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Advisory Council on Ethics (ACE)

Advisory Council on Ethics Opinion No. 1

June 3, 1997

If a state agency, The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, can hire a person at an above par salary without benefit of competitive hiring standards and for what appears to be political reasons.

The TDCJ Advisory Council on Ethics has been asked to consider whether a state agency, The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, can hire one specific individual for a position that was apparently created for that person and whose hiring has appearance of being for political purposes.

Government Code 493.006 identifies the duties and responsibilities, in broad form, of the Executive Director. It states no specific abilities or inabilities of the Executive Director to hire individuals for specific positions regardless of competitive hiring. Mr. Leonard Peck, with the TDCJ General Council's office, advised that the ability of the Executive Director to hire as he desires is what is referred to as inherent authority. PD-71 IV, A, B, and C state that "After the minimum qualification screening is completed for salary group 15 and above, the appropriate Human Resources Regional Office will complete an Applicant Log…; with instructions for the selecting authority to interview only those applicants who meet the minimum qualifications…;The Selecting Authority, with the approval of the appropriate Deputy Director or Division Director may elect to appoint a qualified applicant to positions in Salary Groups 17 and above after the required position posting…;The appointment process may involve document screening, interviews, or a combination of both…;If document screening is elected, this process will be used to select the most qualified applicants to be interviewed, generally this shall be no less than three or no more than ten…."

It is the opinion of ACE that no one should be hired for political reasons. All qualified individuals should be given an equal chance for a position or promotion based on ability. No one should be appointed to a position based on actual or the appearance of political reasons. All promotions or selections for positions should be in strict accordance with agency hiring and promotion policies.