Nepotism Study: 1 in 10 Summer Workers Have Family Connections; New Policies Ordered

Of the 1,128 summer workers hired this year at 17 Connecticut government agencies, 108 were family members of full-time agency workers — or about one family member out of every 10 people hired, a nepotism study requested by the governor has found.

Also, the newly issued study found there were wide variations in hiring methods: Eight of the 17 executive-branch agencies that were surveyed in the study reported hiring relatives of their full-time employees, and nine said they didn't hire any relatives at all. Their policies on favoritism and nepotism were inconsistent or non-existent.

The study by the state Department of Administrative Services was ordered two months ago by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in response to Courant Government Watch columns that said the state's summer payroll was peppered with officials' sons, daughters and other kin.

And on Friday, based on the study's results, DAS Commissioner Donald DeFronzo said he would be sending a "general letter" establishing the state's first-ever uniform "recruitment policy" for summer and seasonal workers at executive-branch agencies under the governor's control. The state's judicial branch and the University of Connecticut do their own hiring and are not subject to the new policy, which Malloy's office approved during the week after DeFronzo prepared it.

"We think formalizing this policy establishes an inclusive and transparent way for anyone looking for seasonal or summer work to find a job," Malloy's director of communications, Andrew Doba, said Friday.

The new policy does not prohibit the hiring of full-time workers' children or other relatives in summer jobs, but tells agencies to make their openings known more widely known to the public than before.

One of the requirements in the new policy is that if a relative is to be hired for a seasonal job at a state agency, "no permanent full- or part-time employee of the employing agency may participate in a candidate review or selection involving a family member."

That provision comes after The Courant reported in a July 14 column that at the Department of Economic and Community Development, a $101,000-a-year official sat in on the job interview of her own daughter, who was hired in May for a seasonal job paying $960 every two weeks.

DeFronzo said in an interview Friday that whether or not officials have participated in the hirings of their relatives in the past, "it shouldn't happen in the future."

He said there was "no uniform practice" over the years for how widely to advertise for job applications; some agencies never posted openings outside, only making them known internally. The new policy will establish deadlines on a calendar by which all agencies must post their summer job openings for the public to see with the Department of Labor, on the DAS website, and on their own official websites.

Here are the eight agencies in the survey that hired family members – which, in the survey, were defined as spouses, children, children's spouses, brothers, sisters and parents:

•The Department of Transportation, where 29 of 56 summer hires were family members. The Courant had previously reported that 29 summer workers' last names matched those of full-time DOT employees.

•The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, where 11 of 17 summer workers were family members of present or former employees.

•The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, where 16 of 53 were family members.

•The Department of Developmental Services, where 15 of 73 were family members.

•The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, where 24 of 753 were family members.

•The Department of Motor Vehicles, where eight of 30 were family members.

•The Military Department, where two of 15 were family members.

•And DECD, where three of 18 were family members.

Agencies reporting that they hired no family members for summer jobs were the Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, the Department of Children and Families, the Office of the State Comptroller, the Department of Education, the Connecticut State Library, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Social Services, the Office of the State Treasurer, and the Department of Labor.

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