The following sections summarize issues the Inspector General considers to be the most serious management challenges facing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These matters require the commitment of significant agency resources, sound decisionmaking by the leadership, and continued oversight by the Office of Inspector General.
Effective September 1, 2006, Naomi C. Earp was appointed by President George W. Bush to the position of Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Formerly, she served as the Vice Chair of the Commission. Among the management challenges confronting the Chair are issues of declining budget, field staffing/workload issues, headquarters repositioning, and decisions related to the National Contact Center.
Chair Earp is faced with ensuring that the agency’s limited resources are used in the most effective and efficient manner to deter, detect, and litigate violations of the nation’s civil rights laws. The U.S. Senate appropriators have taken the extraordinary step of identifying in the language of their committee report specific uses for the agency’s FY 2007 funds. The new Chair has the challenge of rebuilding the confidence of congressional appropriators in the leadership and judgment of the EEOC to ensure adequate funding of the agency.
Planning for EEOC headquarters reorganization is underway. Efforts toward reorganization include an analysis of options, in consultation with the General Services Administration, for the headquarters building lease and conduct of an early retirement/buy-out program during the third quarter of FY 2006.
On May 18, 2006, former EEOC Chair Cari Dominguez announced that OPM and OMB gave EEOC authority to offer early out and buy out opportunities to retirement-eligible employees. This program was undertaken to initiate a shift of resources from headquarters to the field, where it is most needed. The Chair’s long-range goal was to reduce headquarters by 20% or 100 employees. This effort resulted in the retirement of 33 headquarters employees and 50 field employees by June 30, 2006.
The headquarters building lease expires in 2008, and it will be necessary to fund either relocation and build out or significant remodeling of the current space (consolidate from 10 to 7 floors) in FY 2007 and FY 2008. The space build-out decision includes considering the relocation of the information technology hardware, software, and communications central operations from headquarters to a shared services location to reduce the overall cost of operations and the risks associated with the current downtown Washington D.C. location.
Cost considerations for the headquarters building lease are critical. Newly appointed Chair Earp, the Commission, and management must be prepared to make the agency’s largest ever investment decision, which will impact EEOC’s budget for the next decade. The Office of Inspector General will review the draft analysis and recommendation, which will be prepared by the Office of Chief Financial Officer during the first quarter of FY 2007. A decision should be made by January 2007.
The process of repositioning EEOC’s field structure led to reducing the number of district offices from 23 to 15; enlarging many of the districts and reassigning 15 directors and 15 regional attorneys to these offices; and realigning administrative, human resources, and budget functions to support this structure. No offices were closed and no employees lost their jobs. The current structure is 15 district offices, 9 field offices, 15 area offices, and 14 local offices, 2 of which are new offices established to respond to the growing population of workers in Mobile, Alabama, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Appointments to most of the senior field positions were made during this reporting period.
EEOC’s field structure requires evaluation to determine its impact on staffing/workload and the delivery of core services to the public. Evaluation may also determine cost savings attributable to the repositioning and identify opportunities to create efficiencies that may result from the current field structure, such as the centralization of administrative, human resources, and budget functions.
The Office of Inspector General issued its report on the Evaluation of the National Contact Center (NCC) pilot on June 29, 2006. OIG found that the NCC “has the potential to make a significant contribution to the EEOC; however, as presently operated, it is not effective.” OIG reported inefficiencies due to lack of call volume, poor data capture, and deficient communications between the NCC and EEOC. NCC contract costs were $1.8 million in FY 2006. Estimated FY 2007 contract costs are $2.6 million.
Congress has shown much interest in the call center and its impact on the agency’s ability to deliver service to the public. The House Appropriations Committee requested that the EEOC vote on extending the pilot and postpone consideration of making the center permanent until the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) could complete an evaluation to supplement the OIG study of the call center. On July 13, 2006, the Commission voted 3–2 to extend the NCC contract with Pearson Government Solutions for one year to September 2007, during which time NAPA will conduct its evaluation. Shortly thereafter, the Senate Committee on Appropriations issued report language, accompanying Committee passage of the appropriations bill, eliminating funding for the call center, citing the findings of the OIG evaluation. Differences in the House and Senate Appropriation Committee reports will be resolved by a conference committee after Senate passage of the legislation and finalization of the Senate report language.
Phase I of the NAPA evaluation began in September 2006. It includes assessment of the plan to achieve full implementation of NCC, and estimation of the costs of replicating NCC operations within EEOC. In light of the NCC report issued by the OIG in June 2006 and the time required to implement the recommendations accepted by the Commission to improve the NCC, the benefits to be derived from the existing and subsequent study may not justify the costs associated with Phase II of the work. The House Appropriations Committee report for FY 2007 did not provide funding for the NAPA study. Agency officials and Senate Committee on Appropriations members are concerned about the EEOC’s ability to fund Phase II in FY 2007.
This page was last modified on December 7, 2006
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