Gov. Ned Lamont stands alongside new Chief Human Resources Officer Nicholas Hermes, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw and Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Josh Geballe to announce an effort to streamline Connecticut's human resources operations
Gov. Ned Lamont stands alongside new Chief Human Resources Officer Nicholas Hermes, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw and Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Josh Geballe to announce an effort to streamline Connecticut’s human resources operations
Gov. Ned Lamont stands alongside new Chief Human Resources Officer Nicholas Hermes, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw and Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Josh Geballe to announce an effort to streamline Connecticut’s human resources operations

Channeling his inner businessman, Gov. Ned Lamont ordered state executive office agencies on Wednesday to begin a major restructuring of their human resources operations as a way to reduce bureaucratic bloat, save taxpayer money and improve residents’ interactions with the state.

“This is the beginning of how we lean up our state government,” Lamont said. “I’m trying to do everything I can do to convince people that we’re taking a fresh start here in state government … making sure that all the efficiencies that perhaps you see in the private sector we’re bringing to state government, and give the taxpayers confidence that their money is being well-spent, well-invested and we’re getting the job done.”

Earlier in the day Lamont signed Executive Order 2, charging Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw, Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Josh Geballe and Lamont’s Chief Operating Officer Paul Mounds with overseeing efforts to create a human resources centralization plan that officials said could save Connecticut $10 million every year. Geballe said there are currently 325 people providing human resources support in about 25 executive branch agencies, about a third of whom are slated to retire in the next three years.

“That’s a very large risk, obviously, in terms of the institutional knowledge and expertise that’s about to walk out the door,” Geballe said, “but we also see it as an enormous opportunity to re-look at how we provide these services, reengineer the processes and look to do them more efficiently and save some money in the process.”

Once the restructuring is complete, some human resources staff will remain at their sites and continue to provide support to their agency’s workforce. Others who perform more specialized work, meanwhile, will be assigned to work at a centralized location and organized into teams grouped by specialty, Geballe said. Such groups could include talent management and recruiting, employee leave and benefits, labor relations and business partners.

The majority of the new teams will be centralized under the state’s first chief human resources officer, Nicholas Hermes, who previously served as the director of statewide human resources.

“This new model we envision giving us enormous leverage to improve the quality of service we provide, bringing new technology that can help automate a lot of manual tasks that consume a lot of the effort of some of our staff today,” said Geballe, whom Lamont hired in part to modernize an anachronistic state government.

Technology will play a big role in state employees’ interactions with human resources after the staff are centralized.

“A lot of the HR tasks today are very manual, very paper-based,” Geballe said, suggesting new employees could file paperwork online, making the on-boarding process more fluid and convenient.

Artificial intelligence could also be used to help human resources staff sort through resumes, automating the rote task of weeding out unqualified applicants.

Geballe said he expects to spend the remainder of the year setting up additional detailed work teams, putting a new management team in place and lining up midterm budget adjustments. He anticipates launching the new organization sometime around the end of 2019.

“This is just one example of a step in the right direction, to maximize and leverage efficiencies across state governments,” said McCaw.

The strategy is part of a broader effort by Lamont, who entered politics after a lucrative career in the private sector, to streamline and modernize government and lower costs.

“This is our our way of saying we’re beginning to run this state a lot more efficiently, in a way that emphasizes quality,” said Lamont.

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Kelan is a Report For America Corps Member who covers the intersection of mental health and criminal justice for CT Mirror. Before joining CT Mirror, Kelan was a staff writer for City Weekly, an alt weekly in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a courts reporter for The Bryan-College Station Eagle, in Texas. He is originally from Philadelphia.

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5 Comments

  1. Is this supposed to make us feel like ‘things are getting done’ Ned?

    Connecticut has far more state employees than similar populated states. In 2014 CT ranked
    13th highest in the nation for full time state employees per every 10k population.

    What does that mean? CT has 3.5 million residents with a 115 full time state employees per 10k residents. Texas has 29 million residents with a 65 to 10k ratio.

    http://www.governing.com/…/states-most-government…

    Another study by the American Enterprise Institute found that state employees in Connecticut receive, on average, 42% higher pay and benefits than their private sector counterparts. This was the highest number in the country – followed by Pennsylvania at 35%, New York at 34% and Illinois at 26%.

    We need more than ‘state employees filing paperwork online’. We need to be sourcing independent efficiency experts to begin designing the complete overhaul of the public sector employee system to be ready for 2027. We need to tie unions salaries directly to state GDP just like the minimum wage is going to be. We need to hold our representatives responsible for their effectiveness and NOT which national political party they follow.

    1. Hi Mr. Verdad, we welcome your comments but please note that our guidelines require that comments be limited to 1,000 characters. We will not be able to approve comments that exceed that limit going forward.

      Furthermore, as a fact check, the 2014 assessment from Governing Magazine is outdated. The number of state employees has been on a consistent decline over the past decade. The number of full-time employees in the executive branch alone has decreased by 5,500 employees in that time: https://www.ctinsider.com/news/article/Why-a-state-reorganization-of-325-people-matters-14268835.php A Bureau of Labor Statistics assessment in 2017 found that Connecticut ranked 41st in the nation when measuring the number of state employees as a percentage of the state’s total workforce: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/06/01/states-where-the-most-people-work-for-government/35302753/

      1. To CT Mirror Moderator:
        According to the bi-annual Actuary Report for state union covered workers:
        Active members (union) 2006= 48919, 2014= 49976, 2018= 49153
        Covered payroll 2014 $3,487,577,000
        Covered payroll 2018 $3,428,068,000.
        Please explain the specifics of the 5,500 employ drop, from when to when, and what departments and non-union or union.

      2. Hi Skookum, can you please provide a citation link for those numbers? They may include part-time workers, in addition to full-time workers.

      3. The bigger issue is these governmental agencies should never have grown to these sizes in the first place! We need to reduce the size of ALL government (not just executive branch) by about 30% to be inline with revenue. Gov Lamont’s policies are not pro-growth but at least he is being honest when he says government can be far more efficient – I think we all know that. However, Gov. Malloy promised many significant changes too on this front and instead tied tfuture governors hands till 2022 and 2027 with ridiculous contract extensions.

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