WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) voted Aug. 10 to replace its National Contact Center (NCC) pilot with an in-house phone answering team and to allocate funds to hire a consultant to advise and assist the agency on transitioning to a decentralized configuration.
The NCC contract expires Sept. 20, and Congressional appropriators have proposed to eliminate funding for its continuation in the EEOC's Fiscal Year 2008 budget. The Commission vote authorizes funding to begin transitioning to an in-house system staffed by federal employees.
"The National Contact Center provided a useful mechanism for the EEOC to address 21st century customer service needs while freeing up limited agency field staff to process our growing caseload," Commission Chair Naomi C. Earp said. "However, we recognize the strong opposition to the NCC expressed by many interested parties who want calls answered by federal employees."
For the past three years, the EEOC contracted with Vangent, Inc. (formerly Pearson Government Solutions) for the NCC, which has handled phone calls to the agency's 53 field offices nationwide. The NCC currently receives more than 70,000 calls and 3,000 e-mails each month. The contract also offers translation services in more than 150 languages, with an average call wait time of 30 seconds, and provides quick access to caller demographic data.
As part of the transition to an in-house system, the EEOC will hire a consultant to guide planning to ensure a sound, timely and cost-effective transition to a decentralized model utilizing each of the agency's 15 districts. The vote authorized the Commission to seek a three-month extension of the current contract with Vangent to provide for a smooth transition. This transition period will permit the public to continue to use the existing toll free number at 800-669-4000. The TTY number for individuals with hearing and speech impairments is 800-669-6820.
Nicholas Inzeo, Director of the EEOC's Office of Field Programs, said, "Given the volume of calls at the NCC, an orderly transition from a contract solution to an internal operation is needed. Three months is the minimum amount of time necessary to ensure adequate customer service as we reconfigure the call center function to the new in-house system."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.