University of Virginia Process Simplification
Process Simplification Teams and Reports: Completed Teams

Classified Staff Hiring Final Report

Presented to the Administrative Services Process Owners Group
March 26, 1998

Gail Oltmanns, Team Leader Associate University Librarian for Organizational Development, University Library
Marie Carter Coordinator of Library Human Resources, University Library
Larry Ely Assistant Director, Housing
Martha Garland Director, Workforce Planning and Staffing, Human Resources
Brad Holland University Ombudsman, Equal Opportunity Programs
Donna Hudson Business Manager, Children's Medical Center
Terry Johnson Personnel Assistant, Facilities Management
Marilyn Lockhart Process Simplification Coordinator, Office of VP for Management & Budget
Debbie Mincarelli Human Resource Manager, ITC
Tonja Moore Director, Budget and Payroll, School of Medicine
Tricia Van Hook Project Manager, Center for Organizational Development
Anda Webb Associate Dean, Division of Continuing Education

Executive Summary
Hiring Officials/Liaisons Survey Results
Applicant Survey Results
Focus Groups
Staff Hiring Practices Survey Results
Training for Hiring Officials
Summary of Recommendations
Benefits of Implementation
Implementation Costs
Implementation Guidelines

Executive Summary

Background and Overview of Work
In April 1997, the Administrative Services Process Owners Group appointed the Classified Staff Hiring Team to analyze the employment process from the hiring official's and applicant's perspective and to recommend changes. The goals were to 1) provide hiring officials an accessible pool of qualified applicants; 2) provide applicants easy to understand information; 3) recommend contents of training for hiring officials; and 4) make measurable changes in the process to increase customer satisfaction.

To accomplish this, the team examined the hiring process to understand how it works, sent surveys to customers (hiring officials, departmental liaisons, and applicants) asking them to evaluate the current process and suggest improvements, and sent surveys to selected universities and businesses to find out about their hiring processes. Team members also conducted focus groups with Employee Council representatives to identify their areas of concern and to solicit their ideas for change.

  • The existing on-line employment system should be more user-friendly.
  • Human Resources should move towards a web-based employment system with alternatives for people with difficulty accessing the electronic system.
  • KSA's (knowledge, skills, abilities) should be reviewed, simplified, and updated. Other applicant matching systems should be considered as an alternative to the existing KSA system.
  • The application packet should be revised so that it is easier to read and understand.
  • A training program should be established for hiring officials to increase their understanding of the process and to help ensure efficient use of the system.
  • Human Resources should offer different levels of hiring services (multi-servicing), depending on hiring officials' needs.
Implementing these recommendations will result in improved satisfaction with the classified staff hiring process and improved interaction between Human Resources and their customers. Hiring officials will have the opportunity to choose various levels of service provided by Human Resources. They will be well trained and make better decisions. Applicants will understand the process better and be satisfied with their interactions with the University. The electronic system will be more efficient and user-friendly. One year from the time that these substantial improvements are made to the hiring process, a formal measurement of changes in hiring official and applicant satisfaction levels should be conducted.

Implementation Costs
Two positions are needed to implement these recommendations. One position will carry out the technology improvements. The second will provide more personal, interactive services to hiring officials and applicants. In addition, there will be costs for training. The cost for implementation during the first year will be $129,800.


During the spring of 1997, the Administrative Services Process Owners Group appointed the Classified Staff Hiring Team to analyze the employment process for classified staff (salary and wage) from the hiring official's and applicant's perspective and to recommend changes. Specific goals were to:
  • Provide hiring officials an easily accessible pool of qualified applicants to meet departmental needs;
  • Provide applicants easy to understand information about job opportunities and the application process;
  • Recommend contents of training and other ways to help hiring officials in making employment decisions; and
  • Increase customer satisfaction with and understanding of the employment process by making measurable change.
These goals provided the structure for the team's work and for this report. Hiring officials (including departmental hiring liaisons) and applicants were viewed by the team as the primary and secondary customers of the hiring process, respectively. A copy of the mission statement is located in Appendix A.

Team Members
Gail Oltmanns, University Library, served as team leader. Other team members included: Marie Carter, University Library; Larry Ely, Housing; Martha Garland, Human Resources; Brad Holland, Office of Equal Opportunity Programs; Donna Hudson, Children's Medical Center; Terry Johnson, Facilities Management; Marilyn Lockhart, Office of the Vice President for Management and Budget; Debbie Mincarelli, Information Technology and Communications; Tonja Moore, School of Medicine; Tricia Van Hook, Health Sciences Center; and Anda Webb, Continuing Education.

Work of the Team
The team began by reviewing the Classified Staff Hiring Business Case Team Report. Next, the team examined the hiring process at the University to gain a better understanding of how it works. The process begins when a University department identifies the need to hire an employee and ends when a new employee completes all forms. Written surveys were sent to hiring officials, departmental hiring liaisons, and applicants asking them to evaluate how well the current process meets their needs and to provide suggestions for improvement. The surveys assessed the satisfaction levels of these key customer groups. In addition, the team sent a survey to selected universities and businesses to learn about their hiring practices. Team members also conducted focus group sessions with representatives from the Employee Councils to determine their areas of concern and solicit ideas for change.

The team learned about the hiring process in several other ways. Members met twice with Tom Gausvik, Chief Human Resource Officer, to discuss recent changes in hiring procedures at the University and to tour the Workforce Planning and Staffing section of Human Resources. The team conducted a literature search to identify relevant articles on hiring processes. The most useful articles focused on training topics. Team members explored the web sites of several particularly progressive businesses and higher education institutions. Team members talked informally with individuals from the University and community, and they discussed both positive and negative experiences of their own with the hiring process at the University and other organizations with which they are familiar.

Finally, the team shared information about their survey results with the Human Resources Task Force of the Integrated Systems Procurement Project. Information provided by the team helped build the foundation for the recommendations included in the Task Force's Strategic Direction Statement for Human Resource Management at the University. The Strategic Direction Statement highlights features to be included in a new integrated Human Resource and employment system. The team also reviewed information from focus groups that were conducted by the Task Force. There are many similarities in the recommendations of the team and the Task Force. The classified, temporary, and wage hiring section of the Strategic Direction Statement is included for comparison as Appendix B. Appendix C provides a glossary of terms used frequently in this report. A summary of general results and the team's recommendations are provided below.

Hiring Officials/Liaisons Survey Results

The team designed a survey that asked hiring officials and hiring liaisons about their satisfaction with hiring services, interest in training, and preferences about hiring responsibilities. A small group of hiring officials and liaisons participated in a pilot of the survey to provide feedback about the clarity and completeness of questions. Respondents rated their satisfaction about various services as "way above average," "above average," "average," "below average," or "way below average."

The survey was distributed in August 1997 to 500 hiring officials and liaisons who had posted a job vacancy in the previous six months. Hiring officials who posted more than one job vacancy during that time period may have received more than one survey. The team received 187 responses from individuals who were hiring officials, liaisons, or a combination of both. The team tabulated the responses and reported findings based on the numbers of individuals answering each question. Responses were analyzed and compared according to the three categories of respondents: hiring officials, liaisons, and hiring officials who are also liaisons. Appendix D provides a summary of the survey data. The survey questions and results are shown in Appendix E.

Survey results revealed that all groups were satisfied with the employees they had hired in the past five years. Results also indicated that 73 percent of the respondents are satisfied with the on-line employment system. Liaisons were more satisfied than the hiring officials with many of the services provided by Human Resources. Results also showed that liaisons are more frequently involved in the hiring process and more often use the on-line employment system than the Hiring Officials do. Hiring officials, liaisons, and hiring officials/liaisons rate their satisfaction as "way below average" to "below average" in the following five areas:
  • The accuracy of KSA's in matching job requirements;
  • The ability of KSA's to reflect the actual experience and qualifications of applicants;
  • The accuracy of the information that HR has keyed into the on-line hiring system from applications;
  • The use of generic job descriptions for job postings; and
  • The referral process.
Respondents were asked to indicate their preferences as to whether Human Resources or the department should perform various hiring activities. All categories of respondents had similar preferences. For each task category, more than half of the respondents indicated preferences for the following:

Preferences for Performance of Hiring Activities
Tasks HR to Perform Dept to Perform HR/Dept Combination
Word processing tests X
New employee orientation X
Provide info on employment X
Identify top applicants X
Conduct interviews X
Make salary decisions X
Post positions X
Advertise positions X
Screen initial pool X
Check references X
Make job offers X
Negotiate offer terms X

Applicant Survey Results

The team surveyed applicants about their experiences with the application, interview, and job offer processes. A small group of applicants piloted the survey to ensure clarity and completeness of questions.

In August 1997, 1000 surveys were mailed to randomly selected applicants who had applied for employment during May 1997. The survey packet included a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Unfortunately, 200 surveys were returned as undeliverable because of incorrect addresses. Appendix D provides a summary of the survey data. Survey questions and results are shown in Appendix F.

The team received 162 responses and reported findings based on the number of individuals answering each question. The majority of applicants thought the application form was easy to complete; however, the instructions in the application packet did not explain some procedures in a way that was easy to understand. Although they expected to take less than one hour to complete the application, it generally took longer. Applicants found the KSA's difficult to match, and they didn't understand their importance. They expected a response from Human Resources after submitting their applications, and expected their resumes to be forwarded to the hiring department. Results showed that the majority of applicants who were interviewed found hiring officials knowledgeable about the position.

One quarter of the applicants who were called for an interview were not interested in the position and declined the interview. Many who were interviewed found the job duties different from those listed on the position vacancy. They also expressed concern because they had not been informed when a position they had interviewed for was filled.

The team observed a difference in responses between applicants employed by the University and those not employed by the University. The team separated the results to reflect any "learning curve" on the part of the population employed by the University. External applicants differed from internal applicants in that they:

  • Found it more difficult to match KSA's;
  • Were less likely to know they had to list job categories;
  • Were more likely to expect to receive an acknowledgment of the application;
  • Were more likely to include a resume with their application; Were more likely to expect to meet with an HR representative; and
  • Were not told when a hiring decision would be made after the interview.
Focus Groups

During January 1998, team members conducted focus group sessions with representatives from four Employee Councils. Team members asked these representatives to discuss the classified staff hiring process with their Councils and bring feedback from them to the focus group session. Individuals were asked: 1) what works well in the current system, and 2) what needs improvement. Results included:
What works well:
  • The on-line hiring system
  • The new referral status letter
  • The Vice Presidential area service teams
  • What needs improvement:
  • On-line readability of applications
  • The number of data entry errors
  • The perception that Human Resources is unresponsive to applicants
  • Communication about changes in the on-line system, hiring policies and procedures
Some individuals expressed concern that the Human Resource analysts are overworked and, as a result, cannot complete their work within a reasonable time frame. Representatives stated that many applicants believe that analysts use criteria other than qualifications based on experience and KSA's for screening applications. Consequently, they believe that some individuals are never given the opportunity to compete for certain positions. The team considered the ideas for improvements made by focus group participants and incorporated many of them into the final recommendations.

Staff Hiring Practices Survey Results

The team surveyed 47 businesses and universities about staff hiring practices. The organizations were selected from a list of universities that had received a National Recognition Award from the College and University Personnel Association (CUPA), and from a list of businesses named in The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America, published by Doubleday. In addition, three local organizations were included in a pilot survey. Questions on the survey focused on issues identified as primary concerns in the Hiring Official/Liaison and Applicant surveys. Surveys were mailed to the Human Resources department of each organization with a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Twenty-six responses were received from 22 higher education institutions and four businesses.

Appendix D provides a summary of the survey data. The survey questions and results are shown in Appendix G. Appendix H lists the organizations to which surveys were sent. The majority of the organizations responding to the survey indicated that:
  • Their recruitment/hiring function is decentralized, with responsibility divided between HR and the hiring department.
  • HR is responsible for posting positions, placing advertisements, administering pre-employment tests, providing benefit information, and scheduling orientation.
  • Their hiring department is responsible for identifying top applicants, scheduling and conducting interviews, checking references, making job offers, and negotiating offer terms.
  • Specific job descriptions are used to post positions and the department is identified.
  • A resume is accepted as a form of application.
  • They use an automated applicant tracking system, but do not use an automated skill/qualification matching system.
  • Training in the employment process is provided to hiring officials; and a hiring official's candidate selection is subject to review.
Training for Hiring Officials

The survey of hiring officials and liaisons indicated that both groups were interested in learning more about the hiring process. More than 25 percent of the respondents reported that they would be interested in training on the following topics:
  • How Human Resources determines if applicants are minimally qualified for a job;
  • How applications are selected by Human Resources for referral for a position;
  • What conditions prevent applications from being referred;
  • How a starting salary is determined for internal and external candidates; and
  • What information is included in the job offer made by Human Resources.
Of the 26 respondents to the Staff Hiring Practices Survey, 20 (76 percent) reported that they provide some kind of training for hiring officials. They described training that ranged from simple to complex and included training notebooks and on-line instruction, a meeting with hiring officials and search committees, a four-hour course on interviewing, a three-day seminar on all facets of human resources, and a required certification program. The training emphasized the hiring process, interviewing techniques, recruitment and selection, performance management, and supervision.

Summary of Recommendations

The team concluded that although hiring officials are satisfied with the employees they hire, the process should be more user-friendly. This can be accomplished, in part, by the increased and improved use of technology. Additionally, Human Resources should increase opportunities for "high touch" interactions with both hiring officials and applicants.

Hiring officials report that they do not always understand the hiring system, nor do they have the latest information about changes to the hiring process and system. Some of the frustration and difficulties experienced by hiring officials might be alleviated if they were better informed about the process. Training for new and existing hiring officials would increase their understanding of the hiring process and help to ensure efficient use of the system. In addition to training on how to use the system, there should be other ways for hiring officials to learn about changes in the system. Updates posted on the on-line system, electronic mail notification, and web-based information sites could be used.

Hiring officials have varying degrees of need for involvement in the hiring process. Some officials want more support and service from Workforce Planning and Staffing while others want less. For example, some officials want Human Resources to offer the job; others want to make the job offer themselves. A multi-servicing approach would provide the opportunity for hiring officials and liaisons to decide the level of service they want to receive.

The University should provide applicants with additional and easier to understand information about the hiring process. The better informed the applicant pool, the more viable the candidates for positions. The current system of matching KSA's should be revised. Other applicant matching systems should be considered as a supplement to or replacement for the current system.

Finally, as the University receives increased delegated authority from the state, the Human Resources Department should respond by decentralizing some facets of management and control. Human Resources should take an increasing proactive role in partnering with departments to address staffing and hiring needs. As the University moves into the next century, a philosophy of strategic partnership will help the University maintain its status as the number one public institution in the country.


  1. The team recommends that HR implement a "multi-servicing" approach based on the hiring official survey, which indicated that hiring officials and liaisons want to share responsibility with HR for many of the hiring functions. Responsibility for specific services should be negotiated between HR and the hiring department and delegated with proper training. The hiring official/liaison must take responsibility for the delegated services. Areas in which delegation of responsibilities is appropriate are: posting positions, advertising positions, screening applicants, checking references, making job offers, and negotiating offer terms.
  2. The survey results indicate that there is a clear demand for more service than Workforce Planning and Staffing employees currently can provide. Therefore, the team supports Tom Gausvik's request for three FTE's and requests two additional FTE's. One position should be added to implement the technology recommendations in this report. A second position should be added to address the recommendations for multi-servicing and the "high touch" aspects of service to the hiring officials and applicants. Human Resources should also analyze the effectiveness of the generalist approach currently used in HR and the use of Vice Presidential area teams.
  3. The University's home page web site should feature employment as a prominent component and should include faculty, staff, and wage positions.
  4. The hiring process should be web-based with many of the same capabilities as the existing system and should include the recommended changes presented in this report. Once the application and resume are available electronically, the paper application process could be eliminated.
  5. Human Resources should hire a recruiter for positions with historically weak applicant pools.
  6. HR systems should be fully integrated with other University systems, specifically payroll.
  7. HR should provide more timely and informative responses to requests from hiring departments and applicants.
  8. Hiring Process
    Job posting/recruitment process:
  9. HR should develop a web-based system that has the capability to allow users to post and view job descriptions specific to a position and the ability to post job vacancy announcements.
  10. The web-based system should allow users to post multiple positions and hire multiple applicants in positions with the same Job Category (title) using one job vacancy announcement number.
  11. The University should explore an appropriate internal promotion policy with specific guidelines to allow departmental internal promotions.
  12. Other applicant matching systems should be considered as a supplement or alternative to the existing KSA system. In the meantime, the existing KSA's should be reviewed, simplified, and updated to reflect current job-related skills. Human Resources should establish an ongoing mechanism for review of KSA's.
  13. HR should review the job postings for departmental qualification requirements to ensure that they are consistent with qualifications minimally required for the job classification. Additional departmental requirements (e.g., possession of a bachelor's degree) should be listed as preferences.
  14. All departments should be strongly encouraged to identify themselves on the job vacancy announcements so applicants can more accurately determine their interest in the position. During implementation, this recommendation should be explored further to determine whether or not department identification should be mandatory.
  15. Application process:
  16. Resources should be provided to more effectively orient applicants to the application process. HR might use a FAQ list on the web, a video in the reception area of HR, a flow chart of the hiring process, and a help desk and additional staff in the reception area to provide more "high touch" services.
  17. The instructions that come with the application packet should be revised so that they are easier to read and understand. Commonly overlooked areas should be highlighted, and more headings and white space should be used. The instructions should highlight the University's practice of checking references on receipt of the application. Conflicting instructions on the state application form should be clarified.
  18. Information clarifying the different types of employment should be provided to applicants along with an explanation of how a starting salary will impact future pay increases. Benefit summaries including costs should also be provided.
  19. Applicants should be given the option of either applying for a specific position or for all the openings in the Job Category (title).
  20. The applicant should have the ability to sort the job listing by Job Category (title), job vacancy announcement number, posting date, or other user-defined criteria.
  21. The summary of job vacancies should be modified to include salary range and department, so that the applicant can make an informed decision about whether or not to look at the detail of the job.
  22. The application materials should include the statement, "Thank you for applying for a job at the University of Virginia."
  23. Applicants should be able to receive, complete, and submit the application electronically.
  24. Alternate methods of submitting an application should be provided to applicants with literacy concerns and applicants with difficulty accessing the electronic application form.
  25. A computer system where applicants can apply online (either web access or a dedicated station) should be available in the University's regional education centers, and the local University and public libraries.
  26. If the application is submitted electronically, all of the job information fields should be automatically populated when the applicant types in the job vacancy announcement number.
  27. The applicant should be able to access information about the status of his/her application, reactivate the application, and update it electronically.
  28. Human Resources should work more proactively to update information such as phone numbers, addresses, and most recent work experience when an applicant reactivates an application.
  29. Information processing and screening:
  30. Human Resources should acknowledge receipt of the application and provide information to the applicant on how he or she may reactivate, update, change or withdraw his/her application, as well as how an applicant may receive a copy of the application to verify data entry.
  31. Human Resources should explore electronic notification as a means to communicate with applicants regarding the status of their application.
  32. All data entry by Human Resources staff should be minimized by having staff scan the application, rather than re-key it, in order to reduce date entry errors.
  33. Application referral, interviewing, and selection:
  34. The web-based system should have the capability of electronically forwarding resumes with the application.
  35. A map of the University should be available on the web so that applicants can type in the name of the interviewing department and have the building and parking information displayed.
  36. Human Resources should notify applicants if a position has been filled or a search for a position has changed in some significant way.
  37. Human Resources should send system-generated "confirmation of hire" letters to all newly hired or promoted employees.

    Training of Hiring Officials
  38. The University should ensure that the training of hiring officials is a high priority and should establish a formal training program to educate hiring officials and departmental liaisons.
  39. Departments should be required to identify all hiring officials to HR and to the trainer so that hiring officials are provided with information about training and included in all training activities related to hiring. A network of hiring officials and liaisons should be established for continuation of training information updates.
  40. Each new hiring official should be required to be trained in at least one of the following ways: a formal training session, or self-paced training through web-based information, printed information, or other methods.
  41. Ongoing training should be provided so that hiring officials have current information about policies, procedures, and laws.
  42. Information updates should be provided to existing hiring officials in a variety of formats-electronic mail, formal training, and web-based and written guides.
  43. The individual who designs training should review the results of the Classified Staff Hiring Team's surveys and all relevant documents that support this report to ensure that all training issues are addressed.
  44. Objectives of training should ensure that at the end of the training, hiring officials will:
  • Understand the impact of hiring decisions on their departments and the University;
  • Understand the multi-servicing approach to hiring, including the department's responsibilities as well as HR's responsibilities;
  • Use the on-line employment system effectively and fairly;
  • Understand the referral process-how HR determines if an applicant is qualified and what might prevent a referral;
  • Screen applicants effectively and fairly, using a variety of methods such as checking references, past performance evaluations, and skills testing;
  • Understand that an application must be in the system before an applicant can be interviewed;
  • Conduct effective, fair, and legal interviews and reference checks;
  • Understand how starting salaries are determined and the impact on other employees of salary offers made to new employees; and
  • Understand that modifications to the process will be communicated to them through the HR web page or through electronic mail.
Recommendation for Classification/Compensation
Survey results and focus group responses included numerous indications of concern about the University's classification and compensation process. The majority of the comments involved the length of time it takes to establish new positions and reallocate existing ones. The current standard for analysts to complete reallocations is 90 days, and many take longer. While the team's mission did not include this area, based on the comments received, members felt obligated to state these concerns. The team recommends that a group be charged to study the classification and compensation process and make recommendations for improvement.

Benefits of Implementation

The team believes that implementing these recommendations will increase customer satisfaction with the classified staff hiring process in many ways, particularly by:
  • Providing opportunities for hiring officials to tailor the hiring process to their department's specific needs by negotiating a level of service with Human Resources;
  • Supplying an efficient, easy-to-use electronic system for both hiring officials and applicants;
  • Increasing customers' understanding of each phase of the hiring process through training for hiring officials and adequate, easy to understand instructions for applicants;
  • Strengthening the applicant pool through a more effective matching process;
  • Increasing the number of Human Resources staff, and consequently, their ability to respond quickly and personally to hiring officials and applicants;
  • Expanding the University's positive image in the community through more personal and responsive interactions with customers.
Projected Implementation Costs for 1998-99

Team members analyzed the tasks included in the recommendations and projected the following costs for fiscal year 1998-99. The estimates assume that all tasks will be performed by current University personnel at no additional expense unless otherwise indicated.

Projected Implementation Costs (all costs are ongoing)
Description Amount FTE
1. FTE to implement technology-related recommendations (Grade 14, includes fringes) $65,000 1
2. FTE to provide additional services to hiring officials and applicants (Grade 8, includes fringes) $35,000 1
3. Training for Hiring Officials
  • Train 350 hiring officials (250 new and 100 existing). One session per month for a total of 12 per year.
  • A. Consultant to deliver training to hiring officials/liaisons. (HR employee will explain the University system during the session.) $24,000
    B. Refreshments for participants (350 @ $10 per person) $3,500
    C. Training Materials $1,000
    4. Multi-servicing
  • Training Materials (assumes a maximum of five hiring officials/liaisons during the first year will be given the authority to make job offers and provide other HR services.)
  • $350
    5. Automated Hire Letter to Applicants $650
    6. Materials/Refreshments for Network/User Group $300
    Total Costs for 1998-99 $129,800 2

    Future Budget Requests
    1. Review of other skills matching programs will occur after FY 1998-99. The review may include visits to other organizations to observe how other systems operate. Funds may be requested at this time to support the site visits.
    2. Human Resources will use current resources to fund a recruiter position during the upcoming fiscal year. Additional resources may be requested in future budgets for an additional recruiter(s).
    3. The satisfaction level of hiring officials should be measured one year after changes to the hiring process. Future budgets may include a request to fund distributing surveys to hiring officials and applicants and analyzing results.
    Implementation Guidelines

    Some recommendations, such as training for hiring officials and the revision of KSA's, may be implemented in a relatively short period of time. Others, such as the technology improvements, can be expected to occur over a period of time, with full implementation possibly taking several years. The team recommends that the implementation team give priority to the following tasks (listed in descending order of priority):
    1. Improvements in the existing employment on-line system and movement towards a web-based employment system;
    2. Review, simplification, and update of the current system of KSA's;
    3. Revision of application packet;
    4. Training for hiring officials; and
    5. Multi-servicing.
    The team proposes that some work be done on all of these tasks during the first year of implementation. One year from the time that substantial improvements are made to the hiring process, a formal measurement of changes in hiring official and applicant satisfaction levels should occur. The team recommends that Human Resources distribute the surveys designed by the Classified Staff Hiring Team as an "after change" measurement of satisfaction. The results could then be compared to those described in this report for an analysis of the impact of the recommendations.
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    Last Modified: 10-Nov-2010 07:58:00 EDT