Alabama scored a 66 on the Civil Service Management category of the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation, ranking it 11th in the country.
Alabama got high marks for having a structured Merit System with set requirements for state positions and a State Personnel Board that, among other responsibilities, can investigate allegations of inequities. The state has a whistleblower law that protects employees from retaliation after they report corruption, abuse of power or other misdeeds by supervisors. Whistleblowers who feel they have been wronged may appeal to the Personnel Board or file suit in civil court. However, the state does not require employees to report corruption, nor does it have a separate, defined office for receiving employee complaints of such a nature. Employees can report suspected wrongdoing through the same offices other members of the public would use, including the Attorney General’s Office, local District Attorney’s Offices and the Ethics Commission.
The state also got high marks because state employees must follow the same ethics regulations that apply to officials, such as strict limits on gifts that may be accepted and a ban against using state property for personal purposes. State law also requires a litany of state employees working in high-ranking or sensitive positions or who make $75,000 or more a year to file financial disclosure forms. The statements of economic interests include information about income, investments and debt for the employees, their spouses and their dependent children. However, most of that information is reported in broad ranges rather than specific amounts, and the forms are not routinely audited. The forms are filed with the Ethics Commission, though, and are available for public review online.
The state’s score was lowered by several other issues. For instance, Alabama law does not specifically ban state employees who are convicted of corruption from working for the state again in the future, although, practically speaking, that’s unlikely to happen. Jackie Graham, director of the state Personnel Department, said that when an employee leaves under questionable circumstances, state officials can flag their personnel file “Do Not Rehire.” The employee then can’t be rehired in the same classification, and state officials will not inadvertently rehire someone because their previous issues had been forgotten.
A very structured civil service system with detailed job descriptions that are advertised and a board that can review complaints about unfair treatment on the job. It also got high marks because state workers are subject to the ethics law, particularly pertaining to gifts etc., and many of them have to file asset disclosures. It got high marks for having a whistleblower law, but low marks for not having an internal mechanism to allow government employees to anonymously report corruption.