Gabrielle Martin, President

EEOC - Suite 510

303 E.17th Avenue

Denver, Colorado 80203



May 13, 2005


Cari Dominguez, Chair
Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission

1801 L Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20507

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).




First and foremost, I request that you reschedule and re-designate the Commission meeting scheduled for May 16, 2005.  Prior to the Commission voting on structure, the Commission should conduct a hearing so that it can obtain 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.


As an aside, while the May 16, 2005, meeting notice is within letter of the regulations, it certainly is not within the spirit of the law since it the notice fails to provide for “public” hearing prior to any vote.  Employees and the public remain dismayed at your decision not to provide for a period of review and an opportunity for public comment on your proposed reorganization plan.


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 Napa recommendations and the NAPA recommendations.  This decision not to invite public comment on your plan is particularly mystifying since the Commission admits that processing times and caseloads are increasing.  Finally, your decision not to allow for public comment on your plan flies in the face of advice obtained at the September 2003 Commission meeting that the public and stakeholders receive information and be involved in the process of the reorganization plan you developed.




The proposed plan is a house of cards, precariously stacked on the NAPA report and loosely hinged on the Vice-Chairwoman’s Task Force Report.  Now that you have made a proposal, I agree with the Restructuring Task Force comment in response to Charge 1 – “The representatives from the field on the Repositioning Workgroups (Workgroup) do not believe tat a business case been for reducing the current number of district offices and therefore, do not recommend that the current number of district offices be reduced.” 2004 Repositioning Workgroup Report, Page 1, Charge 1.




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.




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?




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?




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?




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. 




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:


  • In FY 04, EEOC transferred 3,136 cases among offices.  Nowhere in the reorganization plan does the agency address this.  Rather, the reorganization plan highlights the problem created by staffing shortages.  Will EEOC provide additional staff to prevent this from happening in the future?


  • The agency admits that it has a problem with its backlog.  There was a backlog of 22, 996 in FY04.  EEOC projects 37,332 for FY 05 and predicts FY06 its backlog will increase by 51,572 charges.  The reorganization plan does not provide for additional staff and does not address this how the agency will be able to serve the public.


  • Given the staffing shortages, offices cannot operate in a uniform way.  Nor can each office operate in the same manner.  Each office is affected by its staffing and the work it can perform is related to that.  So, unless this issue is addressed there will be no efficiency and surely no uniformity.


  • The plan has no identified benchmarks for how it will happen, dates by which any activities will occur, nor does it specify when savings will be seen, if at all.  While it is easy to say savings will occur, there is no specific information on when or how.


  • The Commission must improve technology.  The Commission traditionally short changes its technological needs.  Phone systems in most offices are not state of the art and if the system is state of the art, we are unable to pay to use the technology at sufficient capacity or even capacity that is useful.  Although the Commission recently changed computer operating systems, the hodge-podge of programs it uses makes one question whether our technology is any more effective or efficient than before.


  • The Commission makes much of technology and often mentions use of telecommuting as both a technology and a cost savings measure, is the Commission expecting employees to use their tools and equipment to perform the work?  Has the Commission taken into account that it cannot pay for space or how it will pay for space at a telecommuting center?  Has the Commission taken into account that many employees cannot work at home on a regular basis due to family situations?  While the Commission is unable to show cost savings, before it can rely on this technology, it must demonstrate its ability to pay for the cost of supplies, equipment, phone lines and other “infrastructure items”  to make telecommuting a viable alternative to developing efficiencies.  The Commission cannot require employees to bear the burden of infrastructure costs of improving the work processes and practices.


  • In this shell game, the layers of management still exist.  There is no indication that the Commission has addressed the work processes to improve efficiencies and the plan makes no mention of this.


  • The critical need for support staff remains.  The limited professional staff spend too much of their time on administrative tasks like copying and filing, as case loads and processing times continue to increase.


  • Leadership at EEOC may now have a broader reach, but systematic training is necessary and remains an area where the Commission does not expend resources.


  • The proposed structure puts more control in offices further away.  Decisions typically are not at the District Office level, so for many of the demoted offices, and there are least eight of them, the public now must go to a different location to say mother may I.”


  • While there is mention that Headquarters will be next and that offices can rely on some resources coming from that review, it is not as though there is a cavalry on the horizon.  Nor is there any explanation of when this would occur.


  • While the Commission talks about efficiencies, its plan is silent on how it would address problems with the Federal Sector programs.  The Commission has yet to explain how its proposed shell shuffling will help it process hearings more efficiently.  Nor has the Commission explained what will happen to the Federal Affirmative Employment (FAA) Program.  It currently is a Headquarters’ function, but the work is in the field.  That hardly seems efficient given the travel costs involved.


  • Litigation at the Commission has increased as a result of legal and enforcement interaction.  If litigation remains a Commission priority, the Commission must address staffing levels, particularly given that the proposal calls for greater geographical spans for many Districts.  Your proposal does not detail how litigation will be more efficient or effective.  Staffing levels and particular positions in the offices has been addressed only to the extent that some positions will be eliminated.  For the offices being downgraded, the work now will be subject to even more layers of review.  For example, in Denver, particularly in the legal unit, there will be a layer of review, as well as a layer of review in Phoenix and a layer of review in Headquarters.



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.






Gabrielle Martin


cc:      National Council