Governor's Picks for the Civil Service Commission Will Matter

Granholm's CSC selections could make life complicated for Snyder

Over the course of his administration, a governor will be expected to make hundreds of appointments to regulatory agencies and boards. Among the more important will be the members of the state's Civil Service Commission.

Under the state constitution, the CSC has the responsibility for overseeing the state's workforce of over 52,000 people and setting job descriptions, duties and compensation. The CSC has essentially delegated much of that responsibility to a collective bargaining process that is very similar to the Public Employment Relations Act, but the CSC retains control of the overall process.

The CSC is made up of four members, who are appointed by the governor for eight-year terms. The terms are staggered, so that a new commission member is appointed every two years. The governor's selection does not need approval from the Legislature, but the state constitution stipulates that no more than two members may be from the same political party. (Nonpartisan appointments are allowed.) Current CSC Chair Sherry McMillan's term will run out Dec. 31 of this year, just as Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration comes to an end. According to Jim Stokes, Gov. Granholm's director of appointments, the outgoing governor will be allowed to choose Ms. McMillan's successor.

Incoming Governor Rick Snyder will make his first CSC choice at the end of 2012. This means that Snyder will contend with a CSC made up entirely of Granholm appointees at the start of his term, and if he intends to put his own stamp on the state's civil service, he is likely to need a second term (and a third appointee) to do so.

Snyder has promised "customer oriented" government. If he wants to influence how state employees do their work on a "retail" level, or address state employee compensation, he will need to pay attention to this panel, be patient and put serious thought into his CSC appointments when they come up.