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Lujan Grisham may scrap plan to consolidate human resources functions

SANTA FE – Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham is weighing whether to scrap outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez’s plan to consolidate all human resources functions within New Mexico executive branch agencies within a single agency, her transition team director said this week.

Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, had criticized Martinez’s executive order on the campaign trail, telling state workers at a Santa Fe rally less than two weeks before Election Day that the consolidation plan would lead to more vacant state government jobs.

But her transition team director Dominic Gabello said no decisions have been made yet about whether the order will remain in place after Lujan Grisham takes office.

“The transition is thoroughly reviewing all departments and policies, and after their review is concluded, Governor-elect Lujan Grisham will make a final determination,” Gabello told the Journal.

The executive order signed in February 2017 by Martinez, a two-term Republican, was touted as a way to centralize a disjointed human resources system and save millions of dollars.

Gov. Susana Martinez

The state has 23 Cabinet-level departments and more than 40 administrative agencies. Many of them until recently had their own human resources offices to handle internal policies, rules and personnel directives.

Already, personnel functions have been consolidated in 38 state agencies, leading to a cost savings of roughly $10 million, according to the Governor’s Office.

“The human resources consolidation ordered by Governor Martinez has already saved millions of the taxpayers’ dollars, while at the same time making (human resources) processes more efficient – in line with the governor’s commitment to streamlining and right-sizing New Mexico’s government,” Martinez spokeswoman Mary Elizabeth Robertson said.

Under the order, all personnel functions were shifted to the State Personnel Office, which also oversees hiring and disciplinary matters for the roughly 18,500 rank-and-file state employees.

But the consolidation order has generated concern among some legislators and labor union officials, who have raised questions about whether it could lead to more employee grievances being filed.

The order also stoked concern about possible layoffs of state employees, though the state’s top human resources official vowed last year that layoffs would be a last resort.

Lujan Grisham defeated Republican Steve Pearce in this month’s general election. She will be sworn into office Jan. 1.