The term is used several times at https://sfgov.org/civilservice/rule-111a-position-based-testing and I can't fathom the meaning. I searched the site and found a definition (copy below, indented).

But even after (roughly) understanding what eligibles, appointing officer, and more are, I still can't grok it. To me it seems akin to intentionally obfuscated source code. I can't grok what's in italics. Even after finding this help while drafting this. I can't grok what it means to consider a score. I think "employee organization" = union, but I'm not sure.

Sec. 202.6 Certification - Rule of Three Scores

The names of eligibles with the three highest scores on the list of eligibles for a position, who are available for appointment, are certified to the appointing officer. When there are two or more approved personnel requisitions on file for the same class, the number of scores certified shall be equal to the number of positions to be filled plus two scores. An eligible list adopted under the Rule of Three Scores shall in all cases be exhausted when eligibles standing at less than three scores are available. Use of the eligible list when there is less than the minimum certification available shall be at the discretion of the appointing officer.

If all eligibles at a score waive appointment or fail to respond within the time limits provided in these Rules, the appointing officer may request supplementary certification(s) from the next highest score.

Is it language designed to be impenetrable other than to a union's lawyers? That's my hunch, but it's just a WAG I'm hesitant to even mention.


Put most simply:

  • A "score" is the examination score for a job candidate who performed well enough to be considered for a position. It is more helpful to think of it as the candidate himself.

  • "Certifying" a score mostly just means that the commission transmits the score to the hiring officer and promises that it's accurate.

  • So whenever there is an opening for a position, the civil service commission must certify/send a list of scores/candidates for the hiring officer to consider, i.e. choose from.

  • The Rule of Three Scores says that list must have at least two more scores than there are open positions. If the city is hiring 50 police officers, the list must have at least 52 scores (50 positions plus 2). If it is hiring three secretaries, the list must have at least five scores (3 positions plus 2).

  • It's called The Rule of Three Scores because the existence of a list presumes at least one opening, which necessitates at least three scores. For example, if the city is hiring one fire chief, the list must have at least three scores (1 position plus 2).

  • Thanks, that's helpful. I still don't understand the last 4 terms in italics though. (Also, IIRC, the section with this rule indicates it doesn't apply to police or fire hiring.) – Matthew Elvey Sep 10 '20 at 20:08
  • (Yup - confirmed in first hit at google.com/search?q=Civil+Service+Rule+111A): "except the Uniformed Ranks of the Police and Fire Departments" – Matthew Elvey Sep 17 '20 at 22:29

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