What Is a Demonstration Project Definition ?

In 1980, the Legislature enacted Government Code sections 19600 through 19607, which authorize the State Personnel Board to conduct and evaluate demonstration projects. A demonstration project is "a project conducted by the State Personnel Board, or under its supervision, to determine whether a specified change in personnel management policies or procedures would result in improved state personnel management." (Gov. Code, 19600.1.) These demonstration projects may not infringe upon or conflict with the merit principle of article VII of the California Constitution or the merit principle of the civil service system. (Gov. Code, 19600.) Subject to that constraint, "the conducting of demonstration projects shall not be limited by any lack of specific authority under this code to take the action contemplated, or by any provision of this code or any rule or regulation prescribed under this code which is inconsistent with the action, including any law or regulation relating to" hours of work and methods of establishing qualifications, classifying positions, compensating employees, assigning, reassigning or promoting employees, disciplining employees, providing incentives, involving employees and labor organization in personnel decisions, and reducing overall agency staff and grade levels. (Ibid.) The Board may not waive any provision of chapter 10 (commencing with Gov. Code, 19680) (the whistle-blower statutes). ( Gov. Code, 19601.) Before a demonstration project may be entered into, the Board must prepare a detailed plan for the project. The plan must identify the purpose, types and number of employees involved, methodology, duration, training, costs, criteria for evaluation, statutes and regulations waived, effect on the rights and status of employees, and provisions for determining these rights upon termination of the project. ( Gov. Code, 19602, subd. (a)(1)-(10).) The Legislature and affected employees must be notified 180 days in advance of the date the project is to take effect. ( Gov. Code, 19602, subd. (b).) The plan must be published, with an opportunity for written comments, submitted to public hearings, and provided to the Legislature. ( Gov. Code, 19602, subds. (c)-(i).) the Board must also obtain the approval of the agency involved. ( Gov. Code, 19602, subd. (h).) A demonstration project must terminate after five years and the affected employees retain all rights they would have had if not in the demonstration project. ( Gov. Code, 19603, 19607.) The Board must evaluate the results of the demonstration project and its impact on public management. (Gov. Code, 19606.) In 1997, the Board approved a plan to conduct two projects for management and supervisory employees in the DGS, the career management assignment project (CMA) and the career supervisory assignment project (CSA). The projects were designed to study alternatives to traditional methods of examining, selecting, appointing, promoting, compensating and removing managerial employees and supervisory employees above a certain salary range. As part of the projects, various Government Code sections were waived. These statutes related to the definition of class, the establishment and use of lists, examinations, the rule of three ranks and the ranking of scores, probationary periods, appeals of rejections or adverse actions, establishing and adjusting salary ranges, merit and other salary adjustments, layoffs and demotions. In addition, new regulations relating to class, examinations, reemployment lists, probation and appeal from rejection during probation were adopted. The Board adopted a regulation on competitive examinations. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, 549.6.) The new regulation provided that open or promotional examinations would be conducted pursuant to procedures adopted for career executive assignments. (Ibid.) Under those procedures, "Examination results need not be expressed in specific ratings of individuals. The person appointed as a result of a competitive examination must be well qualified and carefully selected. The appointing power is required to promulgate the qualifications that will be used as standards in conducting the examination but is not required to distinguish between groups or individuals as to who is qualified or not qualified or as to relative level of qualification." ( Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, 548.40.)