NATIONAL COUNCIL OF EEOC LOCALS No. 216
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
Gabrielle Martin, President
June 16, 2005
Cari Dominguez, Chair
Re: Reorganization Proposal
Dear Chair Dominguez:
First, I want to call for a public hearing, as opposed to a meeting. Your failure to have an open hearing on the magnitude of the September 8, 2003 meeting means that the proposal remains suspect. Any briefing given to employees, the public and the paltry information made available is being questioned throughout the civil rights community, among other groups concerned about the fate of EEOC, particularly under your leadership. In addition, any meetings held behind closed doors with various groups highlight the lack of openness and candor surrounding this proposal. A public meeting allows for open discussion, the ability to share information, will highlight of areas of concern and provide the Commission the opportunity to face its wary public.
Although you have invited comments on your proposed reorganization, to date, details have not been released which substantiate a business case for the proposal. The lack of business justification for your proposal continues despite having been told by the task force you authorized that no such case exists.
Having an implementation plan that addresses issues of how and why prior to any proposal to reorganize is reviewed for a vote would allow the Commission to recognize that its plan cannot save money or create efficiencies. For example, most often when companies announce reorganization plans, information such as the number of people currently employed in various positions being eliminated, as well as the projected savings from the positions eliminated and efficiencies gained; the before and after numbers of employees and a message about working with HR departments to determine what positions are vacant and whether the individuals qualify for those positions. In fact, these same types of questions are asked by Commission employees when charges of discrimination are being investigated. Many of our case files contain reams of paper providing just such details. Often this type of information is provided by charging parties. Yet, when the employees and the public served by EEOC should be seeing these types of details laid bare, the details are noticeably absent from your plan.
The fact that there is such strong resistance to answering such common sense questions reinforces the mistrust and fact that no business case exists to justify your proposal.
Your proposal eviscerates
the public’s rights to work in places free from discrimination. The working people of
UNWILLINGNESS TO SERIOUSLY CONSIDER THE PUBLIC’S CONCERNS :
Prior to the Commission voting on structure, the Commission should release the details and justification for its plan and should conduct a hearing of the magnitude of September 8, 2003 so that it can obtain public feedback and input on your specific plan. Following such a hearing, the Commission should schedule a public meeting to vote on any proposal developed as a result of the hearings. This meeting should not be pro forma, nor should the purpose of any such meeting be to silence those who question your proposal.
As an aside, while the notice on the Commission’s website concerning the July 8, 2005, meeting begins to address the regulations, it certainly fails to provide the requisite notice and opportunity to comment anticipated by the Administrative Procedures Act.
The proposed plan is a house
of cards, precariously stacked on the
As has been raised with you in the past, the insistence on goals for closing cases drives much of the work at EEOC. More importantly, it signals your lack of concern for our mission and preference for a “public image.” You are aware that employees are forced to close cases to allow office directors to meet numerical goals, yet nothing is done to address this problem. As you are aware, offices manipulate the entry of data into our recording systems. Yet, from your plan, it appears that the mega offices in particular are those offices where manipulations of various sorts are most prevalent. Hence it seems that there is reward for the offices willing to manipulate the numbers. This does not serve the public.
Moreover, the criteria and rationale for the proposals are not clear – did the Commission consider where the growth is and is projected, or did it just continue its tradition of having larger territories in the west and smaller territories and more offices in the east? Did the Commission make a conscious decision to reward manipulators?
SAVINGS CANNOT BE REALIZED:
The proposal calls for 15 Mega Offices with larger jurisdictions than currently exist for most District Offices. While the placement of the offices under the shells has changed, the structure really has not. We still have District Area, Local and Field offices; the Directors of each of these offices still report to someone, thereby duplicating layers of supervision.
Retaining all staff and opening new offices does not allow for savings. While offices are barely hanging on, there are plans to turn small offices into intake only centers, which the call center is beginning to handle. Without closing these offices, the Commission cannot save money. The Commission cannot flatten management by retaining all of its current managers at the same salary. Will flattening occur by forcing mangers and supervisors to transfer while hoping that they will leave the Commission? Will the Commission target retirement eligible employees or those long term employees with more expensive benefit packages when it determines who will be transferred?
Further, under your plan,
newly designated Field offices, i.e. demoted District Offices, will hire high
level managers. Redeploying people means
that the salaries go with the individuals.
To the extent that the Commission transfers employees to other offices,
the Commission will incur and pay moving costs.
Finally, to the extent that positions throughout the Commission have
remained vacant over time, there can be no future savings except by playing
shell games. For example, the shell game
being played with the proposed
Other questions about
savings remain - Will any of the offices remain open beyond approval of the
plan? For example, if
The Commission has been so circumspect with respect to space, that on more than one occasion, it has moved an office into smaller, but equally expensive office space. On more than one occasion and currently, the Commission is in the process of obtaining additional space for those offices. The Washington Field Office and the San Francisco District Office come to mind in this regard.
As for proposed downgraded offices, I understand that there is a plan to “give back” space. Many offices currently are without sufficient space for litigation preparation, conference and caucus rooms. Many offices can barely hold an all staff meeting without people standing on top of one another and the field is without the budget to conduct meetings at expensive hotels, even once a year. Federal sector mediations and settlement conferences result in additional competition for conference rooms. While we claim we want to better serve the public, intake areas ands libraries often are the first areas to go when offices are being redesigned, prompting complaints.
PERSONNEL RULES PROBLEMS
Many people are upset that their positions will be abolished. How far will the Commission bend the rules in order to implement your plan? Will the personnel rules be followed or will they be bent to avoid a costly Reduction in Force disguised as transfers of employees?
Employees are concerned that the Commission is rewriting the personnel rules in ways that would result in the Commission issuing findings of discrimination in the cases we investigate. For example, already, we are seeing “details” or “reassignments” of employees into positions targeted as positions into which those employees in positions being abolished will be placed. Creating such advantages surely is questionable, at best, and illegal, at worst. Apparently there is merit to the concern that the Commission operates from the “do as I say, not as I do” mode.
Of additional concern is the fact that the Commission’s position descriptions are severely outdated, and the Commission’s records are equally outdated or incorrect. Perhaps this is why the Commission has no implementation plan – it cannot figure out how to make it work?
Also troubling is the question of how can we retain individuals at GS-14 and 15 levels, but fill any new vacancies for those same positions at drastically lower levels and expect them to perform the same work?
EFFICIENCIES WILL NOT BE REALIZED:
If the goal is to be more efficient and better serve the public, the Commission cannot continue to expend its limited resources hiring a revolving door panoply of temporary and term employees to perform the mission related work? How much money is being invested in these employees for salaries, benefits and training, that will go out the door at the end of the term? Many of these employees are leaving for permanent positions at higher grades. This means that EEOC will swelter in the sweat shops recognized in your own budget projections for FY 06 that show the workload and backlogs will drastically increase. Or is the purpose of the temporary and term employees to allow the Commission the ability to retain the ability to find money whenever we need it at the expense of a stable and professional workforce? What about the understaffed offices left in the wake of these decisions?
As for HR staff, again, I question whether the Commission is operating in its “do as I say, not as I do” mode. When dealing with respondents on discrimination findings, particularly in the area of sexual harassment, both case law and Commission guidance force us to require handbooks, policies, and training for HR staff, as well as managers. Settlement agreements, consent decrees and conciliation agreements address this issue. Yet, the Commission is saying we will not have on site HR staff. the Commission is fairly deficient when it comes to training, will training continue to suffer? How does that help us better serve the public in an efficient manner?
While shifting the shells, states once covered by one District’s jurisdiction now are covered by another District Office’s jurisdiction. There are at least 14 offices that will change reporting and or have their jurisdictional maps redrawn. There will be increased travel costs to service the larger jurisdictional areas. Our FEPA and TERO contacts are appalled at the proposed changes. States continue to drastically reduce budgets. How are we better serving the public? When and how will cases be transferred? Respondents will be forced to deal with two offices concerning charges at the same facility, depending on when the charging party filed. What guarantee is there that the new office will use the same processes and procedures, given the variances in staffing and workloads?
Offices are in limbo about what will happen, what cases to process, what outreach activities to complete, what FEPA and TERO actions to process, where to file litigation, and how to process Mediation contracts. How will these issues be resolved, by whom when?
INCREASED SPAN OF CONTROL DOES NOT EQUATE TO EFFECTIVENESS:
The real reason that there will not be no efficiencies or effectiveness as a result of the Commission’s proposal is that Commission’s structure is going from an upside down pyramid that is top heavy with mangers, to an hour glass structure, still top heavy with managers. Moving the shells just means that the shells were moved. Such is the reality of the span of control issues.
If customer service is the goal, uniformity is not necessarily the best policy. In any event, we do not have uniform staffing and state laws differ, as does an offices’ walk-in traffic differs. These realities will remain whether or not the same number of changes becomes uniform for each mega jurisdiction. Will this just mean more manipulation of our systems?
Finally, there is no explanation of how the Commission’s enforcement presence is enhanced. There is a fear that the manipulations will thrive in this type of organization. For example, employees In the Commission’s smaller offices often must work overtime in order to perform the work. Yet, management manipulates the numbers to pretend it does not happen. In a number of instances, offices large and small transfer work in order to get it done. The experience is that “transferred work” often results in massive case closings, since the receiving offices do not want to be derailed in the quest for ratings and really do not have additional staff to handle the transferred work.
AREAS OF CONCERN NOT ADDRESSED IN THE PLAN THAT PROHIBIT EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS:
Although you claim your plan will result in efficiency and greater effectiveness, your plan fails to address several areas of concern or specify how your results will be reached:
The proposal identifies several goals but fails to identify how the changes will allow the Commission to reach those goals. Nor does the plan provide any business justification for the drastic changes being proposed. At a public hearing comment on the plan and the process of having to answer questions from the public and the employees who perform the work can only serve to develop a workable reorganization. I look forward to hearing from you.
cc: National Council