Sam Haithcock: No ‘merit’ in hiring

August 19, 2013 

Agenda carriers

Having worked in state and local government for almost 40 years, I recollect that every governor since Gov. Jim Holshouser has hired bright, young people out of campaigns to work in the new administrations. And, over the years, hiring in state and local government has moved away from any kind of “merit” approach to a political one, giving elected people greater influence and control over the bureaucracy.

Most of us recognize the need for accountability in how government works, and many elected people feel they should have control over hirelings to ensure the results they desire. I am sure the young people referenced in various media reports who have been hired and given substantial raises right away are bright, energetic and ambitious.

While I would hope that the people advising high-level officials of the administration would have some kind of demonstrated expertise in the areas they are advising, I recognized a long time ago that the people put in policy advising positions are there, most notably, to make sure an agenda is carried out, and so don’t have to know how to really do anything except politics.

Sam Haithcock

Durham

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