The federal government requires certain state agencies and units of local government to operate under a Merit System of Personnel Administration because of the federal funds received for programs administered (i.e. economic assistance).

The Merit System is guided by certain merit principles: recruiting, selecting, and advancing employees is done on the basis of ability, and it includes open consideration of qualified applicants.

  • Equitable and adequate compensation is ensured.
  • Employees must be trained to ensure quality performance.
  • Employees are retained on the basis of performance.
  • Fair treatment is accorded to all employees.
  • Employees are protected from coercion and prohibited from using their official authority improperly.

Agencies operating under merit system principles are the Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Job Service North Dakota, Division of Homeland Security, Protection and Advocacy Project, Procurement Section of Central Services, and Human Resource Management Services. Included in the Department of Human Services are the regional human service centers, the Life Skills and Transition Center in Grafton, the State Hospital in Jamestown, and the county social service boards. The county social service boards are included because they receive federal funds through the state for administration of several public assistance programs. However, effective October, 2008, county social service boards were given the option to establish a local merit system, opting not to be covered by the North Dakota merit system. NDAC 4-07-34.1 provides the procedures and requirements for a county to develop its own system.

An applicant who has been disqualified by a merit system agency may appeal the disqualification to the agency appointing authority. The applicant must send a letter of appeal to the appointing authority postmarked within 15 days from the date on the letter of notification of rejection. The letter of appeal must specify why the applicant believes the qualifications were met. The agency appointing authority has 15 working days to provide a written response.

If the applicant is a regular, classified employee, the applicant may further appeal the disqualification to the Director of Human Resource Management Services. Human Resource Management Services will certify the appeal and request the Office of Administrative Hearings to designate an administrative law judge to conduct a hearing and prepare findings of fact, conclusions of law, and issue a final order.


NDCC 54-44.3
NDAC 4-07
Code of Federal Regulations: 5 CFR, Chapter 1, Part 900, Subpart F - Standards for a Merit System of Personnel Administration