WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today voted 3-1 to authorize funds for a contract award that will establish a two-year pilot National Contact Center to handle unsolicited calls for general information.
"A National Contact Center is urgently needed to give the public what we do not and cannot now provide as we labor under inherent limitations of our technology and staffing structure an open door to the EEOC," Commission Chair Cari M. Dominguez said during a public meeting culminating in the vote. "Public access is essential to our mission. The public's information about 'real world' workplace concerns, issues and problems is crucial to our enforcement of the nation's laws against discrimination, and we need the public to be able to reach us in real time.
"To protect the American workplace," she added, "the Commission must have in place the best system possible for gathering and securing meaningful intelligence about equal employment opportunity issues and trends."
The establishment of a National Contact Center will provide for a centralized point of access to the Commission and will allow EEOC staff to focus more on mission-critical duties such as charge intake, investigations, mediation, litigation, and outreach to employers and employees. The National Contact Center will respond to public inquiries through two toll-free numbers, one for voice and one for TTY (used by individuals with hearing and speech impairments), as well as via electronic mail. The center will provide immediate access to customer service representatives between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. An automated system with answers to frequently asked questions will be accessible on a 24-hour basis. The center will be able to provide customer support in multiple languages.
By way of background, EEOC Commissioners unanimously voted on November 6, 2003, to approve the establishment of a National Contact Center as a two-year pilot project. Pursuant to that vote, the EEOC issued a formal solicitation notice on March 8, 2004. Because EEOC Acquisition policy requires approval by the Commission for the obligation of funds for contracts of $100,000 or more, a recommendation for contract award was submitted to the Commissioners for approval on August 26, 2004. The purpose of today's meeting was for the Commissioners to deliberate and vote on this matter.
Information about the forthcoming contract and vendor will be available to the public after the award is made. The National Contact Center is expected to become operational in mid-2005.
The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on September 17, 2004.
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