Some people want government to behave more like business. Revelations about the government officials who found high-paying jobs in the University of Maine System just as the Baldacci administration was leaving town shows why that is rarely a good idea.

In business, people hire people they know — decision-makers hire people from their last jobs hoping to avoid mistakes and speed up the team-building process.

But when they do that in the public sector, the same behavior comes with an unpleasant odor. In a place where all the people pay the bills, the hiring process should be fair and transparent, and everyone who is qualified should have a fair shot at the jobs.

That does not seem to have been the case with the state university system. According to a story by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, seven soon-to-be-unemployed state officials found jobs in the university system just as a Republican administration was taking over for a Democratic one.

Some of the candidates did not meet the educational requirements that were advertised for the jobs. In some cases, the new hires were not the top choice of search committees. In three cases, there was no job advertised and no search conducted.

This kind of hiring does a disservice to the organization and the individuals involved. These seven employees may indeed have been the best people for the jobs, but how can you overcome the suspicion that they were on the receiving end of old-fashioned political cronyism? It may well be that their experience in state government pushed their resumes to the top of the pile, but especially in cases where there was no posting or search, the pile could not have been very high.

This is the latest piece of bad news to come out of the University of Maine System. Enrollments are dropping during a national boom in college attendance; raises have been given to administrators, while cuts are being made to programs that directly affect students. And now we learn that prime administrative jobs have gone to people with strong political ties.

New Chancellor James Page, who was hired after these decisions were made, says he is looking into the hirings as part of a system-wide review he is conducting. He would be wise to consider how revelations like this undermine the mission of this key institution.

A private business may be able to get away with this kind of thing, but we have a right to demand much more from the public university.