Public Service Commission got job input from applicant who was eventually hired
Marilla Stephenson was asked for her input on role of managing director of corporate and external relations
The only person to apply for a major new job in the province's executive council office was asked for input on the job description a month before it was posted.
Documents from a freedom of information request by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union show Marilla Stephenson was asked for her input on the outline for the role of managing director of corporate and external relations.
In an April 12 email to Stephenson and Catherine Blewett, the premier's deputy minister at the time, public service commissioner Laura Lee Langley wrote:
"I have taken a crack at a job description for the managing director of corporate and external relations at [executive council office]. You two might review and provide feedback as I was going on fumes for some of it."
(Blewett recently left the premier's office to become deputy minister at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Langley, who remains public service commissioner, is the premier's new deputy minister.)
Job description finalized
A month later, the job description was finalized and advertised internally for executive council office staff on May 10.
But before the post was even advertised, there were internal discussions happening about what would be the appropriate employee classification for Stephenson.
On May 9, Cherryl Tucker, the manager of executive council operations, sent an email to several colleagues noting "we cannot put Marilla in the [specified] position. You will need to create new [position and hiring process]."
'Pivotal leadership role'
The job posting referred to the position as "a pivotal leadership role providing a primary point of liaison for departments, agencies and other stakeholders and interests on key government priorities."
Government officials have said the role was made necessary following last year's merger of the office of planning and priorities with the executive council office.
When the job competition closed on May 16, Stephenson was the only applicant. She went through the interview process and the two-person hiring committee, which included Langley, recommended her for the job.
Until that point Stephenson, a former newspaper columnist and reporter, was working on an 18-month contract as part of the One Nova Scotia coalition, the group tasked with implementing the goals of the Ivany report.
That contract was scheduled to expire on March 31, however it was extended for three more months. Had the contract not been extended, Stephenson would not have been eligible to apply for the job.
Followed 'proper procedures'
Stephenson's new role was announced at the beginning of June.
In an email, a government spokeswoman said there is nothing unusual about the process used to ultimately hire Stephenson.
"The [Public Service Commission] will often seek input from employees who have experience in the type of work that is needed," writes Elizabeth MacDonald.
"In this case, the work done by the employee on the OneNS project was the model for the new position. We also looked at similar roles at [Communications Nova Scotia]."
MacDonald said it is up to deputy ministers to give final approval on any job postings and that was no different in this case.
"The posting was reviewed by HR and followed the proper procedures."