pennsylvania residents.
To fund the positions, DEP proposes a new annual fee and amendments to existing permit fees for public water systems. The proposed fee package will allow DEP to expand the existing drinking water staff complement by more than 50 percent and improve inspection rates of public water systems.
“Years of under-investment in our safe drinking water oversight has put Pennsylvania in a precarious position,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP staff have done tremendous work to ensure that the water that we drink is safe and clean. But we cannot continue with the staffing shortages we currently face.”
Over the past few months, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has noted that DEP has one inspector for every 149 public water systems, more than double the national average of one inspector for every 67 systems. EPA has also warned that if inspection requirements are not met, Pennsylvania may lose primacy over Safe Drinking Water programs.
The proposed package would increase fees for new or amended permits and impose annual fees for community water systems, non-community water systems, and bottled, vended, retail and bulk water suppliers. The fees are anticipated to raise $7.5 million in additional annual funding for the program.
The proposal would add 33 new positions to the existing drinking water complement. It would be the first increase to permitting fees since the fees were first implemented in 1984.
“It’s clear that the ever-expanding workload of inspections cannot be managed forever by the current staff levels,” McDonnell said. “These inspections cover the entirety of the water system, from the water source, through the treatment and storage, and finally the distribution to homes. We’re seeking these increases to make sure that we can continue DEP’s high-quality work and fulfill our responsibility to ensure clean drinking water sources to the people of Pennsylvania.”
New state effort aims
to reduce recidivism
Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro recently joined representatives from communities throughout Pennsylvania, along with officials from local, state and federal agencies, to announce the creation of the Pennsylvania Reentry Council, an innovative effort to make communities safer by reducing recidivism and improving prisoner re-entry.
“For too long, we’ve relied solely on incarceration to prevent crime and violence,” Shapiro said. “When two of every three people emerging from jail commit another crime and return, it’s clear the system is broken. By working collaboratively with law enforcement, state and local government and communities, we can create new strategies to expand opportunities and assist returning citizens as they re-enter their communities, and make our Commonwealth safer as a result.”
Wolf said the council will bring together stakeholders and service providers across the industry and be the center of re-entry efforts in Pennsylvania — “because it is in all of our interests that re-entrants to the community are as successful as possible in their transition back home.”
Four state agencies — the Office of Attorney General, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Department of Corrections, and the Board of Probation and Parole — will coordinate the Pennsylvania Reentry Council.
It will meet quarterly as it works through addressing the primary challenges facing returning citizens and communities. Those challenges include:
• Access to housing (majority of landlords screen out tenants with criminal records)
• Access to education (40 percent of incarcerated adults have no high school diploma)
• Barriers to employment
• Access to health care and treatment for addiction
• Access to driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and documents essential to obtaining employment, housing and other assistance
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.