Meeting of September 7, 2006, Washington D.C. on Federal Sector EEO Investigations
Chair Naomi Earp and EEOC Commissioners,
Thank you for inviting me here today to tell you about the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) EEO complaint processing program.
Who we are
GSA is the Federal government’s premier acquisition agency. Our mission is to help Federal agencies better serve the public by meeting—at best value—their needs for products and services, and to simplify citizen access to government information and services.
GSA is a medium-sized agency with over 12,000 employees. Our headquarters is located here in Washington, DC and we have 11 regional offices throughout the country.
GSA has a diverse workforce: 49 percent of our workforce is women, 38 percent are members of minority groups, and six percent have self-identified themselves as being persons with disabilities. The average age of a GSA employee is slightly higher than the government-wide average of 46.5 years.
Also of note, for the past two years, GSA has ranked among the top ten places to work in government, according to studies conducted by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, and the American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation.
Who I am
Like many Federal agencies, GSA has a Civil Rights Program, and I am the head of that program. I am GSA’s Associate Administrator for Civil Rights.
My office administers three Civil Rights programs—including GSA’s Equal Employment Opportunity Program.
All of us in GSA’s Office of Civil Rights and in the agency’s nationwide EEO Program strive to make GSA’s Civil Rights Program world-class. Our organization’s vision is “a world-class Civil Rights Program that focuses on both enforcement and prevention that others benchmark.”
How We Timely Process EEO Investigations
I welcome the opportunity to tell you about what we do at GSA to ensure timely EEO investigations. Our goal is timely EEO investigations in a quality manner.
The vast majority of GSA’s formal EEO complaints are processed within the EEOC’s regulatory timeframes. For instance, between fiscal years 2003 and 2005, GSA completed 213 EEO investigations. Of those, 205—or 96 percent—were investigated within EEOC’s regulatory timeframes. During that same period, GSA’s average time for completing an investigation was 162 days, with an average cost per investigation of $3,010.(1)
I believe three factors contribute to our success:
I will discuss each of these more specifically.
1.Performance Improvement Culture at GSA
GSA has a rigorous agency-wide performance improvement culture that actively stresses both organizational and individual performance.
Each GSA organization is expected to assess its programs annually and develop meaningful and challenging long term goals for those programs. Organizational performance plans help us chart the way to achieving our goals. We submit our plans to the GSA Administrator and collaborate with the Administrator to finalize them. Lastly, we develop measures to gauge our progress in meeting those goals. In the Office of Civil Rights, our performance goals and measures in the EEO program closely track EEOC’s regulatory requirements at 29 C.F.R. Part 1614. For EEO investigations, our goal is quality and timely EEO investigations as per 29 C.F.R. Part 1614, 100 percent of the time.
The mechanism for tracking progress across GSA is an online program called the “Performance Management Tool” or PMT. The PMT contains goals and performance measures for all GSA programmatic activities.
The data in the PMT is reported to the agency’s senior leadership during quarterly reviews. An important benefit of the PMT is that it is transparent. Any GSA employee can access the PMT to see how any organization is performing. This is the centerpiece of performance management at the organizational level.
In the Office of Civil Rights, the PMT assists us in closely monitoring EEO complaint processing generally to ensure that complaints are processed within established timeframes. Close tracking of EEO complaints via the PMT, and our internal EEO complaint tracking system, allows us to take corrective action if performance is found to be outside of performance targets.
At GSA, performance management and accountability at the individual employee level is governed by our new Associate Performance Plan and Appraisal System (APPAS) that GSA instituted in 2005. This five-tier appraisal system replaced a pass/fail system we used previously. Under APPAS, performance awards are linked to individual performance appraisal ratings. Critical elements in performance plans are tied directly to organizational goals and measures and rollup to GSA goals.
EEO specialists in GSA’s Office of Civil Rights have “APPAS” critical elements that are directly related to requirements in EEOC’s 1614 regulations. My own performance plan also closely correlates to EEOC’s regulatory requirements.
At GSA, we focus on accountability at both the organizational and individual levels. This focus on timely EEO investigations 100 percent of the time in a quality manner has helped to facilitate our high performance.
2. Timely Acceptance/Dismissal of Complaints
A technique that has helped us to meet our goal of timely and quality EEO investigations 100 percent of the time is our push to accept or dismiss an EEO complaint within 25 days of receiving the formal complaint.
By having this goal, we are able to put accepted complaints into the investigation process sooner. For example, as of the third quarter of FY2006, 70 of 75 complaints—or 93 percent –- were accepted or dismissed within 25 days.
While there is no regulatory timeframe mandating that a complaint be accepted or dismissed within 25 days, GSA has found that using this timeframe is very effective in helping us move cases along.
3.Close Monitoring and Tracking of EEO Complaints
Another key to our success at GSA is our close monitoring and tracking of EEO complaints, including at the investigative stage of the EEO process.
The EEO Specialists on my staff use the PMT and our internal EEO complaint tracking tool to stay abreast of GSA’s EEO caseload. The EEO specialists on my staff are in regular contact with regional EEO staff to monitor cases at each stage of the EEO process. This frequent interaction and collaboration allows GSA to stay on top of the cases and problem-solve challenges that might exist early in the process.
As I mentioned previously, GSA contracts out all of its EEO investigations. A key to success in the contracting out of investigations is close contract management and oversight.
GSA uses the GSA Multiple Award Schedule for EEO investigations contracting because it expedites the contracting process. GSA’s EEO staff pays particular attention to developing a solid “Statement of Work” for these contracts. Drafting a solid “Statement of Work” is critical for effective contracting out for EEO services, because the “Statement of Work” lays out the respective roles and responsibilities of the contractor and the agency and makes clear what is expected of the contractor.
At GSA, “Statements of Work” are written in accordance with 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 and EEOC Management Directive MD 110. The “Statement of Work” describes how investigations are to be conducted, how evidence is to be gathered, etc. It also sets out the deliverables and timeframes that must be met.
At GSA, our nationwide EEO staff seeks to ensure that the contractor adheres to the terms required. GSA’s EEO staff provides contract management and oversight throughout the term of the contract. In addition, EEO staffs meet periodically with vendors to discuss contractor performance, obstacles encountered in the investigation, and to reinforce GSA’s performance expectations.
GSA is committed to the timely processing of EEO investigations in a quality manner.
Thank you for this opportunity to share information about GSA’s EEO complaint processing program with you.
FOOTNOTES1. Data drawn from the FY2003, FY2004 and FY2005 annual reports submitted to the Commission by GSA.
This page was last modified on September 7, 2006.
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