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Tiebreaking procedures for civil service exam lists

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In an attempt to clear up a continual source of confusion, questioning and font fighting, and to keep threads on topic and informative, I'm posting information pertaining to civil service examination lists and how numbers are assigned to those receiving equal scores. In other words, this is an outline of the tiebreaking process.


*NOTE: I do not work for the New York State Department of Civil Service, the City of New York Department of Citywide Administrative Services ("DCAS"), nor am I a site moderator and this is not an official thread.


NYS Civil Service Law governs all things pertaining to civil service at all levels of government within the State of New York. The NYC DCAS has adopted this system of "merit and fitness" to regulate and enforce how employee recruitment, promotion, discipline and retention is practiced. With that in mind, here is NYS CSL § 61.1 :




Successful candidates are placed on an eligible list in order of their respective final examination ratings, including seniority and veterans' credits. The rules provide that if two or more eligibles receive the same final rating, they shall be placed on the list in accordance with such uniform, impartial procedure as may be prescribed by the Department of Civil Service. All eligibles with the same final score are equally reachable for appointment.


Summary of New York State Civil Service Law, p. 9



Below I've listed sections regarding tiebreaking procedures from the Eligible List Administration Manual that was published in August 2006 by the NYS DCS:


Breaking Tie Scores


...There is no one prescribed or best method for the breaking of tie scores...


There are some methods which appear to be more impartial ways of tiebreaking. For example, the last four digits of the social security number are randomly assigned, according to the Social Security Administration. Using these numbers to break ties provides an impartial method which is easily replicated in case of question or challenge...


There may be other methods which a municipal civil service commission/personnel officer chooses to use to break ties. The important thing to remember is that the tie-breaking procedure must be impartial, and should be reviewable by candidates to assure such impartiality.


New York State Eligible List Administration Manual, pp. 10-12



Simply put, the department in charge of overseeing the civil service hiring process at any level of government and in any territory within New York State may employ any system for the purpose of breaking tie scores and assigning list numbers, provided that the means are fair and impartial. To to tie this all together, below is the exact means by which DCAS uses to break tie scores and issue distinct list numbers, as set forth in the Rules of the City of New York, under Title 55, Department of Citywide Administrative Services, in Appendix A: Personnel Rules and Regulations of the City Of New York*, RULE IV—EXAMINATION PROCEDURES, VETERANS PREFERENCE, ELIGIBLE LISTS AND CERTIFICATION, SECTION IV—ADMINISTRATION AND RATING



4.4.11. Candidates With Same Final Examination Rating.


Whenever two or more candidates in an examination receive the same final examination ratings, their respective place on the resulting eligible list shall be determined for administrative reasons only by a sequence of the number derived from the last five and then the first four positions of their social security numbers.


Rules of the City of New York



I hope that this helps.

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