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Online Glitches, Nasty Memo Mar City Job Openings

Anyone want to be the new city economic development director? City clerk? The finance department is also looking for a dozen new faces.

Good luck applying online. The city's new online job application program — now the only way City Hall will be accepting applications — has been hit-or-miss of late. And good luck to the city department heads who are waiting for those job applications to roll in. An internal City Hall memo sent to all city department heads instructs them to fill all personnel vacancies within 45 days … or else.

On June 8, the city's human resources Web site, powered by the program NeoGov, was not functioning. On June 11, the city's application Web site was back up, but listed only two positions as available: the Community Assisted Public Safety program manager and a Richmond Police Department major. By June 14, it seemed most of the glitches had been worked out — but not before a few precious days had been lost.

The lost days don't bode well for the city's hiring managers. An internal memo dated May 29 lights a fire under city department heads, telling them that in the future, "any position that is vacant for more than 90 days without mitigating circumstances will negatively reflect on your performance evaluation."

Currently, 82 positions are vacant and available in various city departments, according to Linwood Norman, spokesman for Mayor Doug Wilder. That number might go up to 83. The chief administrative officer spot is currently filled by Harry Black, sort of. The mayor says the appointment is kosher, but City Council disagrees. According to the city charter, council must approve the appointment of CAO. Black, however, is legitimately employed as the city's chief financial officer. He's also the author of the May 29 memo on hiring, and his department was responsible for the purchase of the NeoGov program.

City Council President William J. Pantele says the 45-day deadline cuts both ways. He'll be happy to see some of the long-term vacancies finally get filled, but reasons that if so many have been vacant for so long, perhaps the jobs aren't actually necessary. City services have yet to be severely impacted by the vacancies.

This is the second recent glitch in a new city computer system. The city accidentally sent out more than 100 incorrect real estate tax bills last month. Both systems were purchased by the city's procurement office, which is administered by Black.

Said one exasperated former city employee who helped implement the new computer systems such as the NeoGov program: "For the love of God! You keep the old system in place until the new one works." S

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