Inspector General’s statements
The following is a summary of issues the Inspector General considers the most serious management challenges the Agency is confronting. These matters require the commitment of significant Agency resources, sound decision making by the leadership, and continued oversight by the OIG.
Strategic Management of Human Capital
In our opinion, the Agency would receive a red light in the Strategic Management of Human Capital portion of the President’s Management Agenda. The Agency needs to complete a workforce analysis addressing competency gaps in all mission-critical occupations. Once the workforce analysis is completed, strategies need to be developed to address the closing of competency gaps. Further, positions, functions, and organizations need to be structured in a manner that optimizes productivity, efficiency, and organizational effectiveness. In a 2006 audit of human resources operations by the Office of Personnel Management, EEOC officials cite funding constraints and a large caseload as the two major challenges affecting mission accomplishment. These challenges are magnified by the fact that EEOC has not conducted adequate workforce analysis or workforce planning to determine the degree to which budget or other issues, such as organizational structure and efficiency, impact mission accomplishment. It is imperative that senior-level management place greater emphasis on the human capital condition at EEOC and take steps to ensure that a vision of the Agency’s future workforce is in place.
Also, EEOC continues to lack a comprehensive human capital plan closely linked to the Agency’s strategic plan and annual performance goals. For example, the strategic plan does not fully integrate human capital into its mission goals and objectives. Measurable short- and long-term human capital needs are not defined, planned for, or funded. A comprehensive human capital plan would be the roadmap for continuous improvement and the framework for transforming the culture and operations of the Agency, and it should include:
- a clearly understood strategic plan;
- human capital outcomes and goals;
- strategies for accomplishing the goals;
- an implementation plan;
- a communication plan; and
- an accountability system.
Shrinking Workforce and Increasing Workload
The Agency is challenged in accomplishing its mission of promoting equality of opportunity in the workforce and enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination due to a reduced workforce and an increasing backlog of pending cases. EEOC has experienced a significant loss of its workforce, mostly to attrition and buyouts that the agency offered to free up resources. Figure 1 shows a decline of 347 staff (as measured in full-time equivalents) between 1999 and 2006.
Figure 1. EEOC Staffing FY 1999–2008 (2007 and 2008 are estimates)
Further, the Agency is faced with an aging workforce that is increasingly retirement eligible. EEOC will have 42 percent of its employees eligible for retirement between fiscal years 2007 and 2012, which includes 46 percent of its investigators and 24 percent of its attorneys. Unfortunately, other than preparing annual succession plans, there is little evidence of succession planning implementation or recruiting and retention strategies.
EEOC faced an inventory of nearly 40,000 private-sector charges at the end of 2006, a 19 percent increase over the previous year. Estimates show that that inventory may reach 67,000 by the end of FY 2008. EEOC’s inventories of hearing requests and appeals from Federal employees are also increasing.
Finally, the Agency’s human resources office appears understaffed and lacking the skill sets needed to gain a green light in the strategic human capital initiative. EEOC is not unique in this regard; a recent study by the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton, LLP, concludes that “the increased use of automation, consolidation and outsourcing in the human resources (HR) arena have left many federal HR professionals with largely outdated skills and no coordinated plan to upgrade those capabilities.”
The Contact Center Function
A critical challenge for EEOC is managing the transition from an outsourced contact center to an EEOC-staffed contact center. The success of this effort will profoundly affect customer service, employee morale, and the budget. The Commission approved a 3-month extension (through December 19, 2007) of the contract with the contact center outsourcing firm. The Agency plans to use Agency staff to answer customer inquiries, which will provide EEOC management a short time frame in which to:
- write position descriptions, advertise the positions, and hire staff;
- decide in which field office(s) staff will be located;
- plan for the migration and/or integration of hardware and software needs;
- plan and execute the call distribution and data systems;
- create and execute training for the EEOC customer service representatives; and
- determine how to budget for the new positions and other costs.
Many of these issues pose difficult questions. For example, if the EEOC hires the same number of staff as used by the contact center contractor, about $1 million in additional personnel costs (and additional nonpersonnel transition costs) will be incurred. Given the challenges cited above, an additional extension with the outsource contact center provider may be necessary. EEOC has hired a consultant to assist in the transition planning.
Headquarters Reposition and Headquarters Relocation
In early 2007, Agency Chair Naomi Earp formed a workgroup consisting of Headquarters and field personnel to give her recommendations on the repositioning of Headquarters. Chair Earp has asked the workgroup to focus on streamlining, eliminating redundancies, and structuring Headquarters to be more efficient so as to provide better customer service to Agency field staff and the public. The workgroup met in Washington in April, May, and June. The project appears to have made little progress in the past several months. However, a draft report is expected in November 2007. The key challenge in the reorganization effort is to overcome opposition from managers who are attempting to protect their turf, fear change, and resist accountability.
The lease on the current Headquarters building will expire on July 31, 2008. The new Headquarters location will be at 131 M Street, Northeast, Washington, DC. Realigning and streamlining Headquarters functions and the timeliness and efficiency of moving staff and equipment will impact the productivity, effectiveness, and morale of all Headquarters employees.
A critical challenge is to ensure a timely relocation of the Headquarters. The award for the lease of the new Headquarters location was delayed from January 2007 to May 2007. After a second round of comments by staff on office configurations, the timing for the relocation was changed from July 2008 to October 2008. Since the new Headquarters location will have less square footage than the current location, significant attention must be paid to staff relocation, office furniture, file management, and development of the Agency’s new information technology architecture.
As we recommended in our spring 2007 Semiannual Report to Congress, EEOC management initiated strategies to better manage employee expectations regarding the relocation. These include more timely two-way communication of information and events on the NoMa News Blog via the Agency’s intranet.
Although it is making progress, we believe the agency would receive a red light in the Budget and Performance Integration portion of the President’s Management Agenda. The most notable deficiency is the Agency’s inability to finalize an update to the strategic plan. In February 2007, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) assessment of EEOC. EEOC was rated “Not Performing—Results Not Demonstrated.” As a result, EEOC is listed in the Not Performing Programs section of the OMB PART Web site, thereby placing EEOC in the lowest 22 percent of rated programs. This means that Agency managers do not have much of the information and tools vital to good management (e.g., adequate annual performance targets). Therefore, EEOC’s challenge is to make the required improvements to raise its rating.
Prior to this reporting period, EEOC developed a PART improvement plan. During this reporting period, some progress was achieved in implementing the plan. For example, the Agency collected data and held discussions that should lead to the development of improved measures and performance targets. We urge senior Agency management to ensure substantial progress in these areas.
EEOC’s cost accounting system has improved external reporting and the provision of information useful in managing Agency resources. For example, Agency managers now have more reliable information about program costs (e.g., how much is spent on outreach efforts). In addition, effective October 1, 2007, the Agency’s time allocation system has been improved by adding a new activity code for use by employees dedicated to answering public calls in the in-house operation that will replace the National Contact Center, and by reducing from nine to four the number of activity codes for reporting union activities.
EEOC is challenged to continue improving its financial management in order to meet federal requirements and achieve improved Agency management. The Agency is moving forward with the migration from the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) to the Momentum System for accounting and reporting. The system became operational on October 9, 2007. Also, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is currently evaluating vendor proposals for supporting the Agency’s purchase card program. The Agency’s current vendor, Bank of America, opted to end its participation in the General Services Administration (GSA) SmartPay purchase card program. There are four vendors competing for the contract. A decision must be made by January 1, 2008, and the agency will switch to the new vendor by June 30, 2008. Additionally, the CFO must select a vendor for the agency’s travel processing by October 2007. The current system, Travel Manager, is no longer an approved system for government use.
The Agency’s E-Gov efforts face several challenges in the upcoming FY 2008. One of these challenges is the relocation of Headquarters to 131 M Street, Northeast, Washington, DC. This requires moving information technology infrastructure to the new location while minimizing the disruption to Headquarters services. Another challenge is the potential relocation of the Agency’s data center managed services for the hosting of Agency servers and equipment, once an acquisition plan is executed. The Agency will also be challenged in the funding of several technological initiatives related to the implementation of knowledge management as part of the Agency’s business processes. Knowledge management comprises a range of practices used by organizations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness, and learning. Finally, the funding of a possible transition from Novell GroupWise to the Microsoft Exchange network platform creates another challenge.
The Agency faces the significant challenge of ensuring that internal opposition and resource constraints will not hamper competitive sourcing activities. The Agency’s future competitive sourcing efforts will include a standard competition for desktop management. This competition will involve 40–50 full-time equivalents (FTEs) in the field and headquarter offices. Desktop management is a comprehensive approach to managing all the computers within an organization. Desktop management includes overseeing laptops and other computing devices as well as desktop computers.
The Agency is also in the process of awarding a contract to obtain assistance in writing the request for proposal (RFP) to ultimately obtain technology services to secure managed telecommunication and server operations. In addition, during FY 2007, the Agency drafted a performance work statement for the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Section 83 of EEOC’s Compliance Manual (Section 83, File Disclosure Request). The results of this competition are anticipated in the first quarter of 2008.