U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Implemented: October 1, 2006
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and began operating on July 2, 1965. The EEOC enforces the following federal statutes:
The Commission interprets employment discrimination laws, monitors the federal sector equal employment opportunity program, and provides funding and support to state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) and Tribal Employment Rights Organizations (TEROs). Additionally, the EEOC sponsors outreach and technical assistance programs that advise individuals and employees of their rights and responsibilities under the law.
Any individual who believes that he or she has experienced discrimination in employment may file a charge with the EEOC in any of its field offices. After investigating the charge, the EEOC determines whether there is "reasonable cause" to believe discrimination has occurred. If "reasonable cause" is found, the EEOC attempts to conciliate the charge by reaching a voluntary resolution between the charging party and the respondent. If conciliation is not successful, the Commission may bring a lawsuit in federal court to remedy the employment discrimination. As part of the administrative process, the EEOC may also issue a Right-to-Sue-Notice to the charging party, allowing the charging party to file an individual action in court.
The EEOC also offers mediation as an alternative means of dispute resolution. Rather than initially going through the traditional charge investigation process, the parties may first elect to resolve the charge voluntarily with the help of a neutral mediator.
The EEOC’s federal program differs significantly from its private sector enforcement program and procedures. By contrast to the private sector, in the federal sector individuals file EEO complaints with their own agency employers and the agency conducts the initial investigation of the complaint. Subsequent to the agency investigation, the complainant may request a hearing with an EEOC Administrative Judge. In the hearing, the EEOC Administrative Judge develops a full and appropriate record, adjudicates the claims of discrimination, and issues decisions. If dissatisfied with the Administrative Judge’s decision, either the complainant or the federal agency may file an appeal with the EEOC. Relief ordered in a final EEOC decision is mandatory and binding on the agency employer, except in limited circumstances. If dissatisfied with the outcome of a hearing or an appeal, a federal sector complainant, like a private sector charging party, may file a lawsuit in federal court to resolve the claims of discrimination.
The promise of equal opportunity is a legal right afforded to all of our Nation’s workers and job applicants, and is woven into the fabric of the American dream. Since its inception in 1965, the EEOC has helped make this promise a reality. Equal opportunity in the workplace is a matter of social justice and a national economic imperative in the United States. Our Nation plays a leading role in today’s global marketplace. To continue that role, we must make full use of the Nation’s human capital by promoting workplace practices that allow all workers to achieve their highest potential.
Updating our strategic approach is a continually evolving challenge for EEOC. Technological advancements, economic shifts, heightened security alerts, the globalization of world markets, and profound demographic shifts are reshaping the workplace in the United States. Researchers forecast an increasingly diverse workforce. Ethnic and racial minority groups will continue to grow as a proportion of the workforce. Some of the challenges of serving a multi-ethnic workforce were highlighted by a poll released by the Gallup Organization in December 2005. According to those surveyed, 31% of Asians, 26% of African Americans, 18% of Hispanics, 13% of individuals with disabilities, 22% of women, and 17% of persons 40 years of age or over believed that they had been subjected to employment discrimination within the previous year. Promotion, pay, hiring, and general treatment, including harassment, were the four most common discrimination issues reported by survey respondents.
These numbers tell us that we must continue to target and enhance the EEOC’s outreach, including those traditionally underserved communities whose culture or experience may not encourage complaints of discrimination. They also tell us that much work remains to be done before the promise of equal opportunity becomes a reality, and that many Americans will continue to rely on the EEOC.
This Strategic Plan provides the roadmap for the agency to position itself for the future. The Strategic Plan has one Strategic Objective (Justice, Opportunity and Inclusive Workplaces) based on the agency’s vision and mission. The Objective focuses the agency on preventing discrimination, efficiently resolving claims of discrimination (including the use of alternative dispute resolution), strategically developing our enforcement, litigation and federal programs, and enhancing our internal operations to support this focus. Our Strategic Plan also incorporates many other key initiatives, such as the President’s New Freedom Initiative, the EEOC’s Freedom to Compete Initiative, our Youth@Work and Systemic Initiatives, and our new E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment).
In this Plan, we describe our Strategic Objective and its relationship to the EEOC’s expected long-term outcomes and annual performance measures. All of our measures demonstrate in a concrete way the EEOC’s impact on creating fair and inclusive workplaces across the United States. The chart on the next page demonstrates how the Strategic Plan flows from our Strategic Objective through our Long-Term Performance Measures to our Annual Performance Measures and Efficiency Measure.
The agency issued this Strategic Plan For Fiscal Years 2007 to 2012 at the beginning of FY 2007 (October 1, 2006) under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA). Although the Plan covers a six-year period, the GPRA requires agencies to review; revise, if necessary; and, reissue their Strategic Plan every three years.
In addition to our GPRA review during FY 2006 in preparation for reissuing our Strategic Plan in the three year cycle, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) assessed the EEOC for the first time using its Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). OMB uses the PART to review Federal programs and their planning and performance measurement approaches. These simultaneous GPRA and PART reviews had a significant impact on the revisions we made to the structure of the Strategic Plan we issued on October 1, 2006; particularly, the agency’s performance measurement structure.
During FY 2007, as the agency began to address aspects of the new performance structure, the agency identified further areas which required adjustment. With OMB’s approval, these modifications were incorporated into the agency’s Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for FY 2007, which was issued on November 15, 2007. In addition to the structural changes, the agency identified final performance goals for FY 2012 for its ten measures. Finally, during FY 2008, the performance structure was modified to remove one measure and targets and final goals for two of the performance measures were adjusted.
All of the modifications to this Strategic Plan For Fiscal Years 2007 through 2012 are incorporated into the chart on the next page and are fully described below.
STRATEGIC PLAN OVERVIEW
The EEOC is the Nation’s primary enforcer of the civil rights employment laws, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, color, religion, sex, age, and disability. The agency began its work in 1965 for the purposes of handling charges of discrimination and securing relief for victims of discrimination. More than 40 years later, the public continues to rely on the Commission to carry out these fundamental responsibilities and bring justice and opportunity to the workplace. Our fight against discrimination goes beyond enforcing the law. The best way to combat workplace discrimination is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Educating employers and workers about their rights and responsibilities under the law is the first step toward promoting an inclusive workplace, where all workers are judged on their talents and abilities without regard to any protected characteristic.
EEOC’s major programs and activities are investigating and resolving charges of discrimination; litigating complaints of discrimination; conducting hearings, resolving appeals of discrimination complaints and promoting equal employment opportunity in the federal workplace; and educating the public about its rights and responsibilities. All of these programs and activities are done in the service of four shared goals:
We measure our ability to achieve these outcomes through the Long-Term, Efficiency, and Annual Measures in our Strategic Plan. These measures demonstrate our success by assessing the number of individuals benefited from our enforcement programs and by assessing the public’s confidence in our enforcement of the laws.
|Long-Term/Annual Measure 1||By FY 2012, the number of individuals benefiting from improvements to organizations’ policies, practices and procedures because of the EEOC’s enforcement programs increases by 20.2%.|
We believe it is important to measure our success by looking beyond the monetary and equitable relief we secure through our enforcement actions. Our long-term measure focuses on tracking the improvements that are made in the workplace as a direct result of our enforcement programs. We selected this measure because, when we secure changes in employment policies, practices and procedures through our enforcement programs, we have a positive impact not only on the immediate victims of discrimination, but also on all individuals in the affected workplace. Through organization-wide changes, individuals benefit from a more inclusive workplace and have greater opportunities to compete on a level playing field. With the agency’s renewed emphasis on combating systemic discrimination, we expect to make significant increases over time in the number of individuals who benefit from our enforcement activities.
The Long-Term/Annual Measure was developed to focus on all enforcement services we provide to the public that result in workplace benefits. These results include benefits from administrative resolutions (including mediation), litigation resolutions, and federal sector hearings and appeals resolutions. Beginning in FY 2005, we began collecting data on the number of individuals benefited through private sector administrative resolutions (including mediations) only. Based on that experience we adapted the same data collection approach for our other enforcement programs and established annual targets and our final goal for FY 2012.
The Long-Term/Annual Measure is linked to the EEOC’s Strategic Objective by focusing on the combined results of all three of our distinct, but complementary, enforcement programs. By combining results of the enforcement programs in this one measure, we ensure that our programs work toward a common goal rather than in competition with one another. If we measured the results separately at each step of the charge process, rather than as a combined result, a resolution providing benefits for the charging party at one step logically would eliminate the ability to resolve the charge at some other step in the process. By measuring the result achieved from all of our enforcement programs as a whole, we make sure that the various programs support and complement one another, while maximizing the total number of individuals benefited.
|Efficiency Measure||By FY 2012, the number of individuals benefiting from EEOC’s enforcement programs for each agency FTE increases by 11.7%.|
Enhancing the number of working people who benefit for each agency Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) position demonstrates our efficiency, because over 70% of the agency's budget is dedicated to compensation and benefits. This entirely new area of measurement relies on data of the number of individuals benefited by our enforcement programs, which is collected for Long-Term/Annual Measure 1. As noted in connection with that measure, we identified annual targets and established our final goal for FY 2012.
The correlation to our FTE level is appropriate as it recognizes that our staff are the direct contributors to positive change in the workplace and because staff levels are susceptible to change. We believe that this measure will be a compelling indicator of the efficiency of our operations.
|Long-Term Measure 2||By FY 2012, the public rates its confidence in EEOC’s enforcement of federal equal employment laws at 65% or higher.|
|Annual Measure 2.1||At least 54% of private sector charges are resolved in 180 days or fewer by FY 2012.|
|Annual Measure 2.2||At least 54% of federal sector hearings are resolved in 180 days or fewer by FY 2012.|
|Annual Measure 2.3||At least 70% of federal sector appeals are resolved in 180 days or fewer by FY 2012.|
|Annual Measure 2.4||At least 93% of investigative files meet established criteria for quality by FY 2012.|
|Annual Measure 2.5||At least 95% of respondents and charging parties report confidence in EEOC’s private sector mediation/ADR program by FY 2012.|
|Annual Measure 2.6||At least 90% of EEOC lawsuits are successfully resolved during the period ending in FY 2012.|
If the public is aware of our enforcement activities and believes that we have handled discrimination complaints effectively, they will be more likely to rely on us to investigate, mediate, litigate, adjudicate a federal complaint, and otherwise resolve allegations of discrimination. Additionally, if the agency’s reputation is one of a fair and responsible enforcer of the civil rights employment laws, then employers, attorneys and other members of the public will be more likely to defer to our assessment of discrimination complaints and commit to voluntary compliance through mediation, settlement or conciliation.
To measure the public’s confidence in the agency’s enforcement of the federal equal employment opportunity laws, the agency engaged a reputable private organization to conduct a survey in FY 2007 of a representative sample of individuals nationwide. From that survey, we were able to establish a baseline value for FY 2007, annual targets, and a final goal for FY 2012.
Annual Measures 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 focus on the resolution of private sector charges, federal sector hearings, and federal sector appeals. We have established final goals for FY 2012 for all of these measures, as reflected in the modifications made to this Strategic Plan. In recognition of the maxim that justice delayed is justice denied, these measures ensure the timely resolution of complaints in each of our major complaint handling activities. The goal of resolving private sector charges within 180 days is important to containing the overall average charge processing time. It also balances the need to provide prompt service with the need to devote the necessary time and attention to charges that present meritorious or complex claims and to remedy discrimination where it is found. The goals of resolving federal sector hearings and federal sector appeals within 180 days reflect our commitment to continue the timely handling of federal sector complaints.
Annual Measure 2.4 ensures that investigative files meet quality standards. As reflected in the modifications, we also established a final goal for this measure. A large proportion of sampled investigative files reviewed will meet two critical quality criteria: 1) the appropriate charge categorization and file documentation to support actions taken, and 2) the resolution of the charge. This measure is intended to ensure that we do not complete our work quickly at the expense of performing our work well.
Annual Measure 2.5 focuses on the EEOC’s mediation/ADR program. We recognize that the public’s confidence in our mediation program has a significant impact on its perception of the EEOC as a whole. We obtain results for this measure by surveying participants in EEOC’s mediation program and tabulating responses about their confidence in using the program. This measure has been used by the agency since 2004, so we have significant trend data upon which to base our targets. The confidence level in this program is consistently high. It is critical to maintain this level of confidence because it helps convince participants, particularly company representatives, of the value of alternative dispute resolution. In that regard, as part of the recent modifications to the Strategic Plan, we include an enhanced final goal for this measure.
Annual Measure 2.6 places a premium on maintaining the high level of successful resolutions in our litigation program. Successful resolutions include cases decided by favorable court order and those concluded through a consent decree or a settlement agreement in litigation. Achieving success on this measure will ensure that we continue to exercise our prosecutorial discretion responsibly, while allowing us to take on challenging issues and litigate complex cases, including cases of systemic discrimination. As our systemic litigation program gets underway, this measure remains significant because the achievement of success in systemic cases is challenging and resource-intensive. Our goal for this measure remains significantly ambitious through FY 2012.
In collaboration with our Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA) partners, in FY 2007, we initiated the development of one or more measures that will focus on the influence the actions of the many FEPAs nationwide have on the achievement of our Strategic Objective and our performance objectives. The information will help us and the FEPAs improve our cooperative relationship and common interest in improving the enforcement of our respective employment discrimination laws.
Information and Assistance
Coordination with Partners
Agency Infrastructure and the President’s Management Agenda
To support the goals and strategies in this strategic plan and avoid redundancy and duplication of effort, the EEOC works in partnership and collaboration with other government agencies. We highlight below a selection of the agency’s significant cross-cutting programs.
Below is a list of key external factors that could significantly affect the achievement of the EEOC’s Strategic Objective and its strategies and goals. These factors provide insight on the assumptions used when defining the agency’s goals.
Program evaluation is an important component of an agency’s effort to assure that a program is operating as intended and achieving results. A program evaluation is a thorough examination of program design or operational effectiveness that uses a rigorous methodology and statistical and analytical tools. It also uses expertise within and outside the program under review to enhance the analytical perspectives and add credence to the evaluation and recommendations.
The agency initiated a program evaluation of its private sector charge process, as scheduled in its previous Strategic Plan. An independent contractor focused on answering two key questions or issues about the charge process: 1) whether different charge intake procedures among field offices provide consistent access to charge filing by potential charging parties and affect charge outcomes regardless of where charging parties live, work, or engage EEOC; and 2) whether the agency-wide emphasis on annual charge inventory control and expedited charge processing affects the nature of charge closures at the end of the fiscal year. The contractor issued its final report in November 2006, and the report contained three major findings and recommendations that the contractor believed would strengthen the efficacy of the Private Sector Charge intake and closure processes, and thereby promote more consistent treatment and justice for individuals seeking assistance from EEOC regardless of the field office responding to their inquiries and requests.
The report noted that it was “… impressed by the overall operation of the process, which handles and closes more than 70,000 charges of discrimination annually and results in significant remediation of discrimination in the workplace.” It indicated that the agency “… appears to keep the process functioning, handling most charges in a timely manner, achieving more ‘meritorious’ resolutions, securing greater monetary benefits for complainants, and keeping charge inventories under control as never before.”
With respect to its three findings, the contractor found first that “there are many intake procedures that are consistent among the field offices, but there appear to be major inconsistencies in the nature and amount of information provided by EEOC to potential charging parties concerning their opportunities, rights, and responsibilities, as well as the nature of information required of potential charging parties before they could file a formal charge of discrimination. These procedural inconsistencies may result in unequal opportunity for potential charging parties to access EEOC assistance.” It recommended that “policies and procedures should be established to ensure more consistency among field offices regarding the information provided by EEOC to potential charging parties regarding their rights, opportunities, and obligations related to the Private Sector Charge Process that may influence their decision to file a charge.”
Second, the contractor found that, “while different intake procedures and requirements among field offices may affect access to the EEOC, they do not appear to influence charge outcomes.” It recommended that the agency “… should review and correct apparent procedural inconsistencies among field offices that may impact the opportunity of potential charging parties to gain access to the Private Sector Charge Process, including hours of operation and the availability of staff to respond to inquiries and conduct intake (interviews and charge filing), the methods available to potential charging parties to participate in intake interviews or file charges, and the kinds of information required of potential charging parties to file charges.”
Third, based on the data reviewed, the contractor found that “field offices close a higher number of charges during months preceding inventory control performance reporting, especially at the end of the 2 fiscal years reviewed for this evaluation. These ‘spikes’ in charge closures may indicate inconsistent attention to, and treatment of, charges resolved during those performance reporting months relative to other months of the fiscal year.” The contractor recommended that “the Commission should conduct periodic assessments of charge closures during months preceding quarterly and end-of-the-fiscal-year inventory control performance reporting by field offices to ensure that charging parties whose charges were closed during those months received equal attention and treatment to parties whose charges were closed at other times of the year.”
The agency has established organizational work groups to examine the major findings and recommendations. Additionally, the issues regarding procedural inefficiencies and charge closures will be included in the scheduled reviews of field office operations.
We have scheduled a number of program evaluations for completion during the next several years and will review opportunities to conduct additional evaluations. These evaluations will help guide adjustments or enhancements to these programs.
|Program Evaluation||Statement of Parameters of the Program Evaluation||Expected Initiation and Completion|
|Priority Charge Handling Procedures||Evaluate how well the Priority Charge Handling Procedures are working and ways to improve their implementation.||Initiate FY 2007
Complete FY 2009
|Outreach/Technical Assistance||Evaluate the effectiveness of fee and no-fee based outreach/technical assistance efforts; for example, agency Technical Assistance Program Seminars (TAPS), Youth@Work activities, speakers at meetings, forums, panels, or other activities designated as outreach or technical assistance.||Initiate FY 2009
Complete FY 2010
|EEOC External Communications||Evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the EEOC’s external communications efforts, including publicity, the agency’s activities with the media, the external web site, and other public communications efforts.||Initiate FY 2010
Complete FY 2011
|Effect of EEOC’s Federal Sector Evaluations and Assistance||Evaluate the results achieved from EEOC’s evaluation and assistance activities with federal agencies that changed policies, practices or procedures.||Initiate FY 2011
Complete FY 2012
|Systemic Enforcement||Evaluate the effectiveness of the EEOC’s systemic enforcement initiative.||Initiate FY 2012
Complete FY 2013
The agency made interim modifications to its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2007 through 2012. Many modifications were made and included in the agency’s FY 2007 Performance and Accountability Report (PAR), which became effective on November 15, 2007. A final goal for Annual Measure 2.1 was initially determined shortly after that date. Also, although we included baselines for four (4) of our measures in the PAR, we were able to initially determine our annual targets and final goals for these measures several months later. Subsequent to establishing these initial targets and goals, we made further adjustments to better align the performance structure and the annual targets and final goals with our enhanced workload and available resources. All of our modifications to the Strategic Plan are described below:
Initially, Long-Term Measure 1 included two Annual Measures. These integrated measures were designed to demonstrate the EEOC’s results in providing benefits to individuals in the workplace because of its enforcement and outreach programs. During the agency’s review and preliminary efforts to design an appropriate methodology for collecting data, the agency determined that the enforcement program was the substantial component of the Long-Term Measure, and that it was not currently feasible to develop a reliable method for collecting and analyzing outreach data. In consultation with OMB, the measure was modified to measure the agency’s enforcement programs only. The Annual Measure regarding outreach results was removed. Since the remaining Annual Measure for enforcement results was now redundant with the Long-Term Measure, it was also removed. Long-Term Measure 1 was modified to Long-Term/Annual Measure 1 and minor language changes were made.
In reviewing the overall focus of the agency’s Strategic Plan, it was determined that a separate Management Objective was not required, since the agency’s efforts to improve its internal operations were designed to benefit its front-line enforcement and outreach programs. The agency incorporated the concepts of organizational improvement into the Means and Strategies section of the Strategic Plan; highlighting their important supportive role. Organizational changes and efforts to implement the President’s Management Agenda are part of the agency’s strategies for doing all of its work more effectively and efficiently.
Also, the concepts described under the umbrella of the Five-Point Plan have always been critical aspects of its work. Although the Five-Point Plan itself provided an overall structure to express these important concepts, it added another organizational layer to the Strategic Plan that the agency now considers unnecessary. With the removal of a separate Management Objective and the incorporation of the essential elements into the Strategic Plan’s Means and Strategies, the structure of the Five-Point Plan was less important and may add confusion for the reader of the EEOC’s documents. Even though the structure of the Five-Point Plan was removed, the essential concepts remain in the Strategic Plan.
The agency also revised a number of the program evaluations it intends to conduct during the life of the Strategic Plan. The revised program evaluation schedule is included in this plan.
In addition, a completed program evaluation on the Private Sector Charge Process, that informed our revision of the program evaluation schedule, was described.
The organization of the measures was revised to better explain their interrelationship. Since the Efficiency Measure was directly related to the results achieved with the revised Long-Term/Annual Measure 1, it was moved directly after Measure 1 to better connect the relationship.
The agency established initial targets and final goals through FY 2012, with OMB approval, for all of its performance measures and reported its accomplishments in the agency’s FY 2007 PAR and its FY 2009 budget submission to Congress in February 2008. Based upon recognition that there was a need to balance the increased agency workload with its available resources, the agency and OMB reviewed and reassessed the previously established performance structure and the initial targets and final goals for two of the agency’s performance measures during the second half of FY 2008. Three adjustments were made. For its performance structure, Annual Measure 2.7 was removed, because the agency will be reconsidering how best to collect, use and report on data for describing the achievements for this measure. Finally, baselines, targets and goals were revised for two measures. For Long Term Measure 2, measuring confidence in the EEOC, the baseline for FY 2007, the annual targets and the final goal for FY 2012 were increased because the methodology used to aggregate the collected survey data was revised. For Annual Measure 2.1, measuring the percent of charges resolved in 180 days or fewer, the baseline for FY 2007, the annual targets and the final goal for FY 2012 were reduced to establish ambitious, but more realistic, targets/goals in order to better balance the increasing workload with available agency resources.
A placeholder was added for the development of a measure of the contribution of our FEPA partners toward achievement of the agency’s goals. This development effort is required by the PART and the Improvement Plan adopted to change the agency’s rating.
In addition, the graphic presentation of the new performance structure was revised to accurately reflect the other revisions made to the plan.