The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Meeting of September 8, 2003, Washington D.C. on Repositioning for New Realities: Securing EEOC's Continued Effectiveness

Remarks of Sallie Hsieh, Director Office of Information Technology

Good Afternoon, Madam Chair, Vice Chair, Commissioners, Colleagues and guests. I am Sallie Hsieh, the Chief Information Officer. Thank you for the opportunity to report on the current state of EEOC's information technology and the issues and challenges that face us today and in the future.

About a decade ago, recognizing that improvements in technology must be made in order to perform our mission effectively, EEOC began to overhaul its outdated technology. This technology improvement initiative was originally designed as a five-year program. Because EEOC is chronically underfunded, major projects and significant milestones had to be carried out in a phased fashion. As a result, it took the agency almost eight years to build a solid technology infrastructure. This infrastructure served as the foundation for other technology advances, although essential, due to its nature, it was not meant for delivering many of the benefits related to streamlining work processes and functions. However, because the infrastructure was in place, the agency was able to focus efforts on consolidating and upgrading our legacy information systems in order to provide easy access to higher quality data. We envisioned a goal of making real-time information available to anyone who needs it at anytime from any place. During the past 2 to 3 years, we've phased out the outdated accounting and budget systems by implementing a new financial system that integrated the functions of budget, procurement, finance, and asset management. We replaced the old personnel and payroll systems by moving to a single system that provides both functions. In addition, after a multi-year development effort, EEOC implemented a new Integrated Mission System for managing agency's charge and case-related information. This new system consolidated information on intake, investigation, mediation, litigation, and outreach functions. It uses web technology and provides employees user-friendly access to a centralized, national database that provides real-time information. These efforts we made to consolidate and eliminate duplication also coincide with one of the objectives of the Electronic Government Initiative. Today, we have one financial system, one human resources system, and one mission system. While significant progress has been made, there is more that can be done to effectively utilize technology to improve operational efficiency, but sufficient funding, invested in a consistent manner over the years, is needed to reap the benefits more timely.

EEOC is currently facing many new challenges as the workforce changes and technology continues to evolve and impact business in all areas. In today's digital age, technology is virtually used in everything that we do in our personal life and at work. The general public now expects better and faster information and services from the government. EEOC needs to find new ways of working, carrying out our responsibilities, interacting with the public and delivering the services. All of these require a significant shift in the way we think and conduct our work. Internally, technology professionals need to work in partnership with program offices in order to carry out changes in business processes. Externally, we need to partner with other agencies to leverage technology, to adapt tools and best practices that worked well elsewhere.

Building upon the success we had on integrating data and reducing redundancy during the past two years, we need to ensure that the new systems have the ability to interface with one another. To further boost operational efficiency, we need to develop a data warehouse that pulls together data from different systems for workload management, budget projections, and statistical analysis for faster decision making, which in turn, will also assist us in advancing the initiatives of the President's Management Agenda.

In addition, to be customer-centric, we need to transform to an agency that provides services electronically. The real value of Electronic Government is about how to make government services more accessible to the public, business organizations, and other government entities. EEOC is moving aggressively in this area. Last year, we provided electronic filing capability to federal agencies for filing EEO statistics. This year, the agency implemented a system that allows employers to file their EEO-1 reports on-line. In the future, we must continue to explore other opportunities of providing additional services on-line to reduce paperwork burdens on our customers and business partners. E-gov, coupled with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, require us to convert paper documents into electronic format that can be accessed, stored, and processed on-line. Additionally, once our critical information is in the electronic format, it can be easily backed up, stored off-site, and recovered in the event of a disaster. Since EEOC is still a paper-intensive organization, to make "paperwork elimination" a reality, we need to continue implementing an electronic document management system for the conversion of paperwork as well as the automation of manual processes. A good example of this practice is the electronic filing of legal documents such as motions and briefs to the Federal courts by our legal units.

Last but not the least, with an increasingly mobile workforce, tablet and notebook computers, PDAs, and wireless networks can offer the flexibility that today's workers need to perform work. EEOC needs to explore these technologies and develop best practices in the secure implementation of these tools. These wireless technologies, although still maturing, will be important components of future computing and we need to prepare for their application to the workplace.

Faced with these challenges and issues, EEOC must reposition itself to meet the needs of the future in a changing environment. We must be prepared for the 21st Century by leveraging technology for delivering quality service to the public. Some leaders in e-government believe that good e-gov projects will stimulate more public interest in federal services, and therefore, increasing the demands for them. This implies that agencies must commit more money in technology to provide improved services. At EEOC, this means that we must first commit consistent funding for performing continual updates and enhancements to prevent us from falling behind; AND, we must also commit sufficient funding for implementing new technologies so that we can be an organization that is competitive, dynamic, and able to meet the challenges in front of us. This concludes my report, thank you.

This page was last modified on September 9, 2003.

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