U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Commission Meeting of October 23, 2008 - Issues Facing Hispanics in the Federal Workplace
NAOMI C. EARP Chair
LESLIE E. SILVERMAN Vice Chair
STUART J. ISHIMARU Commissioner
CHRISTINE M. GRIFFIN Commissioner
CONSTANCE S. BARKER Commissioner
RONALD COOPER General Counsel
REED RUSSELL Legal Counsel
BERNADETTE B. WILSON Program Analyst
This transcript was produced from a video tape provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
P R O C E E D I N G S
CHAIR EARP: Good morning, everyone. The meeting will now come to order. Thank you all for being here.
In accordance with the Sunshine Act, today's meeting is open to public observation of the Commission's deliberations and voting.
MS. WILSON: Good morning Madam Chair, Commissioners, I'm Bernadette Wilson from the Executive Secretariat.
We'd like to remind our audience that questions and comments from the audience are not permitted during the meeting and we ask that you carry on any conversations outside the meeting room, departing and re-entering as quietly as possible.
Also, please take this opportunity to turn your cell phones off or to vibrate mode.
I would also like to remind the audience that in addition to the elevators, in case of emergency, there are stairways down the halls to the right and left as you exit this room. Additionally, the restrooms are down the hall to the right.
During the period August 22, 2008 through October 22, 2008, the Commission acted on 19 items by notation vote:
Approved litigation on 17 items; Approved a notice of proposed rule-making for the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008; and,
Approved a request to allow TV cameras at the October 23, 2008 Commission meeting.
Madam Chair, it is appropriate at this time to have a motion to close a portion of the next Commission meeting, in case there are any closed meeting agenda items.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Ms. Wilson. Do I hear a motion?
COMMISSIONER BARKER: So moved.
CHAIR EARP: Is there a second?
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Second.
CHAIR EARP: Any discussion? Hearing none, all those in favor, please say “aye”.
CHAIR EARP: Opposed? Hearing none, the "ayes" have it and the motion is carried. Thank you again, Ms. Wilson.
I would like to begin today's Commission meeting by thanking the people who helped to make this meeting possible.
First, my thanks and welcome to our guests and expert panelists. Thank you all for taking time and effort to join us. I'm aware that some of you have come from great distances and at a sacrifice to your schedules.
Next, my thanks to members of the Interagency Hispanic Workgroup for their dedication and their persistence. Milton Belardo, Nancy Bosque, Delia Johnson, Nicolas Juarez, Isabel Kaufman, Gene Sexton, Bea Pacheco, Dan Solis and Ramon Suris Fernandez. These people have given enormous time and energy to the work that you will see part of the results of today.
The Workgroup had help from many other federal employees, too numerous to name, but know that on a daily basis there were employees across the country, across the various agencies that gave a little bit of their heart and their soul, to completing the report and recommendations on the status of Hispanics in the federal workplace.
The Hispanic Workgroup's report and its recommendations will be available after the meeting today, on www.eeoc.gov.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my own staff support for this meeting, specifically Veronica Villalobos and Don King.
Veronica is an attorney-advisor with our Office of Federal Operations. For the past eight months, Veronica has served as my special assistant for Hispanic affairs.
In that capacity, she has chaired the Hispanic Workgroup, coordinated with the drafters of the report; she has soothed ruffled feathers; she has managed the sub-groups; she has reconciled divergent views; she's served as a strong advocate for and to the Hispanic community; and she's done all of this while performing other duties as assigned.
Veronica's back-up is Don King, an attorney with NASA, who has been on loan to us to work specifically on this project, and then finally, Marie Tomasso, who is the director of our Philadelphia office, who has time and time again, given of herself to help make the recommendations come to a reality, who serves as an informal mentor and advisor to Hispanics making their way up to senior levels in the federal government.
It takes a very large net to capture all the voices and the multiple concerns of the Hispanic community, one of America's most fast-growing and diverse populations.
Thanks again, to all of you. I believe that each of you are here not just because the subject matter today is important, but because of your own personal commitment to address and resolve nagging issues around the employment of Hispanics in the federal workforce. Please note that all of us here at EEOC are grateful for your time, your energy and your commitment.
Let us start with Panel One, which will set the stage for today's meeting. After the first panel, we'll have comments, opening statements, questions from the Commissioners. Good morning.
MR. HADDEN: Good morning.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you for being here, welcome. Why don't we start with Carlton?
MR. HADDEN: Good morning, Madam Chair and Commissioners. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss the status of Hispanic employment in the federal workplace.
Since you already have my formal statement for the record, what I will do is provide a brief overview of selected issues, affecting federal Hispanic employment.
During the last census in 2000, Hispanics represented 10.69 percent of the civilian labor force. More recent estimates show that the Hispanic population has grown considerably since that census.
However, despite the robust presence of Hispanics in our society, their participation in a federal workforce is only at 7.79 percent.
The participation variance of Hispanics between the civilian labor force and the federal workforce is one the largest of any historically under-utilized EEO group. One particular concern is a low participation rate of Hispanics among the ranks of the Senior Executive Service. In 2007, Hispanics represented only 3.6 percent of all SES positions, which was .10 percent fewer than it was for the prior year.
The National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives points out that this number is even lower at 2.5 percent, if we focus solely on career SES employees and do not consider political appointees and non-managerial employees who earn senior pay.
Viewed in this light, the level of Hispanic representation at the SES level has remained unchanged over the past 10 years. Although some agencies have excellent overall Hispanic participation numbers, upon closer examination it is clear that Hispanics are not fully participating throughout the organizations.
What we often find is that Hispanics are clustered within specific job categories, interacting to a large degree with the Hispanic public. Such niche employment is evident at many agencies with Hispanic -- with high Hispanic participation rates.
In addition to this niche employment, we often find the jobs Hispanics hold are fairly low in pay. This was noted by the Office of Personnel Management in its seventh annual report to the President on Hispanic employment in the federal government: that most Hispanic employees are concentrated within the GS-5 through 8 pay grades.
The agencies with the highest level of Hispanic participation are the Department of Homeland Security, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Social Security Administration, and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
Looking at each of these agencies, we see a variety of leading practices which support these results.
Despite the strong Hispanic participation at such agencies, some Cabinet level agencies have participation rates as low as 3.51 percent. Unfortunately, we have found that many of these agencies fail to identify the causes for these low rates in their workforce data. Many are not adequately investigating whether barriers exist to impede participation of Hispanics in the federal workforce.
The Office of Federal Operations has been working on a project aimed at holding agencies more accountable, and which should result in agencies engaging in more rigorous barrier analysis.
We will be giving a scorecard-like tool to those agencies, profiled on an annual report on the federal workforce. This tool is called EEO Program Compliance Assessment, or EPCA.
While we will not be giving agencies scores or grades in this first addition, we will assign points based on how well they fair on selected metrics from the EEOC's Management Directive-715.
We also will provide agencies’ workforce analyses, based on race, national origin, sex, as well as targeted disabilities. These analyses will show how a particular agency's workforce is composed by major occupation and then compare it to the civilian labor force.
The analysis also will provide a promotions analysis looking at the senior grade levels, and also show agencies how they compare to the federal government as a whole on various other issues.
This tool should provide new and useful ways for agencies to look at their data and to provide a benchmark upon which each agency can measure its progress towards becoming a model EEO workplace.
Ultimately, to make progress on the issues facing Hispanics in the federal workplace, agency leaders must demonstrate a genuine commitment to the principles set forth in EEOC's Management Directive-715. When agencies fully integrate MD-715 principles into their mission, a more inclusive workplace will naturally result.
The Office of Federal Operations stands ready to provide agencies with the training and technical assistance needed to aid them in their drive to establish and maintain model EEO programs. And again, thank you for the opportunity to share those comments with you.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Carlton. We've been trying to address under-representation since Nixon was President. So, our next speaker will talk a little bit about the demographics. Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer, Pew Hispanic Center, Mr. Passel?
DR. PASSEL: Good morning, Madam Chair and Commissioners. Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you today.
The Pew Hispanic Center is a project of the Pew Research Center. We're right down the street, and we've issued – we’ve launched a new website this morning, so, I urge you to go visit us.
Our mission is to improve the understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos growing impact on the nation.
We're a non-partisan fact tank and do not take positions on policy issues, nor do we advocate for or against specific policies.
I've given the Commission a packet of material that provides a picture of the demographic position of Hispanics over the last 50 years and the next 40 or so, through about 2050, as well as their potential impact on the U.S. workforce.
It also describes some of the current labor force characteristics of this population, with a particular emphasis on factors affecting Hispanic representation in the federal workforce. Rather than go through that step-by-step, I'll outline some of the highlights in the limited time I have this morning.
Latinos are a dynamic group. They've accounted for half of the nation's population change this decade. Going forward, Hispanics will dominate future population change even more. Today, the country's 45 million Hispanics represent about 15 percent of the total population of 300 million. By 2050, we project the number of Hispanics to almost triple-- reaching 128 million-- and their representation to almost double to 29 percent of the projected total population.
The change over that period-- the Hispanic share of that change will be about 60 percent of the future growth of the country's population.
But today, we're really on the cusp of a transformation in Hispanic growth patterns. Immigrants represent roughly 40 percent of the Hispanic population and about 54 percent of the Hispanic workforce.
These percentages have probably peaked though. Even though Hispanic immigration continues at relatively high levels that we've seen in the last two decades, a greater share of the growth since 2000 has come from births rather than immigrants in the Hispanic population. That is, we're seeing more native-born Hispanics added to the population than foreign-born Hispanics. This hasn't happened since the 1960s.
So, as we go forward, the numbers of Hispanic births will grow much faster than the projected number of Hispanic immigrants. And consequently, a growing share of the Hispanic population and especially the Hispanic workforce will be natives, U.S. natives and thus U.S. citizens.
Hispanic growth and immigration continue to play a vital role in the future of the U.S. labor force. If we do projections without immigration, going forward the U.S. workforce would begin to decline in about five or seven years. Hispanics are a significant share of that immigration. Today, Hispanics represent about 14 percent of workers, but by 2050 they'll account for more than 31 percent of the workforce. And even today, the number of both native and foreign born Hispanic workers is growing six to seven times faster than the non-Hispanic workforce.
But there are significant differences between the Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers. Latinos as a group are significantly younger and less educated than non-Hispanic workers. Hispanics account for about 40 percent of workers who have not graduated from high school, or almost three times their share of the overall workforce. This educational differential is one of the factors that accounts for why the Hispanic share of the federal workforce is less than the overall representation in the workforce. But a more important factor is citizenship.
We've seen a substantial increase in naturalization rates over the last dozen years, especially among Hispanic immigrants. But only about 60 percent of today's Hispanic workers are U.S. citizens. Thus, almost -- there are about 14 million Hispanic citizens in the labor force and they represent about 10 percent of the workforce, of the citizen workforce.
In contrast, the eight-and-a-half million non-citizen Hispanic workers, about half of whom are unauthorized, account for 60 percent of the non-citizens in the workforce.
Now, a majority of the Hispanic workers who’ve attended college are U.S. citizens, but for both the citizen and non-citizen Hispanic workers, the share -- if we go up the educational spectrum, the share who are Hispanic decreases substantially.
One specific indication of some of the potential problems facing – in increasing Hispanic representation is that only about five percent of U.S. citizen workers who have a college degree, either under-graduate or graduate, are Hispanic. So, that's much less than the 14 percent in the workforce. And the profile of the Hispanic workforce, overall, directly reflects these educational and citizenship characteristics.
The education -- the industries with the highest representation of Hispanics are construction, agriculture, leisure and hospitality, and other service industries. Those with the lowest representation of Hispanics are in the information sector, public administration, education, health, and financial services.
Occupations of Hispanic workers show the same patterns as Hispanics are greatly over-represented in farming, cleaning and maintenance, construction jobs and production jobs-- those kinds of jobs that generally do not require high levels of education or government certification.
Hispanics are greatly under-represented in science, engineering, legal and healthcare professions. Thus, Hispanics tend to be in jobs where federal employment is not concentrated, and not in those jobs where it is.
In the future, we expect these profiles of the Hispanic workforce to change. More U.S.-born Hispanics will age into the workforce, and they'll have substantially more education than their immigrant parents and grandparents.
Naturalization rates are likely to increase, and in the long run, the education levels of new immigrants will probably improve too. Hispanic representation is likely to grow in fields where the U.S. government needs workers. Thus, these general demographic trends should lead to more Hispanic citizens and a more highly educated population-- factors that can, in turn, help to increase representation of Hispanics in the federal workforce.
Thank you again for the opportunity to testify today, and I'll be glad to try to answer any questions you might have.
CHAIR EARP: Just one quick question. Did I understand you to say that 10 percent of the workforce are Hispanic citizens?
DR. PASSEL: Ten percent of the citizens in the workforce are Hispanics.
CHAIR EARP: Okay, thank you. Ms. Sally Jaggar?
MS. JAGGAR: Good morning.
CHAIR EARP: Partnership for Public Service. Thank you for being here.
MS. JAGGAR: Thank you, my pleasure. Madam Chair, Commissioners and colleagues, my name is Sarah Jaggar, Sally Jaggar. I'm a senior advisor to the Partnership for Public Service, which is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way Government works.
Prior to working with the Partnership, I was at the Government Accountability Office for about 25 years. Towards the end of my tenure there, I was in charge of the -- I was managing director of the Human Capital Office there, very much involved in recruiting and hiring.
The Partnership for Public Service works closely with federal agencies to improve the effectiveness of their recruiting and hiring, in order to not only attract, but retain the right talent to federal public service.
Further, we work with over 625 colleges and universities to improve the outreach and information about federal opportunities available on campuses, and to help federal agencies build effective, lasting campus relationships.
The Partnership believes that the federal government must be fully representative of the skills, talents, interests and experience of all people living in our country. Thank you very much for providing us the opportunity to participate in this hearing.
You've heard this morning that as the numbers and roles of Hispanics in the United States increase and improve, the state of Hispanic representation in the federal workforce is not keeping pace.
We know that many private sector companies consider a diverse workforce a must, and we believe that this is and must be equally true for federal agencies and departments.
As we partner with the universities in our National Call to Serve Network, we see Hispanic and Latino students who are discouraged about or discouraged from applying for federal jobs because they do not see people like themselves in those agencies, and they do not see career paths that lead to success.
What a loss this is. Our research has shown that among college students, Hispanics are the most interested in working for the federal government. In fact, 51 percent expressed high interest in federal careers.
However, Hispanic students were the least knowledgeable about available federal jobs. Sixty-two percent reported having little or no knowledge about federal job opportunities or how to find and apply for those opportunities.
The question at hand then is, what does it take for federal agencies to recruit and retain these students, to achieve and sustain a fully representative workforce?
In 2007, the Partnership worked with federal and private sector representatives to identify practices that are most effective in recruiting and retaining high-performing Hispanics. During this process, we learned several important lessons.
First, good recruiting is good recruiting. This is true for attracting the best and brightest Hispanics, as well as non-Hispanics.
Second, well-run agencies-- those that empower their employees, are mission-driven and emphasize employee growth-- are the most successful in retaining their employees, including Hispanics.
Third, to successfully recruit and retain the best and brightest requires that federal agencies compete head-to-head with the best organizations in the private and not-for-profit sectors. And the competition for talented Hispanics is especially fierce-- I might say incredibly fierce.
Finally, we found that thoughtful, sustained outreach to and communication with Hispanic students can increase success and yield positive results in recruiting these sought-after students.
Importantly, we also learned that an agency's success in recruiting and retaining Hispanics one-for-one correlates with strong, directly communicated, sustained commitment from the highest leaders in the organization. Without this, agencies rarely make progress.
We found that first, leaders must get the business case for increased Hispanic participation in their organizations and must set expectations for their agency to make this happen.
Second, a senior level champion needs to be designated to carry out the agency's plans to improve Hispanic participation and retention, and accountability for results must be defined and based on measures of success.
Third, savvy recruiting, followed by dedicated efforts to maximize the quality of new employees' work experiences generates success and improves retention.
In addition, we clearly see that committed leaders track their progress. A highly effective tool for this is the "Best Places to Work" rankings produced by the Partnership, using data from OPM's bi-annual Federal Human Capital Survey.
Our last report, produced in 2007, using 2006 survey results, showed that NASA, GAO and the Social Security Administration were ranked as the three best places to work among the large agencies, by employees who classified themselves as Hispanics.
Leaders at each of these agencies will tell you that their success is not an accident, but it is due to sustained effort and the use innovative approaches.
The moral of the story is that improvements and changes don't just happen. They require strategic, systematic action and accountability for results.
Leadership from central federal agencies has varied during the recent past, leaving it primarily up to individual agencies to plan their own activities.
Several federal agencies, supported by strong relationships with Hispanic professional organizations, such as LULAC and HACU, provide models that we can build on on how to be successful. And happily, there are good examples that can inspire and inform the public sector in the private sector. Agencies need to build on these successes and learn from each other.
We applaud EEOC's interest in ensuring that the federal government benefits from the skills and expertise of all segments of the labor force, including the nation's talented Hispanics and Latinos.
To lose the competition for Hispanics would be a double loss. Not only would top young Hispanics not enter the federal workforce, but the Government's ability to perform its mission well could be constrained. Competition for this talent may be tough, but it creates some real opportunities to meet the hiring challenges in a way that addresses both skill gaps and diversity goals.
We look forward to working with you on this important endeavor, and thank you. We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you. It seems clear that in these challenging times, the United States must turn to its most valuable asset and that's the people, all of the people.
So, we'll start with statements, questions and comments from the Commissioners. We've had, you may have noticed, a little bit of a shake up. Commissioner Ishimaru, being a senior Commissioner now, is on my right. That will be interesting. Probably for the next couple of meetings I'll look to Commissioner Griffin and yell at her because I think it's Commissioner Ishimaru.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: And I am appropriately on the left.
CHAIR EARP: Appropriately on the left, absolutely.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair. It's delightful to sit in former Vice-Chair Silverman's seat today.
I want to thank the panel for coming. It was extremely valuable testimony, and I want to thank you, Madam Chair, for establishing the Federal Hispanic Workgroup.
I'm coming upon my fifth year here, and this is the first time, I believe, that we have focused on issues involving Hispanics in the workplace, not just the federal workplace, and I think it's high time we did that. As we did earlier this year with our meeting on the problems faced by Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, I think shedding light on this issue is good and looking for how we address this in the future is very important.
As you noted, Madam Chair, this issue of how do we increase Hispanic representation in the workforce has been around since the Nixon Administration, when it used to be called "for the Spanish-speaking." And there has been some progress, but there obviously is a lot more that needs to be done.
I was struck by the low numbers. If you look at the top level cadre, the SES cadre-- but I'm also struck by how it isn't just at the top of the food chain, it's throughout the food chain. And I'm troubled, if you start looking at the specific statistics of when you control out for certain agencies, when you control out for places like the Border Patrol and the former Immigration and Naturalization Service and the front line people who have been hired by the Social Security Administration -- and their efforts to increase Hispanic representation is to be commended, and we'll hear later from them. But when you take those people out of the federal workforce picture, the positions of Hispanics in the federal workforce is extremely troubling, and the lack of placement and opportunities for Hispanics throughout the federal government, I think is a serious issue that we shouldn't be -- we can't let the niche employment, as Mr. Hadden pointed out, point us away from looking at the problems that Hispanics face within the federal government, in both entering and staying and advancing within the federal workplace.
So, I'm looking forward to the meeting today. I'm looking forward to the follow-up that will be done. I'm looking forward to the next administration coming in, whoever it may be, and addressing these various issues. Because as Dr. Passel pointed out, the growth rate for the future is a vigorous one, and in order to get the type of federal workforce that we need, we need to spend efforts in making sure we get good people working for the federal government, and that people have opportunities at all levels.
I am -- I have a number of demographic questions. I guess, having grown up in California, where there was always a large Hispanic population, the one thing that struck me over the last 20+ years is how the demographics have changed throughout the country. It's no longer that Hispanics are concentrated in certain parts of the country, but that they're spread out throughout, and I was wondering, Dr. Passel, if you could comment on-- well, first of all, the demographic breakdown within the Hispanic community itself. When we talk about Hispanics, we talk about a wide range of groups from various parts of the world. I know when we dealt with the Asian-American and Pacific Islanders meeting, there was talk of how the demographics within that group were so diverse that we needed to look at the sub-groups to make sense of what is going on in the aggregate.
Do similar issues exist for the Hispanic community at large?
DR. PASSEL: Not to the same degree, as in the Asian population. Mexican and Mexican-Americans represent, depending on which data you look at, 60 to 65 percent of the Latino population, so, that's a very large --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: That's a large chunk, right.
DR. PASSEL: Right, and there’s significant numbers of Central and South Americans who share -- at least the Central Americans share a lot of the basic socio-demographic features of the Mexican-American population as well.
The other thing that is a bit different than the Asian population is that there’s a commonality of language background. Not all Latinos speak Spanish, but by definition, they come from Spanish-speaking groups.
There are significant differences. The Cuban population tends to be older, better-educated. The recent South American immigrants tend to be quite different in educational background as well. So there are differences, but I think there's more commonality across the Latino population and we're beginning to see more of that in terms of growing share just of people just identifying as Hispanic, rather than with their specific nationality, and I think it's actually -- the presence of some national networks and national organizations is, I think, bringing some of these disparate groups together more and more.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: My time is up. Can I ask one more question on this round?
CHAIR EARP: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Could you speak to the distribution of Hispanics in the United States; how it's not no longer centered the way it was in the past?
DR. PASSEL: Yes, and that's a very timely question. A colleague of mine has issued a report that went on our website at midnight last night, focusing just on this. What we've seen is, there are -- at the same time, while there are big concentrations of Latinos in California, in New York and in the Chicago area, we've seen a spreading out of the Latino population with very large growth in the Southeastern U.S., significant growth in the Midwest, but more and more, we're seeing the Hispanic population throughout the country, and the growth rates in some of these places are really quite extraordinary with doubling, tripling populations in a decade. There’s hundreds of thousands of Hispanics in North Carolina and Georgia, and if you go back to 1980, you'd be hard pressed to find 10,000 in the whole state.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I would also assume that there's been movement away from urban areas and into less urban places.
DR. PASSEL: To some degree, but it's still a very -- it's a very metropolitan population. It's harder to get data, good data that identifies urban versus non-urban, but it's very metropolitan.
We're seeing substantial growth in what could be identified as suburban areas of metropolitan areas, the Washington area being very typical with very rapid growth in the outlying counties around the Washington metropolitan area.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you very much.
CHAIR EARP: Mr. Passel, one quick question. You mentioned identity. Would you comment on employers’ need to collect data regarding identity, because one of the challenges that we faced in the past is Hispanics not resonating with the term "Hispanic," and writing in "other" and perhaps, saying "Dominican" or "Mexican-American," more ethnic, but I thought I heard you say that the trend seems to be less toward the ethnic sub-groups and more toward Hispanic as an identification.
DR. PASSEL: It's not a large -- I mean, I think the principle identification that you find in the Hispanic population is with the national origin groups. Some of it depends on how you actually collect the data.
We found that the type of question that's used in census and other government surveys seems to work pretty well, giving people an option of identifying with sub-groups as well as the larger group. We're seeing -- it's a trend, but it's not an overwhelming trend of this sort of generic Latino or Hispanic identity.
CHAIR EARP: Okay.
DR. PASSEL: But the principle one still tends to be with --
CHAIR EARP: Ethnicity.
DR. PASSEL: -- the ethnic group.
CHAIR EARP: Okay, thank you. Commissioner Griffin?
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Anyone who has heard me speak about the federal government knows that I believe fervently, we should be the model employer when it comes to all groups in our society. And unless we're willing to become that and become the model employer, we shouldn't be so forceful in our discussions with private sector about it.
I really do believe we need to model the right behavior, and this is an area where we certainly have not done that, and I actually want to commend the Chair and her choice of Victoria to lead this group, because we have seen such a lack of leadership anywhere else, you know, with OPM, with other parts of the administration and frankly, with agencies overall.
And this is really important that we're doing this, and I want to thank the Chair for doing it.
As we proceed along this path and we raise awareness around this issue, I'm hoping and praying that the next administration, whoever that is, will take this seriously and will really take some of our recommendations here and run with them, and reach out to the other agencies that really needed to be in this room and be here at one of these tables, namely OPM, because a lot of what we're going to talk about today really should rest with them. And frankly, should have been done long before now.
So, I'm hoping that as part of a next administration and those of us that remain here and those of us that come behind us, will certainly make that happen.
I have a few questions. Mr. Passel, I actually know that you released this report midnight this morning. It was featured on some of the news, and actually, you released the top 25 areas in the country for Hispanic growth, and eight of those 25 -- eight of those 25-- were here in Virginia, Northern Virginia, specifically.
Have you thought at all -- I know it's fairly new, but has anyone thought about what impact that might have on the federal government? Because they're here, in large numbers, waiting to be hired.
DR. PASSEL: Well, I can't say that it's something that we've done a lot of work on. Some of the issues I highlighted in the testimony, I think, are relevant.
A lot of this growth, this dispersion, has been driven by immigrants and to some degree, to a significant degree, by undocumented immigrants and of course, non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants are not going to be able to work for the federal government.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Could I just ask another question of the panel about that? It was my understanding from briefings that citizenship is not necessarily a requirement for federal employment, right?
DR. PASSEL: Yes, I'm not sure. I shouldn't assume that. But --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, no, that was my assumption as well, that you needed to be a citizen to work for the federal government, and what I was briefed on was that is not necessarily true. For certain jobs, it is.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Is that true?
CHAIR EARP: The data seems to indicate about 90 percent or so of the jobs require citizenship, but there are some that do not.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Ninety percent?
CHAIR EARP: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: All right.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Actually, I didn't know that.
DR. PASSEL: So, I mean, there’s -- it's important to be able to look in the data, to see who --
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Who’s eligible.
DR. PASSEL: -- who the new workers are and who the population -- who is in the population.
As I noted, as we go forward, I think we're going to see a larger and larger share of the Hispanic population and especially the young working-age Hispanic population will be citizens.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Right.
DR. PASSEL: Mostly native-born, but also people who have acquired citizenship through naturalization.
So, yes and no, is I guess the answer. There’s a very large and growing Hispanic population in this area, and a lot of them, though, are immigrants who are not U.S. citizens.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Yes, but actually, no, because we're going to see this huge increase in a native population.
DR. PASSEL: Yes.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: And we are -- data shows that, you know, eight of the 25 areas are right here.
DR. PASSEL: Yes, that's exactly right.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: It just makes me think more than ever, we need to not only increase the employment of Hispanics in the federal government, but to promote people, advance people into jobs where these younger folks can see people like themselves and see that, you know, this is a good place to work and that these positions are attainable if you're a Hispanic, and not to look at it as an unfriendly place, as I think Sally has pointed out in some of the things they've discovered on campuses.
Let me -- so, let me ask you a couple of questions. The Partnership, I know you do a lot of work and have with OPM, and have you done anything -- has the Partnership done anything with them to help them get a grip on this issue, to advance the employment of people who are Hispanic in the federal government? Because if you have, I'd like to know about it. They certainly haven't implemented anything, but it would be nice to know if they've had some help from the outside doing it.
MS. JAGGAR: In my statement, I mentioned that we had the pleasure of working with a group of people for a number of months, to get a lot of information about good practices that agencies are using and what some of the barriers are.
And we did speak with OPM and invited them to participate in this workgroup and they declined to do that. They don't have a center of responsibility for this area, as they had several years ago in the past.
We've spoken with their general counsel and the like, but we haven't found them interested in working with us on this area specifically. They are very committed to improving, recruiting and hiring across the board for federal agencies, and among the things they are doing, they do five or more federal career days at selected universities around the country, and the University of New Mexico, this year -- University of New Mexico and New Mexico State last year, and years past.
So, I think they are consciously reaching out to be inclusive, but I have not -- I'm not aware myself of a focused initiative on their part at this time.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Do you folks at the Partnership, do you have a focused initiative on under-represented people in the federal government?
MS. JAGGAR: Not specifically, although I mentioned to this workgroup that we had in the past. We do work extensively with schools all across the country, to get them to focus on helping their students understand what the information is that's available about how to find and apply for federal jobs and opportunities, and then on the other side of the coin, we're working with agencies to help them build sustainable, meaningful, lasting relationships on campuses-- ones that can withstand bad hiring times, as well as good hiring times, so that there's a lasting presence and a comfort level.
Students seem to think of the federal government as kind of this big black box. How can you possibly figure out how to break into it and where to go? And so we're trying to do that across the board, working at universities.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Okay, thank you.
CHAIR EARP: Commissioner Barker?
COMMISSIONER BARKER: Well, I just wanted to join with the Commissioners in congratulating the Chair for an initiative like this. I think this is very timely and an excellent job.
MS. WILSON: Commissioner Barker, could we ask you to speak into the mike, please?
COMMISSIONER BARKER: Anyway, I’ll do this-- there. Again, congratulating the Chair for a very timely initiative on her part, and congratulating the workgroup for the hundreds and maybe more than hundreds of hours spent on the study and also, on a very well-written report.
The results that the study group has published are very troubling. They’re troubling now, but I guess what concerns me even more is where we're going from this point forward, because if we look at the fact that Hispanics comprise approximately 15 percent of the population now, but in less than 50 years, they will be a third of the population. And if they are not being hired and promoted by the federal government now, where are they going to be when -- in say, 40 years, when they are a very high percentage of the population? Are the numbers who are hired in the federal government still going to be the very poor numbers that we're seeing now?
And what is even more troubling to me is where Hispanics are being -- what jobs Hispanics are being hired into and the lack of numbers of Hispanics in high management positions. That's extremely troubling to me. Not just are we not hiring them, but we're not promoting them to the high level positions.
And I have a question for, I guess it would be for Mr. Passel, but Ms. Jaggar, this is for you or whoever.
I think the only good thing I saw in the report is that one of the problems with our numbers is, as Ms. Jaggar, you pointed out, that they -- that the private sector is fiercely competitive for talented Hispanics. I think that's a good problem.
But, two things with that. Number one, the federal government certainly, as a report pointed out, is going to have to figure out how to be more competitive.
But I guess my question is-- and I know this is focused on the federal sector, but in the private sector, does that mean that the private sector is hiring in the numbers that they should be, and that the percentages in higher management positions are what they should be, or is the private sector lacking too, but just not as bad as the federal sector?
MS. JAGGAR: Well, I'll answer part of the question, but I think Dr. Passel may know more of the details also.
I don't -- I can't speak to the numbers overall. But I can say that -- and I'm sure this will not be surprising, that there are certain firms and companies that are doing a great job, because they are working at it. It's a priority. They're following up. It's a leadership thing, and it bears results. You know, it's just -- it's such a basic notion, but it's so true. If it's a priority, then things happen, and there are very definitely efforts being made. When we had our workgroup, we had the pleasure of working with two particular companies, Hewlett Packard and Ernst & Young. There are many others that are good ones, but these two organizations not only had initiatives in place for internships and so on, they had very active on-campus programs, but they tracked -- they set -- I'm going to use a dirty word, if you'll excuse me, "goals," and they tracked their progress against those goals.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: We like that word.
MS. JAGGAR: So, I apologize for doing that, but whether or not there is a goal, they tracked progress against a priority that they had set, and I think that that is a factor that can be looked at.
There are many other companies that have not made that progress because it hasn't been a priority. I think it's a simple message, actually.
DR. PASSEL: That's actually a great deal more detailed than I know about. But I would just say that again, as you kind of go up the educational ladder, Hispanics tend to be under-represented the higher you go and that creates certainly, opportunities for the more highly educated Latinos themselves and it creates some issues for the employers, in terms of trying to find people.
So, I think that, again, as we go forward, we're seeing larger numbers of Hispanics going on to college and going on to graduate schools and I think we'll see representation increase through that, but it's still going to be incumbent on the companies and on the government to actually find and hire the people.
COMMISSIONER BARKER: Thank you, Dr. Passel.
CHAIR EARP: Anything else, Commissioner Barker?
COMMISSIONER BARKER: No thank you.
CHAIR EARP: Commissioner Ishimaru, other questions or comments?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I don't -- in light of the other panels, I think I'll withhold. I again, want to thank the panel. I think it's been helpful, but there's so many more questions that I might have, I hope we have another chance to do this in the near future.
CHAIR EARP: Commissioner Griffin?
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I just want to say, I'm always troubled when I hear that, you know, it's so competitive for a group of people that -- you know, the federal government and the private sector, right, you know, but you hear this for a variety of groups.
What really is unsaid when we say something like that is that, you know, there's so few that we really consider qualified. That's kind of what we say, when we say that there's so few.
I always -- when I hear that now, and it doesn't matter what group we're talking about, to me, that's an excuse. It's an excuse not to hire. We're always -- we have a myriad of excuses, why people -- We have talented -- and a lot of them are sitting in this room, we have talented, highly educated Hispanics in the federal government right now that cannot get to these higher level positions and there's no reason why they can't. They're here. They have the education. They have it, so, this competitive thing, to me, I just now, you know, I just don't buy it anymore. It's just another excuse. I just had to say that.
CHAIR EARP: Well, that's a perfect segue to panel number two. Thank you to panel one.
Panel number two is officially called the Realities and Barriers Faced by Hispanics in the Federal Sector, but informally, it is referred to as putting a face to the case. This is where we ask the witness to share their personal story of working in the federal government. Mr. Bernardo Perez and Ms. Bea Pacheco, thank you for being here. Mr. Perez?
MR. PEREZ: Yes, ma'am.
CHAIR EARP: We will start with you. The clock is right here. When you're ready.
MR. PEREZ: Yes, thank you, Madam Chair and members of the Board, for inviting me to be here. I am most frustrated. I have just a very few minutes to tell you about a lifetime, my own and other Latinos, banging their heads against the walls and barriers that go up. More go up every day.
I'm a graduate of Georgetown University. I joined the FBI in 1960 under J. Edgar Hoover. I served 34 years. I was the first Hispanic to be head of a division. There are only 57. I was among the most elite.
The best thing that ever happened to me was that I studied for the priesthood, the only seminary in the world, at that time, run by Jesuits, not for Jesuits, and I was philosophy major.
But what got me through was logic and our problem in this world is not diversity or anything else, it's logic and we're fighting against that.
I retired in 1995. I sit on one Board. I'm in the Law Enforcement Academy Board in New Mexico. It's unpaid, unsalaried. We hire and fire the police.
I have never been invited to sit on the Board of Caterpillar or anywhere else. When after the law suit, MALDEF and the rest of them -- and I lump them all together, except for the GI Forum, refused to assist us in the law suit, I sued the FBI in 1987 for systemic discrimination against Hispanics.
We didn't win, we prevailed. That's the polite word. When we did that, it was like the Indians defeating Custer. Then the problems really began.
The retaliation was open. Every where you go in this country, every business you see, it is illegal to discriminate, EEOC, everywhere. But to me, you are like the mattress police. You go to every home and you will find tags on the mattresses and on the pillows and it says `it is illegal to remove this tag, except by the consumer'. But people leave them on. The mattress police are going to get you.
There is no mattress police and when you violate EEO laws, which the FBI did, Director William Webster, he slithered off to become Director of the CIA. So, he had two careers in the federal government.
Judge Lucius D. Bunton found in 1987/1988 that the FBI systemically discriminated against Hispanics. Nothing happened to him, nothing. Nor to any other top bureau FBI officials who perjured themselves in Federal Court.
I was "promoted" to headquarters after that. It was ordered by the Judge. I became an SES-4. But there was a big problem with the FBI because my boss was only an SES-3. He said, "This can't be done."
So they had to make him and SES-5, until I could get a four, and then when I threatened to sue the FBI again for continued retaliation and discrimination against me and the 310 other Hispanics who had sued, I was sent to head the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, the State of New Mexico, basically, and I was required to step down. You can't do that in SES, I understood. I retired as an SES-3. I was a four, but you can't do that.
This case was in the news media. Everybody saw it, particularly in South America. I had a friend call me from some little village, way up the Amazon. He said, "You're front page." American people know very little about this case. Yet throughout Latin America where I worked after I retired, because I found it very difficult to get a job here, I am known. I'm recognized and I'm looked up to. But in this country, I was the trouble maker.
As I said, I sued the FBI. Judge Bunton said I was the most investigated agent in FBI history. During the law suit, we asked in discovery for our personnel files. My personnel file has over 30,000 pages, classified top secret. You can't classify that which is embarrassing. They proved that in the Nixon case. I never got that unexpurgated file, to this day.
Before I left, I made 88 allegations of wrongdoing, under oath, and these were investigated by two full inspectors, Dennis Curry and John Shiman. Remember those names.
They made a very detailed report. For two years, they worked on this case with the Department of Justice and I said -- I asked them, "What did you find, and I'm not asking for details, because I know you can't give me that, but did I lie?"
They said, "Matt, you don't know the half of it. The corruption that we have found at top levels of the FBI is sickening." They said, "This is our career, our organization. You cannot believe what we found." This is 1988. That report has been lost. You ought to try to find it. I can't get it. That's important.
I retired at a lower SES level and all of us leaders in the law suit were ordered to be promoted by Judge Bunton, rightful place seniority. It happened for a moment and then most of us were forced out, one way or the other.
My friend, Sam Martinez is here today. Sam's career was like mine, roller-coaster. I was transferred 13 different times in the FBI, plus I worked nine countries in South America. That's experience.
Yet, I was working for people who were transferred once in their whole career and I said, "How is this?" "Well, you're doing everything just fine. You keep on trying."
No, how is it going to change? We can study it more. There is an old Indian saying -- and I'm from New Mexico now. When you get too old to hunt the buffalo, you study buffalo chips and that's what we're very good at. This is where they went. This is what they ate. This is how tall they are, how many females, how many little ones. But you're behind it. You're not catching them. We don't want to. Hopefully, we might have a change politically and we might have some different -- it comes from the top down, and that's always the way it is, and if the top doesn't want to do it, it's not going to get done.
But you can demand. You can make noise. Maybe you can get some teeth into EEO law, because when you discriminate, there is no punishment.
In the 20th century, the last century, one person was executed for lynching, a Klansman, because another Klansman testified against him. That's pretty sad. There were thousands of Black people lynched and I have heard that there were as many or more Latinos lynched and burned.
I was assigned in Texas, in San Antonio Division early in my career. I work civil rights cases, police brutality. I worked Klan cross-burnings and I never saw anything like I saw in my own agency. Your red light is on.
CHAIR EARP: Do you want to finish your thought?
MR. PEREZ: Do you give me three days? No, I could go on forever. Thank you for your patience, but yes, I'm angry, frustrated.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Mr. Perez. Ms. Pacheco?
MS. PACHECO: Thank you, Madam Chair, Commissioners and I'm honored to be here with you today. I will be addressing barriers I have encountered as a GS-15 in federal service, trying to break into the Senior Executive Service and I want to thank Commissioner Griffin especially.
As usual, she hits the nail right on the head. At the last panel, she said, "There's some excuses out there."
I recognize why we discuss immigration and the immigrant statistics, but I also want to make clear that there are fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth generation Hispanic Americans in this country who are highly educated.
I don't want to focus just on those coming into this country now, and again, I recognize why, because that's going to be a big population boom, but we also need to focus on the number of Hispanic serving institutions out there, over 300 in the U.S. and the record numbers of graduate and post-graduate degrees that they are indicating are being awarded. So, with that, I'll segue into my testimony here today.
As Mr. Hadden pointed out, Hispanics in the Senior Executive Service are extremely low and certainly Hispanic women comprise only about one percent.
With over 20 years in the federal service, and being active in the Federal Hispanic community, the experiences I'm going to share with you are not unusual and they're certainly not singular to myself. They are just an illustration of what occurs.
I also want to state at this time that these are my views only and do not represent the views of the Department of Transportation, who is my current employer.
First, a little bit about my background. I received my Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado and began my federal employment as a GS-9 staff attorney with the Department of Veteran's Affairs.
During my 15 year tenure there, I achieved expertise in Freedom of Information Law, Privacy Act law, appropriations, patents and EEO law. All of the VA has about 150 to 200 attorneys nationwide. I was one of two Hispanic attorneys during my tenure. That went up by only one more. I think they're doing a little bit better now, but not by much.
It soon became evident to me that I was not going to rise above the GS-14 staff attorney level. One of those reasons being that seniority was a major factor in awarding Deputy Assistant/General Counsel positions and of course, as the demographics I've pointed out to you, white males have been in that agency for far longer than Hispanics or certainly, Hispanic women.
I lateraled over to another agency to obtain supervisory experience and after a few years there, I applied and was promoted to my current position.
Since then, I've applied for several SES positions at my former agencies, as well as in other agencies, both in the legal field and EEO fields, you know, relative to my experience and education. I’ve received very few interviews, even though I know I have made the best qualified list in some instances.
In one case, I found out I made the best qualified list, only because I was asked for an updated evaluation appraisal rating and at that time, I asked the personnelist why that inquiry was being made, and I was told that my name had been referred.
I did not receive an interview for that position and found out, only through the grapevine, that a selection had been made.
I knew the individual who had been selected and I did not believe her qualifications equaled mine and even though I did not ever receive a formal notice of non-selection from that agency, I decided to initiate EEO counseling.
This was my segue into the EEO process. I had always been on the other side, either as an agency representative or in the Civil Rights Office, enforcing that. So, suddenly, I was now acomplainant and I got to see what a lot of complainants face when they engage the EEO process.
The EEO counselor contacted the selecting official, who would not return her calls or provide any information. So, I was issued a notice of final interview.
Being none the wiser, as to, you know, why I was not selected, that left me no choice but to file a formal complaint.
The formal process, which is also under the control of the agency, left a lot to be desired. I submitted a list of witnesses with the testimony they would provide to the investigator. None of them were interviewed. The information I asked the investigator to obtain, such as the number of Hispanics in the agency, including at high level positions, was also not obtained.
Instead, the EEO investigator went to the Executive Review Panel that had rated me number one for this SES position, informed them that I had filed a complaint of discrimination against them and took their testimony.
I was appalled. I mean, how do you think these good people, who had rated me number one, were going to feel next time they saw my application come forward? Being black-balled was the only thing I could think of, and I know we can sit here and being good EEO folks and say, "Well, if that happens, you can file a complaint of retaliation," and of course, you can, but that certainly isn't going to get you into the SES ranks.
I won't go into any other detail concerning this particular complaint, other than to say that the entire process was a disaster. I did find out, again through good friends that still work at this agency, that the individual's ECQ's, when they went up to OPM, were rejected twice, that the agency was given three opportunities to improve the ECQ's of the individual that was selected.
So clearly, pre-selection, whether it's predicated on an internal candidate or something else, is a barrier to equal opportunity and we can say that pre-selection is not necessarily discrimination. However, in many cases, it can be. It seems to work strongly against Hispanics.
I'll give you another example. Again, I applied and was found best qualified for a senior level position. It was the equivalent of an SES at an agency that does not use the same rating system.
I interviewed with a panel of three. Two of them were high ranking individuals in the agency and one of them was actually the selecting official, who would be the ultimate selecting official.
The selecting official could not have been less interested in my responses during the interview and that made sense later on, when I found out that he had an internal candidate he had intended to promote to that position all along.
He retired three months later and I heard from highly reliable sources that it was again, his intent to place this person in a high level position before he left.
So I filed my second EEO complaint, hoping to have a better experience this time around with the process.
This time, because the complaint was against the Office of Diversity, this was for the Director of Diversity in that agency, the investigation was sent out to another agency and I think that helps tremendously when you have someone that's not internal investigating a case. He was excellent.
Despite being thwarted throughout the process, not given access to the panelists and not given a lot of information that he requested, he went through a line by line comparison of the selectees' qualifications versus mine.
She had a minimum of qualifications and he found that she had even falsified some of her credentials, something that that agency should have picked up when they first hired her.
Needless to say, he found discrimination had occurred and unfortunately, because this is an agency that's not one subject to EEO regulations, I was told by its Office of General Counsel that I could not have a copy of the investigation, that they did not wish to engage in mediation and of course, since they're not subject to EEOC's regulations, I had no right to a hearing or appeal to the EEOC. I was told I could file in court.
I looked into hiring an attorney and a very prominent attorney specializing in discrimination law wanted to take the case, but he does not take contingency cases and he bills out at $425 an hour.
After the consultation and a few hours of work, I was broke. So, I had my finding of discrimination and I was told what I could do with it.
So, this is all a segue to say again, discrimination is occurring, but for me and for many others that I've talked to, proving it is simply too expensive and too stressful. It takes its toll, not only on your pocketbook, but again, on your day to day life, and who of us in high level positions can afford to do that? Very few.
I commend Mr. Perez for taking on the battle. It takes a lot of courage and it takes guts. It takes time. It takes perseverance.
A huge barrier to equal opportunity is in achieving SES ranks, is that agencies run unchecked. There’s pre-selection going on. There’s discrimination going on and review panels, in applying criteria to qualifications can also be highly subjective. Certainly, the review panels don't have to justify their ratings to anyone. In one case, I was able to obtain the information of the review panel and how they rated me, and there were huge disparities, and when those disparities -- agencies should take notice when they see those disparities.
So, in closing, I want to say that OPM needs to develop better checks and balances for those selections that move forward. They need to conduct an independent review of the qualifications of persons selected versus the other top candidates. Thank you.
CHAIR EARP: Thanks to both of you. Commissioner Ishimaru?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair. I want to thank both the panelists for their testimony. I know how hard it is to talk about your own case, and the long struggle it's been. It's not easy to share your experiences of discrimination. I think it's helpful for us to hear it though.
This is extremely troubling. I first remember hearing about the problems at the FBI when I worked on Capitol Hill. I shared an office, probably the only person on Capitol Hill who did oversight of the FBI, and I remember when special agents came in to talk to my colleague there and told him about their experiences, they were having pre-lawsuit.
And what always has stayed with me from those conversations that I overheard, as I was sitting, working at my desk, was how blatant it was and how special agents were placed "on the taco circuit" in limited opportunities, in limited parts of the country, and Mr. Perez's lawsuit was a brave thing to do, given those circumstances.
Perhaps you can paint for us, the situation that was going on at the time in the Bureau. How many Hispanic agents were there one, when you started? How did you get in? What was it like when you were there?
MR. PEREZ: I joined the FBI in 1960. This was a very different town. I was fooled and it was a recruiting gimmick and I had two and a half years of college.
I had just come out of the seminary and I was told that if I -- I couldn't get on in Los Angeles, that's a plush assignment. But if I would voluntarily pay my own way, which I did, to Washington, I could probably be an agent very soon. Five-hundred-dollars my one-way ticket cost in 1960. I came here. I was made a GS-2 messenger. Glad to have the job, $3,727 a year.
There was one Black person in the FBI, down in the third basement. That's not counting Mr. Hoover's chauffeurs, of course, and there was no Hispanic, not one, that I saw, at my time at headquarters.
I did a year and a half, went from messenger to a file clerk, realized I wasn't going to make it and I had some good mentors and I went to Georgetown and got my degree.
I was able to go in as a junior, because I had been in a Jesuit school before, otherwise I never would have been able to afford it. I paid my own way. I'm the oldest of 10.
Anyway, another mentor, an ex-seminarian says, "Hey, you can be an agent." I said, "I don't want to go back to the Bureau. I see these white men walking around, looking, frowning at the clerks," and to me, that's not very impressive for FBI. I had never met an FBI agent before. I was not recruited ever. I was a walk-in, and most of us were walk-in's and usually at various times.
Anyway, I came in. I had my degree. I spoke Spanish. We didn't speak it at home. I learned it at Georgetown. I have a Master's in Classical Languages and Spanish Literature. I was a little over-qualified.
But anyway, I got in and became an agent and the reason I became an agent is, I told them honestly, because the job pays well. You're not supposed to say that. It's because you want to do good and avoid evil and make America better and fair for all the people. Bologna, but that's how you get in.
Anyway, I became an FBI agent. I was transferred 13 times. I had the record for transfers, because naively, I believed what it said in our literature, that one is promoted only on the basis of merit and ability, because we are the FBI. We're the elite.
When I became an agent, I was one of seven Latinos. There may have been a couple of others. I said about 10, because one guy called himself Garcia[Garshaw], not Garcia, and another was Spanish, but I think he had been a Mexican before.
But anyway, I was one -- I was number seven and there were 10,000 white male FBI agents, the rest of them. They said, "We don't discriminate." I said, "There's nobody to discriminate against."
I don't know how I got in, really. I think I came under the door somehow. But anyway, I made it. I was very proud to be there. I heard the remarks, beaner and things like that, but I stood up. I was able to do that, and some of it was in jest, but usually there was a little barb behind it.
We had no females to discriminate against. They didn't come until `72 after Mr. Hoover chose to die.
Anyway, I was among the elite. You are grateful to be in the FBI. You are among the select, and don't ever forget that. So, I exceeded. I accommodated. I was grateful.
The biggest sin is don't embarrass the Bureau. What does that mean? Don't embarrass Mr. Hoover.
I met Mr. Hoover three times. I sat down with him. People say, "Was he gay?" There's only one way I would know, and nobody said that he was gay until he had been dead 13 years anyway.
He was a very impressive man, but the organization was very racist. There were no Black people, very few. When they asked him how many Black agents he had, he went back at lunch time and dubbed his uneducated drivers and made them special agents. This is in America.
At one point during the lawsuit -- I jump ahead, we were told, "We let you in. That's why we hired you, to work in the barrio." I said, "Well, I was never from a barrio. I don't know what that is. I'm from Lone Pine, California," 10 miles away from Manzanar, the biggest Japanese concentration camp during the Second World War, and we spoke English.
When I became an agent, there was no EEO. I was an American. That was all. There were no classifications, no `other' and now, we have interestingly, white people are non-Hispanic whites.
You have two legal counsels here, it looks like, but no brown faces up here, except for Madam Chair.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
MR. PEREZ: We need some Hispanics. We're a big group. What's going to change it? Revolution? They're here. They are coming. What changed it in the military? President Truman ordered it. You've got to hit them in the pocketbook. If you discriminate, you will be punished.
That's not polite. We put these things behind us. That was the saying of Mr. Sessions. I said, "Mr. Sessions, they're going to take you out, because you let my case go to trial and you did not appeal it." He said, "You're bitter." I said, "Sir, I am and I was, but I can't afford it anymore because my blood pressure is 210 over 110, constant," that's after the lawsuit, when it really got bad.
What happened to me was not unique. I was just one of 310. It happened to all of them and it happened worse to my counselors. Everyone was driven out, every single one was driven out, because we were assigned, "Would you like to be an EEO counselor?" Maybe I can do something. The day you did that is the end of your career. Brilliant men, well educated.
CHAIR EARP: Mr. Perez, I want to tag onto Commissioner Ishimaru's question about helping us to understand the environment that you were working in.
Now, surely, hopefully, between the 60's when you started and 1995 when you retired, there were some changes, more diversity, more open and flexible FBI. Could you, just maybe for a minute, speak to the environment in the 90's when you left?
MR. PEREZ: When we -- I filed suit in `87. When we requested statistical data of how many Hispanics were in the FBI, they ran the computers and gave us the name of everybody's name who ended in -- which ended in a vowel. Not right.
We finally identified the Hispanics, I did, because I had been in before most of them came in, so I identified those people. I did it, and then magically, we found an honest FBI employee, a deputy assistant director, who was threatened with a subpoena and told to produce the data and magically, the computer spat it out. They had it, all the time.
Interestingly, the number of Hispanic agents and Black agents were within three for 25 years. We never had five Black agents come in in one day. They had to spread them out. Hispanics, the same way.
That was the way it was. I found out -- we found out and told our Black brothers, during the lawsuit, "Do you know that all of the Black agents credential numbers starts with a four?" They didn't know that. So, you were marked people. That's so they know who `you people' are. We didn't have that on ours.
It's systemic. It was built in. That's just the way it is. You just have to understand that.
When I left the FBI -- I started seven out of 7,000. When I left, there were 452 out of 10,000, and then Director Webster said, "We have made marvelous strides." I don't think so. I think that's pathetic.
But they're satisfied. They pat themselves on the back and they gave themselves incentive awards for recruiting.
I began recruiting in New Mexico. I went out onto the Indian reservations. I got three female Navajos to become agents. It took me a long time. You have to recruit the way they do in baseball. You go out. You don't go to colleges. It's too late. People decide what they're going to be when they're about 13 or 14. We did studies and found out that's when you think about what you're going to be, when you set your goals. That's when I decided I wanted to be a priest. Didn't make it, but that's what I wanted to do. I set my goals.
I did everything the American way. It was the American dream. Just like Mr. Obama, but now -- well, you know how he got there. It was through quotas and this EEO thing, otherwise he wouldn't be there.
Mr. McCain is at the bottom of his class, and you know, he never got a ship because people at the bottom, their class don't get ships. He crashed airplanes and Mr. Obama, well, he's one of those people. You know how he got there.
That's the same thing. I'm not talking politics here.
COMMISSIONER BARKER: Can I object? We’re off the subject.
MR. PEREZ: I'm talking reality. I'm talking reality. You asked me and I'm telling you.
CHAIR EARP: Well, what do you want to do about your time, Commissioner Ishimaru?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I think my time has expired.
CHAIR EARP: I think so.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So, I will wait until the next round.
CHAIR EARP: Okay.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I too want to thank you both. Bea, especially for going through the EEO process. You know, that is just fascinating that the experience that you had, and I think it re-enforces some of the issues that we discuss here and, you know, around investigating yourself and what happens, and I think it's probably valuable for a lot of people to hear, especially people in this area of work, what it really is like for a person to go through it.
I think some of us lose touch with what really happens and how people are treated, and I also -- I want to thank you, Mr. Perez. You know, you hit the nail on the head, by talking about the leadership issue, and you know, it doesn't happen without leadership and it comes from a President and it comes from everyone on down, and it isn't just enough for somebody to say, "This should be done or this is the right thing to do or I want to see such-and-such." It actually has to come with an accountability piece, you know, it has to come with holding people accountable and I think you've both, in your testimony, demonstrated for us, that we as the enforcement agency, in the area of federal employment, need to be more aggressive about enforcing our own laws and that we -- I think sometimes, we pay too much attention to trying to work with agencies and have a relationship with them and less time actually hitting them over the head when they're discriminating against people.
So, I appreciate all of your remarks and you re-enforce things that we know, but that we maybe need to work a little harder at doing. Thank you.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Commissioner Barker, for bringing us back to reality. Do you have comments, questions?
COMMISSIONER BARKER: I just want to thank both of the speakers. I know it's very difficult for both of you to have to resurrect feelings that are very hard to live with one more time.
But we have all -- all of us here, have learned and benefited by your willingness to share with us today. Thank you very much.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Mr. Perez. Thank you, Ms. Pacheco. Without objection from my fellow Commissioners, I'd like to propose a five minute potty break. No objection?
We will reconvene in five minutes.
(Whereupon, the above-entitled matter went briefly off the record.)
CHAIR EARP: Thank you. We will reconvene. I want to note for the record, some side-bar conversation that we had about eligibility for federal employment.
I don't have a definitive answer, but staff did a quick look at personnel guidance and it appears that the overwhelming general rule is if you work for the federal government, you must be a citizen. There are some exceptions, for example, NIH allows scientists to come in, to be employed, to do research on special visas. State Department also has some exceptions. What I will commit to you is, as we review the recommendations that we are just about to discuss, we will look at the citizenship requirement in the context of the recommendations being made and try to assess the level of -- what level of determinant they are and how much of a barrier they are.
The other thing that I would note, following up on Mr. Perez's comments is, we did not -- when I asked the workforce to put together its recommendations and to look at the hiring practices of the various agencies, I did not ask them to especially scrutinize law enforcement.
It may be that as we look at the recommendations and as Mr. Hadden and his staff look at their OFO data, that we need to pay some special attention to law enforcement. We are aware that there is some challenges when an agency can say national security, secrecy, privacy, those kinds of things, and when they liberally redact something as simple as trying to investigate an allegation of discrimination becomes very complicated.
So, I want to note those couple of things for you, as we begin to hear from the third and final panel.
Why don't we start with you, Mr. Sexton?
MR. SEXTON: Thank you, Madam Chair. Madam Chair, Commissioners, colleagues and friends, thank you for the opportunity to testify before this Commission on the issues and barriers facing the recruitment of Hispanic Americans into federal service.
It is an honor for me to appear today to present our sub-groups' recommendations and identify some of the recruitment issues faced by departments and agencies government-wide.
While I recently changed positions to become the Executive Director for Human Capital Operations and Services, I previously served as DHS's Director of Recruitment and Diversity and I continue in that role at this time, even in this new position.
By brief way of background, I hail from New Mexico, which is the only state in the Union which is bi-lingual by Constitution.
There I received a Master's of Arts in Government and Ethnic Politics, with an emphasis on Native American and Mexican American politics. I am also a very proud Latino veteran.
I began my federal career at the National Endowment for Arts as a GS-4 personnel clerk. I also spent 24 years at the Internal Revenue Service in various management positions, where I was very active in IRS's affinity group for Hispanics, Hispanic Internal Revenue Employees or HIRE.
After a brief stint at DHS, I applied for an ad hoc SES vacancy at the General Services Administration and was selected in June 2004. I came back to DHS in May 2006, as the Director of Staffing Services and Recruitment.
While at DHS, I have spear-headed our efforts to establish a department-wide diversity program. In that effort, I work closely with the DHS diversity counsel, as well as our Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties EEO function.
The departments' Director, Deputy Officer for EEO and I co-chaired DHS's diversity sub-council, which surfaces issues and recommends actions to the diversity council.
In my experience as DHS's Executive Recruiter, as well as the experience of other members of our working group, we have identified several potential barriers or issues to making the federal government competitive in today's labor market.
While many of these issues may hamper the federal governments' recruitment efforts as a whole, they do impact adversely on the Hispanic recruitment, possibly dis-proportionateley.
In order to be competitive in today's labor market, the federal government must radically change its current dated hiring practices and align them more with more corporate employers, who are competing with us for top talent.
Now, much of OPM's recent efforts to streamline the hiring process time lines are commendable, but their focus has been primarily on cycle times.
We believe that there are more substantive aspects we must address as well. We must look at the hiring infrastructure, if you will.
We Latinos as a people, always want to learn and play by the rules, but these rules to apply for a government job are sometimes almost Byzantine.
First, as an example, a candidate should not have to formally apply for a federal vacancy. Selecting officials should be able to hire when a job becomes vacant, without an announcement and use resumes previously collected and judged eligible.
We believe that this could be achieved and still adhere to merit principles, which are the cornerstone to federal staffing.
Secondly, if applications must be required, there should be alternate ways to apply, in addition to using USAjobs.gov, which many applicants find to be very user unfriendly.
We would encourage OPM to obtain more abandonment data on those applicants who just gave up on applying, because of this system.
Third, the government must rely less on the use of narrative statements to address knowledge, skills and abilities, otherwise known as KSAs. Having to address KSAs is unfamiliar to applicants who are accustomed to applying for private industry jobs.
In my judgment, KSAs are a tool passed on from the olden days of the SF-171 application form for use by HR specialists. Their use discourages applicants and does not necessarily yield top talented candidates.
Specialized experience, selective placement factors, quality ranking factors and desirable experience or education can produce highly qualified applicants, as well as result in more applicants given a more applicant friendly approach.
Fourth, the current GS general schedule qualifications for college graduates with no experience are sorely out of date and a significant barrier to attracting these bright, young people, many from Hispanic serving institutions.
For example, currently, a graduate with a BA and no experience qualifies at the GS-5 level. There are some exceptions where they might qualify at the GS-7. Someone with a Master's, with no experience, qualifies at the GS-9 level. A PhD, GS-11.
These qualifications must be revised to reflect today's competitive labor market and the level of achievement demonstrated by earning these degrees. These low grades are a barrier to competition for the government, competing for top talent out of colleges with private industry.
We believe that radical changes to the federal governments' hiring infrastructure, including greater use of career patterns, would enhance our ability to compete in today's labor market and to attract top candidates, including more Hispanics.
In addition to these infrastructure changes, we have also outlined the following recommendations, specifically targeted to Latino job seekers.
One, design a creative and robust Hispanic media outreach strategy. Two, working with OPM to enhance the visibility of federal service to HSI's, more partnerships.
One example of this partnership would be the one that I started at DHS, with the Urban League's Black Executive Exchange Program or BEEP, whereby 150 DH employees have volunteered to serve on a speakers' bureau and represent DHS at various events at historically black colleges and universities. We could do that with Hispanic groups as well.
Third, establish an Hispanic outreach advisory forum of interested Latino stakeholders who would advise on effective means to attract Hispanic job seekers and to identify issues and barriers.
Fourth, launch an inter-agency recruitment campaign targeted to Hispanic job seekers and college students at HSI's and at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and University Schools.
This would include a government-wide concentrated effort to work with HSI'S and HACU's, as well as OPM, to attract more applicants to the Governments' Presidential Management Fellows Program.
Here, we could also work with HSI's and HACU's to conduct surveys and focus group interviews, to identify barriers and issues related to hiring for the federal government.
And lastly, identify high level champions of Hispanic recruitment at all agencies and departments, to drive the efforts and the results for the recruitment of Latinos.
Given that Hispanics are the most under-represented group in the federal government and given that there is an executive order addressing issues for Hispanics, we believe the federal government must take more assertive, pro-active approaches to Hispanic recruitment.
This would entail greater resources, innovative hiring practices, use of data driven targeted recruitment efforts and new measures and outcomes.
To that end, departments and agencies, with the assistance of EEOC and OPM, must begin to better and more consistently collect pertinent data on the number of Hispanic applicants.
Further, the federal government must take two other actions, we believe. One is to begin to pursue a legal, defensible means to better identify the diversity of applicant pools for positions, in order to determine, for example, whether a job announcement should be closed without action, to allow recruitment efforts to be re-focused to attract a more diverse pool.
Secondly, the federal government must begin to assess the assessments. Many of the assessment tools that are used for hiring today may have unintended cultural or other barriers.
Finally, there must be a greater, government-wide effort to attract and recruit more Latinos into the Senior Executive Service ranks. These executives would serve as role models and mentors for Hispanics moving up the career ladder for sure.
But just as significantly, they can lead their agencies and departments from within, in identifying and implementing effective means to attract and recruit more Latinos to the noble calling of public service.
I thank the Commission for your time today and your attention to this important matter.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you. One footnote, Hispanics and people with disabilities, the two most under-represented groups in the federal government, people with disabilities, the most under-represented.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Thank you.
MR. SEXTON:: I agree.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I always feel like if I say that, I'm taking away from what you are talking about, but it is a fact.
MR. SEXTON: Well, ironically, just yesterday, we had a disability forum at DHS and we are going to have a disability job fair next quarter.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Oh good, you guys need a lot of work over there.
MR. SEXTON: We’ll call you!
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Another time.
CHAIR EARP: Topic for another meeting.
MR. SEXTON: Yes, ma'am.
CHAIR EARP: Mr. Fernandez?
MR. FERNANDEZ: Good morning, Madam Chair, Commissioners, colleagues and friends and I want to extend a Buenos dias a mis caballeros to everyone here.
It is an honor to have this opportunity to appear before the Commission, to address this critically important topic. Thank you for allowing me to share with my colleagues in this endeavor.
My name is Ramon Suris Fernandez. I'm the Director of the Department of Labor, Civil Rights Center and I am a member of the workgroup addressing issues facing Hispanics in the federal workplace. Please allow me to acknowledge the work of the Hispanic Workgroup, a group of accomplished, dedicated, passionate individuals, who are deeply committed to the issues being discussed today.
I want to thank Veronica for keeping us straight, focused, and on our very animated discussions about this topic.
On behalf of the workgroup, I will relay recommendations pertaining to accountability and leadership development of Hispanics, and given the limited amount of time today, what I have chosen to do is just pick one recommendation for each topic and discuss a little bit about why I think and I feel so strongly about those factors.
First, in the area of accountability, in order for progress to be made regarding the representation of Hispanics in the federal government, it is clear that management accountability must be improved. I think Commissioner Griffin referenced that fact earlier.
Equal employment opportunity must be recognized as a management program and like any other mission oriented program. Managers and supervisors at all levels of an organization must be required to make measurable, sustained progress toward established goals and objectives.
To this end, EEO diversity and inclusion must be a critical performance element in all managers' and supervisors' performance plans. Requiring at least successful performance in these elements, as a condition of receiving an overall rating of meeting or exceeding performance expectations is one of the best practices identified in the Hispanic workgroup report.
Now, to meet this objective, managers and supervisors must comply with the applicable provisions of EEOC's Management Directive 715.
In my view, at a minimum, they must demonstrate compliance with the following EEO activities: Communication of EEO policies and ensure adherence throughout the work unit; seek early dispute resolution through ADR techniques; promptly address reasonable accommodation requests; attend and ensure staff attendance to EEO training, particularly mandatory EEO training; and support agency workforce diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Now, what I bring to the table is what I call the multi-agency experience. I have -- I'm now the EEO Director for the Department of Labor, which is about 15,000 strong. I spent a number of years at the Department of the Army, being the Deputy Assistant Secretary for EEO and Civil Rights, an organization that is 254,000 civilians and I also spent some time being the EEO Director at Health and Human Services, the arm that handles Medicare and Medicaid, which is 5,000 strong, so I have the small agency, call it the mid-size and I would argue, probably the largest federal agency, and in my view and in my experience, managers have often questioned how do we measure an EEO element, such as the one I just described? I mean, all the time, I get that. How do I measure? How do I go about measuring that activity? Well, to address these concerns, you may want to look at the last two pages of that report, Appendix E, which provide examples of measurability for both, achieving and exceeding expectations for these factors. So, we are providing, for those who care to read the report, some examples that have been vetted by a legion of attorneys that agencies could use to incorporate these elements into their SES and supervisors' performance appraisals.
In summary, to have a workforce representative of the population that we serve to include Hispanics at all levels of the organization, agency managers and supervisors must be held accountable for achieving a model EEO program. It seems like that's kind of your speech, Madam Chair, and I feel very passionate about it.
In my view, the first and most critical step to achieve this goal is to establish a clear, identifiable EEO diversity inclusion performance objectives, such as the one described, again, in Appendix E of the Hispanic Workgroup Report and to tie performance compensation to the successful discharge of these duties and responsibilities.
In my experience, failure to do so has often adversely impacted efforts to weave EEO and Civil Rights into the fabric of agency business.
Now I do understand that the report is -- as was stated earlier, is provided for the next administration, so that they can have a framework to start and build upon, but I believe that there are some things that we can do within this administration.
And it's noteworthy that Mr. Hadden and I and our respective staffs, have been working on a memorandum for the Commission, for the Chair's consideration and review and hopefully, approval and issuance, to all agency heads, strongly urging them to either establish an EEO element like the one I just described for managers and supervisors and/or update the ones they have, to clearly capture the duties and responsibilities of managers and supervisors within their agencies.
I strongly believe that the road to a model EEO program is much shorter if we have -- if we hold our managers accountable, by placing those objectives in their performance appraisals and conversely, it's a much longer road to achieve if we don't hold our managers accountable.
So, let me turn to leadership development. Leadership development is an important means by which an organization can advance its interests and perpetuate its goals and objectives by developing its pool of talent from within.
As this is true for all employees, it is similarly true for Hispanics. As you know, and this is a well known fact, numerous employees in the federal workforce are eligible or will be eligible to retire over the next five years. Many of those employees occupy leadership and critical skills positions. I think by 2012, 36 percent of the SES service will be eligible to retire.
Why is this important? This presents a unique opportunity. All these vacancies present a unique opportunity. In my view, this is a historic moment, that will not be repeated for many, many years to come. This window needs to be taken full advantage of.
And again, triggered by baby-boom effect, provides an excellent opportunity to address what I like to call, the vacuum of Hispanic leadership at the higher levels of the federal workforce.
In order to take full advantage of this unique opportunity, the Hispanic workgroup is recommending a number of different things. At the top of it is recommending that EEOC creates a government-wide mentoring program, through which senior level officials mentor and advocate for GS-15s and GS-14s, who are on the brink of reaching SES.
The mentors should be diverse in their makeup, in order to ensure many perspectives and will offer guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing the competency and character of the mentee.
Now, as an activity that provided excellent mentorship for aspiring SES, including an executive coaching session where we had 45 GS-15 paired with 15 Hispanic SES, the first annual Federal Hispanic Career Advancement Summit represents a best practice in leadership development programs.
As such, I recommend that federal agencies promote government-wide endorsement support and engagement of this activity and similarly, I strongly encourage federal employees to take advantage of this and similar leadership development opportunities.
I'd like to spend whatever time I have left talking to you a little bit about this summit.
CHAIR EARP: One minute.
MR. FERNANDEZ: It was open to all federal employees. In 12 hours, we reached capacity. In two more days, we had 1,000 individuals wanting to participate. You have the steering committee right here, Eugenio, Sally and I. It was a tremendous success and we aim to replicate it in years to come. For additional information, you can go to www.federalhispanicsummit.org and you will find all the information you may require about this historic event. Thank you very much.
CHAIR EARP: And just to partly respond to some of Commissioner Griffin's old -- earlier remarks about OPM, we should at least acknowledge that OPM took the lead on the Hispanic Summit, is that correct?
MR. FERNANDEZ: As a matter of fact, what OPM did, the lead is right here. It was a multi-agency effort and it was just a partnership between my colleagues to my left and to my right and a lot of the ones that are behind me, as well.
It was 37 federal agencies pulling together resources, commitment, time and effort, to pull this off. What OPM did, as a matter of fact, was sanction, officially certify this activity as training.
So that was one thing, and of course, we did get the endorsement of the White House, as well, in writing, so whether it's OPM -- and as the Chair knows, EEOC was part of the 37 federal agencies that participated in this historic event, and 12 workshops, executive coaching, it was just hundreds of e-mail messages that I have received, folks commending the work that we did and looking forward to a much larger activity in years to come.
CHAIR EARP: I stand corrected. The dog wasn't even wagging the tail in that one. It was the opposite way, okay.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, could I ask a clarifying question on the Summit?
CHAIR EARP: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: It's my understanding that Secretary Chao, for a number of years, has done a similar Asian Summit sponsored by the Department of Labor. The Hispanic Summit was sponsored by OPM or was it a Labor Department?
MR. FERNANDEZ: No sir, neither the Labor nor OPM. Working now for Secretary Chao,
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Right.
MR. FERNANDEZ: -- I can tell you that we tailored our activity and mirrored that activity and in fact, almost verbatim duplicated the successful activity that the APA has conducted for the last six years.
It was very easy for us, not to start from scratch and just really follow the successful recipe, for lack of a better term, that Secretary Chao has used for the last six years so effectively for the Asian American community.
To answer your question, Commissioner Ishimaru, this is not sponsored by any agency. This is a collective effort from many different agencies and again, in front of you is the steering committee, behind me is the planning committee, and what we -- and we purposely did it this way, because we are mindful of administration changes and wind blowing in different directions and what-not, and we wanted for this activity not to be politically impacted in any which way or fashion.
So we purposely decided that we were just going to pull resources for the collective good, if you will, and we did so, if you don't mind me saying it, fairly effectively.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Sure, so it was a multi-agency approach, but it wasn't an OPM approach?
MR. FERNANDEZ: OPM has the -- OPM's participation in this --
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: They jumped on later on, right?
MR. FERNANDEZ: OPM's participation --
CHAIR EARP: OPM has taken a lot of credit for the Summit and I think that there is some mis-communication, some marketing issues. They certainly have --
CHAIR EARP: -- taken some of the credit, but as I understand it, the one thing that they did do, which was not a leadership position, but they certified the Summit as training, which allowed agencies to send participants.
MR. FERNANDEZ: Correct.
CHAIR EARP: So they were not leaders. They were not organizers, but they've taken some of the credit for it.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, but no,..
MR. FERNANDEZ: but they do that for a number of training vehicles.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Stuart, it's my understanding that it was actually leaders in -- federal government employee leaders that are sitting here, that got together and said, "We need to do this." Then they got their agencies on board, right?
I mean, it really was a group of you saying, "We need to do something. Here’s how we're going to do it," and then they figured out how to do it. But --
MR. FERNANDEZ: Commissioner Griffin, let me just put it in a different light. Gene, Feli and I got together --
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: At your house.
MR. FERNANDEZ: -- and in fact, I cooked for them, I cooked for them yesterday as well --
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Well, we've got to get an invite.
MR. FERNANDEZ: And we decided that we were going to pull resources, time and effort into putting this activity together and we called upon our friends, leaders within other agencies and said, "We need to do this."
And so we got EEOC, we got Veronica, we got a number of different agencies. It came time to get this blessed by OPM. So we went to OPM and said, "We need this blessed," because it has to be certified as training, so employees are provided official time to attend the training, and so we did.
We went to the White House and we said, "We need this to be sanctioned by the White House," to bring this at the level that we think it deserves, and so we did and we got it, and so here we are and we'll do it again next year.
CHAIR EARP: Kudos to you.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Yes, really.
CHAIR EARP: Excellent.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: It's just that unfortunate, I think OPM gets to check off, "we did something for the Hispanic community" blocks --
CHAIR EARP: Yes.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: -- box, you know, by doing it, but, so be it.
MR. FERNANDEZ: Not much I can to about that.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I know, we can't do anything about it either.
MR. FERNANDEZ: But thank you for allowing me to discuss the Summit.
CHAIR EARP: Absolutely. Ms. Sola-Carter.
MS. SOLA-CARTER: Thank you. Good morning, Madam Chair, Commissioners, colleagues and friends. Thank you for the invitation to address the EEOC on issues facing Hispanics in the federal workforce.
(End of audio one/begin audio two)
MS. SOLA-CARTER: The SSA is an independent agency that administers Social Security, a social insurance program consisting of retirement, disability and survivors’ benefits and the supplemental social security income, which provides financial support to individuals with limited income and resources who are aged, blind or disabled.
We are headed by a Commissioner with a staff of approximately 60,000 employees, with a central organization structure of 13 major components.
We deliver services through a nationwide network of over 1,400 offices, that include regional offices, field offices, social security card centers, tele-service centers, processing centers, hearing offices and the Appeals Council and we also have a presence in U.S. Embassies around the globe.
Our mission is to deliver social security services that meet the changing needs of the public. Not only is SSA highly committed to its mission and values, for the public, we are the face of the government.
The rich diversity of our employees mirrors the public we serve. In order to fulfill our mission and provide the kind of service the public expects and deserves, it is imperative that we understand the public's needs.
Achieving this goal has been and continues to be integral, to how we do business every day and is an important part of SSA service principles and culture, and our service principle is to serve with empathy, creativity, integrity and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand, by following these service principles, adherence to the law, clarity, commitment to best demonstrated practices, cultural sensitivity, honesty, prevention of waste, fraud and abuse, protection of privacy and personal information, recruitment and training of the best public servants and the safety of the public and our employees.
Having a highly qualified and diverse workforce is essential to the agency meeting its primary function of providing quality service to an increasingly diverse public.
Also, a diverse workforce that reflects the demographics of the public we serve increases the public's confidence in the agency's ability to meet its needs and enhances the agency's capability to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.
Employees who mirror the public we serve can literally and figuratively speak the language. The diverse workforce, at all levels of the organization, results in better policy formulation, deployment of resources and succession planning.
We have been successful in establishing and maintaining a diverse workforce across the board and we attribute our success to several factors, as has been stated previously, support from the highest levels of the agency. There is no substitute for leadership and we've been blessed to have extraordinary leadership at our agency.
Strong linkage to the agency's strategic plan, development of a long-term service mission, analysis and study of potential future losses, a specific workforce transition plan and national and regional leadership programs.
We also use pro-active tools to improve diversity, such as data driven workforce analysis, a national marketing plan and branding for the agency and extensive internet and internet strategy, coordination of nationwide recruitment, on-campus college recruitment and diversity focused recruitment materials.
In addition, we use the Office of Personnel Management's hiring flexibilities, including internships, co-op programs, the student career experience program, the federal career intern program, veteran appointments, Schedule A appointments, workforce recruitment programs for students with disabilities, competitive postings through USAJobs and active participation in the Presidential Management Fellows.
I would also to share what we consider to be some of our best practices. Our Office of Human Resources produces a monthly hiring report that cumulatively tracks fiscal year hires on a monthly basis for all EEO groups, as well as veterans at both the agency and Deputy Commissioner level.
In addition, our Office of Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity prepares for each Deputy Commissioner a workforce profile report, that includes information on hires, promotion, training, awards and disciplinary actions.
The Deputy Commissioner for Human Resources and their OPS staff meet with each Deputy Commissioner to discuss a quarterly workforce profile and to offer guidance on recruitment, retention and advancement of employees.
SSA is working with colleges and universities that have large populations of under-represented groups. We regularly recruit at historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions and we have cooperative agreements with Native American tribal colleges and universities.
We also very recently hosted a "wounded warriors" hiring fair, where we collaborated with all the military and veteran organizations in the Greater Washington/Baltimore area. It was very successful.
SSA has established partnerships with national organizations with ties to colleges and universities to help attract diverse candidate pools. Such organizations include the Hispanic College Fund and I must add that we are one of the federal sponsors of the Hispanic Youth Symposia that is held across the country and we're proud to have been the first agency to receive a legacy award from the Hispanic College Fund.
We also are associated with the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the Association on Higher Education and Disability and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
We have six employee advisory groups, the American Indian and Alaskan Native Advisory Council, the Black Affairs Advisory Council, the Hispanic Affairs Advisory Council, the National Advisory Council for Employees with Disabilities, the National Women's Advisory Council and the Pacific Asian American Advisory Council.
These groups assist the agency in recruitment initiatives in addition to their primary role of assisting our agency address our employees' concerns.
We have comprehensive training opportunities for all our employees. We have three national development programs for employees from grade nine through the senior level and we most recently, this summer, selected a class of Senior Executive Service candidates and I'm pleased to report that out of the 48 selectees, 10.4 percent were Hispanic and in fact, nearly every group was represented.
The advanced leadership program is one that we run for employees at the grade 13 and 14 and the leadership program is one that we run for employees grade nine through 12.
In closing, I would like to emphasize SSA's pride in its workforce and its efforts to promote diversity in all its definition among its employees.
We believe that it is this very belief in our employees as our most significant asset and our commitment to diversity that has resulted in our being named one of the top 10 places to work in the federal sector. Thank you.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you. Commissioner Ishimaru?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair. I want to thank the panel for their testimony. It strikes me that one of the -- sort of the elephants in the room, is the absence of the Office of Personnel Management in all of these discussions.
The EEOC, as an entity -- and there are a myriad of issues of how the EEOC can enforce federal EEO laws, but the EEOC is a law enforcement agency, and it's not the personnel agency of the federal government, and it's good to hear the various good practices that are going on, but it strikes me, when people say leadership starts at the top, you know, the Office of Personnel Management is the top as far as how we're going to hire people systematically within the government.
And I have -- both at the Asian Pacific meeting we did earlier and at this meeting, I was struck by the lack of participation and frankly, what I had been told was reluctance of the Office of Personnel Management, to even engage on these issues.
And you know, I find that extremely frustrating and one benefit of having another administration start is that there will be new leadership at the Office of Personnel Management to, I hope, start addressing these issues.
All three of you, either individually or by your organization, are members of the Chair's workgroup, and I would commend you for that, but it struck me from looking at the recommendations made to the Chair, of how we could improve Hispanic employment in the federal government, that much was placed on the EEOC to do this thing or that thing and I understand that it's a recommendation to the Chair and these are things within her control to do.
But how many of those recommendations and the thoughts of the workgroup go less to what the EEOC can do, but to more what can the federal government writ large, the federal government as represented by the Office of Personnel Management, hiring federal employees, how much -- you know, am I off-base on this? Is the leadership role here with the EEOC or is the leadership role with the Office of Personnel Management?
MR. SEXTON: Sir, if I may, as a professional HR, federal HR person, you're right on target. I think one of the reasons that we are able to put similar recommendations in here and mention EEOC is because you gave us a forum, to be quite honest, and I thank you for that.
I think in many ways, as I mentioned in my testimony, OPM is to be commended in the hiring practices in terms of streamlining cycle time, but that doesn't get at the heart or the core of the issue.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Because cycle time affects employment, generally. It's more efficient.
MR. SEXTON: Exactly.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: You actually pull in people, but for specific problems of employing more Hispanics or employing more Asians or employing more African Americans, things like that --
MR. SEXTON: I think if I were king for a day, I would say that OPM really needs to maybe look -- examine their structure.
There is no point, that I'm aware of, in OPM where all of these kinds of issues are focused and can be dealt with or resourced.
Any time you deal with OPM, and I deal with them all the time, it depends on the subject and so it's subject matter focused, so that there's nothing focused on Hispanic recruitment, but if you want to deal with recruitment issues, you go over here. If you want to deal with succession planning, you go over here. If you want to deal with recruitment issues, you know, you go that way.
I think that's part -- and I think they had a reorganization a couple or three years ago, which sort of spread this out and there's no focal point, therefore, as Ramon would say, there's no accountability. There's no resourcing to have a function within OPM that focuses on these issues and maybe is -- and has a tighter liaison to EEOC, maybe.
Because I'm sure even when you try to enter OPM, depending -- you're not really sure where to go, because they have reorganized on subject matter, and in my personal view -- and I'm speaking only for Eugenio Ochoa Sexton and I'm not speaking for the Department of Homeland Security or the working group, but in my personal view, I believe there are also some cultural issues there.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Anyone else on the panel? Not going to touch that?
MR. FERNANDEZ: Well, I think that there is some things to be said, Commissioner, about OPM and EEOC working together as well, and from an EEO professional, I can tell you that some of the things that we now face, collection of data, reporting of data and so on and so forth are issues that we, as EEO professionals, look forward to the day when EEOC and OPM can work out some of the differences that are impacting the ability of us to do our job.
And so, we look forward to that as well, so, I'll stop at that.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, there frankly has been a disagreement between the various agencies, on whether data should be collected or not, and you know, I believe that in order to address the issues in front of us, you need to collect data - to see whether people are considered in the applicant pool, whether people are getting hired, etcetera - that you can't take a color-blind approach to trying to address whether there are disparities in the hiring of various groups.
You have to collect the data and you have to analyze the data and if the position is that you shouldn't be collecting the data, you're really dealing in the dark and you really can't do that needed analysis and I've found that troubling.
I see my time is almost up. Madam Chair, before I end, I just wanted to note the presence of former colleagues of mine from the Department of Justice, Nelson Hermia and Juanita Hernandez, who I had the privilege of working with during my tenure at the Department and I welcome you here today.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you, all. Before I give the floor to Commissioner Griffin, I just want it noted for the record that we would not plan a meeting of this substance without reaching out to our partners at OPM to say EEOC cannot do this alone. You are not only a partner, but a strategic partner and they have been not helpful in what we've tried to accomplish, not just with this group, but with the Employment of People with Disabilities and also looking at the status of Asian Americans in the federal workplace.
So, it makes it very, very complicated and difficult for EEOC to fully carry out its responsibility, even something as non-controversial perhaps, as an adjustment to managerial performance standards.
EEOC can make recommendations, but probably arguably, would need OPM to also sign off, since that's squarely in their jurisdiction. But I know for sure that both Commissioner Griffin and I have reached out to them at different times.
One other point, some of the tension between agencies’ responsibility for EEO that we have and that shared responsibility under OPM is decades old. It didn't begin with this Administration and it's very, very deep. Something as uncomplicated as FEORP, which you would expect to be the single point of information and guidance for all questions of diversity and inclusion, we can't even get cooperation on something that uncomplicated.
So, I want the record to be clear that it has not been a helpful relationship, reaching out to OPM.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madam Chair, I --
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Hopefully it will change.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I did not want to suggest that this has been a partisan issue, because it's -- it is of long-standing.
But I think the point we all can agree on is that in order to make progress on this, it needs to change and it just can't change on our end here. It needs to be an institutional change and who ever the next administration is, it's an opportunity to grasp on to these fundamental changes in the federal workforce that are about to come and it's a unique opportunity to grab on and to make changes going forward.
So, I am hopeful that that can happen, but it needs to happen and it just can't happen here.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: And actually, it's a -- it's at the heart of -- at the heart of the discussion is whether Civil Rights trumps merit principles. I mean, that's really what it boils down to and I think most of us in this room would agree that Civil Rights should control merit principles, and not the other way around.
So, given that we're on this topic, actually, Feli, I was going to ask you, do you at Social Security use applicant flow data to analyze what's going on at the agency?
MS. SOLA-CARTER: Well, we're still, you mean external applicant flow data, and incoming data? We look at any -- on any action, we try to see how we're doing from a diversity profile. For instance, in our internal selections and in our internal -- the leadership programs, which are critical to our success, we do barrier analysis at every stage of the process, to make sure that we have a representative number based on the applicant base and moving up the line. So, we do pay attention to that.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Because, I mean, that also goes to the heart of our disagreement with them, is around applicant flow data and it just -- you know, given that we require most private employers to report it to us and again, the federal government should be the model employer, it just makes sense that we are all looking at our applicant flow data to see if we're doing these outreach efforts, who is applying to us and then what are we doing as a result of that?
How do you at Social Security -- you know, a lot of -- you know, OPM included, a lot of agencies use the whole Adarand case and other limitations to -- frankly, as excuses to get around hiring, looking at their own workforce critically and figuring out how to diversify their workforce.
How do you deal with that?
MS. SOLA-CARTER: Well, we do not have quotas.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Right.
MS. SOLA-CARTER: We aim to have as rich a pool of applicants as we can for any position that we hope to fill, and we have found that when you reach out and have a rich mix in your applicant pool, for any vacancy, it is very difficult not to have a rich selection pool, as a result of that.
We've worked at this, very hard for us to -- it's truly a strategic issue. It's truly a critical issue. This past year, we hired 5,447 employees in the year ending September 30th. We hired diversity across the board. Our Hispanic hires were 14.6 percent. We did not have any difficulty doing that.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: No trouble finding them, huh?
MS. SOLA-CARTER: None. No, but our case is tied, of course, to the mission of the organization and we have a -- we're one of the agencies with the strongest results in the Federal Human Capital Survey, as dedication to our mission and this is tied very, very closely directly to the mission.
I also would like to add that on the -- to my colleagues' comments on the issue of leadership. While I will not disagree that it would be so much easier for all of us, if we had a joint approach, you know, from the higher monitoring authorities and organizations, every one of us is potentially a leader and every one of us works for an agency that has the responsibility to do the right thing, in whatever area of business there is.
So, we take pride in doing the best job we can in whatever activity we have to engage in at Social Security and that includes having a mix of employees that reflects the public we serve.
So I would not want anyone who has the opportunity to participate in this activity or read about it, to think that because there may be some differences of approach in how the EEOC or OPM may view this issue, that that means that until such time an organization is no longer accountable for doing the right thing. That is not the case.
So, we're taking that leadership piece and we have emphasized that aspect of leadership in all of our leadership programs, in all of the folks that we move up the line from entry level in the organization through the highest levels of the organization.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: So, you are saying to them specifically, as you move up, diversity, diversity --
MS. SOLA-CARTER: It matters, yes, and we always tie it back to the mission of the organization. We can now provide -- we are in every single community in this country and we cannot provide service in every single community without reaching out, and as we heard this morning from the gentleman from the Pew Hispanic Research, communities change, in terms of the demographic composition and we are data driven. We have a sense of who’s reaching out for our services and we try to tailor the access by those members of the public, with the population that we have to service, the employee population that we have, and it's been a successful formula for us.
MR. FERNANDEZ: Commissioner Griffin, as I was listening to the gentleman who spoke form Pew this morning, I could not help myself in thinking, if you follow the rationale, I think I get the impression that the message was, the reason why we are not hiring Hispanics is because there aren't that many to hire.
And let me just -- I'm not a mathematician, but I think that we can follow this fairly easily.
Even assuming that all jobs in the government require a Bachelor's degree, let's assume hypothetical, which is not the case, but let's assume hypothetically that's the case. By his own numbers, the one's he put forward, five percent of the Hispanic population in this country have a Bachelor's degree.
So, if you multiply 40 million by five, my math is two-million-and-change or so. You think that there is less than two million jobs in the federal government all together. I think one could argue, and we would pass the giggling test, that there are enough Hispanics that have Bachelor's degree right now, to fill all the jobs in the federal government.
So, to somehow suggest that there is a lack of talent, a lack of talent out there, quite honestly, is a bit disturbing and I know it wasn't his impression. He was very focused on facts and numbers. I understand that.
But I want to dismiss the notion that there are not hundreds, if not thousands of highly talented Hispanics waiting for the opportunity to work for Uncle Sam.
And so, we need to just do much better than what we're doing right now and the folks that are in front of you are committed to doing so.
MR. SEXTON: If I may? That becomes a double-whammy because those -- that pool of Latino college graduates out there are being hired by private industry, because with a BA in the government, you start out as a GS-5, back to my previous point. So, that's -- it's that and this.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Right, no, and that's a good note to end on because I agree with you. I think that we make lots of excuses, you know. I hear it with regard to people with disabilities as well, "Can't find them." Millions and millions of them, but we just can't seem to find them, or they're not qualified or they're not educated. You know, it's excuses is what it is and we just need to do a better job. Thank you.
CHAIR EARP: I have a quick question about the niche agencies or the so-called niche agencies.
Now Social Security has been praised and condemned for its representation and it comes back to you have the representation, the good fortune that you have because of the community that you serve.
But Health and Human Services is like Social Security, in the sense that they are also in every community across the country. Housing or some agency responsible for housing is also in every community around the country.
How do we explain in 1990, just as an example, Health and Human Services had 2.5 percent of its employees being Hispanic and in 2007, 17 years later, 3.5, 17 years to make one percent, one percent progress, but they also arguably, have a niche that should be served. Can you comment in terms of best practices for agencies that find themselves in the same situation HHS is in?
MS. SOLA-CARTER: I am really -- I'm not in a position to speak for Health and Human Services. I cannot comment on what their practices are. I can tell you from our level, from what we've done, and I think while some might ascribe it to fortune, I think it was hard work that got us there.
We started to take a serious look at our retirement data, our workforce planning, our change in demographics in the mid-90's. We're one of the first agencies to do a retirement wave analysis. That data -- because we're data driven in everything we do, when you think about what our core business is, and that data led us to see what would be happening, in terms of the tsunami wave of retirements that was going to hit us around the year 2000.
And so, three to five years in advance of that, we started to gear up to have a national outreach and recruitment campaign, to recognize the demographics -- the changing demographics of the potential labor pool, to make sure that we were ready to have inroads in those communities, because that's where the talent pool would be. We believe that talent resides everywhere, and so you need to recruit everywhere, in every manner.
So, for us, it's a very data driven, informed approach to having a presence where the labor pool would be, to reaching across all groups and then to putting this into place, and we have a national process for doing this. We have improvement coordinators in a lot of regions, we have an annual recruitment conference for all of our recruiters out there and in some ways, we don't have a huge recruitment staff, I don't want you to think that we have hundreds people on the staff. We have a relative handful of recruiters, but we leverage the resources by enabling our line managers to also be part of that recruitment effort. So, in essence, every manager, in some way, is a recruiter for the organization and often times, every employee is a recruiter for the organization.
CHAIR EARP: As it should be.
MR. SEXTON: Madam Chair, if I may piggy-back. One best practice that we cited is one that I personally experienced.
Another agency that I used to work for, that is everywhere, is the Internal Revenue Service and while I'm sure you've heard of them --
CHAIR EARP: I wish I hadn't.
MR. SEXTON: And of course, I cannot speak for the IRS today. I can only speak to the IRS when I was there, because I was very active in their affinity group, their employee affinity group.
Hispanic Internal Revenue Employees Organization, or call it HIRE, is a best practice. As a matter of fact, other agencies came to us, to say how do you start such an affinity group.
IRS is very well known for their culture and sponsoring and supporting affinity groups for both African American employees, gay and lesbian employees, as Asian-Pacific American employees, as well as the HIRE group.
That group -- and I think that we don't really have -- a lot of departments and agencies don't sponsor and support and nurture these affinity groups, like they should, because right there is a gold-mine of mentors and coaches and recruiters and just -- you know, right there.
And, I think -- I don't know what the stats are now, but when I was there, in all levels of the organization at IRS, the stats were very good and I think that affinity group had a lot to do with it, also, the fact that maybe there's only one political appointee, I don't know, but that might have something to do with it as well.
So, that's something -- you know, a best practice to be proud of. Another best practice that we have done at Homeland Security, just so you know, since we've recommended it, Homeland Security has implemented a diversity advocate performance standard for all SES in the organization. We implemented that two years ago. That's one place where we got the idea to put it in the report. We implemented that two years ago --
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: What did you call it? Diversity what?
MR. SEXTON: It's called diversity advocate, and I can send you the -- I can send the verbiage to Veronica or she may already have it.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Okay.
MR. SEXTON: To that end, I co-chaired a group of EEO specialists -- yes, sir?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Before you go on, could you go just briefly into what the metrics are for being a successful diversity advocate?
MR. SEXTON: Great question, because we're not there yet.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: You're working on it?
MR. SEXTON: Yes, this is very in the very early stages. We have just completed the second performance cycle for SES, where that element is part of their plan.
Now, one thing that we did do this year is, I co-chaired a group of HR specialists, EEO specialists and executive resources staff specialists and we came up with some -- what we call illustrations, illustrative guidance of how you can rate somebody on that particular -- it's not metrics driven, per say, it's more illustrative on how a rater might rate a subordinate executive in that arena.
Our game plan in Homeland Security, under the diversity program now, is to roll out diversity training to all managers in `09 and include that performance element in their performance plans for FY-10.
CHAIR EARP: How related is the performance standard you're using compared to the one that Ramon just talked about a little bit ago?
MR. FERNANDEZ: The one that Gene is talking about is much more elaborate. It's very, very comprehensive. As I recall, it's a couple of pages long, in terms of the criteria and what it does very well -- you might even know if I share this -- it describes in detail and gives a lot of examples.
Again, going back to my earlier statement, managers are going to say, "Well, how do I measure our diversity efforts?" because they look at that as such as an esoteric activity. How am I going to measure it, and DHS does a wonderful job in lining up, a number of examples one by one.
What we provided to the report was a condensed version, a synthesized version, that not just speaks about diversity, oh by the way, it talks about EEO as well, in terms of training, in terms of recruitment and so on and so forth.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: So we could expand it, actually. We could, if we wanted to, we could actually take the bare-bones and maybe expand it a little bit more?
MR. FERNANDEZ: Well, absolutely, I mean, and the sky is the limit here, quite honestly.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Right.
MR. FERNANDEZ: And DHS has taken a very pro-active approach, as Gene explained, and certainly, in setting the example and forging the path for others to follow. We just have such a hard time getting agencies to bite, to agree, on the fact that we do need an element.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Right.
MR. FERNANDEZ: That what DHS is doing is very ahead of the majority of the agencies.
MR. SEXTON: And we did it because the Secretary said, "You'll do it."
CHAIR EARP: I want to get to Commissioner Barker, but let me just ask you, the three of you are in agencies that appear to be data driven as a part of your culture. Does it make it easier to have -- as Commissioner Ishimaru was asking, a matrix or something that measures performance that others consider so nebulous you can't get your arms around it?
MR. SEXTON: Well, if I may, you've alluded to it before and I mentioned it in my testimony. I think the real rub is, we need to find a defensible, legal means to collect diversity data, as I call it, on our applicant supply file and I believe this is another area where OPM could take the leadership because there isn't any, there's a vacuum of leadership. Various lawyers at various agencies give you different advice.
But there needs to be a means to set -- to calibrate whether or not, first of all, are my recruiting efforts working, where I have targeted them, and to the degree that you can say, let's look at this package, not the name, look at the applicants in a particular package and say, not enough diversity, go try again.
To the degree you can have that kind of legally, defensible means of measuring and to have the intestinal fortitude to say, not good enough, go recruit some more, I think those are the kinds of dramatic, significant steps and that's what's lacking, at least in the recruitment business.
CHAIR EARP: Okay, all right. Sorry, Commissioner Barker.
COMMISSIONER BARKER: No, I've just enjoyed the -- all the questions are good and this panel has offered so much really substantive information. I want to applaud all three of your efforts within your agencies, to really step out and do above and beyond what -- certainly, what your jobs call for, especially with the initiative with the Summit.
MR. SEXTON: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER BARKER: And I hope that your efforts, with the Summit, and also with your whole approach toward diversity, will be replicated in the other federal agencies. Thank you very much.
MR. SEXTON: Thank you, ma'am.
COMMISSIONER BARKER: And I don't want to leave today without recognizing Veronica's effort in the whole workgroup. There are a lot of people in this room today, who have really put in a lot of hours and certainly, Veronica is to be commended for it, all the hours she put in and her successful effort at spear-heading it. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, Madam Chair, again, I want to thank you for calling this meeting today, for setting up the workgroup. I too, want to thank Veronica and her colleagues on the workgroup for doing this. It's a very helpful product, to have this thought go into this.
As I said earlier, we are approaching a change in administration, one way or the other, and I think that will be another starting point to how do we address these issues on a larger, more systematic basis and not from just the good works at the various agencies where good work goes on, but from a -- from a much higher level, and I would hope that the next administration deals with these fundamental issues.
Listening to the testimony today and knowing of the progress that's been made in some agencies, again, I have the concern that at places like Homeland Security, there is a concentration, sort of an over-concentration, of Hispanics in certain parts of the agency and the question is, are they all over the agency? Are they permeating through other parts of the agency? Are they permeating at all levels of the agency? Is equal opportunity truly there, and I know those are issues that you struggle with day in and day out.
At the Social Security Administration, again, it goes to the question of, you know, you want to have people who can be responsive to the various communities out there. But again, it goes to, are people throughout the organization? Are they at various levels? Is there support from the leadership, and when there is, I think good things can happen, and I commend you for that.
I am looking forward to reviewing in detail, the workgroup's report. I know a lot of hard work went into it, and I wanted to ask you, Madam Chair, what your plans were regarding the recommendations of the workgroup? So much of it appears -- at least on a quick read of it, to be something within the purview of the Office of the Chair, not subject to Commission vote, and I would hope that you would at least consider, the various actions that might be taken, that are appropriate to the EEOC itself. So, is that the plan?
CHAIR EARP: Well, there’s some 26 recommendations and we just received the report. I think that some of the recommendations could require Commission vote. Some of them will be the Chair's discretion and we need to study them.
Someone indicated -- and I would like to be committed to, anything that we can do right away, that it not necessarily wait for the next administration and those things that we can't take on, that we leave a clear road map for the next administration.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thanks.
CHAIR EARP: Okay, Commissioner Griffin?
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I just want to thank everyone as well and just -- I'm excited about the future and you know, keeping this momentum going and using it as sort of a transition game plan into the next administration to say, this is important, we need to go forward. We've already done this work. We don't need to re-invent some wheels here. We just need to get going and we need leadership that says, this is important. So, I'm really excited about the future. It can only get better, right?
CHAIR EARP: Commissioner Barker?
COMMISSIONER BARKER: Nothing, but thank you all again. I appreciate it.
CHAIR EARP: I too, want to say a final thank you to everyone. There is one group of federal employees that on a day to day basis, has to take some heat from EEOC, from OPM and from their managers and that's Hispanic Employment Program managers.
Several sat on the working group. Several were on sub-groups and one, just as a matter of his life's passion, Jorge Ponce, is totally committed to resolving some of these nagging issues.
I just want to say on behalf of EEOC that we issue a call to action to the agencies. Many of the recommendations in this report will suffice to address issues affecting employees with disabilities, Asian American employees, African American employees, women and any other group that seeks to move up and become included in the federal workplace.
So, thank you for laying out a road map. I appreciate your commitment, your time, your energy.
Panel Members: Thank you.
CHAIR EARP: I think I'm supposed to call for a motion to adjourn.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So moved.
CHAIR EARP: Do I hear a second?
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Second.
CHAIR EARP: All those in favor, say `aye'.
(Whereupon, the above-entitled matter concluded at 12:55 p.m..)