The Rauner Administration announced today it has abolished the staff assistant position at the Illinois Department of Transportation. The position was central to the IDOT patronage hiring scandal that began under previous administrations.
“Every day we are working to restore the people’s faith and confidence in government,” Governor Rauner said. “Ending this illegal patronage hiring and abolishing the staff assistant position is another step in regaining the trust of Illinois taxpayers. Government should work for the people and not the government insiders.”
On September 1, the Administration announced the remaining staff assistants at IDOT had received layoff notices. Their last day with the agency was Thursday, September 15; they are no longer on state payroll.
The staff assistant position came under scrutiny in 2014. An Executive Inspector General Report found the previous administrations had illegally hired employees into the staff assistant position at IDOT. These employees would then transfer into protected government positions or perform job duties that had little or no relation to their actual job description. The previous administration tried to layoff these employees, but the union representing the employees sued to stop those proceedings. The Rauner Administration reached an agreement with the union to finalize the layoffs of the illegal patronage hires.
Since taking office, Governor Rauner has taken a number of actions to increase transparency in hiring. He signed an Executive Order to publish Rutan-exempt employees on the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal website in a direct response to the IDOT hiring scandal. In addition, he signed an Executive Order that removed the requirement that the Governor’s Office review and approve the hiring and promotion decisions of Rutan-covered positions. This Executive Order removed a level of bureaucracy in hiring civil-service positions and further protected the process from unlawful political influence.