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Civil Service Commission/Department of Personnel - RG 216 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Civil Service Commission/Department of Personnel - RG 216


Historical Note:

The first civil service law for state government in Illinois was approved May 11, 1905 and took effect in November of that year (L. 1905, p. 113). The act established the Civil Service Commission's basic structure of three commissioners, appointed by the Governor to six-year terms, who chose one of their members to act as president and appointed a chief examiner to serve as secretary. Although the commission's jurisdiction extended initially over only non-supervisory employees of state charitable institutions, the members exercised the full range of their principal duties: to classify positions in accord with competence and salary levels; to set qualifications for employment in the positions under their control; to maintain lists of persons eligible for appointment to those positions, and to furnish those lists to agencies seeking to fill vacancies; to approve appointments and maintain records of transfers, promotions, and resignations; to investigate complaints concerning position changes, responsibilities, salaries, or tenure; to remove employees for specific offenses (e.g., inefficiency, political activity, insubordination); to establish and promulgate personnel rules and to file them with the Secretary of State and county clerks; to authorize payment of employees' salaries after determining that those wages corresponded with the terms of their appointments or promotions; and to submit annual reports to the Governor.

In 1911 the civil service system was broadened and the commission's jurisdiction extended to a much wider range of positions (L. 1911, p. 222). The members were given additional powers: to establish promotional lists for those positions, to advise state agencies concerning more effective personnel practices, and to offer dismissed employees the opportunity to defend themselves at hearings conducted by the commission. The expanded system included all positions under the Governor but did not affect employees of the General Assembly, judges and their appointees, elected officials, appointees of the Governor who required confirmation by the Senate, members of state military services, administrators and faculty of the University of Illinois and state normal schools, executive mansion employees, assistant attorneys general, loan or bank examiners, and superintendents, wardens, and chaplains of state charitable and penal institutions. Other exemptions were made over the period 1917-1941 for employees of the State Council of Defense, special police, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, insurance actuaries or examiners, veterinary surgeons in the Department of Agriculture, employees of the Illinois Farm Commission, watchmen employed by the Supreme Court, state highway and waterway construction and maintenance workers, certain regulatory staff of the Department of Mines and Minerals, and scientists employed by the state scientific surveys (L. 1917, pp. 153, 289; L. 1919, p. 291; L. 1925, p. 542; L. 1931, p. 207; L. 1941, vol. 1, pp. 398, 934). In 1917 dismissed employees were granted the right to reinstatement if commission hearings proved that their terminations had been based on racial, political, or religious prejudice (L. 1917, p. 289).

In 1941 and 1943 non-academic and non-administrative staff of the University of Illinois were transferred to the control of a newly created University Classified Civil Service System and employees of downstate county departments of public welfare were placed under the jurisdiction of the Merit System Council consisting of the three state civil service commissioners (L. 1941, vol. 1, pp. 398, 493; L. 1943, vol. 2, p. 545).

In 1955 and 1957 the act of 1905 was amended substantially. The commission's administrative duties were transferred to the newly established Department of Personnel and the commission was transformed into a regulatory agency over the department in order to oversee and coordinate its duties and to hear employee appeals from department decisions (L. 1955, pp. 337, 2208, 2222; L. 1957, p. 1101). Terms of the acts of 1955, collectively entitled the Personnel Code and effective as of July 1957, retained most exemptions previously authorized and continued undisturbed separate personnel merit systems such as those for the state police and the University of Illinois. The Merit System Council, however, was abolished and its responsibilities merged with those of the Department of Personnel. A separate University Civil Service System was established for employees of Northern, Eastern, and Western Illinois Universities. And a Personnel Advisory Board of nine appointees of the Governor was created to nominate appointees to the Civil Service Commission and advise both the commission and the department on effective personnel administration.

The Department of Personnel was replaced by the newly created Department of Central Management Services in 1982. The Civil Service Commission remained independent (Executive Order No. 82-1, P.A. 82-, pp. 3436-3444).

For an administrative history of the Department of Central Management Services see RG 225.000.



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