Human Resources Professionals
in Local Government
Local civil service agencies are responsible for administering the merit system in their civil division in accordance with the State Constitution, the State Civil Service Law and the rules which their local civil service agency has adopted.
Local civil service agencies, under the authority and leadership of the Civil Service Commission or Personnel Officer are responsible for administering the merit system in their civil division in accordance with the State Constitution, the State Civil Service Law and the rules which their local civil service agency has adopted. Local government employers and human resources professionals share in this responsibility for lawful and effective merit system administration in your jurisdiction. They must work closely with their local civil service agencies to ensure effective merit system administration.
Local civil service agencies do not always handle all aspects of human resources management for governmental employees. In many cases, employee relations, benefits, hours of work, and salary decisions are handled by human resources offices that are separate from local civil service agencies.
The New York State Department of Civil Service, in accordance with Civil Service Law Section 23 (3), provides technical advice to the over 90 local civil service agencies across the State. Department staff in the Municipal Services Division are available to local civil service agency staff to answer questions and provide resources.
Law & Rules:
- New York State Constitution
- New York State Civil Service Law
- New York State Codes, Rules and Regulations
Local civil service rules vary by agency. Contact your local civil service agency to learn more about the rules that are relevant in your area.
Appointments and promotions in all civil divisions of the State shall be made according to merit and fitness, including counties, towns, villages, school districts, special districts, and cities. The Department of Civil Service does not administer civil service for local governments. There are more than 90 local Civil Service Commissions/Personnel Officers who are responsible for administering the merit system in local government as provided for in Section 17 of the Civil Service Law.
Each county is responsible for administering civil service for the county and all civil divisions within the county, including towns, villages, school districts, BOCES, special districts and cities. Some cities and three suburban towns (Babylon, Colonie and Hempstead) also administer civil service for their local government. The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services is the entity responsible of civil service administration for the City of New York.
Local Civil Service Commissions in the State perform legislative, executive and judicial functions:
- Legislative when making rules which have the force and effect of law
- Executive when administering the merit system, including determining general policy and establishing internal procedures
- Judicial when considering appeals from Civil Service Law decisions such as examination, position classification, and disciplinary actions
Decisions made by local civil service agencies may not be appealed to the State Department of Civil Service or State Civil Service Commission.
The following outlines some of the statutory duties of a municipal civil service commission, with citations to the sections of the Civil Service Law which apply. Each municipal civil service commission shall:
- Administer the provisions of the Civil Service Law (Section 17)
- Prescribe, amend and enforce suitable rules covering jurisdictional and position classifications, examinations, appointments, promotions, transfers, resignations and reinstatements (Section 20)
- Have power to investigate the enforcement and effect of the Civil Service Law and Rules (Section 21)
- Certify appropriate titles for new positions (Section 22)
- Report to the State Civil Service Commission on how the law and rules are administered (Section 26)
- Ascertain the merit and fitness of applicants for competitive class positions (Section 50)
- Certify eligible lists for appointments (Section 61)
- Assist others in carrying out the duties of public officers (Section 95)
- Maintain in detail the employment history of each employee (Section 97)
- Certify payrolls (Section 100)
For a better understanding of how civil service is administered at a local level, including the responsibilities of hiring authorities and the roles of local civil service agencies, please review the following three presentations. These presentations are designed to help local employers understand how civil service works.
The information in these presentations is for advisory purposes only, and is accurate as of October 11, 2022. Any changes in the Law subsequent to that date are not reflected in these presentations.
- Civil Service 101: Part 1 (run time 15 minutes)
This presentation covers the legal basis for civil service in New York State and some of the basics, such as what a "position" is and how employees may be selected.
- Civil Service 101: Part 2 (run time 16 minutes)
This presentation covers recruitment for competitive positions, examinations, and eligible lists.
- Civil Service 101: Part 3 (run time 19 minutes)
This presentation covers probationary terms, discipline, transfers, layoffs, record-keeping, and other topics.
MSD Online is an online resource full of information and web applications for local civil service professionals. If you are an employee of a local civil service agency and do not have a UserID for MSD Online, please complete a Request for User ID and have it authorized by your agency's Personnel Officer or Chair of the Civil Service Commission. Completed requests can be sent to the Municipal Services Division.
The Department of Civil Service offers a variety of training for staff of local civil service agencies. Each Fall, the Municipal Services Division offers the Civil Service Institute (CSI), a three-week comprehensive training for local civil service professionals. Information about this training, as well as other opportunities for civil service professionals can be found on MSD Online Training (login required).
The New York State Association of Personnel and Civil Service Officers offers an annual training conference for civil service professionals in June of each year. Please visit nysapcso.org for more information about this training opportunity.
Contact your local civil service agency for information regarding additional civil service training opportunities available in your area.
Human resource professionals employed by a local government entity that have questions or require assistance with civil service matters should contact the local civil service agency that has jurisdiction over their department or agency.
Nearly all questions regarding examinations for positions in local government, (e.g., examination schedules, announcements, test scores, computational reviews, appeals for disqualification, and issues with online training and experience examinations) can be answered directly by contacting the local civil service agency with jurisdiction over that position.
State Civil Service
- History of New York's Civil Service System
- State Civil Service Commission
- Classification Standards for Positions in State Government
Civil Service Publications
Civil Service Examination & Appointments
- Jobs in Local Government
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding examinations in local government
- Working for New York State Government
- Test guides published by the Department of Civil Service for state and local government examinations
Resources Across the State
- Municipal Police Training Council
- Local Government Handbook
- Department of State - Division of Local Government Services and Support
- Office of the State Comptroller - Local Government
- Department of State - Committee on Open Government
- Department of Education - Office of Professions
- New York State Association of Personnel and Civil Service Officers