The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Photo by John Schreiber.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to establish countywide hiring guidelines and controls to ensure that all candidates have a fair shot at jobs and promotions.

The motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommending new guidelines followed a county audit that revealed cheating by applicants vying for jobs as county firefighters and seeking promotion to the rank of captain.

“The county must establish fair and uniform recruiting and hiring policies,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Maintaining and promoting a top-notch workforce is one way we can better serve our 10 million residents.”

The audit was prompted by a Los Angeles Times investigation into Fire Department hiring and nepotism. Auditors discovered that copies of written and oral exams were left unattended in an unsecured box of paperwork, while copies of interview questions and answers were circulated prior to the test.

“Numerous sworn fire personnel, particularly at the rank of fire captain, were disseminating questions and answers,” the audit stated.

Employees also shared information on other tests, including civil service exams for promotion to fire captain and tests for driving and emergency medical skills, according to auditors.

Ridley-Thomas said that computer-based assessment tools used by the Department of Human Resources and other county departments could be used more broadly to kept recruiting “efficient, fair and secure.”

More than 12,500 people applied for Fire Department jobs between 2007 and 2012. Auditors found that roughly 15 percent of those hired during that time had family members in the department, raising concerns about whether women and minorities may be disadvantaged by the process.

The Fire Department is looking to hire more than 200 new firefighters.

A report by county staff on the implementation of the hiring guidelines is expected back in 60 days.

City News Service

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