T0: Department and Agency Personnel, Human Resource and Affirmative Action Offices
FROM: James W. Sever, Director of Staffing Services
SUBJECT: Upward Movement of Employees: Promotions and Transfers
Over time, cases have raised questions about the relationship between promotion by examination and upward transfer. This memo addresses some of those questions. It does not reiterate definitions and policy relating to promotion and transfer found in Sections 1205 and 1840 of this Manual and elsewhere.
New York's merit system makes explicit distinctions between promotion and transfer. By definition (Rule 1.2), transfer may involve a change of title and level. Permitting upward transfer has been a long-standing practice of the Department. It has judicial approval (Council 82 v. Civil Service), and the conditions necessary to permit it are laid out in policy. Promotion is an entirely separate process with its own statutory basis (Section 52), terms, and conditions. While the clear technical distinction is often blurred because common usage considers any upward change of title a "promotion," the two distinct processes should not be confused or combined into one.
It is possible to fill a given title by transfer, promotion, or both; neither process necessarily bars the other. When moving people between titles within two grades, resource considerations often make transfer the method of choice, though examinations are held in some circumstances. Even where there are promotion examinations, however, transfer is possible from any other appropriate title. As an example, the "administrative" titles (Section 52.6(a)) are commonly filled - at agency discretion - by transfer (lateral or upward), or list appointment. Conversely, there may be some exceptional cases where titles in a series are two grades apart but transfer is not appropriate.
A separate issue is whether a promotion field can include, as qualifying titles, only titles filled by transfer. It can. How a promotion field came to be has no bearing on whether or not it is one. Promotion fields may consist, partly or entirely, of positions filled by examination, transfer, title structure change, cover-in, displacement, reemployment or any other legitimate means of permanent appointment. This, too, has judicial approval, (OMCE v. Lawton).
[see also SSM 98-05 in 1]