For state workers who’ve ever dreamed of taking revenge on a bad boss — or wished to do something nice for a particularly good one — there’s a new web site that will give you the opportunity to do just that.
Well, not you: State workers in California will have to wait.
Aizonu.com is set to launch within the next three weeks. It will let state workers in at least six states log in to rate current or former bosses. The site is designed to make most of its revenue from a combination of advertising and small fees charged to anyone who wants to buy a full report on a particular boss — for instance, someone deciding on whether or not to take a job under that manager.
While the site is based out of the Sacramento area and was inspired by the founder’s experience working for the state of California, it won’t include reviews on bosses in the Golden State. There is a huge amount of state worker data available via public records; such data is the backbone of the Capitol salary database offered by the Capitol Weekly and the state worker salary database operated by the Sacramento Bee.
But Aizonu.com seeks to verify that anybody who signs up to write evaluations actually worked for who they say they work for. This is intended to keep people honest — for instance, preventing someone from trashing an ex-lover or difficult neighbor who they never actually worked for.
California lacks that kind of data for its huge state workforce. While public employee data is readily available across several state agencies, the ability to link individual employees with particular bosses is lacking.
“We could tell you that employee John Doe works at the Department of Social Services, makes X amount a year, was paid this amount on overtime, has a job classification of staff services manager,” said Garin Casaleggio, a spokesman Controller John Chiang’s office. “We wouldn’t be able to tell you who their boss would be. We could tell you all the managers in that department. But you wouldn’t ever be able to draw a line and say ‘who does this employee manage?’”
“It seems almost like you’d have to verify with each department,” said Steve Caldwell, director of legislative and public affairs with the California State Personnel Board (SPB). He added, “I could work at 10 different departments over the years. You’d have to verify who worked there at each time. That sounds difficult.”
So far, six states have been able to provide the necessary data, according to Aizonu.com’s founder: Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, and West Virginia. They have at least some data from several other states, which they hope to add soon after launch: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, and Illinois. Some of these are obviously large states, but none has a workforce as big as the 238,000 employed by California. In some cases, this data cost up to $1,600 per state, though in most cases it costs under $1,000. Aizonu.com’s founder is currently trying to get the data for California and the 37 other states.
The lack of the Golden State in Aizonu.com’s launch is ironic, given that the site was inspired by an experience in the California state workforce. Aizonu.com’s founder, who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being, said she worked in a state agency where her manager fired several people without cause in just a few months. The founder said she asked the boss about the firings, and was essentially told that no one could do anything about it.
Given how unpleasant it is to work for a really bad boss, she said many people would find it worthwhile to log onto the site and pay a small fee to find out other employees’ opinions of a potential boss—even for positions paying only $30,000 a year.
There is a potential upside for the state, according to the mission statement currently posted at the site: by exposing bad managers, the state could save over the long term.
“The number of recorded appeals from public workers is astronomical; the amount of taxpayer’s dollars spent in legal fees is troublesome… AIZONU allows job seekers, other state employees, state departments, high level management and the public, to set eyes on a department, its management and practices thus providing an opportunity to evaluate working stats, make pellucid employment decisions, significantly increase work satisfaction and consequently save tax dollars.”
The founder has been trying to get the necessary information from a variety of state agencies via public records act requests since at least April. In addition to the Controller’s office and SPD, they have contacted the Department of Personnel Administration office seeking information including:
–Number of lawsuits against the state of California by state employees in the past 4 years.
–Number of transfers within departments in the last 3 years
–Number of layoffs while on probation in the last 3 years
–Number of discrimination complaints filed within the last 3 years
–All current and former (5 yrs) state employees names and their appropriate email.
On this last request, the general counsel with the SPB replied Sept. 10 and 14 “SPB has no public records within the scope of your request.”
Numerous ratings sites have popped up on the Internet in recent years. Few, however, make money directly off visitors, usually surviving on advertising revenue. One of the most successful is Yelp, which lets people rate businesses—and sells “Check us out on Yelp” stickers to businesses who have ratings they actually want people to see.
There are other sites that rate actual people. Some job sites include sections where people can rate bosses in various fields, but these sites are generally supported by business that pay for job listings.
Another example is RateMyProfessor.com, an ad-supported site that lets students rate professors and professors can respond. But that site takes a fairly low-tech approach, letting people leave anonymous ratings with no verification they ever had a particular teacher.