This policy was repealed as of September 26, 2016, see the notice.

Revised: March 27, 2008

I. Overview

Section 230.09(2)(a), Wis. Stats., vests in the Director of the Office of State Employment Relations (OSER) the authority to “allocate each position in the classified service to an appropriate class on the basis of its duties, authority, responsibilities or other factors recognized in the job evaluation process.”

The Director can, under s. 230.04(1m), Wis. Stats., delegate this classification authority to appointing authorities “within prescribed standards if the Director finds that the agency has personnel management capabilities to perform such functions effectively and has indicated its approval and willingness to accept such responsibility by written agreement.” If the Director determines that an agency is not performing within prescribed standards, “the Director shall forthwith withdraw such delegated function.” [s. 230.04(1m) Wis. Stats.] This section further states that delegated actions taken by the appointing authority may be appealed to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC), and that the Director shall be a party in such appeals.

It is the intent of this paper to review the status of classification delegation in the University of Wisconsin System (UWS) in order to:

  1. Clarify the classification delegation program to UWS institutions.
  2. Establish, within a policy framework, System Administration and institution responsibilities.

II. Background

In October 1971, the then State Bureau of Personnel instituted a policy of classification delegation to all state agency heads for a number of civil service class titles. This initial delegation was subsequently expanded in late 1971 and early 1972 to include additional UWS authority. Since this select delegation occurred at the same time as the merger of the Chapter 36 and 37 University Systems, there was no uniform personnel policy for administering the classification delegation program. Responding to concerns expressed by the Department of Administration (DOA) regarding the University of Wisconsin System’s effectiveness in carrying out the State Bureau of Personnel delegation requirements, UWS GAPP #9 was issued in November 1974.

In the years following initial distribution of this paper, several significant events occurred which impacted on the delegated classification program. The following is a brief highlight of some of the major changes.

  1. In 1977, the Legislature undertook a review of the civil service system. This review resulted in the abolishment of those portions of Chapter 16, Wis. Stats., related to civil service and, after extensive modification, their recreation in Chapter 230. As a part of this review, two significant structural changes to civil service occurred:
    1. In July 1978, the Bureau of Personnel was removed from the Department of Administration and made a Division of the newly created Department of Employment Relations. The Administrator of the new Division of Personnel (DOP) was to be appointed by the Governor and charged with administering the civil service system.
    2. A full-time Personnel Commission was created to hear appeals resulting from actions taken by the Administrator of DOP–a function previously performed by the Personnel Board. The primary functions of the Board then became approval of classification surveys and certifying names to the Governor when recruiting for a new Administrator.
  2. In 1979, DOP initiated a task force to study delegation in terms of required performance standards. The outcome was a formal process for the transfer of delegation from the Administrator to agency heads, with the President accepting UWS delegation authority in June 1980.
  3. The 1983 Budget Bill included a number of statutory changes to Chapter 230. The responsibility for establishing grade levels and classifications for all positions in the classified service (as well as allocating and reclassifying those positions) was removed from the Administrator and conferred upon the Secretary of DER. The authority to approve classification surveys was removed from the Personnel Board.
  4. 1987 Wisconsin Act 331, signed into Law in April 1988, modified the State Employment Labor Relations Act (SELRA) affecting collective bargaining over compensation paid to State employees. This law provides as “mandatory” subjects of bargaining, matters related to employe pay increases on reclassification and reallocation, and the assignment of classification to pay ranges.
  5. In 2003, the Office of State Employment Relations was created by Act 33 (the state biennial budget) to replace the former Department of Employment Relations, which was eliminated in Act 33. The Office of State Employment Relations operates as an independent agency but is attached to the Department of Administration for administrative purposes. The new agency structure preserved the core functions previously performed by the Department of Employment Relations, while realizing significant cost savings for the State.

III. UW System Policy

It is the policy of the University of Wisconsin System to maintain an effective, consistent personnel management program throughout the System. To this end, UW System Administration intends to actively pursue delegation of classification authority for classified civil service positions wherever practical. All delegation received from OSER shall be made to the UWS President. Based upon the criteria which follows, further delegation to the institution level may be made to each Chancellor as appointing authority. This delegation will include authority for classification decisions relating to certification requests, reallocations, reclassifications, and limited term employment (LTE).

Delegation Criteria:

  1. Institution willingness to assume delegation.
  2. Institution capability to maintain a level of performance consistent with the relevant policies, standards, and procedures.
  3. Ability to maintain Systemwide uniformity.
  4. Sufficient classification activity within an institution so that delegation will achieve significant cost and time savings.
  5. Existence of recognized and approved allocation patterns.
  6. Accuracy of existing specifications relative to identifying positions within the institution.
  7. Degree of uniformity and consistency between allocation patterns, specifications, and actual position allocations.

IV. System Administration Responsibilities

The System Administration Office of Human Resources & Workforce Diversity is responsible for the University’s delegated classification program. This office will be responsible for the following activities:

  1.  Coordinating classification surveys conducted by OSER as well as surveys internal to the UWS which have Systemwide impact.
  2. Developing and submitting all requests to OSER for expansion or modification of delegation to either System Administration or the institution.
  3. Training of institutional Human Resource staff in the classification area.
  4. Providing technical assistance in the classification of highly complex or unusual positions.
  5. Developing Systemwide allocation patterns, and assisting in the development or review of allocation patterns proposed by individual institutions, to assure Systemwide consistency.
  6. Establishing an effective monitoring system for periodic review of institution classification decisions to (a) ensure continuing program effectiveness, and (b) implement procedural changes as needed. If discrepancies in established policies, standards, principles, or procedures appear, an investigation will be made and, where necessary, corrective action shall be instituted in accordance with applicable statutes and rules.
  7. Reviewing for approval all institution classification recommendations not delegated to the institution, but for which System Administration has delegation authority.
    NOTE: UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Extension/UW Colleges shall be authorized to process requests directly to OSER for classifications not delegated to the UW System.
  8. Review employee appeals resulting from classification decisions made by institutions, and either affirm or rescind the institution’s decision.
    NOTE: Not all institutions will process all appeals through System Administration for review. The specific procedures for appeal processing, as well as the time limits for filing such appeals, are contained in Attachment 1 to UW System Administrative Policy 255 (SYS 255), Classified Service Delegated Classification Policy.

V. Institution Responsibilities

In accepting delegation of classification authority, each institution assumes responsibility for the following:

  1. Ensuring that the delegation policy and classification procedures are effectively administered within the institution in order that a strong civil service merit system is maintained.
  2. Developing internal institution guidelines and procedures as required for effective program administration.
  3. Maintaining a position description update program to ensure that each employee’s position description is reviewed at least once every three (3) years.
  4. Developing documentation to support all reclassification requests. Documentation must include specific justification based upon:
    1. job change (when appropriate);
    2. classification specification/position standard comparisons;
    3. allocation pattern or position comparisons.
  5. Providing employee and supervisor with written rationale for each reclassification action, including available appeal rights.
  6. Establishing files and maintaining records as directed by System Administration and OSER.
  7. Serve as the last appeal step within the UWS, prior to WERC review of delegated classification actions, where the institution has further delegated classification authority to departments within the institution and has established two independent levels of review by separate Human Resource offices of the institution.

VI. Temporary Review Of Classification Actions

If, as a result of turnover, an institution loses the staff expertise necessary to administer the classification function, then System Administration may temporarily withdraw all or a part of the institution’s classification delegation authority. During this period, the System Administration Office of Human Resources & Workforce Diversity will review and approve the institution’s classification actions as necessary and provide training to new staff in order to return full delegation to the institution as soon as possible.

In addition, in special situations an institution can request that the System Administration Office of Human Resources & Workforce Diversity review and approve a classification action normally delegated to the institution. For example, an institution can request that System Administration make a classification decision where a conflict of interest may exist or the institution does not have the specific staff expertise or resource materials necessary to make an appropriate classification determination.

VII. Attachments to SYS 255, Classified Service Delegated Classification Policy

  1. Attachment 1 outlines the proper appeal procedures in the event an employee disagrees with a classification decision made by either the institution or System Administration. For the majority of cases, this procedure requires appeals to be submitted to System Administration for review prior to OSER or WERC action.
    This policy serves three useful purposes:

    1. Because OSER delegates classification authority to agency heads, the President is a correspondent in an appeal of an action delegated to a UWS institution. Therefore, if the President is to support the institution before the WERC, System Administration must assume responsibility for reviewing the institution’s decision.
    2. With limited resources for monitoring delegated classification decisions, this appeal procedure provides an opportunity for System Administration to review institution level decisions when a conflict arises.
    3. Experience has shown that employees who appeal are usually interested in having a third party perform an objective review of the local decision. However, hearings before the WERC are somewhat adversarial in nature, primarily because the burden of proof is on the employee. In addition, this burden must be sustained in a setting which is foreign to the employee. In general, these employees are good workers who will continue to be employed by the institution long after the appeal. Appeals to System Administration provide a forum not unlike that of the original reclass audit, and are rarely appealed to a higher level.
  2. Attachment 2 is entitled “University of Wisconsin System Classification Delegation List” and outlines those class titles for which classification decisions are delegated, as well as specific limitations imposed on this delegation. It is updated as often as necessary to reflect changes in the level of delegation either to the UWS from OSER, or to the institution level from System Administration.