History of the Commission

Important Events that have Shaped the City and County of San Francisco - Merit System

1900 - Establishment of the Civil Service Commission

The San Francisco Civil Service System was established under the 1900 Freeholder Charter.

  • San Francisco Civil Service Commission was established, simultaneously with the establishment of the merit system for the City and County of San Francisco.
  • The Civil Service Commission one of the oldest in the country, pre-dated only by just a few years by Chicago, New York, and a few other Eastern municipalities. San Francisco has the oldest civil service system West of the Mississippi.
  • The first members of the Commission were P.H. McCarthy, John E. Quinn, and Richard Freud, who were appointed by Mayor James D. Phelan on December 30, 1899.
  • The Commission's first meeting occurred on January 5, 1900; Richard Freud was elected president.
  • The first competitive examination was held on January 8, 1900, and as a result, Edward F. Moran was appointed 93Chief Examiner and Secretary94 of the Commission.
  • The offices of the Commission opened to the public at noon, January 8, 1900, and by 5:00 p.m., 621 Laborers applications were received and hundreds of applications for examinations were issued.

1932 - Charter Reform

  • Enlarged the scope of duties of the Civil Service Commission
  • Gave greater powers to the Civil Service Commission to enforce its rulings and included the following important components:
    • Control of the classification plan;
    • Restrictions on exempt appointments;
    • Provisions for practical, free and competitive examinations;
    • Persons appointed subject to a six-month probationary period;
    • Decision of Civil Service Commission on appeals is final;
    • Prohibition of political activity;
    • Central control to assure the unhampered operation of the merit system.

1975 - Expansion of Civil Service Commission

The electorate voted to:

  • Expand the Civil Service Commission from three (3) members to five (5) members;
  • Require not less than one member be a woman;
  • Require a special oath upon appointment.

1979 - Compliance agreement between the Office of Revenue Sharing and the City & County of San Francisco.

  • Created open, competitive process for promotive examination;
  • Allowed horizontal and vertical access to the promotive system;
  • Permitted an accelerated examination process to address long-term temporary employees;
  • Expanded recruitment efforts for city jobs to support the citywide equal employment opportunity plan;
  • Established an in-house discrimination complaint procedure.

1991 - Civil Service Reform and Collective Bargaining

The electorate approved four (4) ballot measures that:

  • Removed a number of Charter provisions word for word and added them to the Civil Service Commission Rules to allow for negotiation on changes through a meet and confer process;
  • Increased flexibility in classification of positions;
  • Established the minimum certification Rule of Three Scores;
  • Provided for collective bargaining subject to merit system carve-outs.

1993 - Creation of the Department of Human Resources

Ballot measure approved by the electorate:

  • To create the Department of Human Resources effective January 1, 1994;
  • Redefined the Civil Service Commission role from an operational personnel department to a policy making/appeals board.

1996 - Charter Revision

  • The 1932 Charter was revised, recodified and reorganized;
  • The role of the Civil Service Commission was clarified to reflect the Civil Service Commission's jurisdiction and the merit system in the new collective bargaining environment;
  • Limits were placed in the Charter on the duration of provisional appointments;
  • Required that not less than two (2) members of the Civil Service Commission shall be women.

1999 - Creation of Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) (Proposition E)

  • Voters approved the creation of the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) in November 1999 election;
  • Preserved the role of the Civil Service Commission as to merit system issues in the Municipal Transportation Agency.

2001 - Appeal to the Civil Service Commission of the Removal of the Director of Elections (Proposition E)

  • Voters approved amendments to the Department of Elections in November 2001;
  • The Elections Commission to appoint the Director of Elections from a list of qualified applicants according to the civil service provisions of the Charter;
  • Removal of the Director of Elections by the Elections Commission may be appealed to the Civil Service Commission.

2002 - Salary Setting - Board of Supervisors

  • Voters approved Charter Amendment to provide that the job of the members of the Board of Supervisors is full time and that the salaries be set by the Civil Service Commission once every 5 years.

2003 - Ethics Reform (Proposition E)

  • The voters approved Charter amendments in November 2003 that consolidated all of the City's ethics laws into the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code, created new laws and amended some of the existing laws including laws on hiring of family members and incompatible activities. The Civil Service Commission comments from a merit system perspective on Statements of Incompatible Activities forwarded by the Ethics Commission.

2006 Salary Setting – Elected Officials (Proposition C in November 2006)

  • Amended Charter Section A8.409-1 to provide that the Civil Service Commission shall determine the base salaries every five (5) years of the Mayor, City Attorney, District Attorney, Public Defender, Assessor-Recorder, Treasurer and Sheriff, effective July 1, 2007.

2007 Exempt Appointments in the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) (Proposition A in November 2007)

  • Allowed the MTA to create new managerial positions that are exempted from the civil service protection, subject to an overall limit of 2.75% of its workforce.

2010 Wages and benefits for Municipal Transportation Agency Transit Operators (Proposition G in November 2010)

  • Eliminated the provision that the wages and benefits for MUNI transit operators would established determined through collective bargaining; and, 
  • Eliminated the Charter-mandated trust fund (the general administration of which was established under the Civil Service Rules) created to receive and to administer the amount of money which represented the dollar value difference between benefits provided to MUNI transit operators under the Charter and those provided by the surveyed jurisdictions; instead, benefits are to be determined through collective bargaining.