Daily Labor Report
Thursday, September 15, 2005 Page A-6
EEOC Delays Implementing Reorganization
Of Field Office Structure, Pending GAO Report
A key House appropriations committee member has put the brakes on a pending field office reorganization at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission until the independent Government Accountability Office weighs in on the subject, but a commission official said he is optimistic that the plan will move forward.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over EEOC, denied the agency's request for approval of the reorganization last month, pending release of a GAO report which is expected shortly.
"There's nothing out of the ordinary about this. We're just waiting for the results of the GAO report," Wolf's spokesman, Dan Scandling, told BNA Sept. 13. The committee expects the report "within the next couple of weeks," he said, adding that it is unclear what recommendations would be made in the report.
Nick Inzeo, director of EEOC's office of field programs, said the agency has been "working very closely" with both Capitol Hill staffers and the GAO and that he remains confident that the plan will be launched shortly.
"GAO has been doing a thorough job and wants to look at everything," he told BNA Sept. 14. "We think that after looking at everything, they will see that we've reached a good, fair, and effective plan to reposition the agency."
Inzeo said he is "optimistic, without question" that the GAO position will be favorable toward the proposed reorganization.
Downsizing Eight Offices
The reorganization plan would downsize eight district offices--Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Detroit--into "field" and "area" offices with fewer management staffers, and would add two new offices in Mobile, Ala., and Las Vegas.
The proposal is an outgrowth of a February 2003 report by the National Academy of Public Administration, an independent research organization that called for major restructuring of the commission. Among the report's recommendations were a reduction in the number of field offices, a reorganization of headquarters, provision for electronic filing of complaints, and the establishment of a national call center.
Although EEOC officials have stressed that no jobs would be lost in the reorganization and that the plan is aimed at responding to the agency's current needs and the needs of its constituents, the reorganization plan also has drawn criticism from members of Congress, as well as the union that represents EEOC employees.
Stuart Ishimaru, the sole Democrat on the four member panel, voted against the plan when it was approved in July (131 DLR AA-1, 7/11/05). He contended that in downgrading offices and eliminating some regional attorney positions the plan would lead to weakening the agency's enforcement efforts and have a particularly negative impact on Southern states--a view that others at the commission have disputed.
Gabrielle Martin, president of AFGE's National Council of EEOC Locals and an attorney in the commission's Denver office, said Sept. 14 that the union was gratified by the congressionally mandated delay, but remains opposed to the reorganization. "EEOC clearly didn't work with constituent groups in developing this plan," she said.
The union will lobby to keep language calling for stricter congressional controls on EEOC in pending appropriations legislation, she said, and "will try to convince EEOC that the plan makes no sense."
Reorganization or Reprogramming?
Omnibus spending legislation enacted last November deleted House language that would have required EEOC to notify the appropriations subcommittee in advance of any restructuring or reorganization efforts. But Wolf's spokesman asserted Sept. 11 that the agency was still required to get committee approval before moving ahead with the field office changes.
"They call it a reorganization. But we call it a reprogramming, and any of those requests have to go through the committee," Scandling said Sept. 13.
EEOC's Inzeo responded that the agency is continuing to work closely with committee staff. "When the committee says we can go ahead, we will," he told BNA
By Nancy Montweiler
Daily Labor Report
Friday, September 16, 2005 Page A-10
A story on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's proposed field office reorganization, appearing at 178 DLR A-6, 9/15/05 , should have stated that omnibus spending legislation enacted last November included House language requiring EEOC to notify the appropriations subcommittee in advance of any restructuring or reorganization efforts.
The story also omitted Seattle as one of the eight district offices scheduled for downsizing.