State on verge of crisis

Posted: Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I believe that our state agencies are on the verge of a crisis in their ability to provide adequate services to the citizens of Alaska. I also believe that most of the state commissioners and others in the departmental leadership are trying to do the best they can with the human resources they have, but the well is going dry.

I frequently ask myself why the citizens of this state put up with the current situation, and the only answer that seems to make sense is that they don't realize how bad things really are.

In the Department of Fish and Game, where I work, people are retiring or just outright leaving state service for better paying jobs at an alarming rate. I get three or four e-mail announcements for job vacancies in my department on a weekly basis. The rational response would seem obvious; compensate people better so they choose to stay. However, the course the state has chosen to pursue is to lower its standards.

For instance, you can now be an "Accountant V," the highest accounting level in the state without a degree. You can also be a "Microcomputer/Network Specialist" with no degree whatsoever. You can even be a division director or deputy director with no degree of any kind. Yet we still have problems filling positions.

The professional positions in my department such as biologists and biometricians are especially hard to fill. New employees that are hired tend to be very young and inexperienced and have no real incentive to stay since the Tier IV retirement system makes it easy for them to leave. They also are being hired long after the previous position holders are gone so there is no transfer of institutional knowledge going on.

I know some people that read this will think that I am only being self-serving, but if this situation is not corrected the real losers will be the citizens of Alaska.

John Carlile


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