Civil Service Reform

What is the Civil Service System?

In 1908 New Jersey was the sixth state to establish a Civil Service Commission. The Commission was designed to overcome the governmental appointment spoils system, and to support the professionalism necessary to attend to the needs of residents. Civil Service law mandates that appointments to, and promotions in Civil Service be made according to merit and fitness only; ascertained by competitive and practicable examinations. New Jersey's first municipalities joined the system in 1910, long before the current labor protections, such as ADA, were in effect for employees.

How does a municipality join?

A municipality may join Civil Service through the adoption of a public question by the voters (pursuant to N.J.S.A. 11:9-2). New Jersey currently has 194 municipalities that participate in Civil Service.

Can a municipality leave the system?

No. There is currently no procedure to withdraw from the Civil Service System. Once voters choose to place their public employees into the system, future generations of citizens are bound by that personnel policy made in some cases over 100 years ago, long before existing labor protections were enacted.

How many municipalities are currently in the system?

There are 194 civil service municipalities in New Jersey. Runnemeade was the last municipality to join in 2008. Newark and East Orange are tied as the first municipalities to join in 1910. It is implausible to think that a decision made by a municipality is binding forever, whether it was made 14 years ago or 112 years ago.

Related Legislation

S1000 (PDF): Permits municipalities having population under 2,500 to withdraw from civil service by ordinance.

S-517 (PDF): Permits municipalities having population under 2,500 to withdraw from civil service by ordinance. 

A-2161 (PDF): Eliminates seniority in Civil Service and other jurisdictions for reductions in force in certain circumstances.

Legislative Blog

Find more Civil Service news on the League's legislative blog.

Related Links

Civil Service Commission website

Civil Service Commission's Appeals FAQs