Commission Meeting of Friday July 8, 2005
CARI M. DOMINGUEZ Chair
NAOMI C. EARP Vice Chair
LESLIE E. SILVERMAN Commissioner
STUART J. ISHIMARU Commissioner
BERNADETTE B. WILSON,
Chief Operating Officer
Director, Office of Field Programs
Deputy General Counsel
Associate Legal Counsel / Parliamentarian
This transcript produced from audio provided by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: The meeting will come to order. Good morning. On behalf of my fellow Commissioners let me welcome everyone to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In accordance with the Sunshine Act, today's meeting is open to public observation of the Commission's deliberations and voting. We appreciate your joining us today as we discuss a topic that is important to all of us, the proposed repositioning of our field offices.
At this time, I'm going to ask Bernadette Wilson to announce any notation votes that have taken place since the last Commission meeting. Ms. Wilson.
MS. WILSON: Good morning, Madam Chair, Madam Vice Chair, Commissioners. I'm Bernadette Wilson from the Executive Secretariat. We'd like to remind our audience of the guidelines governing the public's conduct which are posted outside of the room. As indicated there, questions and comments from the audience are not permitted during the meeting. We ask that you carry on any conversations outside the meeting room and if you need to depart and re-enter that you do so quietly as possible.
Also, please take this opportunity to turn your cell phones off or to vibrate mode. During the period April 21st, 2005 through July 7th, 2005, the Commission acted on 12 items by notation vote, approved litigation on nine cases, approved revisions to the Freedom of Information Act fee schedule, approved a resolution honoring Esterine Cosby and approved amicus participation in Meachum v. Knolls Atomic Power Lab.
Madam, Chair, it would be appropriate at this time to have a motion to close a portion of the next Commission meeting in case there are any closed agenda items.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Ms. Wilson. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I so moved.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Is there a second?
VICE CHAIR EARP: Second.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Any discussion? Hearing none, all those in favor, please say "Aye".
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Opposed?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: The motion carries. The ayes have it.
We're meeting today to deliberate and vote on a Repositioning Plan that is designed to do a number of things, among them, enhance our enforcement presence and service delivery, improve the efficiency of our operations and reduce or eliminate expenses that threaten the financial stability of the Commission. This is what every mission-connected organization strives to do. This is what taxpayers expect of the government and this is what the President has asked of each federal agency. Specifically, he has asked each agency to develop a repositioning plan that is customer centered, performance driven and results oriented.
This plan accomplishes those objectives by providing the Commission with much
needed efficiency and flexibility to adapt to shifting conditions in the workplace.
Over the past three years, the Commission has been engaged in a comprehensive
review of its operations and organizational framework. We've had a lot of input
from a lot of sources, both internal and external. Predictably, the comments
have run the gambit reflecting a diversity and divergence of views and competing
interests that are represented among individuals and stakeholder groups. Faced
with the impossibility of finding consensus in such an environment one might
consider just doing nothing, preferring inertia to take hold.
But President John F. Kennedy, one of our great visionary leaders, put it best
when he said quote, "There are risks and costs to a program of action,
but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction".
For me, doing nothing is not an option because the consequences are too dire
to ignore. We can no longer afford a house that was built in the 1970s for 3800
employees on a budget that over time has come to support an occupancy rate of
We can't continue to lose line professionals such as mediators, litigators,
and investigators while feeding a structural design heavily laden with management
layers no longer necessary in a high tech world. The Commission structure is
an outdated liability. It was created before the telecommunications revolution
and other watershed advances in organizational efficiency and before discrimination
shifted from bold and overt to subtle and sophisticated. EEOC is not yet a member
of the National Historical Preservation Society, though we aspire to be some
day when we're no longer needed.
For now, we have to remain a vital, dynamic, compelling force with a mission
to eradicate discrimination and its infrastructure has got to help, not hinder
that effort. Driving a Model T Ford on the information superhighway, no matter
how cute, quaint or expensive, simply won't work. We have a stewardship responsibility
to utilize our limited resources as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Streamlining will improve lines of authorities, enabling us to expand coverage
and enhance efficiency. Realigning our resources and strengthening our investment
in front line, customer-driven activities will better enable us to serve the
We must insure that we maintain and vigorously enforce our laws while operating
within our means without fear of furloughs or forced layoffs. I have said from
the beginning that every effort would be made to maintain EEOC's presence and
to preserve a job for everyone. This plan does that. And while I can certainly
appreciate that each individual and stakeholder may look at this plan through
their very unique lens, guided by their role, position and perceived personal
impact, ultimately it is the sum of the parts, the common good, what must guide
any public process.
President Bush has exhorted all who answer his call to public service, not
to come into these jobs just to mark time, but to make progress. I know that
today we are making progress. I want to thank all who have participated in this
effort, either by offering suggestions or by working through the suggestions
that have been offered. You have been a very critical part of this process.
I've asked our Chief Operating Officer, Lea Guarraia, I've asked our Director
of the Office of Field Programs, Nick Inzeo, and our Deputy General Counsel,
Jim Lee to present this plan. Following their presentations, we're going to
have statements and comments, questions, deliberations, by the Commissioners.
And at this time, I would like to ask Lea Guarraia to please come up and actually,
all three of you can come up, and, Lea, please begin.
MS. GUARRAIA: Good morning, Chair Dominguez, Commissioners, General Counsel,
EEOC Managers and employees and all of our visitors today. I am Lea Guarraia,
the Chief Operating Officer for EEOC. I am pleased to present Phase 2 of our
Repositioning Plan. Phase 1 was, of course, the launching of our National Contact
Center in March on a pilot basis which was, from all reports, and which is from
all reports, off to a great start.
Phase 3, which will be forthcoming, will be the streamlining of our Headquarter's
structure. Today, however, we are presenting Phase 2, the repositioning of our
field operations. This plan is the culmination of several years of work, study,
assessment and input. Our work began with a study of the Commission's organization
by the National Academy of Public Administration in 2002. NAPA issued their
report in 2003. Among the recommendations made by NAPA was a structure that
would be made up of 10 lead offices. While we have decided to expand that number
of lead offices above the number recommended by NAPA, we did follow their recommendations
concerning communication and comment.
The report was posted on out external website and we had an e-mail response
process. Every employee of the Commission was given the opportunity to comment
on the report and its recommendations. Also in 2003, a day-long Commission meeting
was held to receive additional input from our employees, managers, the union
and other interested stakeholders. In 2004, a repositioning work group under
the leadership of the Vice Chair and former Commissioner Paul Miller, was convened.
This work group had representatives from all levels of staff at EEOC, both Headquarters
All of the Commissioners were briefed on the work group's final report. Throughout
this period, Chair Dominguez has visited many, if not all of our field offices
to get the views of our employees on a number of issues, to include repositioning
and, as the Chair noted, we have kept our stakeholders, OMB and various Congressional
committees and subcommittees informed as to our progress. Without question,
this has been the most open, transparent, and inclusive restructuring process
in the history of the Commission, and I dare say, in the history of any administrative
repositioning of any of our sister agencies.
Through all of this we heard several things from our staff and our stakeholders,
"Do not close offices, do not reduce your level of service, do not cut
staff", and we have listened. Our proposal closes no offices, preserves
a job for every EEOC employee, actually expands our presence to those areas
where we do not have -- have had offices previously and will allow us to increase
the number of front line staff while reducing costs. We heard the concerns that
were raised and we have addressed every single one. As the Chair began this
process, she set down a marker and made a pledge to the employees of the Commission,
no offices will be closed, no jobs will be lost, there will be no reduction
in force and no furlough.
And by this plan she has kept those promises. We are in a situation where we
must right-size the Commission to operate effectively and efficiently within
the resources that we have today. The current Commission structure was created
almost 25 years ago when the Agency had a staff of nearly 3800 employees, not
the 2400 that we have today. As will be discussed in more detail, this proposal
fits the size of each EEOC office to the work it must perform. There will be
15 district office directors and 15 regional attorneys. The Commission is expanding
its number of field offices from one to nine and we'll also have 15 area offices
and 14 local offices, two of which are new offices being established to respond
to the growing population of workers in Mobile, Alabama and Las Vegas, Nevada.
This repositioning will give the Commission a total of 53 offices, enabling
us to increase our presence and still reduce costs. This plan flattens our overall
management structure and results in a more logical alignment of our offices.
This plan will allow us to redeploy 70 to 80 staff to front line positions and
to fill 20 new positions in addition to the already 130 positions that have
been authorized over the past year, most of which have been assigned to our
Will this all happen at once? No. What the Commission will be voting on today
are the necessary changes to Orders 110 and 120 which define the mission and
functions of our offices and their structure and the geographical boundaries
of each office. Upon approval, we will move to the implementation phase. We
realize there are many details to be addressed, and these will be addressed
over time as we move toward full implementation.
I know that there has been some concerns that all of this is going to happen
in one fell-swoop. This is not the case. We will insure a transition phase that
is adequate and sufficient for proper implementation. This change will not adversely
affect the public access to the Commission. They will continue to reach the
Commission and be served by our staff at an even higher level of customer service.
Throughout this effort we have been sensitive to the concerns of our employees
and our stakeholders. To be frank, we had a number of proposals before us that
were far more drastic than this plan, plans which would have required the closing
of offices or the laying off of employees.
We were certainly aware that some agencies have been forced to take this route;
the Civil Rights Commission, MSPB, GSA, OPM and the Office of Special Counsel
to name a but a few. However, we were determined to find a way to make the necessary
adjustments to our structure without doing that and we believe we have been
successful on many fronts - by relieving grade compression, opening up new opportunities
for promotion and management and expanding our presence to our constituencies
and creating a right size organization that results in operational consistency
through a stronger, leaner management team.
Since this proposal was announced in May, we have reached out to interested
parties about the plan, received their input, addressed their concerns and answered
their questions. We have held numerous briefings for our Commissioners, Congressional
members and staff, stakeholder groups and our own office directors so they,
in turn, could advise their employees. We have posted a wealth of information
on the Commission's internal and external websites to include answers to questions
generated by interested groups and the transcript of a public forum that was
held on June 23rd of this year.
We provided e-mail boxes for the receipt of comments from both the public and
our own employees. We received approximately 137 comments in total, including
83 from members of the public and organizations, including the union, 55 comments
from our own employees out of 2400 of our employees. All of the input has been
received and has been carefully assessed. As the Chair mentioned, some changes
to the original proposal have been made as a result of that input. Let me summarize
briefly what those changes are and then Nick and Jim will expand upon those
EEOC Order 110 has been further edited to clarify the role of our Regional
Attorneys and Legal Units and to provide that any of the program functions performed
in the field may be performed and continue to be performed in the field in area
or local offices depending on the workload needs. The relationship between our
district offices and state and local Fair Employment Practice Agencies, otherwise
known as FEPAs has been clarified by providing that each FEPA will have a relationship
with only one district office for the purposes of administration of its FEPA
contract and EEOC file review of its cases.
This is reflected on a FEPA map that shows all states except three states that
are split under our current repositioning remaining whole. Five counties in
California have been under -- had been under the Fresno local office but they
are closer to the San Francisco office than Fresno and therefore, will be moved
to the jurisdiction of the San Francisco office. Four counties in Northeast
South Carolina will be moved back to the jurisdiction of the Charlotte office.
The entire upper peninsula of Michigan will be moved back to the jurisdiction
of the Detroit office.
And four Central Ohio counties around Columbus, Ohio will be moved back to
the jurisdiction of the Cleveland office and three Southern Ohio counties will
be moved to the jurisdiction of the Cincinnati office. And lastly, two of the
three Delaware counties and five Pennsylvania counties, including Lancaster
and York will be moved from the jurisdiction of the Philadelphia office to the
Baltimore office. Four Western Pennsylvania counties will be moved from the
Philadelphia office to the Pittsburgh office.
Before I turn this over to Nick, Director of the Office of Field Programs,
and Jim Lee, Deputy General Counsel to say a few words, I would like to mention
one additional thing. I said that we began this process by commissioning a study
by NAPA in 2002. We have kept NAPA advised of our actions since the report was
issued in 2003. Just this week, we received a letter from the President of NAPA,
Morgan Kingshorn, a letter that has been shared with all of the Commissioners.
In his letter, Mr. Kingshorn notes that it is clearly necessary that we resize
our field staff to our current size and that our proposal appears to be consistent
with NAPA's recommendations and presents a creative way to maintain and even
enhance the Commission's presence while providing for necessary efficiencies.
We agree with that assessment and think this is a good plan, one that will
meet the needs of the Commission, its employees and the public we serve as we
continue into the 21st Century. I thank you, Commissioners and Madam Chair.
Nick, let me turn it over to you, please.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, before we turn to Nick, could I ask that
the letter from NAPA be placed in the record right now so we can see the whole
letter, so the public can see the whole letter from NAPA?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Could you table that until we have the presentations because
we would need to get into a discussion on that?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Sure, absolutely, sure. Okay.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: And you would have to make it in the form of a motion.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Okay, well, we could agree to do it without a motion.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: No, we really can't because there's a lot of other letters
that have come in and, you know, they're not really part of the official record,
but let's table that for discussion.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Surely.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you. Thank you very much, Lea. At this point, let me
ask Nick Inzeo to proceed.
MR. INZEO: Thank you, Chair. Good morning, Chair, Vice Chair, and Commissioners.
My name is Nicholas Inzeo, the Director of the Office of Field Programs. I've
worked with the Chair, Lea Guarraia, the Chief Operating Officer, and Jim Lee,
the Deputy General Counsel, in preparing this repositioning proposal for your
consideration. I also want to acknowledge the enormous help of Ralph Soto of
my office, who served on the Vice Chair's repositioning task force and made
himself available to me and other agency managers as a key resource in preparing
this proposal. Ralph and Cynthia Pierre, the Director of Field Management Programs
are here today to assist in answering any questions that may arise. One of the
most important reasons to be here today is to obtain a decision of the Commission
on the Chair's repositioning proposal. As an agency, we have taken a long time
thinking about and considering repositioning.
During that time, speculation and rumor, much of it unfounded, created considerable
concern among employees and stakeholders. Agency managers expressed to me their
desire to have a decision made. By making a decision, those concerns can be
placed behind us and we can focus on our mission of eliminating employment discrimination.
As soon as it became apparent to EEOC employees and managers that repositioning
efforts were to begin we heard the question, what is the business case for repositioning?
To me, the business case for repositioning is the enforcement of this nation's
laws banning employment discrimination.
We have to insure that we have as many resources as we can muster to enforce
the law. The President has asked each agency to prepare a repositioning plan
to be more customer centered. OMB Bulletin 0107 has defined this requirement
to mean in quote, "Deploying resources to direct service delivery positions
and using workforce planning to flatten the federal hierarchy". As the
Chair so clearly articulated at a recent meeting with state and local fair employment
practices agencies' directors, when EEOC received supplemental appropriation
in 2002 averting a furlough, Congress and OMB required additional financial
reporting and a repositioning plan from EEOC. The Office of Management and Budget
and the Congress assess agencies and approve budgets based on how well each
agency has performed. During the current fiscal year, we saw the list of government
programs that were cut or eliminated and government agencies that had to absorb
significant cuts because their programs and structures were not customer centered
and results oriented.
EEOC cannot afford to be on that list of agencies. An EEOC that is customer
centered must be structured around where the workload is located. This proposal
looks to EEOC workload as the major criterion in deciding where EEOC offices
should be located and what size they should be. Our largest offices should be
where our largest workloads are. In order to make sure that everyone is served,
from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Honolulu, Hawaii, we must insure that the size
of each office and the size of our staff in each office are appropriate for
Reuben Daniels, Jr., who served as Acting Director of Field Programs appeared
before the Commission at a meeting in September 2003 to urge the Commission
to reduce the span of control of Headquarters Program Offices and expand the
span of control of District Directors. As many as 25 offices reported to the
Office of Field Programs. That span of control was too large and did not allow
for effective communication nor for consistent operation. This proposal balances
the span of control by reducing to 16 the number of offices reporting directly
to field programs and general counsel. The District Directors and Regional Attorneys
in the 15 EEOC District Offices will have expanded workloads and expanded geographic
This proposal insures that the budget that OMB and Congress approved for EEOC
will be well and wisely spent. Perhaps more importantly the proposal also provides
additional resources for enforcing the law. By flattening the management and
administrative ranks, we should be able to deploy up to 80 staff to front line
positions with responsibility for investigations, mediation, outreach and litigation.
In announcing this proposal to EEOC field managers in May, the Chair indicated
that the next phase of repositioning will be to look at the Headquarters structure.
The Chair articulated her goal to reduce the Headquarters operation by 20 percent
and to redeploy those resources to front line positions. Both the redeployment
of field management and administrative staff and the redeployment of Headquarters
staff will enable us to provide better service to those individuals who come
The Chair has made it clear that the repositioning plan must also be employee
friendly. First, no EEOC office will be closed. In fact, we will add two local
offices in Las Vegas, Nevada and Mobile, Alabama. Second, under this proposal,
no EEOC employee will lose a job, be forced out through a RIF or Reduction in
Force or will be forced to relocate geographically. As Lea indicated, we met
with numerous stakeholder groups, briefed congressional staffs, and received
numerous comments about this proposal. As a result, some refinements were made
to the plan.
Let me emphasize one change. Two weeks ago we met with the state and local
Fair Employment Practices Agencies, the FEPAs in Atlanta, Georgia at our annual
meeting with them. Some FEPA representatives had a concern with the proposal
because it called for the jurisdiction of some states to be split between different
district offices. Having had the opportunity to discuss those concerns with
the Chair, the Commissioners and other Commission officials, we have modified
the proposal so that both contract administration and the substantial weight
review process would be performed by one District Office. Our relationship with
the FEPAs will not create any additional split states.
As I indicated earlier, I believe the enforcement of the law is the clearest
commitment that a Chair and the entire Commission can make. By protecting EEOC's
workforce and utilizing our staff more efficiently, this proposal will help
us to protect the nation's workforce. Thank you, Chair.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you very much, Nick. At this point, let me ask Jim Lee
to please proceed.
MR. LEE: Thank you, Madam Chair. Good morning, Madam Chair, Commissioners.
I am James Lee, the Deputy General Counsel. I wish to thank the Office of the
Chair and the Office of Field Programs for the consideration they have shown
to the program responsibilities of the Office of General Counsel in the development
of the Chair's repositioning plan. In order for the litigation program to operate
effectively as possible, it is essential that a decision be made by the Commission
on the Chair's proposal.
Based on my discussion with Regional Attorneys and many others, attorneys in
our field offices, despite assurances, have felt uncertain about the future.
Your decision will permit our attorneys to know how the Agency will be positioned
for the future and be free to concentrate on their enforcement efforts. Our
commitment as an agency, must be to the public we serve. We must insure that
we vigorously enforce the laws and make the best use of the resources available.
I realize that there are those who look back on our accomplishments and say,
given how well we have done, why change? But the Chair's plan is not about the
past. It is, as it must, look forward in order to position our agency for the
future with a structure that reflects the new reality. The plan will enable
us to provide effective oversight to a litigation program, at the same time,
providing greater resources and flexibility to Regional Attorneys. Parity with
District Directors will insure effective legal enforcement interaction. It will
enable the Office of General Counsel to better utilize its resources and it
will enable us to increase our front line effectiveness.
We, as an agency, will be better able to meet our obligation to enforce civil
rights in the workplace. While recognizing the organizational improvements that
will be brought by the plan, we in the Office of General Counsel recognize the
personal impact on some of our colleagues. We will work with them to insure
that their talents will be fully utilized by the Agency.
The first field restructuring I experienced was Chair Norton's. I was one of
many trial attorneys who were RIF'd. As the Chair's plan moves the Agency forward
without RIFs, office closures or forced relocations that have recently occurred
at other agencies, and as I personally know, at EEOC in the past, is extraordinary.
Just parenthetically, I had in one of the many Congressional briefings we conducted
over the last several months had an opportunity to relive those days and memories
with Delegate Norton, who curiously her memories were as vivid as mine of that
time and her efforts to place the Agency in a position to do our work as we
must again, make those efforts today.
During the comment period, we worked with our Regional Attorneys on both changes
to the plan itself as well as a strategy for implementation. The modifications
to Order 110 clearly spell out the authority of Regional Attorneys over all
legal operations in the District and their reporting line to the General Counsel.
Language was added to make clear that lawyers may be stationed at any EEOC office.
As we go forward, the Office of General Counsel is committed to fully utilizing
the talents of all our lawyers. OGC is confident that the Chair's plan will
position us to be able to vigorously enforce the statutes well into the future.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you very much, Jim Lee and Nick. I appreciate very much
your presentations this morning. And now we'll have the opportunity for statements
or questions from my fellow Commissioners and let me begin with Madam Vice Chair.
VICE CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Madam Chair. Good morning, everyone.
ALL PARTICIPANTS: Good morning.
VICE CHAIR EARP: The idea that change is the only constant has been a truism
of life since at least 500 BC. In the modern world, when change involves one
of the three R's, Reorganizing, Re-engineering or Repositioning, there is a
great opposition, consternation and fear. What is it about change that fosters
such fear? For one thing, some people just don't handle change well. Many of
us just don't want to change our way of thinking, acting, being or doing. We
have routines and patterns and habits that give us security. Think about something
as minor as wearing your watch on the other hand and how uncomfortable that
would make you feel.
Routines and familiarity keep us comfortable. Change makes us very uncomfortable.
Another dimension of change that is often imposed -- change is often imposed
from the top down. When change is discussed, whether in business or government,
people at the top see the big picture. They are the visionaries, while others
in the organization tend to feel threatened or manipulated. Because they're
not at the top seeing it from that view they may feel as though they have no
control over the changes coming. Even when everyone agrees that some change
is necessary, many people simply fear the unknown and those people want every
"what if" possibility vetted before moving on. They want certainty,
they want to keep the comfort level that they have and finally, they want time
to adjust to the change that's coming.
The repositioning proposal before us for a vote today presents a challenge,
because it requires a combination of inner and outer change. Under the proposed
paradigm, EEOC employees and our stakeholders will have to go through an internal
shift in some of their values and expectations. This is combined with external
shifts in behavior associated with some change in our processes, in geographical
boundaries and in ways of doing business. To insure there is a foundation for
the proposed change, whether one agrees or disagrees, substantial work has been
done beforehand. Whether one agrees with it or disagrees with it, some of the
foundational work came from disinterested third party organizational development
professionals. They don't have a dog in this fight.
Much of the work was performed by and reviewed by experienced and well-respected
career EEOC staff who love this agency, love it and would not allow any harm
to come to an agency that they have devoted their lives to and as surprising
as it may seem, some of the foundational work that helped to pave the path to
where we are today was actually bipartisan in nature. The Miller/Earp repositioning
work group was the vehicle former Commissioner Miller and I sponsored so that
we could hear from a cross section of diverse, multi-disciplinary employees
from different districts who could work out recommendations with a minimum of
self-interest. The working group had nine members, including a District Director,
a Regional Attorney, a Deputy Director, Investigator, Enforcement Manager, two
Program Analysts, an Administrative Judge and a state and local Coordinator.
The working group met in January and March 2004. The group was charged with
developing criteria to be used to reduce the number of EEOC District Offices
to 10 and 11 in accordance with one of the recommendations in NAPA. Without
necessarily believing that there was a need to change, the working group took
its task very seriously and identified 11 District Offices that could effectively
function as a geographically expanded or what we called then mega-district.
Each of those 11 Districts are encompassed in the proposal we will vote on today,
in addition to four other Districts.
Neither Commissioner Miller nor I viewed the working group's effort as 100
percent perfect. The working group preferred not to change anything, not one
thing, about the way we are currently structured. But they knew that options
had to be explored and they did an excellent job of objectively, to the extent
that they could, evaluate how the field could be repositioned. I want to thank
the members of the work group, once again, for demonstrating what I believe
is the most creative way to handle change in an organization and that is to
work together and not work against each other.
Despite the working group's effort and all the foundation-building that has
gone before, there was still a cry for more time to review, discuss and comment.
Frankly, I am disappointed at how the additional time for comment has been used.
I was frustrated and saddened by the overall quality of comments submitted during
the run-up to this meeting. After the huge push for additional opportunity to
comment, the majority of comments from staff and stakeholders alike contained
little or no substance.
I wasn't surprised to see comments in opposition because the general rule is
that those who oppose something are most vocal. What I found personally disheartening
is the lack of constructive criticism and real alternatives to how we can improve
our field operations in a climate of diminishing resources. I expected more
from an agency with such a rich legacy and I expected more from our supporters.
Disagreement is to be expected. Profound change is never perfect and is rarely,
if ever, without resistance. In many organizations when change is eminent, there
is a sense that the good old days will be lost forever but I think it was Billy
Joel that says the good old days weren't really all that good.
But good old days is not the legacy of EEOC. Employees here in this organization
have created new theories and new approaches to fighting discrimination when
we didn't even have enforcement powers. When the backlog became intolerable,
staff came up with new ways of handling the charges. We pushed the envelope
of creativity in this agency. I was expecting to see some of that innovation
and thinking outside the box apply to improving service delivery in a time when
our resources are so slim. Instead, I and my fellow Commissioners, waded through
many comments simply saying the proposal won't work, but a few suggesting how
the plan might work better, and even fewer that suggested alternative ways in
which we could improve the way we deliver services and become overall more efficient.
Some of our staff and many of our stakeholders have missed a golden opportunity.
Today, after all of that, we are at a decision point. I believe that a decision
maker must listen and consider all points of view, then simply make the best
decision that one can make based on the best available information at the time.
All decisions of this magnitude are with the understanding that course corrections
can and should be made as necessary.
Are there things that could have been done differently? Probably. Should we
continue to try to build trust around this plan? Yes, by all means. I for one,
do not believe that the proposal before us is a panacea. It is not the perfect
cure for all that ails us. However, I believe the proposal promotes greater
consistency, uniformity in our field operations. It increases our presence and
it provides a blueprint for the future. It closes off rumors and it deals with
uncertainty. I am persuaded that the broad outline is a sound management tool
with the details to be worked out later.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Madam Vice Chair. Commissioner Silverman?
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: I believe that we're here today for an important reason.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is in need of change. We've operated
under the same structure for over 25 years. As our fixed costs rise, our budget
has not kept pace and it has become increasingly difficult to maintain this
organizational structure. In recent years, the fact is we've been able to get
by through frugality, a virtual hiring freeze and attrition. Consequently, this
agency has been stretched incredibly thin which, combined with staffing imbalances
caused by attrition, results in an overall form that is beginning to resemble
Despite this adversity, the EEOC has make do. In fact, our staff has done better
than make do. They have done a fantastic job under difficult circumstances.
But I, for one, recognize that the Agency cannot continue on this path indefinitely.
If we do not take action, in time, our holes will increase, our services will
begin to diminish and our impact as a law enforcement agency will suffer. For
the past three years, our Chair and her staff have been searching for a solution
to this dilemma, a solution that would allow the EEOC to carry out its lofty
mission of securing equal opportunity in the workplace while living within its
Over the same period, we heard repeatedly how closing even one of our offices
or RIF'ing even one member of our workforce would be tantamount to rolling back
civil rights, that we would be signaling to the world that the leadership of
this agency doesn't care about the fight against discrimination. And in the
two months since the Chair's original repositioning plan was first disseminated,
we've heard feedback from our staff, our state and local FEPA partners, community
groups and others making suggestions and asking questions. I'm happy to see
that as a result of this input, the Repositioning Plan has been revised and
improved in numerous ways.
And so the Chair ultimately settled on the Repositioning Plan that is before
the Commission today. This plan tries to address issues raised by employees
and our stakeholders. Obviously, as the Vice Chair said, there's no one plan
that will satisfy everyone's concern, but I believe the revised plan has addressed
many of these concerns in thoughtful and rational ways. Most importantly, the
plan before us is customer focused, insures that our offices serve our customers
where they live and where they work. This plan allows for every office to stay
open. Indeed, it even calls for expanding our presence by eventually opening
two additional offices in locations where there is a great need for our services.
And this plan guarantees that every member of our workforce will have a position
with the Agency.
The plan before us today will allow the Agency to continue on by redeploying
some of our existing staff. Instead of closing offices or cutting back on our
staff, we are choosing to flatten our management structure to better reflect
the size of our workforce. As you've heard, the last time this agency made any
significant changes in its field structure was in 1979. At that time, the EEOC
employed nearly 1400 more people than we do today. As our workforce has contracted,
our organizational structure has remained intact. I think one would be hard-pressed
to find an organization in either the private or the public sector that it's
reduced its workforce by nearly one-third, while keeping its organizational
structure exactly the same.
And let's not forget that the world has changed in many ways over the last
25 years. While many of us think back wistfully to the days where our work and
leisure time were not constantly interrupted by mobile phones, e-mails and the
like, the fact is, that computers, the Internet, fax machines and other technological
advances allow supervisors to manage broader territories from afar in ways that
were positively unthinkable in 1979. Moreover the proposed changes should allow
this organization to serve the public more effectively. Fewer district offices
will mean that our agency will be better able to streamline our operations,
have greater consistency in our approach and place us in a better position,
in a position to better harness our limited resources.
We have a plan before us today with 2005 in mind. It takes into account where
we are now and where we are likely to be in the future. It provides us a road
map that will allow us to continue carrying out our mission, one that will,
in time, save money and allow us to truly live within our means. Now, I also
recognize that while the changes we make will have a positive impact on the
Commission overall, this plan will impact many of our employees in the short-term.
Jobs will change, titles will change and for some, these changes will be difficult
It's my fervent hope that this Agency will do everything in its power to assist
these individuals to make a smooth transition and that we can create new opportunities
to fully utilize each affected person's talents and skills. For example, we
recently received a heartfelt memo from the eight displaced Regional Attorneys
to our General Counsel. The memo discussed their thoughts about how they could
contribute most effectively if the Repositioning Plan is approved. I hope that
we will give this -- give serious consideration to their ideas as well as the
suggestions that the other employees most directly affected by the Repositioning
Plan put forward.
Although I believe in repositioning the Agency, I do have some questions about
the plan before us and how it will be implemented assuming the Commission approves
it today and I'm pleased to have this opportunity to ask questions. Are we doing
opening statements and then coming back and --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Okay. Thank you.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Commissioner Silverman. Commissioner Ishimaru?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair, Leslie, don't worry, I won't
steal your question time. I think we'd be somewhat remiss if we didn't note
the other happenings in the world today. Yesterday's attack in London, I think,
took all of our breath away and I know my colleagues and I certainly send our
best wishes to the people of London and knowing what it was like in those hours
and days after September 11, how scared people are. So I wanted to note that.
I want to thank the Chair for calling this hearing. This is great that she
did it. I would note for the record that this frankly, is the first hearing
or meeting of the Commission that's been called since my very first week here
in December of 2003 when we did a hearing on mediation. Since then, I've been
forced to request meetings as is within my powers and I've done that and I've
said at these meetings that unlike some of my colleagues, I believe public meetings
are a good thing and that our meetings are not the theater of the absurd.
The Commission does its best work in public and when the issues we consider
are aired in public. So I'm glad we're here today to talk about the Chair's
plan to reposition the Agency and that the meeting on May 16th was postponed
20 minutes after it was supposed to have started. The public response to that
attempt to cram the plan through without disclosing the details of the plan
to the public should not have been surprising. The original schedule was fundamentally
unfair to the public, to the stakeholders and to the employees of the Commission.
The criticisms and questions concerning this reorganization plan raised by
stakeholders and employees are well-taken. Although there have been some very
small changes, which have not been disclosed to the public, the proposed Field
Repositioning Plan remains seriously flawed and should not be approved. The
business case justifying the details of repositioning have not been made. From
a cost savings perspective, an efficiency perspective, an enforcement perspective
and even a process perspective, this proposal cannot be credibly justified.
Change for the sake of change does not improve our ability to enforce anti-discrimination
laws. It does not move us closer to our goals of improved efficiency and better
customer service. It does not make us a model employer.
Our political representatives, stakeholders and employees should rightfully,
be proud that they forced this process to become more inclusive. The message
should be clear and remembered. When it comes to major changes in the pre-eminent
civil rights enforcement agency in our government, those changes cannot and
should not be done behind closed doors and announced as a fait accompli. Our
stakeholders would not stand for it.
I hope that my colleagues have learned from this process that public review
of our decisions and plans is not something to hide from. Indeed, it is simply
part and parcel of our jobs and it makes our work product better. The administration
of the Commission should not be by decree but rather with the support, ideas
and input of those with whom we work and serve. For every major change, for
every plan, we should expect to include stakeholders and a wide range of employees
in the creation, implementation and decision. We should, as a matter of course,
make the data that supports any changes publicly available. It should not take
a plea from me and, in fact, given that this information that I asked at the
question and answer forum be placed on the Internet site and it was not, I find
very disturbing. And I also find very disturbing that the final plan was not
placed on the Internet site, nor was it released to reporters when asked.
From this plan, we should have made available all of the information as limited
as it was, that was provided to the Commissioner's including changes to the
plan. We should not have played hide the ball. Public input will only make our
plans better and this plan that is before us, is better as a result of opening
the process. The comments we received have forced boundary changes. The descriptions
of the functions of various offices have changed so that there is more flexibility
and an understanding that the work should drive staffing, not the label of the
The affected employees have more -- have had more of an opportunity to learn
about their options. Some of our FEPA partners' concerns regarding contract
administration have been addressed. Because the public part of this process
only came about through the insistence of our stakeholders, rather than as part
of the original plan, the public process was very limited and inadequate. We
should have had a public meeting to hear feedback on this plan, not to have
the Chair call a question and answer forum during a week when our FEPA partners
were at a long scheduled conference in Atlanta and our colleagues from the Plaintiff's
Bar were at their annual convention in Philadelphia.
If our stakeholders and employees had been involved from the start and given
the information and data they needed, we might have seen a very different plan,
one that would have truly improved the agency. The current plan does not address
basic issues within the Agency and will not bring about improvements in our
enforcement of these fundamental laws. Forty years ago this week, the EEOC opened
its doors, exactly one year after President Johnson signed the landmark Civil
Rights Act of 1964 into law. Just over a year ago members of this body went
to the White House to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
with President Bush. As Commissioner Miller and I sat in the front row, we heard
President Bush say, "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gives all Americans another
reason to be proud of our country. The work of equality is not done because
the evil of bigotry is not finally defeated. Yet the laws of this nation and
the good heart of this nation are on the side of equality". And as Dr.
King reminded us, "We must not rest until the day when justice rolls down
like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream".
I'm proud to have been appointed to this office by President Bush and I agree
with him that the work of equality is not done because the evil of bigotry is
not finally defeated. We need a strong and effective EEOC, an agency that carefully
and openly shepherds the public funds entrusted to us, targeting illegal discrimination
for elimination throughout the land. And let me state at the outset, like my
colleagues, I'm not opposed to change. As I told our colleagues at our all-employee
meeting both last year and this year, I believe change can be good. Repositioning
done right can give us a chance to improve our customer service and better fulfill
our mission. But to fulfill our mission, I believe we must first define our
mission and identify our customer. I believe our mission should be law enforcement,
enforcing these important statutes.
Management generally, and the President's management agenda specifically, are
important and necessary but we cannot lose sight of our mission in the name
of management. So much of this repositioning has been justified as fulfilling
the President's management agenda but the management agenda is not about restructuring
the agency for restructuring sake. As President Bush said in the introduction
to his management agenda, "What matters in the end is completion, performance,
results, not just making promises, but making good on promises. In my Administration
that will be the standard".
Performance, results both are good, I support that but measured from what?
What is our mission? Is our mission to process charges and to close our cases
or is our mission to root out discrimination wherever we find it? As I have
said many times before, the Chair's five-point plan is a good one, but in order
for it to work it must be premised on strong mission implementation and a strong
litigation program. Strategic enforcement cannot be an after thought or low
Now, who's our customer? I believe that our primary customer has been and must
continue to be the persons protected by our statutes, persons subject to illegal
discrimination. Our primary customers are not -- our friends from the business
community, the businesses we regulate or law firms or anyone else with an interest
in the work we do. While educating entities of their responsibilities under
the law is important and will help stem discrimination, I believe that these
entities are not our primary customer. We should be first serving those who
have been subject to illegal discrimination.
With any restructuring proposal for this Agency, we should be looking at how
our offices are balanced and whether there is a proper ratio between investigators,
lawyers, management and support staff. We should be looking at how we are serving
under-served areas. We should be looking at demographic trends. We should be
looking at how headquarters fits into the mix. We should be looking at whether
districts are properly configured. If they are, they need a full-time director
to run the office. We should not limit our analysis to the charge activity in
the office. Charge activity is a useful and important measure but it is clearly
not the only measure of workload, yet in the Repositioning Proposal before us,
Our highest priority at the EEOC must be enforcement of the statutes we cover
but I've discovered in my time here enforcement is too vague a term. Everyone
is for enforcement but to me enforcement of Civil Rights Statutes implicitly
implies quality enforcement in all areas, outreach, charges, conciliation and
litigation. As a proposal in front of us shows, to some enforcement simply means
meeting a number, the number of charges closed, the number of cases filed, but
never considering the quality. A simple, yet profound illustration of our differences
between us has been the move to use telephonic hearings over the parties' objections
in federal sector cases. Yes, instead of having a hearing in front of an Administrative
Judge as had been the longstanding practice, hundreds of cases have been transferred
to San Antonio and are being adjudicated through the sole use of telephonic
hearings. That's right, even if one or both of the parties object, for these
federal cases, the only recourse the parties have is to adjudicate over the
telephone. Telephonic hearings certainly improve our numbers, we can process
more cases and close them out quicker, but it does not serve the goal of quality.
Yet the use of telephonic hearings is not only encouraged, it is rewarded.
Because quality enforcement is what I value, that is the perspective that I
use to evaluate this proposal and as a whole, this repositioning proposal simply
does not move us toward that goal. The Chair's plan fails on too many fronts.
Before I talk about specifics, let me share a short tale in a fine tradition
used by my friend, the Vice Chair. And believe me, I haven't tried this as you
hear the tale.
Apparently, if you place a frog in a pot of cold water and slowly turn up the
heat, and then keep heating the water until it's boiling, you can kill the frog
without it ever jumping out of the pot, but if you try to put that frog in a
pot of boiling water, it would immediately jump out. Is the EEOC a frog in a
pot of water with a fire lit underneath? First, we've out-sourced functions
to a call center. Now, we're being asked to vote on changes to the field structure
of the Agency. We're told that the Chair is working on changes to the headquarters.
I'm not mentioning all the smaller changes to the Agency, many of which I'm
not privy to. My friends, it's not too late to jump out of the pot. We are on
course to weaken the Agency and our ability to enforce anti-discrimination laws.
We should not move forward with the Chair's plan.
Let me make a number of points about the Chair's plan. It will decrease our
presence around the country. We are downgrading successful offices, reducing
their size, removing their authority to approve litigation and essentially,
insuring that experienced staff will leave soon. It will decrease the quality
of our litigation. Those Regional Attorney's losing their jobs will, perhaps,
go to new ones in the Agency, another layer of review for litigation will be
added to these offices and undoubtedly some of our most experienced attorney's
will leave. In fact, the Plan counts on the fact that they will leave.
It is in the leaving of senior personnel that leaves the majority of the cost
savings the plan claims. Once the senior person leaves and the money is saved,
there is no guarantee that these people will be replaced by attorneys if these
positions are filled at all. I fear that this proposal is simply setting our
litigation programs up to fail in a manner reminiscent of the call center decision.
In the call center case we did not hire replacement -- to replace administrative
intake or investigator positions, complained when the offices could not return
calls promptly, and then out-sourced the function.
It is not hard to see that the remaining Regional Attorneys being told that
they are not competently managing all of their litigation units, leaving to
the dismantling of these units in certain offices. It will not improve our Southern
offices. The Chair's plan does not meet the goal of moving us towards quality
enforcement because it will further hamper our ability to enforce anti-discrimination
laws in the South. It is not an over-statement to say that this Agency exists
because of race. Race discrimination was the key impetus for the enactment of
Title VII and we are a product of that statute.
The states that have the highest percentage population of Blacks in the nation
are Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Maryland. This reorganization
does nothing for these states. The New Orleans and Baltimore offices are being
downgraded and the Atlanta and Birmingham offices are having their reach extended
without seeing an increase in personnel. Our work in some of these states desperately
needs help. In the past few years the number of race litigation cases from our
Atlanta and Birmingham offices which covered Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi
have been close to non-existent.
Louisiana has been slightly better and Maryland has been much better, yet both
are rewarded in this restructuring by being downgraded. You would think that
the lack of numbers, the last year Birmingham brought just one race case and
Atlanta none, would come to the attention of those who care about the numbers
and it has. As I started to ask questions about what we're doing in the South,
I surprised no one. Everyone knew there was a problem.
It would seem that this repositioning would be an excellent time to address
this issue but that would be talking about quality and quality is not the focus
of this plan. Of course, there will be some who argue that it has been addressed
by a number, one new office in Mobile. But that office will be staffed with
the smallest compliment of investigators possible and these will not even be
new hires. Meanwhile, the Birmingham office will have to -- will also be given
additional geographic territory to cover. This is no way to address the problem.
I fear that race discrimination is not important enough for the management
of this Agency. As many of you know, there's a chapter on race discrimination
for our compliance manual that is awaiting Commission action. This is an important
document. A Commission meeting on it, will allow us to highlight the importance
and hear from EEOC experts and outside authorities on how we should be focusing
our efforts on race. In April the National Urban League released its 2005 report
on the state of Black America. One of the places that Blacks lag the most compared
to Whites is economics. While the White unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7
percent, the Black rate has remained at 10.8 percent.
In February, I thought we had a consensus on the Commission that there would
be a Commission on the compliance manual within the month. Unfortunately the
Chair said she had other priorities and could not get to it. I found that unfortunate.
I cannot state this simply enough. We are the Federal Government's civil rights
enforcement agency. Race must be one of our leading priorities in all our actions.
We must commit resources to training. There's no money in this plan for training,
for training of displaced employees, not a single dollar. How can we realistically
say that we are committed to successfully placing employees in front line positions
if we don't locate the resources to get people trained and ready to do the job?
How can we run an effective agency and how much of a commitment to training
do we have if we spend, as we do this year, just $30,000.00 on investigator
training and $50,000.00 on lawyer training for all of our investigators and
lawyers nationwide? Yet we spent $30,000.00 for the all-employee meeting at
the Mayflower Hotel, an unknown amount to bring in top managers for a meetings
at the Sofatel Hotel and over $100,000.00 on a trip for managers to tour the
Contact Center in Kansas City. We need to spend more money on training our front
This plan being considered today should include a Headquarters component. This
plan does not increase our ability to offer quality enforcement because it does
not use cuts or changes in Headquarters to help the field. Again, there is a
number. This is a three-part plan, with the Headquarters being last. It seems
elementary that the Headquarters/field dichotomy helps no one and ignores that
resources people and ideas flow from both and that we work for the same agency.
There should have been one cohesive proposal that moved us forward towards being
one agency. The Vice Chair talked about the plan that she and Commissioner Miller,
the task force that she and Commissioner Miller headed up consisting of employees
of the Agency.
VICE CHAIR EARP: [laughingly] It was a working group, let's not misrepresent
what it was.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Indeed, indeed, I would not want to do that. It was
a work group which received some funding to bring people in. I thought it was
a useful group and I'm glad you and Commissioner Miller did that but I don't
want to mischaracterize this. Thank you for doing that.
And as she noted, the work group made explicitly clear that they did not believe
that a business case had been made for reducing the current number of District
Offices, and therefore, do not recommend that the current number of District
Offices can be reduced. They also found that they had not received information
that would have justified drastic measures such as reducing the number of current
District Offices. Budget information was not presented to show how much money
could be saved from repositioning into 10 or 11 mega-offices. If budgetary considerations
drive the need for repositioning in the field, the work group said, that the
Commission should know the amounts of savings. We'll talk about that in a minute.
I wish the Miller-Earp Report was made public and posted on our website and
it was not but I do find what they found in 2004 true today. The business case
for this plan has simply not been made. We received numerous letters and e-mails
from members of Congress, employees and other stakeholders telling us that they
had serious concerns about the content of this proposal and could not understand
the rationale for the decisions that have been made. The proposal was of so
much concern that 201 members of the House voted to include language in our
appropriations bill that would have restricted us from reducing the number of
full time officers or employees serving as supervisors, management officials,
mediators, examiners, investigators or attorneys as part of repositioning. In
fact, we just received a letter dated July 6th, signed by 30 Senators opposing
the plan because they believe it will undermine the Agencies to serve the public
and I believe we received a letter from six members of our authorizing committee
in the House giving the same concerns.
The financial case has not been made. First, the plan provides what can only
be described as diminimus savings. According to the document we received, it
is anticipated that the plan will save $4.8 million over eight years. There
were reports that the savings were closer to 8 million but that takes into account
a reduction in rent costs that would occur regardless of restructuring. 4.8
million is two tenths of one percent of our budget for eight years, assuming
a budget of $330 million a year for the next eight years. $4.8 million is less
than the estimated cost of the two-year National Contact Center Pilot Program.
Six hundred thousand dollars, which is $4.8 million broken down over eight
years, is less than the amount the Chair wanted to carve out of the FEPA contracts
for her own discretionary fund. When I questioned that fund, the money was returned
to the FEPA contract which we later approved. This shows that 600,000 is the
amount of money that can appear and disappear in the budget around here without
any consequences. But in reality, the Plan will save us far less than even $600,000.00
a year. The accounting we received did not include the cost of salary increases
for two SES-level managers who it is expected will be in charge of outreach
and ADR or increased travel for Regional Attorneys, District Directors, Administrative
Judges, ADR Coordinators, Program Analysts and state and local coordinators.
A conservative estimate of these costs would be at least $200,000.00 a year.
It did not include training for employees who will be placed in new positions
or the cost of creating and carrying out the repositioning plan.
Obviously, given the structure of this agency, the place to look for financial
and managerial savings would be at headquarters. Although we have been promised
a headquarters restructuring plan, any such proposal has yet to be shared with
the Commissioners, the public or employees. Field repositioning would make more
sense and probably receive a better reception had it been accompanied by a plan
that looked to headquarters for financial and personnel savings first or at
least at the same time.
It defies common sense that this negligible amount of savings is the driving
force behind this proposal. The case for repositioning based on charge intake
numbers have not been made. I've been informed that the primary consideration
for determining the designation of office levels was based on charge intake
and geographic proximity. Reliance on charge intake data is the wrong measure
on which to base a structuring proposal. Litigation, mediation, outreach, federal
sector work, the resolution of the charges, the office's ability to manage all
of the charges it receives, the quality of the work once the charge is accepted,
common industries in the district, existing relationships with our FEPAs or
community groups, individual performance of current staff, none of these criteria
So under the Plan we have offices with excellent litigation programs, such
as Milwaukee, Baltimore and Detroit, which are being downgraded and in Milwaukee's
case to an area office which traditionally does not have a substantive legal
presence. Meanwhile we have offices that have not brought more than a handful
of cases maintaining the status of a District Office. The Agency's reliance
solely on the number of charges filed flies in the face of both the NAPA report
and common sense. The NAPA report stressed that the Agency must look at its
human capital and reward its high-performing employees. Instead we are downgrading
high-performing employees and offices based primarily on one number. In fact,
in an e-mail I received from a Regional Attorney stated that the Regional Attorneys
have been assured that the downgrade was quote -- was "based on geographic
location and not on managerial performance or the effectiveness of any particular
In other words, "Perform well at this Agency and you may lose your job;
perform poorly and you may not". The fact that the only number that matters
is how many charges walk in the door also sets up a perverse system of incentives
for employees. We are sending the message that from now on any office that does
not want to be downsized or wants to become bigger should take charges from
anyone, even if they do not fit the requirements of the statutes we enforce
and dismiss them the next day to increase their apparent workload. We are not
sending a message that offices and employees will be rewarded for promptly and
courteously responding to a potential charge, effectively counseling charging
parties or conducting thorough investigations. What we care about is the number
of charges. These are the wrong messages to be sending to our employees and
Finally, the business case for this proposal has not been made because the
proposal does not improve the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws will further
hamper our efforts in the South. Our Agency's most important assets, I believe,
are our employees. Often our best employees are the most experienced. The stated
goal of this proposal is to eliminate some of those employees. The minimal cost
savings are to result from eliminating some SES and higher graded positions.
Eliminating these positions leads to the EEOC losing experienced people through
attrition or retirement and replacing them with less experienced individuals.
Also the Plan decreases our ability to retain our best employees who want a
realistic possibility of obtaining a higher graded position. Our ability to
hire and retain our best employees is particularly important in the South where
widespread employment discrimination on the basis of race continues to exist
yet the Federal Courts are hostile to employment discrimination lawsuits and
the discrimination in many instances are much more subtle.
Fear of change has been mentioned many times but it is the amount of change
and the importance of the thing being changed which dictates how much study
is necessary. I'd be happy to change the watch to the other arm, except it's
down on the table right now, but I certainly wouldn't remodel my house without
being sure that it would be the best fit for my family.
I also think it's wrong to label employees and stakeholders as frightened or
chastise them for a lack of creativity. Employees and stakeholders would embrace
change if the case for this change had been made. It has not. They would have
helped make a real plan if they had been given the data and the information
and they have not. I want to point out for the record how much information we
received on this plan in writing. We received back in May, a week before the
meeting was originally scheduled to happen, a packet of information. It consisted
of a three-page cover memo from the Chair that resembled the "Dear Colleague"
letter that the Chair sent to Agency employees.
It gave us two maps showing us District boundaries that was also posted on
our Intranet site. It gave three pages of organizational charts showing how
the new offices would report to the District offices which, I believe, has also
been posted. It gave us three pages of cost data, one page of which was posted
on the website. It gave us the text of the proposed Orders 110 and 120 and it
gave us three pages of workload data, a modified version of which was posted
on our website, and that's it.
After three years of work by the Chair and her staff, there was no analysis,
no justification, no nothing. Everything else was supposed to be answered during
oral briefings and I did, in fact, receive a number of oral briefings and I
appreciate the work that was done doing that.
In closing, let me talk to my colleagues here at the Agency. I want to thank
all of you who responded to my "Dear Colleague" e-mail that I sent
around soon after we received the original proposal that asked for feedback
on the Chair's proposal. I received numerous responses. I found them thoughtful
and confirming the commitment that I found in the employees of the Agency, a
commitment to civil rights work that's gone on for 20, 30,40 years where people
have dedicated their careers at considerable sacrifice to our work in this Agency
all to further the noble cause of civil rights and anti-discrimination.
Thank you for your frank thoughts and thank you for responding to my call.
I was pleased that so many of our colleagues felt comfortable to comment on
the proposal but I was also struck by a note of fear in some of these messages,
fear employees have of retaliation for speaking out and speaking up. I will
keep your identities confidential and I want to hear about any forms of retaliation
that may go on in the Agency.
This has been a tough process for all here in the Agency. For those colleagues
directly affected by this proposal, who will lose their positions and their
status within the Agency, my heart goes out to you. And frankly, I was deeply
embarrassed on a most fundamental level when I learned at my first oral briefing
on May 6th, that the affected District Directors and Regional Attorneys would
be told in a general session about their fate the following Tuesday; not in
private, not with the courtesy of some advance notice, but in a general session
with their peers in a fancy hotel meeting room. And then they would be required
to call back to their offices to break the news to employees back at the office
over the phone. No warning, no preparation, just the facts back to the offices
over the speaker phones.
This is no way to run the government's premier civil rights agency, especially
one that deals with human capital. So on behalf of my office, let me extend
our apology. I am truly sorry over how this occurred. We should not be marking
the 40th year of the establishment of the EEOC with a field repositioning plan
that will not bring us any closer to our goal of eliminating employment discrimination.
The business case justifying this proposal on a cost-saving, efficiency or enforcement
basis simply has not been made. Egregious employment discrimination continues
to exist. As leaders and stewards of this Agency, we have the responsibility
to protect and strengthen the Agency and not accept a proposal that is really
just fool's gold.
I urge my colleagues not to vote on this proposal today and if a vote must
be taken, I urge them to vote against it. I thank the Chair.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Commissioner. At this point, let me ask our fellow
Commissioners to give them an opportunity to provide -- to ask questions of
the panel members and let me begin with the Vice Chair.
VICE CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Madam Chair. I'd like to ask Nick and Jim Lee to
respond to -- there's a lot of information that Commissioner Ishimaru has just
shared and I'm aware, even though he speaks in a pretty rapid fire cadence,
that quite a bit of it is just not true. And I'd like to ask you to the extent
that you can today, to correct the record.
I know for one that the District Directors and the Regional Attorneys were
not blind-sided about how the repositioning proposal was framed, that they had
advance notice but if you could just start there and make the clarifications
to the extent that you can and I'll make this one observation, that one man's
frog in boiling water might be another girl's potential prince in a hot tub.
So Jim, Nick, Lea, if you could.
MR. INZEO: Okay, I will start with, Madam Vice Chair, what you asked about
-- and I can speak to the Directors. I had promised all of the Directors that
they would not walk into a room and be blind-sided by an announcement and that
I would tell any of them in advance if they or their offices would be affected.
I kept that promise. None of the Directors walked into that room without knowing
what would happen to them and their offices. They did get more details and let
me -- one other matter I would like to address because it's been raised a number
of times and that's the issue of how the Commission has addressed race discrimination
matters, especially in the Southern cities.
Commissioner Ishimaru referred to one factor as far as I can tell, and that
is the number of lawsuits filed. Both our Atlanta and our Birmingham offices
do a great amount of work in the area. I look back and I know Jim looked back
also, looking both at individual charge data and collective statistics. And
looking at that data, our offices are working hard. I think they're working
well which is not to say that we can't do better. You know, I think the Directors,
the Managers, the employees, in those office can and should be proud of what
they've done and they would be the first to tell you that they'd like to do
For instance, I mean, as part of the process of how EEOC is set up, we not
only take charges and investigate them, we're required to attempt conciliation
of those charges. It's only if conciliation fails that we consider litigation.
So if a matter has successfully conciliated, then we would not consider litigation.
In the Atlanta office in the last three years, in race discrimination charges,
they have reached successful conciliations in over -- in 28 matters. The Birmingham
office has successfully conciliated 37 race discrimination cases in two and
a half years.
The amounts recovered for victims of discrimination has been high. In the Atlanta
office it's over $24 million in that two and a half year period. In the Birmingham
office, it's over $13 million in that two and a half year period. So I don't
want anyone to be casting aspersions unnecessarily at the performance of our
employees in those offices.
I think -- you know, I can't address what has happened this year or last year
in terms of the filing of lawsuits, but I think that the employees in those
offices have worked hard and will want to work even harder.
VICE CHAIR EARP: Thank you. Jim?
MR. LEE: Well, there was such an extensive litany, I'll only reply to it in
general and welcome any specific questions you may have, Commissioner, but I
wish to assure you, sir, that the Office of General Counsel has taken steps
it deems necessary to address issues of performance in any office in which we
view the quality of the work or the quantity of the work to be inconsistent
with our mission and will continue to do so whether this Plan is adopted or
In 1979, as you heard, which was the last time this agency reorganized, there
were six Regional Attorneys rather than 23. The number of trial attorneys that
we have at present which are sufficient for the litigation that we are conducting,
was the same at that time as it is now, so we've increased our number of top
managers by more than three-fold over that period of time but the staffing on
the trial attorney level is inconsistent with that. So any suggestion that diminution
of Regional Attorney positions by one or more would result in an ineffective
program is just not supported by the facts and I wish to assure you and all
Commissioners and the public that we will have the resources necessary to conduct
the Commission's business in a vigorous manner now and in the future. It will
enable Regional Attorneys to have more flexibility without the fractionalization
of staff as has existed and we will be able to utilize as Commissioner Silverman
noted, our colleagues in various useful and productive ways.
I wish to assure you, sir, of that and I'll leave it for any other follow-up
questions that you might have.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you. Thank you for asking the question. Thank you, Commissioner
for your comments with regard to the administrative side of EEOC. Actually,
your numbers are somewhat faulty, sir. The training last year in FY 04
topped a little over $400,000.00 in total for employees at the Commission and
this year I have every expectation when the numbers come in at the end of this
fiscal year, that they'll even be higher than that.
So quite of bit of resource has been placed in the care and training of our
employees. In fact, one of the things that the Chair continually stresses is
to have money there for adequate training and the education of our employees.
As to staffing, I would say that staffing has been critical and is one of the
major -- or one of the reasons that we need to find a way to flatten our top
layer structure so that we can, in fact, reinvest that into the resources of
our investigators, our attorneys and our mediators.
VICE CHAIR EARP: Madam Chair, I would close my questioning just by acknowledging
the truth of Commissioner Ishimaru's comments about the South being a continuing
area of concern but I would caution Commissioner Ishimaru not to say and do
things that would polarize our employees or even polarize our stakeholders by
somehow holding out that race is more important or more substantial or something
to be more concerned about than the other bases that we are charged statutorily
to investigate and to litigate. In fact, months before Commissioner Ishimaru
arrived at EEOC, Nick and I were talking about what is going on with race cases
and what kinds of things do we need to do to improve service delivery in what
appears to be an under-served area. So I acknowledge the importance of the work
that we do there and work that needs to be done but would very, very strongly
caution against anything that would be polarizing. Thank you.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Madame Vice Chair.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, a point of personal privilege, I think
it's unfair, Madam Vice Chair to --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Chairman, could you state the point of privilege, please?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I was -- the Vice Chair has misrepresented my position.
I have not said that race is more important, I said race is an important factor
and I'm not trying to drive a wedge into this issue.
VICE CHAIR EARP: I'm sorry, I apologize. I thought you said more important.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, no, no, if you're trying to make that --
VICE CHAIR EARP: I withdraw it if I misunderstood. I just want to be clear
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, I appreciate that.
VICE CHAIR EARP: -- that we are aware of issues to be addressed.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, no, I appreciate your concerns.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: And as a point of, another comment, another point is that
the Vice Chair did have early discussions with me on the issue of color discrimination
which is obviously another form of race discrimination and national origin discrimination.
So I think the point is well-taken to the extent that there are issues that
relate to race, but let's not belabor the point because --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, no, I --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: -- because the point, in fact -- as a point of privilege,
Commissioner, there are a lot of things in your statement that I would take
the time to rebut but I won't at this time because the hour is getting a little
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: The Vice Chair has been very eloquent speaking on many
of these issues and I just wanted the record to reflect that I am not trying
to drive a wedge in this issue. I think the race work we do and should be doing
is very important and I know she agrees as well that it's an important piece
of the business
VICE CHAIR EARP: I do.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- that we have as do all my colleagues.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Right, and I should add that I agree with that as well. As
you noted in your remarks, we have had some conversations about it. It is a
priority of mine; however, when we discussed in detail the proposal that you
presented to me, there was no specifics for the proposal other than you wanted
to travel to different cities a week at a time, so I really am looking forward
to getting more details in terms of the specific travels and the purpose of
those trips and I do hope that we have an opportunity to work together on that
At this point, let me ask Commissioner Silverman to ask her questions.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Before I ask questions, I just want to make one more
comment. I mean, I don't want anyone to think in this room or elsewhere that
everyone up here does not care about the issue of race, we do. And in fact,
I mean we have a race chapter holding that I think everybody here agrees with
and we want to get out but it's being held because of what are we going to do
in conjunction with that. And it would be great if we could just agree to get
that out and then move forward with the training that could come along with
it and those other things and whatever else. I don't think it helps to not keep
it out and the other thing I just wanted to say is I also don't agree with your
statement that we don't want to do things in the Sunshine.
Of course, certain cases and issues cannot be done in the Sunshine, but what
I do object to is having hearings on one thing when we don't have a substantive
problem with a particular thing. I mean, and there's been some of those and
that's a different matter.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: What do you mean?
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: We've actually had -- we've had situations where you
haven't had a problem with the particular issue in front of you but other issues
and you've used that opportunity to call a meeting and that to me is unnecessary.
But I don't think that we shouldn't have meetings or that we shouldn't discuss
things in the Sunshine. So that's my particular point on that.
I do have questions and as everyone sitting out there on this panel has known, I've had many questions throughout this process and comments and criticisms. But I have been pleased by many of the answers more recently. First of all, Lea, I have a question for you. Why did the EEOC decide to undertake the field repositioning before tackling issues at Headquarters?
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you, Commissioner. Actually, it's the correct way to do
management in the sense that Headquarters is here to serve the field. And the
field should be aligned and structured in order for us to know how to proceed
with the Headquarters structure. In other words, the way the Headquarters is
formed is the best way to serve the way the field is operating. So you need
to have a field structure first so that then you know how to look at the Headquarters
to make that reflect that field.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Okay.
MS. GUARRAIA: Does that --
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Why did -- for the panel in general, it seems -- why
did we use the number of charges received as -- if this is true, as the primary
basis of repositioning?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, I don't know that I would necessarily say it was the
primary basis. It was the major criterion listed in the Vice Chair and Commissioner
Miller's work group report. And we used the work of that group in advising the
Chair on her plan. In looking at repositioning, and with the goal of having
more front line positions, it seemed to both -- to all of us that we wanted
to have people where the work was going to be whether that work was investigating
charges, mediating matters or litigating cases.
And in part, it's a question of EEOC spending its money in a way that's most
effective for EEOC. You wouldn't -- I mean, I would not recommend having a huge
management and administrative structure in otherwise a very small office, in
an office that doesn't do a lot of work be it investigations, mediation, or
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Nick, throughout this process I've heard you and others
mention that an important consideration in designing the Repositioning Plan
was to balance the workload. Does this repositioning plan accomplish that and
if so, how?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, I think it does and we look at it in two -- I look
at it in two ways. First of all, looking at workloads of districts, and this
proposal, I think, provides greater consistency in terms of the workloads of
the districts meaning the workloads that Directors, Regional Attorneys, and
other managers will be expected to manage and you know, use those charges as
a way to enforce the law.
It also then provides, you know, a better and more consistent basis for outreach
and other activities that the Commission does. We also, though, look at individual
workloads of employees. So with this structure we will then begin the process
of filling in the investigator, mediator, Administrative Judge and litigating
attorney positions that we need to make sure that we have workloads that are
comparable among all of the offices.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: For the panel, have you identified the implementation
issues that will arise if this plan is approved today and if so, how did you
go about doing that, what are the primary implementation issues in each of your
departments, and how do you plan to address these issues?
MR. LEE: I'll start, Commissioner. We formed a work group of Regional Attorneys,
with -- including a number of affected regional attorneys, a number of regional
attorneys who would be acquiring additional consolidated offices as well as
regional attorneys who've had neither effect brought upon them and they have
developed an implementation proposal and strategy which is presently under review.
The -- among the questions that they addressed were the implementation timeline,
the assignment of cases from offices that had originally begun them, to case
recommendations that would be made during the course of the rest of this fiscal
year to who would perform evaluations for staff, and a wide variety of issues.
I found their work very productive and helpful as we go forward.
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, we have an implementation group made up of three District
Directors, three Deputy Directors and OFP staff. And like the General Counsel's
office, they've -- you know, they've identified issues, they've mapped out steps
that they think that we should take in terms of implementing this plan. We will
continue to work with them as we go through the process of implementing. One
of the first challenges we faced was looking at all of the various electronic
implements that are at our disposal, be they for business purposes, for HR purposes
or for charge information purposes. And in working with all of those offices,
we determined that we should use the beginning of the fiscal year as the time
to really make changes in all of those processes rather than to try to do it
you know, during July or August. So we will continue to work with the implementation
group that we have, identify issues, work on the plan that they've outlined
and work with them really to flesh out that plan.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: I think I will turn the microphone over to Commissioner
Ishimaru but I may have another question after, just depending. Is that okay?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Okay, Commissioner, do you have a question?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair. Lea, can you tell us how much
the repositioning proposal cost to come up with, staff time, consulting time,
bringing people in for the May meeting, the cost of the working groups, the
various working groups that were --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, let me interrupt you on that. That's really
not relevant to the issue before us at the moment. We're not prepared to discuss
staff time and all of those things.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, but it's a fundamental budget --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: That has nothing to do with the MD 110 and the issues before
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: It's a fundamental budgetary issue --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: -- for voting.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- Madam Chair and if --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: It is, but --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- If you're unwilling to share with us how much this
proposal that will save less than $600,000.00 a year has cost us to develop
over the last three years, that's fine but it's --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: That's fine. It's --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- it's clearly relevant and you can --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Well, how is it relevant, please explain.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, it would be good to know how much --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Tell me how that changes the issue before us for voting today.
It has no relevance whatsoever, therefore, I find your question out of order.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I would ask the Parliamentarian for a ruling. How --
on what basis does she find it out of order?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: It is not germane to the issue at hand.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, we --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Our panel is not here prepared to discuss all of the costs
or any kind of time invested in the development, just like I'm not prepared
to ask you how much time you've invested in the preparation for your remarks
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, I invested a fair amount of time because my staff
worked hard with me on this and
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: I'm sure they did.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- and they actually produced something which --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Well, which I will correct later, but that's not the issue
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: That's fine. Well, then I will note that my question
has been censored from the record.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes, it has.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you very much. When we're talking about workload,
we're talking about private sector charge workload for the most part, aren't
we? Would you characterize how the workload factor should actually be articulated?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, the chart we provided you is the combined private
and federal sector workload.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, it was separated, though, in the chart you provided
me. What was the primary driver? The chart that was released to the public showed
a combined workload.
MR. INZEO: And that was the one we gave you, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, the chart that you gave me separated it out between
private sector workload and federal sector workload.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: You have both.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, I understand I have both and my question would be
-- my question would be, what side of the house do you consider the most relevant,
the private sector or the federal sector?
MR. INZEO: I consider them both relevant, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But does one carry more weight when you were coming
up with decisions?
MR. INZEO: I don't think so.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: When you were determining whether to make an office
a District Office, a Field Office, an Area Office or a Local Office, it's my
understanding that it was based primarily on charge intake and secondarily on
geography and federal sector workload. Can you tell us what the cutoff numbers
were for each type of office?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, in terms of any recommendations I would have made,
there wouldn't have been any cutoff number.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But wasn't there a range of the number that was considered
for each office?
MR. INZEO: In terms of the area -- in terms of the Local and Area and Field
Offices, yes, you know, if we look at the workloads, I think they are -- there
are groupings of workloads. You know, District Offices -- District Office location
also depends on where offices are in the country. So
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Right, no, but my question is -- my question is, what
number did you use as your basic number to determine the difference between
a District Office, a Field Office, an Area Office, or a Local Office and you've
said there are numbers. What are they?
MR. INZEO: None was used as a cutoff in that way. In terms of Local Offices,
I think you'll find that Local Offices tend to have a workload of around 700
or less. The Area Offices tend to have workloads of 800 to probably around 14
or 1500. Field Offices would tend to have workloads 1400 or higher and then
the District Offices would tend to be the larger offices in those geographic
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And is that, in your mind, an optimal number of charges
given the staffing in these offices? No?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, I guess I look at it -- I look at workload differently.
We're -- our offices serve people who come to them with charges of discrimination.
We then have to use our resources to conduct the investigations, the mediations,
and the litigation that are necessary from that and try to muster our resources
in a way that's most efficient for us. That's, I guess, how I would respond
to your question.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I guess my question goes, though, to the optimal number
of people in an office, though. Is the balance the way -- under the Chair's
repositioning proposal has been presented to us, are the number of people who
will be in an office if this plan is adopted, are those optimal numbers, the
staff in the office? Are offices staffed at the level you would recommend they
be staffed at or is it constrained by other considerations that have been laid
on the table such as not having people move and people not losing their jobs
and things of that matter.
MR. INZEO: From my point of view in terms of the enforcement side of the house,
we could always use more people. We try to distribute the people as fairly as
we can so that all offices can have manageable workloads. I believe the same
is done on the litigation side of the house.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Nick, what's the optimal number or the expected number
of charges an investigator is supposed to process?
MR. INZEO: It would vary and it could vary by the type of work that the investigator
is performing. We can and do produce averages but we have some systemic investigators
who work on larger cases. We have some investigators who are dedicated to the
intake function. Their job is different from those who conduct investigations.
So it really differs.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But when you -- you have performance goals that are
placed on an office. What are those goals for investigators?
MR. INZEO: I don't have those with me. I mean, the goals we -- the goals we
provide to offices are based on different levels of performance also. So the
-- you know the expectations would be, you know, in terms of working proficiently,
working above average, you know, outstanding, they would be at different levels.
The goals that we have are given to the Director so that what we're expecting
is that the Director will organize the work of the office to produce certain
results and they then use their staffs in different ways.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Depending on the strengths of the personnel involved.
MR. INZEO: Right, right, to produce those results.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I understand that but what are those ranges?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, I need to interject here because I just don't
see the relevance of this to the Repositioning Plan --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, Madam Chair the --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: We're happy to brief you on the subject of, you know, performance
goals and program plans and all of the things that I know you have available,
but I just don't see the relevance of this to the issue before us at this point,
so we need to move on.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Frankly, Madam Chair, we're talking about how to allocate
resources within the Agency and --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- and what offices should look like.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: And you've had those briefings extensively.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And, again, Madam Chair, if you don't wish to provide
that to me, I understand that and I'll move on.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes, please. You --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Fine, I'll move on. Can you tell me whether individual
performance had any role in the decisions on how to restructure the Agency?
Did the performance of District Directors or Regional Attorneys, if they were
doing a poor job, did that factor whether their office would be downgraded?
MR. INZEO: And, Commissioner, for the record, I don't believe there were any
District Directors performing poorly.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, I appreciate that because I think when you
have restructurings, one question always comes up, "Why was I affected".
So I think it's good to get it on the record.
MS. GUARRAIA: Commissioner, I'd like to say one of the unusual hallmarks of
this particular repositioning -- I've been around for a long time and many times
you're right, repositionings or restructurings are geared around individuals.
And this is one of the first ones that I've ever been associated with and I've
been associated with more than I should maybe, that has not gone that route.
Personalities were not the reason around which decisions were made.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And performance was not, it was based on --
MS. GUARRAIA: That's correct.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- workload and your best judgment on how workload should
MS. GUARRAIA: And how to equalize that and continue moving forward to enforce
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I appreciate that. Thank you, Lea. You've said that
one of the goals of the proposal is to reduce the number of managers and to
put more people on the front lines. It's my understanding that many of our Regional
Attorneys actually litigate cases in their Districts in addition to supervising
the legal programs in the District Office. Given the Regional Attorney's actual
front line work, what will happen to our litigation program when these individuals
leave and are not replaced with attorneys of equivalent experience. And Jim,
you've assured me both publicly and privately that the performance of our various
offices will not decrease, but what happens when people leave?
MR. LEE: First of all, I'm unaware of what you're basing your assertion on
that many Regional Attorneys are litigating cases. They may have involvement
here or there along the way but in great part, their duties are managerial and
directive. The question is, what happens when the people, I guess that you're
addressing who would be performing other duties other than Regional Attorney
duties leave, I take it, is your question.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, no, my question is, when people who are Regional
Attorneys are in fact, litigating cases, what is the impact on the litigation
program when those people who have the experience and leave because the position
no longer exists? What will be the impact on your litigation program?
MR. LEE: Well, as I indicated to you, sir, it's not our understanding or intention
that Regional Attorneys would be personally litigating cases. We staff litigation
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Wait, are you telling me that Regional Attorneys do
not litigate cases or it's the rare exception?
MR. LEE: I'm saying to the extent that you're suggesting that Regional Attorneys
personally carry a case load and litigate cases themselves that are normally
litigated by trial attorneys yes, I believe that to be the exception rather
than the rule. We staff -- and to the extent the resources permit us, based
on the litigation workload of offices and consider the number of trial attorneys
necessary to perform that function and would continue to do so.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So would it be fair to say that you do not expect any
diminution of the litigation capacity by any departure of a Regional Attorney
who may have been litigating a case? I don't want to put words in your mouth
but I would like to get an answer to my question.
MR. LEE: Well, the answer is no, sir.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, you wouldn't expect a diminution, you don't expect
MR. LEE: I thought that was your question.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Right.
MR. LEE: The answer is no.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: All right, I just want to be clear. Is there an anticipation
of creating Deputy Regional Attorney positions and if so, would litigation approval
still have to be done by the Regional Attorney in the District even if there's
a Deputy Regional Attorney?
MR. LEE: As I believe I've indicated, previously, litigation is approved either
within the Office of General Counsel or to the extent it has to be approved
by the Commission. Litigation recommendations pass through Regional Attorneys
to the Office of General Counsel for our consideration. That would continue
to be the case after the adoption of this plan.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, it's my understanding that most of the litigation
caseload under the delegation plan that was approved by, I believe, a previous
General Counsel, that most of our litigation is, in fact, approved by the Regional
Attorney. Is that not correct?
MR. LEE: That's not correct, sir. Those cases are submitted by Notice of Intent
to file suit and are not authorized to do so until the Office of General Counsel
signs off on them.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But it's my understanding that the approval mechanism
is a five-day wait period and then unless there's an objection raised by the
General Counsel, the de facto decision is --
MR. LEE: At one point in time, sir, some years back, that was the case. It
hasn't been for many years.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So under the current proposal, the Office of General
Counsel, my friend, Mr. Dreiband signs off on all the cases except for those
that are sent to the Commission?
MR. LEE: There are certain cases that are personally signed off by the General
Counsel. Most notices of intent are handled by Litigation Management Services
and our Associate General Counsel, Ms. Reams.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And within the Office of General Counsel, then, I've
been misinformed and that the Office of General Counsel approves all --
VICE CHAIR EARP: Madam Chair, excuse me. Can we get a point of privilege?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Surely.
VICE CHAIR EARP: Madam Chair, I need a potty break.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I would have no objection.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes, let's -- yes, I agree. Let's take a 10-minute break,
(A brief recess was taken.)
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Let's find our seats and try to resume. I know that some of
you have lunch plans and unfortunately, we can't call in for pizza today, so
let's go ahead and resume the meeting. Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair. So, Jim, thank you for your
clarification on what happens in the Office of General Counsel. When I was at
Justice, they didn't let me litigate, they just let me play with the paper,
but the lawyers put up with me and I appreciate you putting up with me as well.
Are we talking about creating a Deputy Regional Attorney position. Are those
one of the issues on the table of how to accommodate displaced Regional Attorneys?
MR. LEE: That's the -- I suppose I would call that the working title, sir.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, if I may interrupt, you're getting into the
implementational components of this proposal which we're not -- there are a
couple of implementation work groups that have been assembled but the purpose
of this meeting is to talk about the design of the infrastructure, not to get
into the details. And so again, that's really not connected with the issue before
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, let me -- can I restate the reason for this question,
Madam Chair, because a regional -- a Deputy Regional Attorney position at least
in my mind, would create a mid-level manager that I thought one of the purposes
of this proposal was trying to reduce the number of mid-level managers and I'm
trying to see whether we, in fact, are flattening the structure or whether we're
just calling a horse by another name.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Well, there will be a litigation presence. They will have
litigators at the field as well as the district as well as the area offices,
so if that is your concern whether or not there will be --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: That isn't my concern. My concern with this question
was whether creating a Deputy Regional Attorney was, in fact, creating a manager
who was between a supervisory trial attorney and the Regional Attorney and whether
we, in fact, are creating yet another level of bureaucracy here and I -- if
that's -- you know, I think given that we're trying to figure out whether this
plan will reduce the bureaucracy which is its stated purpose or, in fact, will
only shift the deck chairs. I'm just trying to find that out. And if you deem
it not appropriate I will move on.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: I'll allow the answer, the question and answer.
MR. LEE: Well, that's one thing that's considered. It is certainly not a position
that would exist in every office and it would only exist for a period of time.
As Commissioner Silverman noted, there has been a number of suggestions that
we've received from the group, many of which did not go to such a position but
to other positions and other thoughts about how they could continue to use their
talents in furthering the mission of the Agency. So that I would expect when
all is said and done, that there would only be a few such positions that would
combine litigation duties as well as some mix of managerial duties as well.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: With the elimination of the eight Regional Attorney
positions we further limit the opportunities for our trial lawyers and our supervisory
trial lawyers to be trained by the experienced Regional Attorney and also reduce,
I believe, the ability for lower level attorneys to be promoted. How will the
lack of senior attorneys, the Regional Attorneys and the lack of advancement
opportunities affect trial attorneys and supervisory trial attorneys in the
Office of General Counsel?
MR. LEE: I think that there will continue to be opportunities for attorneys
as they continue their tenure with the Agency. It may require, as it does in
many other agencies, more mobility on the part of personnel than there has been
in the past.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: More mobility?
MR. LEE: In the sense that if you wish such a position, you may have to relocate to take it.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Can you tell me what's going to happen to the eight
Regional Attorneys who are losing their positions in the downgraded offices?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Let me interject. This is not germane to the repositioning
plan. That is part of the implementation and I can assure you that those very
valuable Regional Attorneys, we have had extensive discussions as well as you
have, and they will be well taken care of but let's not belabor that.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, but I think it is important, Madam Chair, to ask
the question what happens to these people, these people who are directly affected
by their jobs. When I asked at the question and answer forum what happens to
people who may not be equipped or would not want to become a front line person,
I got an answer that indicated that we would find something for them and I'm
trying to -- you know, I'm worried about the people who are being affected,
and I know we all are, and to say that it's not appropriate for this meeting,
that, I think, points to the fact that we should have had a meeting on these
very issues, so we could have talked about it.
And if you want to stop me from asking the questions, that's your prerogative.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Well, what I'm saying is that I have convened this meeting
to vote on the Plan and not to vote on the implementation of the Plan which,
obviously, will require a lot more work. However, having said that, the short
answer to your question is nothing will happen to those individuals. They will
continue to perform as attorneys. They may have a different title, but they
will continue to perform. That's one of the markers that I have put down that
no one will lose their jobs, everyone will continue to perform in those duties.
So the answer to your question is, that no one will lose their jobs and that
they will continue to serve as attorneys.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I understand that but Madam Chair, what happens to a
former Regional Attorney who no longer has that position and is now in a job
as a supervisory trial attorney who, under our rules, can have a maximum grade
level of 14. Will that person, after a two-year period, will that person then
have to take a lower grade?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: No, the answer is, no.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Under what authority? How can you --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Those individuals will be accommodated as appropriate. We've
been working -- as has our Deputy General Counsel has been working with each
one of them. Many of them have expressed a desire to pursue other things as
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I understand, but I guess my specific question is if
a person is in a job that cannot be supported by a higher grade level, are you
saying that we will keep the person in a higher grade level indefinitely? Aren't
we bound by OPM rules? Somebody must know the answer to this.
MS. GUARRAIA: We all know the answer to that, Commissioner. The rules are that
under certain circumstances, you're right, the person that gets into a lower
graded job is reduced after two years. There is also incumbency only rules out
of OPM which allows an individual -- incumbency only means that as long as that
person is in that position, they retain their grade and their pay until such
time as they either vacate, retire or decide that they want to move on or accept
a different grade if that's what they want to do for less responsibility. However,
because of the way the Repositioning Plan is being designed, there will be new
opportunities and other opportunities and any individual who is currently a
Regional Attorney in an affected office or for that matter, any manager, including
those managers that are currently SES Directors, have the ability to bid on
other positions and may, in fact, just may, in fact, end up lifting the compression
that we currently have and allow more mobility for employees and more opportunities.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So there will be opportunities for employees to go into
these various openings that will exist around the --
MS. GUARRAIA: If that's their choice. Nobody is being forced to do that.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, no, I understand that. So can I also interpret that
to mean that all the vacancies that we have for all of these positions, including
District Director positions, Regional Attorney positions, and new positions
that will be created under the restructuring, that all of those positions will
be competed and that people both inside and outside the Agency can compete?
MS. GUARRAIA: No, I didn't say that, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, no, I was asking the question. What will happen?
MS. GUARRAIA: Commissioner, I can't answer that. I'm the Chief Operating Officer,
I'm not the Chair
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So the Chair will make a decision at some point in the
MS. GUARRAIA: The Chair has given me the responsibility as administrative head
of the Agency.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, I understand what the statute says about the Chair's
powers. I'm fully aware of that but it goes to the Chair's decision making at
a later point. That's all that I'm trying to say.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: That's right, and as the need arises and the opportunities
arise, we will make the appropriate -- I can assure you that we all share your
commitment to accommodate all those individuals who, you know, may be affected
by this repositioning.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Could you tell me a technical question? If a person
takes a position in another office, do they get moving expenses?
MS. GUARRAIA: It depends. If they want to take the move, they can take it without
what's called PCS. Jobs have been announced in other offices and sometimes because
of budgetary constraints, we say no PCS is offered, then it's up front and it's
announced, and in other cases, if it's at the bequest of the Agency, then PCS
can be offered.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Can be offered?
MS. GUARRAIA: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But for the eight Regional Attorneys, if they take a
job under one of these new job positions that --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, I am going to rule you out of order, because
it has nothing to do with the demarcations on the Repositioning Plan, so please,
I mean, I've allowed -- I've been extremely generous but I think we need to
move on. It's really not germane to what the reasons that I've convened our
Commissioners and I'm concerned we're abusing their time and the time of those
all around us. If we continue..
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, I am sorry, frankly, that for the first
meeting you have called in nearly a year.. over a year and a half that you will
not allow the courtesy of me to ask what I believe are fair questions and --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: And I appreciate the fact that you have called a number of
meetings and I've learned as much about postage meters as I can possibly learn
thanks to your generous efforts to create --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Now let --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Let me just say this, that you have had ample opportunities
to ask all of these questions privately as often as you would like and you know,
and I think there's a point here where you need to be more respectful of other
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, let me point out for the record, that I
have received three briefings. The last briefing that I received was scheduled
on an hour's notice and I rearranged my schedule to accommodate Lea and Jim
and Nick. And that meeting, I was told, could last a half hour and we could
take more time if we needed it. Our first meeting -- no, Lea, that's absolutely
correct. We didn't need more time but you told me at the beginning of that briefing
that Jim and Nick had one-half hour before they had to do something else.
At our first briefing, at our first briefing, it was one hour, one hour because
people had other things to do and I appreciate that, but the fact that the Chair
tries to lay out a scenario where there's been unlimited opportunities to get
information is frankly flat out wrong.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Well, within the context of your available time, Commissioner,
I understand you've been on vacation for a few weeks and --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, Madam Chair so have you and I understand that
we have not had to... could not do this at an earlier date because you were
on vacation. I didn't want to bring your vacation into this.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: I didn't want to bring yours either.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: You did, though.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: But that's to correct the record.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, thank you, Madam Chair, I appreciate that. I will
refrain then from asking these questions that I believe go to the fundamental
nature of what happens to our employees at the Agency. I will not ask those
questions that the Chair believes are within her sole prerogative.
The proposal that the Chair has presented to us has two positions for the Office
of General Counsel. What will be the duties of these positions and how will
these positions be filled?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: We don't know at this point. Again, it's not related.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: It's in the proposal, Madam Chair.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: It's not what we're voting on today, Commissioner. We're here
to deliberate and vote on the plan as presented in the directives that you have
been given. This is not --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I don't believe there's a motion yet on the table of
what we are considering, so I would ask the Parliamentarian for a ruling because,
frankly, it's not limited to Order 110 and 120. There is no motion on the table.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: That's the whole purpose of the meeting.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: There is no motion on the table, Madam Chair, so the
Parliamentarian can rule. There's been no motion and no second. We're having
a discussion. Who made the motion?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Well, the whole purpose of convening this meeting was to deliberate
and vote on the Repositioning Plan as submitted to you.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I understand that.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: That's the whole purpose of this meeting.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I understand that, Madam Chair, but as a matter of parliamentary
procedure, somebody would have had to have made a motion to consider this and
then we discuss. There's -- I'm not sure how we could be limited by your very
narrow interpretation of what the meeting is about and I'd like a ruling from
MS. MASTROIANNI: Madam Chair?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes.
MS. MASTROIANNI: A motion is not necessarily required under the manner in which
the Commission operates.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: What about under Robert's Rules?
MS. MASTROIANNI: What is before the Commission is the package that was distributed
to the Commissioners which requires them to vote on the revisions to the two
orders, 110 and 120. That is what is before the Commission. You're correct,
there was not a formal motion. There generally is not, actually, when we --
when we conduct our meetings but that is what you all will be voting on.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Can I ask Peggy a question regarding --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: It depends on the question.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I see. No it's about what she said. The package as distributed
to the Commissioners included specific information about these two new Office
of General Counsel SES positions. And what I am trying to do here is to find
out what these two SES positions will be, where they will be, what they will
be doing and the Chair says that that's not within the orbit of what we're here
to discuss. And you have said quite plainly that we are here to talk about the
package that was distributed from the Office of the Chair.
MS. MASTROIANNI: I believe I said that the Commission is here to vote on the
revisions to Order 110 and Order 120.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, I don't think the record will reflect that but
I will withdraw my question.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I hope you can answer this question. Will the District
Directors and Regional Attorneys in the remaining -- in the District Offices
under the Chair's plan have a certain amount of time committed to each office?
I know when I've talked to Regional Attorneys, current Regional Attorneys, current
District Directors, current personnel in our various offices, where people have
been covering multiple offices, it was made very clear to me that District Directors
who were covering multiple offices spent a significant amount of time in their
other office, as well they should.
Do you anticipate or do you have a sense of how much time will be required
by the District Director in these new areas of jurisdiction? Would it be say
a week a month, half the time? Would it depend on the population? I hope that's
an appropriate question to ask, Madam Chair.
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, let me answer that as to the Directors. Based in large
part on the experience we've seen over the last couple of years where we have
paired some Directors with two District Offices. Those Directors report that
initially they spent what they would term a considerable amount of time. Now,
in terms of your specific question, whether that's a week, a month or more or
less, I couldn't -- you know, I couldn't quantify it further. But then as they
became more familiar with the office and the office became more familiar with
them, they found that it was less necessary for them to travel to the office,
that they didn't do it on as regular a basis and you know, they could use opportunities
for staff from other offices to come to the District Office or for other district
office personnel to travel to the various area or local offices.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So the week a month is a guidepost from the beginning
of a process and it's unclear how much travel might be required of various senior
personnel, various management personnel.
MR. INZEO: I believe, though, Commissioner, we did give your assistants the
information as to what the cost was for traveling by Directors to the other
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Right, no, that information was provided and I was just
trying to get a sense of how much time a Director or other senior management
personnel would be spending in other physical locations other than their main
office and --
MS. GUARRAIA: Commissioner, I have the unique position of having been a District
Director who had several offices when I was in Los Angeles. And --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Not a Las Vegas office, though?
MS. GUARRAIA: We did have Las Vegas as a matter of fact, but not an EEOC office
there but we did have a FEPA there, which I chose to visit often. No, no, no,
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I won't touch that.
MS. GUARRAIA: No, taken out of context, sir., it sounds bad. But seriously,
as a District Director, and as the excellent core of District Directors that
we have out there now, it's a very fluid situation and it really depends on
what is going on and what the needs are in any particular office. There is no
guidance or standard.
Anecdotally, I have talked to many of the Regional -- District Directors, excuse
me, and a few Regional Attorney's too, but mostly Regional -- District Directors
who have expanded their area of control and what I've gotten from them is a
re-energized attitude toward the job and in fact, better statistics coming out
of their offices and more team building. People get -- I don't care where they
are or where they work, they get stale if they're not challenged and thank heavens,
that our staffs have been able to rise to the challenge and, in fact, they've
been doing a better job for it.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you for that answer, I appreciate that. I'd like
to ask, a number of federal sector cases because this obviously impacts on our
federal sector work as well --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Cases?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, not cases but framework questions about how we deal
with federal sector cases.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Well, could you explain how that's related to the Repositioning
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, there will be Administrative Judges within the
various offices that would --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes, as they are now, yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And the boundaries have changed as I understand it,
so they will be dealing with new areas in many cases of federal sector cases.
And there's also a question in my mind of when cases get transferred from one
office to another because trying to equalize the workload, I'm trying to see
whether this makes sense from a federal sector point of view as well. And you
know, you can have a very narrow definition of what we're voting on today but
I believe that the federal sector is an important piece of our work. I know
we all do.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Oh, absolutely.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And it would be -- you know, I'm trying to understand
how this was considered by the decision makers who developed this plan and it
would be helpful to ask what might happen in the future. So it's -- again, maybe
it's best if you hear the questions and if you think they're out of order, we
can deal with them on a question by question basis.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Well, you said federal sector cases, so you got my attention.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, no, sorry, sorry.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: That could be another whole meeting in and of itself.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Oh, no, and that I'm not looking to drag everyone through
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- for this afternoon.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: But I'll have Nick respond. I mean, my short answer to that
is that I don't expect the AJ's whatever boundary delineations the Repositioning
Plan has, should have no impact whatsoever on an AJ's ability to handle cases,
but I'll allow Nick to answer that.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Nick, under the proposed reorganization, the Washington
Field Office would become the largest federal sector office in the Commission.
How will that office handle the increased case load given its historic backlog
and the fact that it regularly has to transfer out a number of cases to other
offices around the country?
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, I think consistent with the information that I supplied
your office, we haven't transferred out any cases this year from Washington
Field Office on the federal sector side and, in fact, we transferred in some
cases to the Washington Field Office in the private sector side. The -- this
repositioning proposal would affect the Washington Field Office by providing
that they would handle the workload from Montgomery County and Prince George's
County in Maryland, the two adjoining counties to the District of Columbia.
I think that with the really good work that the Administrative Judges in the
Washington Field Office have been doing and that we've been seeing over -- for
more than a year, that you know, as well as the -- you know, ability of our
Administrative Judges in the Baltimore office who have also been doing a good
job, that we'll be able to handle that workload quite easily.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Do you -- when cases are transferred from office to
office, do you anticipate -- how do you anticipate them being processed, in
as good a manner as they would in the original office?
MR. INZEO: Generally speaking, I'd say yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Will there be hearings in these transferred cases, AJ
MR. INZEO: Where they should be, yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And do you see an increase in the use of telephonic
hearings or video conference hearings?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, again, this is not germane to the issue at hand.
Where or how an AJ chooses to handle his or her workload, really has little
bearing on -- has no bearing whatsoever on the issue before us. That's really
their -- you know, based on the merits of the case, that's within their domain
to decide. I think to have Nick answer that is unfair. Everybody handles it
the way they deem fit based on what's before them on a case by case basis. You
know that as well as we do.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: May I ask one more question to see if it deems your
approval, Madam Chair?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes, you may.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you very much. Will the Administrative Judges
-- will more Administrative Judges be hired as a result of the repositioning?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: The Administrative Judges are hired on the basis of the workload.
We don't generate the workload. The workload comes to us and we deal with the
workload based on where it comes from and the resources that we have to allocate.
If we deem that there's a need to have more AJ's, then I'll get a request from
our very capable career folks and say, we'll need another AJ here, there or
more than one. We will handle that as we've always handled requests for additional
MR. INZEO: And if I may just add to that, Commissioner, the Administrative
Judges in our offices have been doing a really excellent job and at least in
the two years I've been in the Office of Field Programs, I think they've been
doing an outstanding job in terms of managing the work that they have and processing
it fairly and efficiently.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: In the proposal that's before us, the new proposal,
there was a number of geographic changes that were made from the original proposal.
What were the main factors in determining that you had made a mistake in the
original proposal? Was it geography, was it dependent on whether someone complained
and brought an issue to your attention? I'm giving Lea pain. I'm sorry, Lea.
MS. GUARRAIA: No, you did, Commissioner, because you said a mistake and that
makes us sound like --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, I --
MS. GUARRAIA: -- but it's not.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I maybe mischaracterized, but what caused the rethinking.
That's what I'm trying to figure out here.
MR. INZEO: Commissioner, we spoke to a number of employees, managers, stakeholders,
and you know, including the FEPA Conference a couple weeks ago. And where other
people believed that certain adjustments would actually be more effective, and
in our discussions with them, we reached the conclusion that that was right,
we then made the adjustment.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: We also, all of us received correspondence from a number
of individuals, including the District Directors and Regional Attorneys from
both the Phoenix and Dallas offices asking that Oklahoma remain part of the
Dallas District and New Mexico remain intact and part of Phoenix. And you did
not make this change, can you tell us why not?
MR. INZEO: In part, Commissioner, based on my conversation with the Director
of the Phoenix Office, he told me that he had retracted that request or proposal.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But the other three did not as far as I can tell, didn't.
I recall getting a follow-up correspondence from one person, who still reiterated
this request. And certainly there was a July 1 memo from the District Director
and the Regional Attorney from Phoenix indicating that their earlier documents
still were making a similar request. So is it not operative?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Let me just interject. That's not consistent with the information.
I personally discussed this with the District Director from Phoenix, who has
informed me that he had withdrawn that.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But there were four signatories to the plan, so are
we saying that no one -- has the memo itself been withdrawn or just that the
District Director from Phoenix no longer wished to be associated with it, because
there were four signatories as I understood.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Uh-huh.
MR. INZEO: As he expressed it to me, Commissioner, he believed that the entire
request was being withdrawn.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So he was speaking for all four.
MR. INZEO: Based on my conversation with him, I think he was purporting to,
yes. Whether he really was --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I don't want to put -- you know, if he was, if he was
-- if you were under that assumption, I appreciate that. I understand what that's
MR. INZEO: I mean, we looked at that issue because it was raised. We believe
that the St. Louis District Office, that the Director of... the Regional Attorney,
the management staff and the staff there can effectively manage the Oklahoma
City Office. The Oklahoma City Office is going to remain there. I mean, it will
be the Office that serves the people in Oklahoma and the question for us was
when they have to pick up the phone and ask someone a question, do they dial
one number or another number. We thought that for purposes of efficiency that
having them part of the St. Louis District would be more effective, you know,
looking at the Commission nationwide, and clearly I believe that either office
could supervise the Oklahoma office but again, we're trying to create District
Offices and the General Counsel is looking at litigation programs and having
a nationwide program where you don't have small offices and really big offices.
We want to have some consistency in size and responsibility.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Nick. It's very seldom that I get a letter
from a former colleague of mine, Congressman Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin who
wrote in with the Wisconsin delegation asking about --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, do you have a question?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I do have a question.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Related to the panel?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: It's related to the panel and if you would allow me
a chance to ask the question, I will, thank you.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Please pose the question.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: The question is, as Congressman Sensenbrenner and the
Wisconsin delegation on a bipartisan basis wrote to the Chair, what was the
basis for your decision to downgrade the Milwaukee office two levels from a
District Office to an Area Office, unlike any other existing District Office
in the country. And he further goes on to ask, what factors led you to decide
against making the Milwaukee Office a field office?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: And Nick, I know you've answered that for the Commissioner
on a number of occasions, but please answer it one more time.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, Madam Chair, if there was an answer promulgated
to Congressman Sensenbrenner and the Senators and the other members of Congress
that wrote in, I was not aware of seeing the answer so, I think, frankly, having
Nick tell us, you know, how they got there on this record is certainly within
the bounds of our work here.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: There have been extensive consultations and responses to all
of the inquiries that have come from --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, it would have been a nice courtesy to have been
provided with those as a matter of course.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Was this letter addressed to you, Commissioner?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, it wasn't, Madam Chair, but --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: All right.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- we also asked your office for copies of correspondence
which you provided, so as a matter of courtesy, it would have been nice to say
-- to see what response we were providing, because frankly, it helps us in the
production of our deliberations to see what the official Agency position is.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: It's the same Agency position and answers that you have been
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Not in writing, Madam Chair.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Let's --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, let me point out again that the amount
of analysis that I got from your staff in written form is virtually nil and
frankly, for a government agency to be operating on the fact that we can have
these private discussions as the major basis for how we come to public decisions,
I find very troubling.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Well, and I take great exception to that because, as has been
stated before, this has been one of the most transparent repositioning plan
of any federal agency. So please let's proceed. I mean, this is something that
I think is an abuse of time and power to have this type of interaction --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, Madam Chair, you --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: -- we can deliberate and vote on the --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- You can certainly cut me off if you'd like.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Did you have a question for Nick?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I asked Nick a question.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Okay, please, Nick.
MR. INZEO: Commissioner we have, I mean, there is a lengthy response to the
letter. I don't have it with me. I'd be happy to --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Can we make that a part of this record?
MR. INZEO: I'd be happy to provide you a copy.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, that isn't my question. It's a question to the Chair.
If there's a written response provided, I would ask that that written response
be put in the record, just so we don't have to take up this time doing it
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: I'll be happy to include that response in the record.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Good. What about my earlier proposal that the letter
from NAPA be put in the record following Lea's remarks?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I will allow that as well.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: All right. I appreciate that. I don't want to use the
time of the body that obviously is very valuable, asking questions that have
been answered. I look forward to seeing those.
Can you tell me when you expect the Headquarters repositioning plan to be released
and will the process be as transparent as this process?
MS. GUARRAIA: Of course, the process will be transparent.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, no, that wasn't my question. My question was whether
MS. GUARRAIA: I already think it is transparent, sir.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So it will be as transparent as this process?
MS. GUARRAIA: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And there was also -- there was some speculation that
the Headquarters repositioning will result in 20 percent of the Headquarters
being moved to the field. Is that accurate?
MS. GUARRAIA: No, what the Chair has stated and what our marker is is
to redeploy 20 percent of our resources to the field.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Twenty percent of our resources to the field. So that
may include staff but it may not.
MS. GUARRAIA: It may include staff. It may include vacant positions. It can
include a lot of things.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Uh-huh, but 20 percent of the resources is --
MS. GUARRAIA: As a goal.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: As a goal, okay, that would be fine..
MS. GUARRAIA: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Okay, a couple of other questions, Lea. When do you
expect the Las Vegas and Mobile offices to actually open? I know part of that
depends on when we actually approve it but --
MS. GUARRAIA: That's the biggest part, following the vote of the Commission,
we will then look at it and assess it and, you know, had you all voted months
and months ago, I would have said maybe the end of "05. Now, I wouldn't
be so foolish.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But possibly, what six months or so to actually get
an office up and running and people there? That's a rough measure.
MS. GUARRAIA: I don't know. I really don't know exactly the time frame.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Okay. And the implementation for the rest of the plan
MS. GUARRAIA: Well, I think we've said that the implementation will start at
the first of the fiscal year.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: At the first of the fiscal year.
MS. GUARRAIA: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Okay, great. Thank you. That, Madam Chair, will close
my questions. If people have more questions, I may have a few more but I don't
have a bulk of
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Let me just correct the record, Commissioner. You mentioned
the memo from Chet Bailey and Mary Joe O'Neill dated -- let's see, dated July
1st and I just want to set the record straight so there's -- no one can misconstrue
the record. Essentially what this memo says is that they are withdrawing their
memorandum dated June 22nd and that, in fact, the final proposal concerning
the repositioning plan is that which they presented to us on June 16th. I just
want to make sure --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But that didn't -- but that the June 16th memo is their
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: It is their recommendation.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- at least according to Chet.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: According to all of them. I mean, this is essentially based
on the discussions that they've had --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So it's --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: -- with their Regional Attorney as well as the District Director
from Dallas, all four of them.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Oh, all four of them. Your understanding is all four
of them stand by Mr. Bailey and Ms. O'Neill's memo --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: That is correct.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- of July 1st and that the June 16th memo and the May
13th memo are the operative memos.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Okay, I appreciate the clarification.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: The other point I should mention is that I did have the opportunity
to visit the Oklahoma City office, not that long ago, and I have to say that
that is one of the best managed offices that I have visited. That office is
self-directed. That office really needs very little -- in fact, I would prefer
that we not have too much other management, because it's working so well. It's
a very important component of our Dallas office but I can take that and spin
it off any way we want and with every assurance that the members of the public
that visit that office will be extremely well-served.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, actually I have three short record clarification
questions if I could ask. It actually stemmed out of the set of questions the
Vice Chair asked at the beginning of the questioning period. One, Nick indicated
that District Directors were told beforehand going into the Tuesday meeting
at the Sofitel Hotel that they would be affected. I asked specifically on the
Friday before when I was briefed on this plan, whether District Directors and
Regional Attorneys would be told prior to the meeting that they would be affected
and I was told quite flatly, no, they would not.
Now, I'm pleased that the District Directors were told before the meeting,
but I was told by the three of you at a briefing we had that there would be
no prior notice given and if that wasn't the case, I understand, but I asked
that question specifically and if people have different recollections, maybe
they should speak now.
MR. LEE: Well, as my recollection is that we informed you, I believe at the
time that given the nature of the organization there are no secrets and that
everyone had known for some period of time what offices were going to be affected
by this. We had had any number of conference calls with Regional Attorneys in
the period leading up to that meeting, so it was by no means a shock.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But let me be clear that people, at least Regional Attorneys
were not told specifically, directly that they would be affected, that they
had to rely on the information that was floating around generally.
MR. LEE: We had any number of calls prior to then to indicate that if a plan
was announced, everyone could expect the offices that had been listed for some
period of time would be the ones affected, that it would affect Regional Attorney's
as well as District Directors and I think everyone understood that going in.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But then there was no specific call made.
MR. LEE: There was no specific call made because there was no need to make one.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Jim, you also mentioned that you would be happy to provide
me with the personnel actions that have been taken to deal with problem issues.
I obviously, don't want to deal with personnel issues in a public forum but
I would appreciate getting that within due course, and we can relook at the
record to see what you actually promised me but you indicated that --
MR. LEE: Yes, I would suggest we do that sir.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: I'd like to see that myself.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, I'm just looking to get that -- whatever that
is within a timely fashion. The other question, Jim, would be back in 1979 when
you were part of Chair Norton's RIF, you mentioned there were six attorneys
who were functioning as Regional Attorneys.
MR. LEE: That's right.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Right, and do you know, having been a trial attorney
at the time and not being a manager, were those Regional Attorney's were they
SES Regional Attorneys or senior level, whatever they called them back at the
time or were they GS-15s?
MR. LEE: They were Grade 16.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: 16, so they were super level equivalence to our SES
graded people today. There were six of those. Do you know whether at the time
of the 1979 reorganization whether there were Grade 15 attorneys under the Grade
16 Regional Attorneys?
MR. LEE: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: There were. So there was a cadre of Regional -- of Grade
15 attorneys in various offices back in 1979?
MR. LEE: Generally, there was a grade reduction suffered by those people.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, there was a grade reduction suffered by those
MR. LEE: Regional attorneys became 15s, supervisory trial attorneys became
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But at the time there were supervisory trial attorneys
in the offices where they did not have the six Regional Attorneys, the supervisory
trial attorneys were 15s.
MR. LEE: That's right.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Okay. And Lea, the last thing on training, you had mentioned there was $400,000.00 in the training
MS. GUARRAIA: I don't have the number of training..
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, no, no, but I just want to be clear, that the figures
that I gave of $30,000.00 for investigator training and $50,000.00 for lawyer
training and $30,000.00 for the all-employee meeting and over $100,000.00 for
the trip to Lawrence, Kansas are accurate figures?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: No, I wouldn't say that.
MS. GUARRAIA: I would not say they were accurate figures.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Can you tell us what the figures are in --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner, again, we've had this discussion on a number
of occasions. It has no relevance whatsoever --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, it has relevance to the question, Madam Chair
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: No, it doesn't.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: -- about whether we're training our people, especially
on the front lines and especially since not a single dollar is in this proposal
to train people to be redeployed to new jobs. Lea Guarraia told me that there
was no money set aside, that people will be taken care of but that there was
no money budgeted within this proposal. And I just want to make that clear.
And if that's not true, I welcome an explanation of how we're going to train
and where the money is going to come from?
MS. GUARRAIA: What I told you Commissioner, at least what I hope I told you
and I think I've been consistent with all the Commissioners on this point, that
what you're being asked to vote on is a very narrow package dealing with the
structure of the field and the reporting lines in the field. Therefore, the
package does not contain such things as the administrative training, what's
going to take place for the staff following the vote or following the repositioning.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: And I can assure you that there will be appropriate training
conducted for all individuals who may be assuming different roles or expanding
their roles. We just had a big training for new first time investigators. We
continue to have another one on mediation, is it Nick?-- so there's a lot of
training going on and --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Transparency of how we spend the money at this Agency
would be very helpful in figuring whether the policy choices we make are appropriate
as well, and again, I know Commissioner Silverman is not happy with the fact
that we have meetings on issues that are not directly on point, but frankly,
the fact that basic budgetary information is not provided to members of this
Commission or members of the public, I frankly, think is a misservice that we
send to the American people.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: I don't want to take the time to correct additional falsehoods,
Commissioner, but the fact that your allegation that you're not being given
budgetary information is totally inaccurate and a real falsehood. So let's move
on because that has nothing to do with it.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, Madam Chair, if you'll provide me with the information
that I have requested repeatedly, I would not have to make these statements,
but in fact, I am told time and time again that this information is quote "none
of my business". And frankly, as a member of this body, I don't understand
that because I, like you, want to make decisions for this Agency that make sense
and that go to our fundamental mission.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Commissioner. Can we move on? Do you have any more
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I don't believe that I do.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Okay, great. Anyone else? Okay, I have one final question
if you can tolerate it. There's been a lot of comments and associations and
attributions that the Repositioning Plan is going to reduce enforcement, it's
going to reduce the quality of enforcement. All kinds of things have been attributed
to this Repositioning Plan except for shark attacks off the coast of Florida,
everything else seems to be attributed to this plan.
But I would like your considered opinion, I value your judgment, always have,
and have consulted you intensively on the development of this plan. And I would
like to get your opinion as to whether or not you believe that this Repositioning
Plan alters in any way the quality of our enforcement efforts.
MR. LEE: I'll start and I'll say I absolutely do not believe it will alter the quality of our enforcement efforts.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you. Nick?
MR. INZEO: I would say that I think it will help us improve them. It will help
us provide more people doing direct front line jobs and that's what we need.
I think it will -- that the management and administrative structures that remain
will be more than adequate to do their jobs and this will allow us to redeploy
resources to front line positions. I think that will be helpful to our enforcement
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Okay, thank you. There was another comment, allegation made
that this Repositioning Plan will actually decrease our presence. Can you comment
MR. INZEO: That's a comment I didn't understand. I mean, we will continue to
be located where we're located. We'll have -- we will be able to open up two
more local offices. It will -- this proposal will not diminish the staff that
we have devoted to front line duties. It will increase it, so I don't understand
how it could be said to decrease our efforts.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: The final question is for Jim.. There's been all kinds of
references made to the fact that there's an expectation that as a result of
this plan, the litigation program and, in fact, senior attorneys are going to
somehow be diminishing their contributions to furthering the mission of this
Commission. What's your sense of that, having worked with most of them for probably
over 15, 20 years?
MR. LEE: I would expect as we go forward, to have a vigorous litigation program.
I believe the Plan provides for structure that would support such a program
and we have full intention to fully utilize the talent that we have within the
Office of General Counsel to carry out our mission.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you. Thank you all very, very much. This will bring
our discussion to an end. And I will now ask for a -- I will ask for a motion
and, in fact, I guess I can present a motion, but I'll ask Madam Vice Chair
to present a motion to approve Orders 110 and 120 as presented to the Commissioners
VICE CHAIR EARP: So moved.
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Second.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Any quick comments?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Could we have a roll call, just to expedite matters,
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: All right. Let's begin with the Vice Chair, do you vote to
approve the amendments to Orders 110 and 120?
VICE CHAIR EARP: I do.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Commissioner?
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: I vote to approve.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: I vote to approve. Commissioner, Ishimaru?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Okay, the motion carries. The vote is approved, three votes
in favor and one against and the vote will be recorded.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, if I can, I'd like to make a motion as
well, that now that the plans have been approved by the Commission and I respect
that, that no motion -- no actions will be taken on implementation of this plan
until there's a final appropriation for fiscal "06, for 2006. As you know,
there have been a number of efforts to place various restrictions on how we
spend next fiscal year's money and I would hope that we not take steps on this
implementation of the plan that may at a later point, put us in a difficult
position with the Appropriations Committees in the Congress as well as the Congress
as a whole. It sounds like from reading the paper that the appropriations bills
are moving fairly quickly this year and we may get a final appropriation before
the fiscal year starts which would not -- which would still work within Lea's
timetable that she laid out.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Okay, there's a lot of information in your motion. What exactly
is your motion?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: My motion is that we take no steps to implement the
plan that was approved by the Commission until after the President has signed
the appropriation for our 2005 -- or 2006 budget.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Is there a second to that motion?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: The motion fails.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, again, I note that there's no second, no one wishes
to discuss this. I think that we're in dangerous territory, though, if we go
forward with implementation that may be contrary to the intent of the Congress
but I raise this so it's a point that hopefully can be taken into consideration.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: I appreciate your concern and as the Chair of the Commission
and the person that interacts very directly with the members of the Appropriations
and Authorization Committees, I can assure you that I will continue to carry
out my fiduciary responsibilities and budgetary responsibilities as I have up
until now. So thank you for your concern. I appreciate it.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I certainly appreciate that, Madam Chair.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you. All right, well, I want to thank everyone for joining
us today. You've been extremely patient and we appreciate your being here. There
being no further business, do I hear a motion to adjourn the meeting?
VICE CHAIR EARP: So moved.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Second?
COMMISSIONER SILVERMAN: Second.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: All in favor?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Opposed?
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: The ayes have it and the motion is carried. The meeting is
(Whereupon, at the meeting in the above entitled matter concluded.)
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