Sand touts rewriting state job descriptions to eliminate ‘paper ceiling’; governor’s office responds

DES MOINES — State Auditor Rob Sand says he’s worked with a non-profit group and identified more than two dozen state job classifications that could be rewritten to widen the pool of applicants.

Sand, a Democrat, says Opportunity at Work did a similar analysis for Republican Larry Hogan when he was the governor of Maryland. The number of state jobs in Maryland requiring a college degree was cut in half as a result.

“There are all kinds of jobs in the public sector where the job description states that a four-year college degree is required or it states that a four-year college degree is preferred,” Sand says. “That ‘paper ceiling’ stops a lot of really well qualified people from applying for those jobs or getting those jobs.”

According to Sand, 60% of Iowa’s working age population has the skills necessary for government jobs through alternative routes, like military service, a community college degree or work experience.

“The bottom line is that there are a lot of jobs in the public sector, in public service in Iowa that are not getting filled on a timely basis,” Sand says. “There’s work to be done and we need more people to feel qualified and welcome to apply for those jobs.”

Sand says the non-profit’s report identified 28 job descriptions in state government that could be rewritten to include people who did not have a college degree, but Sand did not have a specific number of actual jobs or employees that would be impacted. Two years ago, Sand eliminated the requirement that auditors in the state auditor’s office have a four year degree, so those who have a two-year degree in accounting are eligible to apply.

“There’s lot of smart, practical, hardworking Iowans who go get those degrees. They look at the situation and they say: ‘Well, I can get a degree in the same field in half the time, for less than half the money,” Sand said. “It’s a wonderful, value oriented mindset that we certainly want to encourage people to have if they are working for the taxpayer’s watchdog.”

Sand held a news conference in his statehouse office Tuesday to discuss the non-profit’s report about reclassifying other jobs in the state government. Sand indicated the Department of Administrative Services is the agency that would rewrite job classifications for other areas of state government, but Sand told reporters he has not yet forwarded the non-profit’s analysis to that department.


A spokesman for Governor Reynolds says about 10 percent of state government job classifications require a bachelor’s degree.

Kollin Crompton, the governor’s spokesman, is responding to State Auditor Rob Sand’s announcement that he’d collaborated with a non-profit and found 28 job classifications in state government where a four year college degree was not necessary.

Crompton says two years ago Governor Reynolds directed the state’s human resources agency to review the 807 unique job classifications within state government. The goal was to allow alternative requirements for employment wherever possible. Today, 10.2% of job classifications for positions in the state’s executive branch require a bachelor’s degree.

Crompton says the Reynolds Administration will continue to look for opportunities to update job requirements, making state government employment as accessible as possible to Iowans.