I am pleased to present the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012. This report contains the agency's assessment of its FY 2012 program and financial performance. Reflecting the federal government's commitment to vigorous civil rights enforcement, open and responsive government, and good stewardship of tax payer dollars, the EEOC has refocused its efforts in recent years on the efficient and effective enforcement of the nation's equal employment laws in pursuit of its mission to stop and remedy unlawful employment discrimination.
Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC enforces federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, and family medical history or genetic information. The EEOC's jurisdiction to enforce employment antidiscrimination laws and promote equal employment opportunity extends to private, state and local government, and federal sector employment.
Beyond administrative and legal enforcement, the EEOC is also charged with collecting data relevant to equal employment and promoting voluntary compliance with equal employment opportunity laws through training, technical assistance, outreach programs and publications concerning relevant civil rights laws. The EEOC conducts thousands of outreach events each year for the public, with a special emphasis on underserved communities, small businesses and workers with limited information about their rights under equal employment laws.
Through this combination of enforcement, education and outreach, the EEOC has become the nation's leading authority on, and enforcer of, federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. While there is far more work to be done, the EEOC's efforts have significantly advanced equality in the workplace for nearly half a century.
In February 2012, the Commission took a significant step forward by approving a new Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 - 2016, which established three objectives:
Combating employment discrimination through strategic law enforcement;
Preventing employment discrimination through education and outreach; and
Delivering excellent and consistent service through a skilled and diverse workforce and effective systems.
As reflected in the following Performance and Accountability Report, although the EEOC is in the early stages of implementing the new Strategic Plan, we have already begun to make meaningful progress toward more strategic and focused use of the resources entrusted to us, with the goal of becoming more effective and efficient in our operations.
Budget increases during FY 2009 and FY 2010 enabled the EEOC to fill mission critical positions, train new and incumbent staff members and invest in technology. As a result, in FY 2011 the EEOC achieved a record total of 112,499 resolutions, and for the first time in nearly a decade, reduced the pending inventory by nine percent. Absent the staff and resources added in FYs 2009 and 2010, the inventory of unresolved charges could have grown dramatically during this period in which charges filed with the EEOC reached historic levels.
In FY 2012, the agency resolved a total of 111,139 private sector discrimination charges and the total number of unresolved charges was again reduced by nearly 10 percent. Notably, these results were achieved despite receiving nearly 100,000 private sector charges for three years in a row.
In FY 2012 the EEOC's federal sector programs also achieved similar success. The federal sector hearings program resolved a total of 7,538 complaints securing more than $61.9 million in relief for federal employees and applicants who requested hearings. Additionally, the agency resolved 4,265 appeals of decisions in the federal sector, including 52.9 percent of them within 180 days of their receipt. As a result of these efforts, the EEOC reduced the average processing time for all resolutions from 378 days in FY 2011, to 361 days in FY 2012 - a 4.5 percent decrease.
Legal staff resolved 254 merits lawsuits for a total monetary recovery of $44.2 million and substantial equitable relief. In FY 2012, the Commission filed 10 systemic lawsuits. Systemic suits comprised 8 percent of all merits filings, and by the end of the year represented 20 percent of all active merit suits - the largest proportion since tracking started in FY 2006.
The agency's outreach programs reached 318,838 persons in FY 2012 through participation in 3,992 no-cost educational, training, and outreach events. Additionally, in FY 2012, the Training Institute trained 23,119 individuals at 473 events, including 417 field Customer Specific Training events with 16,932 attendees.
While we continue our efforts to advance our mission, improve agency performance and provide better service to the people who contact us for assistance, we are also mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. I am pleased to report that, for the ninth consecutive year, the EEOC has received an unqualified opinion from independent auditors. The agency also effectively managed its internal controls environment during FY 2012. As a result, I have concluded that the agency's management and financial controls environment under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) was sound in FY 2012. Moreover, while the agency identified three financial non-conformances in FY 2012, based on a review of agency-wide materials and the assurances of the agency's senior managers, corrective action plans have been implemented to resolve these findings in FY 2013, and I am reasonably assured that the financial information and data measuring EEOC's performance contained in this report are complete and accurate.
As evidenced in the following report, the EEOC has been, and will remain committed to enhancing our enforcement and outreach efforts, identifying areas for improvement and taking the steps necessary to ensure that we serve the public with excellence and work consistently toward fulfilling our mission of stopping and remedying unlawful employment discrimination. I am privileged to work with my colleagues on the Commission, the General Counsel, and more than 2,300 EEOC staff members across the country to serve the public and advance the mission of the EEOC. We have not yet completed our mission, but I am confident that working in conjunction with enforcement, outreach and education partners within and outside of government, the Administration, members of Congress, agency stakeholders and other concerned members of the public, we will make steady progress toward that end. To ensure we have the resources to achieve this, I will continue to make the case for the additional funding that supported our progress in recent years, and encourage the creativity, engagement and innovation necessary to improve agency operations and build upon past successes. I look forward to working with everyone who shares the EEOC's commitment to realizing the vision of justice and equality in the nation's workplaces.
Jacqueline A. Berrien
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
November 15, 2012