NATIONAL COUNCIL OF EEOC LOCALS No. 216
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
Gabrielle Martin, President
Cari Dominguez, Chair
Re: Reorganization Proposal
Dear Chair Dominguez:
In response to your Dear Colleague Letter, the briefings on Tuesday morning and the materials posted on the Agency’s website, I submit the following on behalf of the National Council of EEOC Locals No. 216 (the National Council).
INSUFFICIENT NOTICE AND
First and foremost, I request
that you reschedule and re-designate the Commission meeting scheduled for
As an aside, while the
Although it helps to hear
from you after three years, it is disconcerting that you want to prevent the
public from obtaining details or commenting on your plan. This flies in the face of our February 2005
conversation where you stated that you would have a public hearing to obtain
input and feedback on your plan, comments from the September 2003 meeting on the
The proposed plan is a house
of cards, precariously stacked on the
THE PLAN DOES NOT EXPLAIN HOW SAVINGS WILL 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 reports to someone. The state of the Commission’s technology, addressed more fully below, currently prevents us from realizing efficiencies from moving the shells. 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?
The lack of details in your plan prevents anyone from concluding, as you have, that this plan will allow for well managed and efficient offices. Nor does your plan address or provide any information on how the Commission will save any money. The savings are projected to be long term, but unless cuts are made in the future, no cost savings ever will accrue. However, your plan is not forthright enough to state explicitly that these cuts will inevitably mean cuts in staff and office closings in the future.
In this regard, your plan increases the current number of offices. Specifically, the Commission proposes to open two new offices that must be staffed sufficiently. Since for the most part your plan fails to address staffing plans with grades for any of the offices, where will the savings come from?
Further, under your plan, newly designated Field offices, i.e. demoted District Offices will be hiring high level managers. Redeploying people in those offices usually means that to the extent that people currently occupy positions, when/if the individuals are moved to other positions, 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. Or does the Commission plan to “force relocations” to encourage employees to leave? Finally, to the extent that positions throughout the Commission have remained vacant over time, has not the Commission already realized the savings? Unless, of course, what really is occurring is that the Commission requests money for employees, but recklessly spends it on other projects like the call center. The real point is that no savings will accrue to the Commission any time soon.
And what becomes of the smaller offices in the future? Will the smaller offices remain open beyond approval of the plan? If so, for how long and how will they be staffed? What savings is the Commission projecting to realize each year in the future by closing some or all of them? If the offices remain open and the net gain is two offices, how will the Commission save money, either today or in the future?
As for savings, it has not been explained how hiring GS-15 managers or promoting Regional Attorneys to SES positions in offices currently without them saves any money, either now, or in the future. Since we have not hired in so long, but have continued to request funding for positions that remain unfilled, what happened to the money?
As for the downgrading of approximately one third (1/3) of the Commissions’ District Offices, it is unclear how that saves money? Staffing is at an all time low, despite appropriations language requiring that the Commission maintain FY 04 staffing levels. Moreover, the Commission has been so circumspect with respect to space, that on more than one occasion, is has moved an office into smaller, but equally expensive office space, and on more than one occasion has had to obtain 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, does this mean that the offices will lose space? Since the decision to have Mediation and Outreach Programs, many offices already are without sufficient space for conference and caucus rooms in order to function. Even so, Mediation units shuffle participants throughout the office to conduct the mediations. Federal sector mediations also compete for space. Trial units take over existing conference rooms in order to prepare for trial. Intake areas have been reduced in size, stretching some offices to breaking when it comes to conducting intake.
As for the call center and its ability to have people fill out charges on-line, many people prefer to come into the office. Often it is a matter of what works for the charging party. Charging parties have driven across states to talk to Investigators and file their charges, so the Commission must have sufficient space available to service the public.
THE PLAN DOES NOT ADDRESS WHERE ALLEGED COST SAVINGS WILL BE INVESTED
If alleged costs savings are realized, will the EEOC reinvest in much needed staff. At that juncture EEOC has lost approximately 500 employees or 15% of the work force. Is the EEOC going to invest savings here?
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 rules be broken in the process of implementing your plan? For example, will the Commission continue to hire temporary and term employees to work side-by side with permanent employees doing the same function? Will we let go of the temporary and term employees whenever we need to justify savings, leaving offices once again, understaffed? Have you analyzed the costs of the revolving door training and recruiting for term and temporary employees?
The objections of the employees are real, given the pronouncements about the positions that will be “redeployed” as Investigators and Mediators. Employees are concerned that the Commission is rewriting the personnel rules. Based on announcements during the briefings that positions such as Budget Analyst, Human Resources Specialist, and Administrative Officer will be abolished in the field, but that these individuals would be redeployed as Investigators and Mediators, it appears decisions have already been made about who qualifies for what positions. How many people are currently employed in the positions being eliminated? Since decisions were made in the past not to fill vacancies, to what positions can people be deployed? As for Program Analysts in the downgraded offices, how did we make the decision to retain current people at the GS-14 level, but to fill new vacancies with people at the GS-12 level to do the same work? Also, how does it look when EEOC does not have local human resources personnel but we encourage employers to have them on-site?
EFFICIENCIES WILL NOT BE REALIZED
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 relationships will be damaged at a time when FEPA funding from the states has been drastically reduced. Charging parties transferred around the country by the call center now will be transferred around the country by offices without jurisdiction. How are we better serving the public? When and how will cases be transferred? If we are not doing the work in the locale of the charging party and Respondent business location, who really is being served? If we are not transferring charges, then Respondent’s will be dealing 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?
INCREASED SPAN OF CONTROL DOES NOT EQUATE TO EFFECTIVENESS
The real reason that there will not be 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. Typically, at higher levels of management, we see a pyramid shape with a greater number employees reporting to fewer highest level individuals. At EEOC, we will see the reverse.
Nor has the Commission explained how reducing the number of reports to higher levels makes for more effective communication. Is this a concession that our managers lack skills or that the Commission’s technology is outdated and will not help us be more effective? Perhaps, it is a little of both? In any event, the Commission has not demonstrated how it will be more effective or efficient.
Moreover, the Commission’s proposal does not explain how consistency and uniformity among offices will be achieved. Staffing in the offices among districts is not uniform; District offices typically have a greater number of staff. These larger offices have different structures and can perform tasks in a certain manner. But, within a district, the smaller offices bear the brunt of lack of staff. Offices with fewer employees are more heavily impacted by things like workload, time spent in intake, time spent on support staff tasks such as copying and filing. The smaller offices cannot function in the same manner as the larger offices. How this equates to or results in uniformity and consistency remains unexplained.
There is no explanation of how the Commission’s enforcement presence is enhanced since offices and coverage really remains the same. In small offices, it can take longer to get all the work done, just due to the staff size. Moreover, in the Commission’s smaller offices staff often must work overtime in order to perform the work, or the work is transferred to other offices. The Commission must recognize and address the need for staff. Failure to do so remains problematic. The Commission’s call center only adds to the problem because despite its $5M price tag, it does not have sufficient staff or enough phone lines to handle the work. It is just a glorified answering service that doe not save staff time. The call center exacerbates the problems faced by our offices when it transfers calls all over the country, often despite the origins of the calls. These realities raise concerns about how we are enhancing our presence. Failing to hire individuals is neither customer centered, nor does it provide the public with access to the Commission.
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. Public 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 about the hearing date.
cc: National Council