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Meeting of February 20, 2013 - Report on Implementation of the EEOC's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012-2016

Statement of Claudia Withers
Chief Operating Officer
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Introduction

Chair Berrien, Commissioners, and General Counsel, I am pleased to be here with you this morning to discuss the great work our agency has been able to accomplish in just under a year to further the EEOC's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 - 2016. I am here with my colleague, Deidre Flippen, Director of the EEOC's Office of Research and Information Planning, and with the performance measure goal leaders.

As you know, I am the Chief Operating Officer of the Agency; I am also designated by the Government Performance Modernization Act of 2010 as the Agency's Performance Improvement Officer. Deidre serves as the Deputy Performance Improvement Officer. Also, with us today is:

  • Carlton Hadden, Director of the Office of Federal Operations, and goal leader for Performance Measures 3 and 5;
  • James Lee, Deputy General Counsel, who testifying on behalf of General Counsel David Lopez, the goal leader for Performance Measure 4;
  • Nicholas Inzeo, Director of the Office of Field Programs, who is the goal leader for Performance Measures 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 13;
  • Todd Cox, Director of the Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs, who is the goal leader for Performance Measure 10,
  • EEOC Legal Counsel, Peggy Mastroianni, who is the goal leader for Performance Measure 11;
  • Lisa Williams, Director of the Office of Human Resources, who is the goal leader for Performance Measure 12; and
  • Germaine Roseboro, Director of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, who is the Goal Leader for Performance Measure 14.

In the interest of conserving traveling resources, I will handle principally the questions related to Performance Measure 1, addressing the Strategic Enforcement Plan, which was led by Chair Jacqueline Berrien, General Counsel David Lopez, and District Director Katharine Kores; AND Performance Measure 2, addressing the Quality Control Plan, which is being led by District Directors John Rowe and Janet Elizondo and Commissioner Feldblum. To the extent the Chair, General Counsel, or Commissioner would like to weigh-in, I welcome your assistance.

Following this introduction, Deidre Flippen is going to address the process aspects of Strategic Plan implementation, including how we monitor and follow implementation not only as fiscal year deadlines approach, but throughout the year. I will then provide a brief overview of the status of each of the performance measures to date. The goal leaders will then join to answer more specific questions.

As indicated earlier, the overall intent of the plan is to guide and measure the agency's progress in fulfilling our mission of stopping and remedying unlawful employment discrimination, so that we can achieve our ultimate vision of justice and equality in the workplace.

The plan communicates internally to our staff and externally to our stakeholders and to the general public that the EEOC is committed to mission-critical thinking, transparent governance, interagency collaboration, and public participation. When Deidre and I appeared before the Commission last year at the first meeting on this Strategic Plan, I noted my view that the process we engaged in to achieve the plan that the Commission ultimately approved embodied the above principles. Now, as we appear before you just a year later, we believe that our efforts at implementation also embody those principles.

Work on the performance measures has by and large been accomplished through workgroups comprised of staff who come from across the agency. While Deidre and I have delegated implementation the work of each performance measure to goal leaders, each leader has developed his or her own process to meet their objectives. They have worked with other goal leaders, and with office directors who are not goal leaders, but who provide key support for their work. For example, although Kimberly Hancher, the Director of the Office of Information Technology, is not a goal leader herself, the work of OIT is instrumental to the work of the leaders who appear with us today.

It is important to note that there is much work going on between offices and across the agency to implement the plan, because the process leading up to the plan, and now its implementation, was designed to strengthen the plan with the wisdom and commitment of EEOC's employees and to ensure that the plan becomes a mechanism for cultural change at the agency. If EEOC's employees are not robustly engaged in implementation, then the work of the Commission is diminished.

Before I move into an update on each performance measure, I yield to Deidre to tell you more about our implementation process, but I thank you for inviting me to testify today, and I look forward to updating you on the progress of our plan and to answering your questions.

[DEIDRE FLIPPEN]

Update on Strategic Plan Implementation: Where are we on the Performance Measures?

Introduction

Thank you, Deidre. As I mentioned previously, the Strategic Plan identifies the mission of the agency as "to Stop and Remedy Unlawful Employment Discrimination," and our vision as "Justice and Equality in the Workplace." The plan contains three strategic objectives:

  1. Combat employment discrimination through strategic law enforcement
  2. Prevent employment discrimination through education and outreach
  3. Deliver excellent service through effective systems, updated technology and a skilled and diverse workforce

The plan goes on to include a number of outcome goals, strategies and performance measures. As soon as the plan was approved by the Commission in February of last year, the real work began and is ongoing. I want to provide a brief update regarding where we are.

Progress in Fiscal Year 2012 --- Progress to Date in FY 2013

We have made progress in implementing the Strategic Plan. As reported in our FY 2012 Performance Accountability Report, of the 14 measures in our plan, we met or exceeded the FY 2012 expectations for eight, and we partially met the targets in two of the measures. The four remaining measures had no specific targets for fiscal year 2012.

Performance Measure 1 --- By 2016, the EEOC develops, issues, implements, evaluates, and revises, as necessary, a Strategic Enforcement Plan.

Work on Performance Measure 1 started within weeks of the Strategic Plan's adoption. A workgroup comprised of more than a dozen agency leaders from across program and district offices and co-chaired by Chair Jacqueline Berrien, General Counsel David Lopez, and Memphis District Director Katharine Kores, spent much of the year developing a draft Strategic Enforcement Plan for the Commission's consideration. The SEP was required to establish nationwide enforcement priorities and integrate all components of the EEOC's private, state and local government a.k.a. "public," and federal sector enforcement.

In June, the Work Group solicited public input into the plan's development and in response received more than 100 submissions from individuals, organizations, and coalitions, internal and external to the agency and from across the nation. In July, the Commission invited more than 30 of those authors and others to participate in a public roundtable on the plan's development. And in September, the Commission released a draft of the SEP for public comment and again received nearly 100 responses. Due to the size and quality of that response, the Commission delayed its vote on the SEP from September to December 2012, when the plan was finally adopted.

The plan established six enforcement priorities, including:

  • Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring;
  • Protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable workers;
  • Addressing emerging and developing issues;
  • Enforcing equal pay laws;
  • Preserving access to the legal system; and
  • Preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targetted outreach.

While only two months into the process, the Commission has engaged in robust implementation of the Strategic Enforcement Plan. The Chair, with the help of agency leadership, created six SEP Teams, corresponding to the six priorities, to develop nationwide strategies for effectively addressing each priority.

The strategies under consideration span all of EEOC's available tools for enforcement, including administrative and legal enforcement, outreach and communications, data collection and research, and policy development throughout the private, public and federal sectors. The teams are comprised of agency staff, which are experts in the priority issue and are primarily responsible for the strategies discussed. All teams began meeting in the beginning of February and are quickly working to draft recommendations for review. After their recommendations are completed, the teams will continue to serve as an internal brain trust on the priority areas, monitoring the success of the strategies and serving as a resource to agency staff and the Commission.

While the SEP Team recommendations will focus on national strategies for addressing nationwide employment discrimination priority issues, the SEP also requires the development of district-level and federal sector plans to identify and develop multi-disciplinary strategies for addressing local or federal-sector specific discrimination issues. All recommendations, whether at the national, local, or federal-sector level, will operate in tandem to pursue a more targeted and strategic approach to eliminating unlawful employment discrimination and a more equal workplace.

While I won't go through the entire SEP, in addition to the creation of these plans, the SEP also requires several other sets of plans and recommendations, including ones on the development of sub-regulatory policy guidance, data and research, communications and outreach, and national standard operating procedures. Each of these has targets for the FY 2013 and, therefore, work is already or will soon be underway to achieve those targets.

Last, the SEP requires that the Commission hold quarterly meetings with the Office of Field Programs, Office of General Counsel, and Office of Federal Operations to update the Commission on selected investigations, litigation, hearings and appeals to address SEP priorities. The first of these meetings is being held this afternoon in the closed session and will focus on the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2013.

Performance Measure 2 --- By FY 2016, TBD% of investigations and conciliations meet the criteria established in the new Quality Control Plan.

The work on Performance Measure 2 began this Fiscal Year. In December, Chair Berrien launched a workgroup for this measure that is co-chaired by Commissioner Feldblum, Chicago District Director Jack Rowe, and Dallas District Director Janet Elizondo. This workgroup is comprised of experienced headquarters and field staff, working to evaluate and revise, where necessary, our current standards of quality for investigations and conciliations. To ensure the perspectives of the public we serve are incorporated into our development process, the workgroup recently requested public input on the quality of our investigations and conciliations. Those comments are due next Friday, March 1, 2013 by email at strategic.plan@eeoc.gov or by mail to the Executive Secretariat. Post their review of the comments, the workgroup will spend the next several weeks drafting recommendations for the Commission to consider and vote on by April 30, 2013.

Performance Measure 3: By FY 2016, 100% of federal sector case inventory is categorized according to a new case management system and TBD% of hearings and appeals meet the criteria established in the new federal sector Quality Control Plan.

We began work on Performance Measure 3 in Fiscal Year 2012. As currently drafted, the Strategic Plan anticipates that by the end of Fiscal Year 2013, the Commission will have:

  • Developed categories for federal sector cases according to a new case management system; and
  • Developed, piloted and implemented new processes and technology, ensuring appropriate guidance, documentation, and staff training.

While it is unclear that we will make that deadline, the Commission is on track to reach these goal posts shortly thereafter.

In the spirit of integration and coordination, last year, OFO and OFP established a workgroup consisting of field managers, supervisory administrative judges, headquarters OFO, OFP and OIT staff, and a union representative from the field. A case management subgroup was formed, among others, which began its work by surveying appellate attorneys and administrative judges regarding their case management processes and practices. The group also sought input from supervisory Administrative judges and reviewed past EEOC work on this issue as well as work from other agencies. The result was an internal proposal, which was shared with OFP and OFO Directors for an initial review. Work on that proposal is still ongoing.

While it is clear that these parts of our federal sector program are benefiting from working more closely with one another on a plan that will improve the program, one of the challenges has been that the proposal calls for a shift in practice for many employees toward a more proactive, uniform and early case assessment that will ultimately allow for a more efficient allocation of agency resources. Thus, to ensure acceptance and successful implementation of this case management process, the goal leaders for OFP and OFO have recommended additional time for vetting and consideration of the feedback received.

This seems reasonable to us, and will allow the Federal Complement Plan, currently in progress, to be finalized and voted on in May 2013, after which the case management program pilots would begin. Originally, that plan would have come after the pilots began.

Additionally, to ensure meaningful evaluation of the pilots, once they begin, the pilots will run six months, the more accurate cycle of a hearings case.

Moreover, additional time may be needed to ensure we are able to appropriately track SEP and federal sector priority issues in federal sector hearings and appeals. Our current system allows for manual tracking of alleged issues, bases and basic case status; however, an expansion of case tracking capabilities is required for full implementation of Performance Measure 3.

Additionally, implementation of the new case management system will require improvement of the technology infrastructure supporting hearings offices. To facilitate these improvements, OFP and OFO are working with OIT to determine what can be done to provide the appropriate enhancements to our current systems.

Accounting for all of these factors will put us well beyond the end of Fiscal Year 2013, but I believe the additional time will ultimately benefit the federal program and serve the Commission's goals in establishing Performance Measure 3. As the OFP and OFO goal leaders move forward in this process, Deidre and I will work with them and OIT to recommend a revised timeline for this measure so that it better reflects our realities and still holds us accountable.

Performance Measure 4: By the end of FY 2016, TBD% of the cases in the agency's litigation docket are systemic cases.

In FY 2012, the Office of General Counsel established a baseline of 18-21% systemic cases as part of the litigation docket. The current percentage of systemic cases, according to OGC, is 19.7%, well, within the baseline percentage. OGC further notes that it is possible that the percentage of systemic cases may decrease if resources to support such cases are not available.

Performance Measure 5: By FY 2016, the EEOC uses an integrated data system to identify potentially discriminatory policies or practices in federal agencies and has issued and evaluated TBD number of compliance plans to address areas of concern.

Work on this measure was not scheduled to start until this fiscal year, during which the agency is to create and implement a data system of complaint, hearing, and statistical employee data in order to establish priorities in the federal sector.

The OFO/OFP workgroup, mentioned during my discussion of performance measure 3, has, however, been working with OIT to develop the requisite data systems, including the selection of options for developing an online database. In the third quarter of FY 2012, OFO and OIT began the development of the Federal Sector EEO Portal (FEDSEP) to replace the former platform for collecting MD 715 data. In addition, OIT entered into a contract to develop forms for the collection of MD 715 data. To date, OIT has built the registration platform in FEDSEP. OFO estimates that FEDSEP will be fully operational in March 2013; it will be the vehicle used by agencies to upload their MD-715 and Form 462 data.

It is likely that completion of this segment of the measure will move to the end of the first quarter of FY 2014, but given all that the workgroup and OIT are doing with both Performance Measure 3 and 5, I am pleased with their progress. As necessary, Deidre and I will work with the goal leaders to develop a new timeline for implementing this measure.

Performance Measure 6: By FY 2016, a TBD% of the EEOC's administrative and legal resolutions contain targeted equitable relief. Performance Measure 7: By FY 2016, a TBD% of resolutions by FEPAs contain targeted, equitable relief.

The FY 2013 target for Performance Measure 6 requires the agency to collect data on the percentage of administrative and legal resolutions currently containing targeted, equitable relief. In order to do that, we needed to establish a baseline of existing targeted, equitable relief in resolutions and project future targets for different types of targeted equitable relief.

OFP expects to be on target with these performance measures. Thus far this year, OFP has coordinated with OIT and OGC to develop an IMS Screen redesign to all for collection of data for TER benefits. These enhancements to the private sector component and the FEPA component were installed and available on January 7, 2013. Moreover OFP has conducted i-seminars on TER enhancements for EEOC staff (investigators, mediators, ISAs, intake staff, supervisors and managers). Over 900 EEOC staff have participated in this training; a PowerPoint of the training has been sent to all field staff. Similarly, over 168 FEPA staff have been trained, and all FEPA partners have been provided with the PowerPoint to share with their staff. OFP plans to create special IMS reports to provide data reflecting TER designations for use in collecting base year information. In addition, EEOC has connected OIT with those FEPAs that utilize a data system separate from IMS to ensure that their benefits data can be recorded as TER data when it is transferred to IMS.

Performance Measure 8: By FY 2016, the EEOC is maintaining TBD significant partnerships with organizations that represent vulnerable workers and/or underserved communities. Performance 9: By FY 2016, the EEOC is maintaining TBD significant partnerships with organizations that represent small or new business (or with businesses directly)

OFP expects to be on target with these measures in FY 2013. In FY 2012, OFP developed a definition of significant partnership, and worked with program analysts and their Directors to develop a national baseline. Thus far in 2013, OFP leadership has initiated conference calls with all District Directors, Deputy Directors, and Program Analysts for each District to discuss particular partnerships, events, etc. The goal of these calls is to ensure that all field staff have a clear sense of what partnerships need to be developed or maintained to meet the planned increase for this fiscal year. OFP will be tracking the events in the Districts where there are significant partnerships with vulnerable workers and with small or new businesses.

Based on that work, OFP has determined that significant partnerships with vulnerable and underserved communities and small and new businesses should increase by 10% in both FY 2013 and 2014. In FY 2015 and 2016, the percentage of partnerships will be maintained, so that the agency can nurture and further strengthen the existing partnerships.

Performance Measure 10: By FY 2013, the EEOC implements a social media plan.

As the goal leader for this measure, OCLA has established a working group, which has determined the requirements necessary to develop a social media plan, and the group has developed an initial draft for internal review. The draft plan lays out the policies and guidance that form the framework for successfully engaging in social media on official EEOC sites and accounts, including the legal, ethical, and strategic communication best practices the agency must consider when engaging with social media platforms. OCLA already has begun a pilot Twitter account and is beginning to resurrect the agency YouTube channel. OCLA, which recently added a new Communications Director, plans to meet the target for implementation of a social media plan in the following ways:

  • Integration of social media planning into the comprehensive communications and outreach plan required under the Strategic Enforcement Plan;
  • Convening of a Communications Content Committee, which will help to develop content for a website that can be used for any social media platform the agency develops; The group will also help alert the agency to upcoming matters and events to ensure that we have a prospective view of agency matters; The goal is to move away from simply reacting to events;
  • Establish a schedule for developing additional agency-wide social media platforms, including a pilot agency Facebook account, a Spanish language Twitter feed, and a Flickr account; We will also consider the integration of existing social media platforms and accounts in the agency; and
  • Develop formal methods of evaluating the impact of the agency's social media engagement and actual outcomes for this measure.

Performance Measure 11: The EEOC reviews, updates, and/or augments with plain language materials its sub-regulatory guidance, if necessary.

In FY 2012, OLC was to submit 4 plain language revisions of major substantive policy documents to OCH to replace outdated guidances. OLC exceeded this target; the PAR notes that OLC submitted 10 documents to OCH. Three were issued: revisions of two documents on ADA employment rights of veterans, and the Enforcement Guidance on the Use of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions, along with a question and answer document summarizing the guidance in plain language. OLC continues to work toward the issuance of eight other documents. Moreover, OLC expects to meet its FY 2013 goal of submitting at least 2 updated guidances to OCH in this fiscal year.

Performance 12: The EEOC strengthens the skills and improves the diversity of its workforce.

Our 2012 PAR notes that the agency was unable to fully meet its targets for this performance measure because of our hiring freeze. We made some hires, though, and for those hires, our process was within the targets OHR set for itself regarding timeliness. In FY 2013, OHR will continue to work on a variety of strategies designed to meet this measure, including implementation of the President's Executive Order on Hiring Individuals with Disabilities and the Executive Order on Diversity and Inclusion.

Performance 13: The EEOC improves the private sector charge process to streamline services and increase responsiveness to customers throughout the process.

Specifically, Performance Measure 13 requires that the agency 1) develop an on-line system that will allow potential charging parties to submit a pre-charge inquiry for review;  2) provide on-line scheduling of appointments for intake interviews (via on-site meetings, web cams, and/or teleconference); 3) provide parties on-line access to check the status of their charge; 4) streamline the intake process through automated workflow and data analysis; and 5) establish a secure portal for electronic transmittal and receipt of charge-related documents.

The FY 2013 target for this measure is:

  • Develop, pilot and implement new processes and technology in a phased and iterative manner, ensuring appropriate guidance, documentation and staff training.

To this end, OFP has been working on two projects: the milestone project, which will allow parties to check the status of a charge, and the on-line intake project, which will address the other requirements, including on-line submission of a pre-charge inquiry, on-line scheduling of intake interviews, and streamlining the intake process. The on-line intake project will also be a building-block for the secure portal allowing submission of electronic charge-related documents.

OIT has provided key technology expertise to the workgroup that has been formed for these projects. The workgroup has reviewed options for software that could be used for both systems, and has provided feedback to OIT. While off to a good start, the work is on hiatus as we wait to bring on system developers, who are needed for the next phase of both projects. The online project team is ready to move to the next phase pending the participation of developers for the project. The milestone project similarly awaits the arrival of contractors who will help the group get to the next step. This delay is largely due to resources, as we wait for more clarity in our FY 2013 budget. Beyond staffing needs, additional time is also needed to ensure we have the IT infrastructure needed to successfully launch and utilize these new systems.

Deidre and I are currently working with OFP and OIT to revise the timeline for completion in light of these challenges, and we will get that to you as soon as possible.

Performance Measure 14: The EEOC's budgetary resources for FY 2014-2017 align with the Strategic Plan.

It is the Chair's responsibility to align budgetary resources. Although this measure did not require such action, OCH began the process of aligning resources in FY 2012. In FY 2012, in keeping with this performance measure, OCH directed funds available at the end of the year to OIT to begin its investment in SP priorities. We continued this approach with the FY 2013 operating plan. We are on a continuing resolution at this point, and need to also plan for possible sequestration. For FY 2014, as the Commission knows, OCH began the process of developing the budget with interactions with each office regarding the strategic plan priorities as they developed budget submissions. Similarly, our interactions with OMB have consistently stressed the importance of our Strategic Plan priorities. This will continue once we receive the President's budget and the Chair develops an operating plan for 2014. We expect to continue in this vein as we approach the development of our budget for FY 2015.

Conclusion

We continue to believe that we have done what the Chair asked us to do in 2011: develop an effective strategic plan that can move us forward as an agency. Equally important, I believe that our process has set a tone for working together that will ensure an ongoing exchange about our goals and ultimate success in implementation of the plan.