Eliminate Personal Computer Operators

Savings: $4 million

Currently, the City employs Personal Computer Operators (PCO) in 14 departments.[1]  There are three grades of PCOs; PCO I, PCO II, and PCO III.  A PCO I operates “a personal computer to produce basic documents including letters, memoranda and forms; selects menu and specifies desired functions; types information from longhand, rough drafts, and printed copies onto a personal computer”.[2]  A PCO II operates “a personal computer to produce printed documents including correspondence, numerical reports, graphs and charts”.[3]   A PCO III operates “a personal computer to produce printed copies of general complexity including reports, specifications, data base information and spreadsheets containing significant elements of scientific, technical or numerical data”.[4]  Finally, there is also a Senior Legal PCO who “reviews rough drafts or uses a dictaphone to transcribe legal documents such as briefs, interrogatories and settlement agreements [and] uses word processing, spreadsheet, database and related desk top software to produce legal documents of general complexity”.[5]  The Senior Legal PCO job description was last updated in 2003, while the PCO I, II, and III descriptions were last updated in 1994.

Under this option, the City would eliminate all four job titles and layoff the employees currently working in those positions. The table below shows the number of employees currently employed in each job title and the total compensation for those employees.


Number of Employees

Total Salary

Fringe Benefits @ 35% of Salary

Total Compensation

Personal Computer Operator I





Personal Computer Operator II





Personal Computer Operator III





Senior Legal Personal Computer Operator










Source: City of Chicago. “Current Employee Names, Salaries, and Positions Titles.” Jun 1, 2011.


Note: There is an additional PCO II in the Department of Aviation that is not included in this table because we assume that this position is funded by the airport funds and any cuts to these funds would not result in savings that can be used to address the City’s budget deficit.

Thus, if the City were to eliminate these positions it would save approximately $4 million annually.

Proponents might argue that the job duties assigned to these positions are outdated and that there is no need to have employees solely devoted to these tasks.   Further, most employees who work in office settings are now required to be able to perform most of these tasks themselves.  Therefore, it is likely that the duties of these employees could be absorbed by other workers without a loss in productivity. Opponents might argue that while these job descriptions are outdated, these employees now perform tasks that are essential to the operations of the offices in which they work.



Discussion and Additional Questions

In order to make a decision about the implementation of this option, decision makers would need to know what the employees in these job titles are actually doing day-to-day and whether they provide value to the City.  Thus some questions might be as follows.  Thus some questions might be as follows.

  • For each department that employs PCOs, what tasks do the PCOs assigned to your department routinely perform?
  • What unique skills do PCOs have relative to other employees in their bureau/section?

Budget Details

Dept: Various Bureau: NA
Fund: Various Approp Code: Salaries and Wages- On Payroll, 0005
The appropriations are located throughout the 2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.



[1] The departments, in order of the number of PCOs, are: Police (27), City Clerk (7), Law (6), Procurement (4), Water Management (3), Transportation (3), Family and Support Services (3), Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (2), Independent Police Review Authority (2), Health (2), Information Technology (1), Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (1), Fleet (1), and Aviation (1)

[2] City of Chicago. Department of Human Resources. “Job Description for Personal Computer Operator I- 0833.”

[3] City of Chicago. Department of Human Resources. “Job Description for Personal Computer Operator II- 0832.”

[4] City of Chicago. Department of Human Resources. “Job Description for Personal Computer Operator III- 0833.”

[5] City of Chicago. Department of Human Resources. “Job Description for Senior Legal Personal Computer Operator- 0875.”