WASHINGTON Ida L. Castro, Chairwoman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced her initiative to transform EEOC's federal sector program as part of her Comprehensive Enforcement Program (CEP) to improve overall agency operations.
The Chairwoman's CEP for the federal sector will provide a strategic approach to federal sector reform by linking improved data analyses, prevention activities aimed at the root causes of discrimination, and a streamlined process for addressing EEO complaints. Specifically, the program monitors and assists agencies in implementing changes to the federal complaint system; provides stakeholders and agency staff with enhanced training, outreach, and technical assistance; and fosters innovative practices such as a joint interagency task force on the federal sector EEO process with the Administration's National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR), which is spearheaded by Vice President Al Gore.
"I am wholeheartedly committed to making the U.S. Government a model of equal employment opportunity for the nation," Chairwoman Castro said. "We are making positive strides in this direction, but there is still much work to be done in order to make this vision a reality. Our comprehensive approach will ensure that the federal sector EEO complaint process is fair, timely, effective, and efficient for all parties involved."
On July 12, the Commission took the first step in implementing the CEP for the federal sector, announcing in the Federal Register new guidelines governing the federal sector EEO process that streamline the way agencies handle EEO complaints. The regulations also include a mandatory alternative dispute resolution process and make EEOC's decisions on hearings and appeals binding on agencies when they are found to be at fault.
A key part of the Chairwoman's comprehensive strategy, the joint EEOC-NPR Interagency EEO Task Force on the Federal Sector, was launched following a June 23 meeting of federal agency officials. The task force will serve as an independent review panel to examine all aspects of the federal sector EEO process, including the improvement of data collection by agencies addressing concerns highlighted in a recent General Accounting Office report. The task force will be comprised of representatives of EEOC, NPR, federal agencies, stakeholder groups, federal employee unions, and other organizations.
"The Interagency EEO Task Force on the Federal Sector provides the ideal forum for piloting innovative approaches and sharing best practices to improve every aspect of the process -- from preventive measures to the cost-effective use of resources dedicated to addressing federal employee EEO complaints," Ms. Castro said.
In addition to an EEOC-led team that will work with agencies to develop and implement pilots focused on immediate ways to transform federal sector EEO complaint processing, the joint EEOC-NPR Task Force will be divided into four main areas of concentration:
The Chairwoman's CEP initiative in the federal sector also includes providing pro-active outreach, education, and technical assistance to federal agencies and employees; more on-site reviews of federal agency EEO practices to stimulate institutional changes; establishing regular processes for hearing and appeals attorneys to share information on issues involving the same agency; and increasing internal training of EEOC federal sector staff nationwide. The agency's commitment to enhanced training through the federal sector CEP will be launched agency wide this week with an unprecedented national staff training conference in Washington, D.C.
While Chairwoman Castro made it clear that improving the federal EEO complaint process is a top priority, she also pointed out that more funding is needed. "Just as EEOC's first significant budget increase in recent history (an FY 1999 hike of $37 million) helped to reduce our private sector charge inventory and lower charge processing time, the resource intensive nature of our federal sector complaint process requires similar budgetary attention," she said.
This page was last modified on August 11, 1999.
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