Department of Civil Service

Oversight of New York State's Affirmative Action Program

Under New York's affirmative action program, State agencies are encouraged to hire and promote individuals from the protected classes (women, minorities, disabled individuals and Vietnam era veterans). In particular, the agencies are encouraged to meet employment goals established by the Department of Civil Service. If these goals are met, the protected classes will be represented in the agency workforce in the same percentages as they are represented in New York's overall labor force.

We examined the agencies' affirmative action efforts, which are overseen by the Department, and found that the representation of the protected classes in the agency workforce has not improved relative to their representation in New York's overall labor force. For example, the representation gap for minorities widened from 1.9 percentage points in 1983 (when minorities accounted for 23.4 percent of the available labor force and 21.5 percent of the agency workforce) to 6.2 percentage points in 1994 (when minorities accounted for 28.6 percent of the labor force and 22.4 percent of the agency workforce).

We identified several reasons for the ineffectiveness of affirmative action efforts. In particular, we concluded that the efforts were undermined by the lack of flexibility in the State's civil service system. We noted that, in positions that are not filled through competitive civil service examinations (about 15 percent of the agency workforce), the representation of the protected classes did improve relative to their representation in the overall labor force. We also found that affirmative action efforts were not closely monitored by the Department, no meetings were held for seven years by a senior advisory committee on affirmative action, and affirmative action officers at the agencies were given limited authority.

For a complete copy of 95-S-28 click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.