In Council News by admin

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) September 17, 2015— Today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown called for hearings to examine a change to Article VII Chapter 401-h of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter commonly referred to as the “Rule of Two,” co-sponsored by Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez.

The Rule of Two provides for the “certification of the two persons standing highest on the appropriate eligible list to fill a vacancy.”  Therefore, upon the vacancy of a Civil Service position, applicants take the Civil Service exam and the two individuals who score highest on the test are then eligible for hire.

As reported by Tom Ferrick in a recent article, “[C]ivil service rules – and specifically the Rule of Two – make it difficult to change the mix of employees. A police commissioner, for instance, may want to hire someone who speaks Mandarin for the police force. But, if that applicant isn’t among the top two scorers, he is out of the running.”

“That is a compelling argument and a prime example of why we are ready for a change to the City’s hiring practices,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “For years, Councilman W. Wilson Goode and I have asked City departments in budget hearings why the demographics of their employees do not ‘look like Philadelphia.’ The main culprit appears to be the Rule of Two.  As a former teacher, I understand that tests are a good first step to determine if someone is appropriate for a position, but it certainly should not be the only step. We intend to fully examine this issue, and hope to achieve results that make our workforce more diverse while still maintaining a fair process for all applicants.”

She continued, “No major company would interview only two people for a job based on how they scored on a test.  That is an old way of thinking.  In 2015, companies are hiring for specific, unique skills, especially those involving technology, language and a host of other critical thinking skills and abilities that just don’t shine through on the Civil Service exam. We need to give our City departments more qualified candidate options to consider in the hiring pool.”

“In 2014, I sponsored the City’s first-ever hearings investigating the unmet need for our municipal workforce to keep up with Philadelphia’s changing demographics and languages,” said Councilwoman Quiñones-Sánchez. “Diverse hiring matters both for equality of access to job opportunities and to crucial city services.”

Philadelphia is known to have one of the narrowest eligibility requirements in the nation because of the Rule of Two. New York and Boston consider the individuals with the three top scores eligible for employment.  Los Angeles requires departments to certify as eligible no less than five applicants more than there are positions available. It also considers all applicants who earned one of the top three scores as eligible, meaning that if three people earn a top score of 92, five people earn a 91 and two people earn a 90, all ten of those applicants are considered eligible for hire.

Along with this resolution, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is also working on Charter change legislation that is expected to be introduced in the coming months.

For additional information please contact Communications Manager Jason Lewis at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues:  children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability.  Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

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