The State Worker

Records of empty positions match transfers

Saturday’s story in The Bee about how state departments shuffle workers among different position codes to preserve funding relied on controller’s records listing more than 179,000 non-promotion transfers.

But there’s a whole other slab of data the story didn’t mention, and which suggests another approach that departments take to keep positions off the abolishment list.

Each year, the controller’s office provides departments with a list of positions that are empty. Those jobs eventually could fall under the government code section requiring positions that are vacant for six consecutive monthly pay periods to be abolished.

In response to a Bee request, the controller’s office produced 2,721 pages of such notices – filling two banker’s boxes – listing more than 17,500 empty positions at about 110 departments.

Of those positions, more than 3,600 also were among the 53,000 positions in the transfer list for 2012-13.

Departments have refused to answer questions about the data. But the notice-and-transfer match suggests that departments alerted to an empty position by the controller’s office did one or more transfers to prevent that.

How much money was involved? Taking the most conservative approach, the average 2013 salaries of the notice-and-transfer positions totaled $122 million.

Here is an example of an empty position notice from 2013.

Sample vacancy report by Jon Ortiz