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By Agnes Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 29) – With barely two months left in his term, outgoing Gov. Juan N. Babauta lifted on Friday a four-year-old austerity measure that had prevented certain government appointees from becoming permanent government employees.

In Directive No. 245, issued last Friday, Babauta ordered the conversion of limited-term appointees to civil service permanent employees.

House Speaker and governor-elect Benigno R. Fitial had expressly asked Babauta last week not to take any personnel actions that would commit the government beyond the incumbent's term. Fitial is set to assume office on Jan. 9, 2006.

Babauta's Nov. 25, 2005 order amended Directive No. 215, which was implemented immediately after he took office in 2002.

According to the governor, the modification of Directive No. 215 would clarify the employment status of locally funded limited term appointees who have completed 52 consecutive weeks of satisfactory performance. It was issued at the recommendation of the Office of Personnel Management and concurrence from the Civil Service Commission.

The Personnel Service System Rules and Regulations authorize the Personnel director to take conversion actions for employees filling permanent positions who have demonstrated satisfactory performance for one year.

OPM refused to release information regarding the governor's order, which would reportedly benefit some 70 appointees.

"I realize that [Directive No. 215], which I initially effected to help control government staffing, has increased the administrative burden of the hiring and retention process. I also recognize that this policy has created concern among employees regarding their employment status," Babauta said. "Appointing authorities and the director of Personnel will take all necessary actions to implement this directive in a timely manner," Babauta said.

He also said that the remaining provisions of Directive No. 215 would remain in full force and effect until further notice.

Other austerity measures included in Directive No. 215 control the government travel, contracts, hiring, overtime, overtime exception, purchases, leases, and utility use.

November 29, 2005

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

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