As director of the excise audit bureau in the West Dakota Department of Taxation

“The Workforce” Please respond to the following:
Review “The Star Award” in Chapter 10. Select three candidates
(from the field of five) to receive bonuses. Justify your response with one or
two reasons.

As director of the excise audit bureau in
the West Dakota Department of Taxation, you have to decide who on your staff
should receive a new performance bonus. The legislature created the bonus back
in February, and the division of personnel has now issued all the regulations.
You have the forms and instructions, and by the end of the month, you have to
send your choices to the taxation commissioner, who will forward them to
Two things motivated the West Dakota
legislature to create the performance bonus.
First, key legislators had concluded that state employees were simply
not working hard enough. Legislators constantly receive complaints about the
lackadaisical attitude of state workers, and they concluded that the fixed
civil service pay scale was not attracting new talent or motivating existing
Second, West Dakota is running a budget
surplus for the second straight year. Naturally, the legislature has cut
taxes—twice. But despite those efforts, the budget continues to show a surplus.
Consequently, the Speaker of the House decided to use a portion of it to reward
the “stars” of state government.
The new Star Award will give the top20
percent of employees in each unit a $5000 bonus, to be paid in 1 2 monthly
installments during the coming fiscal year. The bonus is supposed to go to
those employees who are not only “outstanding” but also genuine stars. The head
of each unit must determine the criteria for choosing who the stars are. To
ensure that the bonus can be included in the July payroll checks, each manager
must submit a “star list” by June 20.
Your audit bureau has 1 5 employees with a
wide range of responsibilities and job classifications—everything from clerk I
to senior auditor. And, predictably, they also possess a range of talent,
enthusiasm, and effectiveness.
Here are the most obvious candidates for
the performance bonus:
• Larry Beck, senior auditor. As a 23-year
employee, Beck is clearly your most knowledgeable and effective auditor.
Everyone goes to him for advice. Everyone looks up to him. But in two years,
Larry will be eligible to receive his pension, and he knows it. He can still be
a top performer—when he wants to. Recently, however, he has lost a little
drive, although most people in the Department of Taxation still think of him as
your unit’s star.
• Jim Beatty, auditor III. With an advanced
degree in accounting, Jim draws your unit’s tough assignments. He understands
the subtleties of the excise tax and thus works with both the department’s
legal counsel and the attorney general’s office explaining the intricacies of
each case and helping to formulate strategy. He can, however, be condescending
toward his less knowledgeable colleagues, few of whom understand the complexity
of his work.
• Rachel Gonzalez, auditor I. Straight out
of law school with a verve for public service, Rachel is a real go-getter. In
fact, she has struck gold several times, having gone over the books of numerous
firms in such detail that she found mistakes most other auditors would have
missed. Unfortunately, she also discovered some “errors” at a firm owned by the
House Speaker’s cousin. The firm
refused to acknowledge any error, and eventually the department’s legal counsel
decided to settle out of court. The firm paid the taxes that Rachel claimed it
owed (plus interest) but admitted no guilt for any tax violations and paid no
fine. Rachel would be a gutsy choice on your part, but it might create a few
problems politically when the Speaker hears about it.
• Martha Rutledge, administrative assistant
With 35 years in the Department of
Taxation, Martha knows everybody and everything. She runs your life. In fact,
she really runs the day-to-day business of the audit unit, permitting you to
concentrate on long-term, strategic concerns. You trust both her skills and her
judgment; she really functions as your deputy director. Of course, she is still
paid as an administrative assistant. It’s hard to imagine Martha slacking off
in her duties under any circumstances; it’s also unlikely that an award would
make her any more diligent. She’ll be doing her same conscientious job right up
until the day she leaves.
• Samantha Black, clerk I.
Two years ago, straight out of high school,
Samantha passed the civil service exam with flying colors. You immediately
hired her, and she quickly became a real team member—both competent and cheery.
Every auditor wants to give his or her clerical work to Samantha. Moreover,
others in the department have heard of her talents, and she has already turned
down several offers as a clerk II. You, however, don’t have a clerk II position
into which you can promote her.
The rest of your employees are quite
proficient and professional. They’re smart; to do their work, they have to be.
Like any other manager in the taxation department, or in state government for
that matter, you have a couple of people whom you wouldn’t mind replacing.
Still, you have a talented team that does its job without requiring much
attention (except when you step on some politically sensitive toes). Your
people are overworked and underappreciated. If the bonus is for performance, 90
percent of them deserve one.
But you have only three to give.
Case Questions
1 . Before turning to specifics of the
case, consider the following more general question. Most would agree the six factors
in the following list are important in determining whom to hire and promote:

• Experience
• Integrity
• Knowledge
• Motivation
• Understanding
would you rank these in relative importance?
Support your answer.
2. Who in this case would you pick?

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