Remarks of Commissioner Leslie E. Silverman

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Commission Meeting on Federal Sector Reform
November 12, 2002

This is an extraordinary meeting of the Commission, and I too would like to thank Chair Dominguez for convening it. I would also like to commend our Chair for having the courage and tenacity to take on this issue. It is not an easy one.

The Chair is committed to improving the Federal Sector Process. And I share that commitment.

I agree with my fellow Commissioners that our Federal workplaces should be model workplaces- free from prejudice, harassment, and retaliation. And our Federal employees are entitled to fair and timely recourse when discrimination has occurred.

Yet, the current system for processing Federal employees' discrimination complaints does not always permit such fair and timely recourse.

The complaint processing time is too often measured in years, rather than in days. And too many agencies have EEO departments that are overburdened and overwhelmed.

All too often, the complaints process is perceived by Federal employees to be "stacked" against them and lacking in impartiality. We need a system that everyone can believe in.

At the same time, we must recognize that a number of important changes have been made to the Federal Sector Process over the years. Most recently the Commission made some inroads toward improving the process with the revisions to the Part 1614 regulations including the establishment of ADR programs in all agencies.

But I don't think that there is a soul in this room who thinks that all of the problems have been fixed and that our job is done.

So the Commission has begun this endeavor - searching for ways to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and credibility of the Federal Sector EEO process. But for our reform effort to be successful, we need your help. For it is crucial that we have stakeholder input to identify and explore these difficult issues and their potential solutions.

Today's panelists have different experiences with and thus different perspectives on the Federal Sector Process. I am anxious to hear from all of you, and look forward to "picking your brains" today and as we move forward in this endeavor.

The responsibility for making the Federal Sector EEO Process what it should be is one in which we all play a part.

With the Chair's strong leadership and vision and your input, I believe that we can take significant steps toward making the Federal Sector EEO Process one that befits the "model workplace."

I welcome your participation and I thank all of you for joining us here today.

This page was last modified on November 13, 2002.