Thursday, June 23, 2005
The meeting came to order at 2:00 p.m., CARI DOMINGUEZ, Chair, presiding.
CARI DOMINGUEZ Chair
LEA GUARRAIA Chief Operating Officer
NICK INZEO Director, Office of Field Programs
CYNTHIA PIERRE Director of Field Management Programs
JAMES LEE Deputy General Counsel
CHAIRPERSON DOMINGUEZ: Good afternoon. Nice to see you all. I'm Cari Dominguez. I'm the Chair of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And I would like to welcome all of you to this public forum on phase 2 of our repositioning plan.
We're scheduled to have in attendance representatives from the AFL-CIO, the AFGE, the National Council of EEOC Locals, the Communications Workers of America, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the NAACP Federal Sector Task Force, some of our FEPA partners, several Congressional Office representatives, some representatives from the business community. And, of course, I want to welcome you all.
In addition to my fellow commissioners who are here, Commissioner -- I believe I saw Vice Chair Earp and Commissioner Ishimaru, are also here as well as other EEOC staff members. Welcome.
Since making our repositioning proposal public, we have engaged in an extensive process to obtain input. We have met with numerous stakeholders and representatives of various congressional committees and subcommittees, including a number of you here today.
We have also posted information about the proposal, and both are internal, as well as our public Web sites, including answers to the most commonly asked questions that we have received. Today we posted answers to an extensive submission of questions we recently received from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
We have also sought comments, both from our own employees and from the public. We received approximately 85 written comments, which we have carefully reviewed and continue to review. As we weigh the comments, we are open to the suggestions being made. And we will make changes to the plan where appropriate.
This forum is another vehicle through which we will receive public input prior to the proposal being openly discussed. And that is all going to be assessed at the Commission meeting that is coming up on July the 8th. We are going to deliberate and vote on the proposal on July 8th.
Our commissioners have been briefed and will continue to have the opportunity to be briefed by staff to address any questions that they might have. Further, I'm sure that the commissioners will fully debate this proposal, not only at the meeting, prior to the meeting, but certainly at our meeting on the 8th.
Again, I welcome all of you to this forum. I am now going to turn it over to our Chief Operating Officer, Lea Guarraia. Lea?
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you, Madam Chair. Good afternoon, everybody. I am Lea Guarraia, the EEOC's Chief Operating Officer. Before we proceed further, I would like to introduce the other members of the panel: Nick Inzeo, Director of our Office of Field Programs; Cynthia Pierre, Director of Field Management; and James Lee, our Deputy General Counsel.
There are a few ground rules for our question and answer session. I will serve as the moderator. As you can see, we have two microphones set up on either side of the room. I would like to have one person speaking and another person standing by the other microphone so we can expedite the process and keep it flowing.
I have briefed the commissioners that the Sunshine Act restricts them as to what they can say or do during this session. I may have to interrupt if it looks like any of the commissioners go beyond the question and answer format.
This is intended to be a question and answer session. So I would ask that the speakers refrain from lengthy or prepared statements. We have had a process in place for the last 30 days to accept comments. We will, of course, accept any written statements that anyone here today has brought with them.
We have a number of people who have indicated they would like to speak. So I would like to ask you to be considerate of the others who are here. I will allow each person a reasonable amount of time at the microphone. And then I will ask that we move on to the next person. As time permits, we will have subsequent rounds of questions.
We asked those who wish to speak to notify our Executive Secretariat in advance. And I would ask that those of you who did not contact us to hold your questions until those who did contact us have had their opportunity at the microphone. As time permits, we will open the questions and questioning to anyone else who is present.
I also have gotten some written questions, which I may read to the panel unless they're redundant and have already been asked.
I also want to let you know that this forum is being videotaped.
I am now going to turn this over to Nick, Jim, and Cynthia, who will give you the overview of the proposal. Nick?
MR. INZEO: Thank you.
Let me start by explaining that the proposal really seeks to build on the President's management agenda, where the President has asked that agencies be organized in a way that is customer-centered and also results-oriented.
In working with the Chair, though, she asked that one other very important part of it be added. And that is that any proposal, any plan also be employee-friendly to EEOC employees and to the employees in the American workforce. So the proposal seeks to serve the American workforce, both employees and employers, and also build on the EEOC workforce.
As part of the process for arriving at a proposal, the Commission looked at demographics, population and workforce demographics. And the proposal is built on the proposition that larger EEOC offices should serve the larger EEOC workloads.
Currently we have 23 district offices. Under this proposal, we would have 15 district offices. The offices will, as they are now, be run by SES district directors and GS-15 regional attorneys. The district directors will report to the Office of Field Programs. The regional attorneys will report to the Office of General Counsel.
The proposal repositions the management and administrative staff at EEOC, reducing the management staff in the field from 23 to 15, also repositioning the administrative staff.
In those offices where we do not have the larger workloads, we would not be spending the resources on having administrative staffs. In those offices with the larger workloads that will continue to be district offices, they will continue to have administrative staffs, although under this proposal we will also reposition those staffs.
By doing this, we would hope to be able to utilize in the first year alone 40 staff people, who are now performing management and administrative duties to front-line duties. So that people doing intake, people doing investigations, people doing mediations, people doing outreach, people doing litigation, we can have more of them.
We will also be creating nine field offices under this proposal. Currently the Commission has an array of offices where the larger offices are district offices.
We have one field office, the Washington field office. And then we have an array of area and local offices, the local offices being the smallest of the group.
By having nine field offices, we're inserting a number of offices in a size between the area office and the district office. Many of these offices will have been district offices.
They have investigators. They have mediators. They have attorneys. They have people who we call state and local coordinators. They deal with the FEPA agencies.
We also have program analyst people who do outreach to employee and employer groups. All of these staff will continue to remain in the field offices.
Let me stop at this point and turn it over to Jim Lee to talk about the Office of General Counsel.
MR. LEE: Thanks, Nick.
As Nick explained, the structure mirrors the present structure we have but reduces the number of senior managers. Now, this morning, over coffee, I noted the Wall Street Journal. That line, if you can't see it, says, "EEOC to downgrade eight offices, drawing enforcement worries."
I rarely make predictions, but I'm reported to have made one yesterday. And that is that this plan will not reduce the level of service that the public is receiving. And I can assure you that as far as the EEOC's litigation program, that will be the case.
The structure proposed by the Chair is more than adequate to meet the needs of this agency, especially in this time as we go forward with the workforce that we have with an adequate level of managerial oversight.
Now, there have been various concerns expressed. I suppose they constitute the worries that the article headlines. One is that going to smaller offices without litigation authority means less civil rights enforcement.
I can assure you that that is not the case, that the workload levels now and in the future, that the management structure we will have will be more than adequate to address. I have confidence in our regional attorneys. And I know that they can meet the challenge ahead.
Also it's been suggested by some, including what I found in the back -- by the way, it's not ours; it's someone else's -- that there will be fewer attorneys in district offices, fewer attorneys overall. There is nothing about this plan, there is nothing about our intentions, there is nothing that the General Counsel's office or this agency intends to do to reduce the number of trial attorney, the front-line employees that do the work, of this agency, be they in a district office, a field office, an area office, or a local office. We will fill vacancies as they occur based on our budgetary ability to do so and the workload needs of the office.
When we found ourselves with the structure that we did some 25 years ago, we had 3,800 employees. Today we have 2,400 employees. In fact, the Office of Management and Budget said, "You will continue to have 2,400 employees. That's what the budget will allow."
The question for our Chair and for the commissioners is, what should the mix of those employees be? How many managers do we need? And how many front-line employees do we need?
This plan allows us to have more on the front line with an adequate representation of management to provide the oversight as needed. And I think that given that, we would hope to further some understanding on this today by your questions.
And I thank you.
MR. INZEO: Let me just add that I came back today from our conference with state and local fair employment practice agencies. We had a good meeting with them, a spirited discussion of many topics, including repositioning.
As part of that discussion, I was asked and I have delivered to our commissioners, all of them here, copies of all of the comments that were provided by the state and local fair employment practice agencies.
Clearly, as Jim indicated, there are misperceptions out there. And, in part, with this forum, we hope to answer some of those. We were asked one question today, one question this week as to why we were closing our Denver office. Under this plan, we are not closing our Denver office. It will become a field office. Everyone who is there currently will remain there. We hope that this plan will allow us actually to have more people there.
So I wanted to start by echoing some of what Jim said because we have been hearing it also in other contexts other than just litigation.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Cynthia?
MS. PIERRE: Good afternoon. I don't have a lot to add to what Nick and Jim have already said. I will just make a couple of points. One is that prior to repositioning, we have 51 offices in the field. After repositioning, we would have 53. That means we're not diminishing our presence in the country, but we are expanding it.
And, as Jim and Nick said, we are making sure that, even in cities, -- and this has been written in various publications -- we have targeted certain cities with high minority populations to reduce the presence of EEOC. And that is not the case when we look at the staffing that we have in those offices that remain in those locations. We're not reducing the staff in those offices at all or the functions that those offices conduct.
We have had comments about the role of the national contact center in the repositioning. I can just add that the national contact center is, again, adding access to the EEOC for people, allowing them to reach EEOC for 12 hours a day; whereas, in the past, it was maybe 6 to 8 hours a day, and allowing people in terms of reaching a live body and actually reaching the Commission on a 24/7 basis by getting access to information from our interactive voice response system.
And since it's been underway as the first phase of the repositioning, since March 21st, it's been handling 25,000 calls a month. We've been getting very good feedback from the public in terms of the answers they are getting and the service they are receiving. And as we build on this pilot, we're learning more information about the trends of what people are asking from us in terms of information and services. And we're able to develop our information and products to better serve and respond to the needs of our public.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you all very much.
We will now proceed to the question and answer session. And, as I mentioned previously, in order to accommodate as many people as possible, I would like to have both microphones occupied, one at a time, and would ask that those of you who informed us that you desire to speak would come forward first. When you come to the mike, please identify yourself and your organization.
With that, let us begin. Good afternoon.
MS. BROOKS: Good afternoon. My name is Andrea Brooks, and I am the National Vice President for Women in Fair Practices for American Federation of Government Employees. I thank you for this opportunity to put these questions to the Chair and the panel.
I will try to rephrase my question so that it can meet the criteria of being brief. So I'll just use the example that the panel has put before us.
It's awful hard for lay people to understand how changing the name of a district office to a field office and having 2,400 people now working in 53 offices, instead of 51, is going to help the agency meet the mission of the agency.
It might be more effective, managerial, but how does it help the agency meet the mission of the agency serving people who have intimate and what is very distressful discrimination claims.
And what does this do with the budget that you have, the limited budget that you have, in terms of costs of going up to 53 offices and reducing the level of service at these offices? How does that stay within the budget and allowing the agency to meet its mission? That is the biggest concern that my constituents have.
MR. INZEO: If I could, I want to address your question. First, I want to thank you for your written comments. As you indicated in your written comments, one concern that AFGE had had was that EEOC not close any offices.
MS. BROOKS: Right.
MR. INZEO: As part of the requirements that the Chair put on the proposal, in order to be employee-friendly, we couldn't close offices. We did not want to RIF or reduce our staff. We didn't want to downgrade our staff or make anyone move.
So that part helps us not only to be employee-friendly. It also helps us to serve our mission. We want EEOC employees to be available to those individuals who call us, who visit our offices, who write to our offices. We want EEOC employees available where those people are. So with this plan, our larger offices will be where our larger workloads are.
There are two smaller offices that would be opened, one in Las Vegas, Nevada and one in Mobile, Alabama. We did that based on recommendations from district directors in those areas as to greater service that we could provide, but this plan should allow us to have more people serving the people who come to us that our current structure would allow us to.
By having people available to do intake, to do outreach, to do investigations, to do mediation, to do litigation, that's how we can enforce the laws we are here to enforce. That's how we can seek to eliminate discrimination.
MR. LEE: Just let me add to that because you're asking I think, how does this work, how do you do that. And, you know, encompassed in your question was the suggestion that we're reducing the level of service. And I wish to assure you we are not.
Here is how this works. We have to ask ourselves as an agency how many of our highest managers do we need in order to carry out our mission and serve the public. The answer that the Chair has given based on these years of study that we have had is that we don't need as many as we have had. We can go from 23 to 15 of our highest managers. And with the money that would no longer be spent for those positions, which is considerable, we will be able to do the things that we're talking about in this plan.
So to the extent that there is some sacrifice asked for in this plan, we have asked it at the highest level, rather than the rank and file level.
MS. BROOKS: I thank you for your answer.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you very much.
MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Johnny Johnson. I'm President of Local 2667 here in headquarters. I just have a very few questions.
Number one, how much money will it cost the EEOC to open and staff the Las Vegas and Mobile offices in terms of rent and staffing?
MR. INZEO: I can answer that. The assumption in working with the Chief Financial Officer is that the first-year cost for opening an office would be $180,000. The recurring cost after the first year would be in the nature of $55,000.
MR. JOHNSON: Okay. Thank you.
Where will the employees come from to staff those offices: inside the EEOC or outside?
MR. INZEO: We're anticipating inside EEOC with volunteers.
MR. JOHNSON: Okay.
MR. INZEO: In fact, a number of us have had people e-mail us already volunteering.
MR. JOHNSON: Great. Another question, because the Washington field office will report directly to the director of field programs in headquarters, could we consider the Washington field office to be a program office in headquarters now?
MR. INZEO: No. The Washington field office will continue to serve --
MS. GUARRAIA: Looking for more.
MR. Lee: Nice try.
MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.
One additional question, what are the functions at a full-service office? What are the functions that a full-service office is required to perform, as opposed to an office that is not full-service?
MR. INZEO: Okay. A full-service office would house all of the program functions in them: intake function, investigative function, mediation function, litigation function, federal sector hearing function, state and local function, outreach function. All of those activities would be performed, both in the district and field offices.
Depending on workload and location, some of the area and local offices would not perform all of those functions.
MR. JOHNSON: I'll stop now.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you, Johnny.
MR. JOHNSON: Okay.
MR. LEE: Just let me add on to that. There's been -- one of the worries, I suppose, has been that if you're an attorney and you're not presently located in a "full-service office," that that implies some sort of adverse consequence, it does not.
It's not to say that any of those functions couldn't be and may be performed in other offices. It's just that, at a minimum, in a full-service office, all of those functions would be. If you're an attorney in an area office or a local office, you will continue doing that job.
MR. WARREN: My name is Leroy Warren, Jr. I am Chairman of the NAACP Federal Sector Task Force. And we have a number of questions. Let me just say before I start we have some very, very grave concerns on what you're doing.
You're increasing locations, and you're not increasing staff. You're not increasing budget. Something has got to give somewhere. And one of the problems we want to know is, where is the document or justification for this proposal? Do you have a business case, a business school case that says, "This is that"? How much money are you going to save in certain offices? What offices are going to have expanded staff? What offices are going to have decreased staff and decreased responsibility? Do you have a document or anything that the public can read that shows that?
MR. INZEO: I haven't gone through and done an office-by-office staffing because we don't intend to diminish the staff in any office. We will be -- in just this week in meeting with our district directors, I asked each of them to work on an office plan for their offices so that any staff affected by this repositioning would be redeployed in their office to a front-line position. So this proposal doesn't decrease in any way the size of the staff in any of our offices.
The Chief Financial Officer advised us that over an eight-year period, he would expect that there would be a $4.8 million savings in salary and compensation because what we're doing is, rather than have as many SES managers, as many GS-15 managers, and as many administrative staff as we currently have, we'll have fewer of those, but we'll be able to use that money for more front-line position staff.
We also were advised that with the staffing of around 2,400, that our rental needs would be lower and we could save approximately $3.4 million over that same 8-year period in rental costs. So those are the savings that have been identified by our Chief Financial Officer.
MR. LEE: In answer to your question, sir, I think your statement is something has got to give. And our answer to that is top management has to give. That is where the contribution is coming from.
MR. WARREN: Let me just say very frankly somebody is lying, flat-out lying. We're not going to have these kind of savings -- with all of these programs and increasing EEOC's workload, the complexity of the cases -- and your website proposals here, some offices will be gaining staff and some will be losing staff. Now, that ought to be very clearly.
As our members said to us very clearly three years ago, when you start talking about moving these things around, something has to give. Now, you can say what you want to. You're going to gain some staff some places.
And you said some of the offices are understaffed and some are over-staffed. Is that what you said on the Web site? Now, if I'm retarded, tell me. That's what you said.
What you just got through saying just then is that that was not going to be a major factor. What are the major factors driving -- what are the financial, the human, and the program impacts of this move?
Are you moving because you want to move? Are you moving because the document and the case have been made in writing to make the move? That's what I'm waiting to hear. And I think a lot of people in this room are waiting to hear the same thing.
MR. LEE: The question, sir, is how do you want to utilize the people that you have? Do you want them performing the front-line work of the agency or do you think that vacant management positions should be filled in incurring those costs? That's the question that's faced for the agency.
The agency's personnel numbers are not going to increase. The budget is not there for it and will not be for it. So if you have an interest in federal sector, I would think that you're interested in assuring that there is a sufficient number of administrative judges to conduct hearings.
If you have an interest in the charge process, you're interested in a sufficient number of investigators to investigate those cases. If you're interested in litigation, you're interested in a sufficient number of trial attorneys at the front lines to litigate those cases.
If you're interested in seeing that all the management positions are filled in the agency, then that is your interest. This agency has had to make a decision in the choice between the two, and that is the decision that is being made.
MR. WARREN: Let me say I understand what you are saying very well. And the committee has asked me the question to put before you, and that's why I'm putting it. I was there.
MR. LEE: Fine.
MR. WARREN: I understand we're not trying to protect anybody. Our protection is the employees and the victims of discrimination. We are not here to protect the system, so to speak, but we're not going to let it go down just without a fight.
The question I'm saying is all I was asking I think was very reasonable for reasonable people. Where are the figures showing the fluctuation and variation in staffing at offices to arrive with this $4 million?
See, this is what I call a shell game. And we ought not to play a shell game with nobody. And I'm not trying to put the fight on you if you're not --
MS. GUARRAIA: Sir, excuse me. What is your question?
MR. WARREN: The question is, when will we get -- can we see a report that is justifying what you have just done in terms of the financial impact? That's all I'm asking. What offices are going to gain employees? What offices are going to lose employees?
MS. GUARRAIA: I think that's been answered already, sir.
MR. WARREN: Where has it been offered? Am I retarded or what are you telling me? I didn't hear it. And I'm asking for a -- will you tell me again what it was very simply, a few words.
MR. LEE: Here's how it works. What offices are going to gain and what offices are going to lose is all dependent on the workload. We have to have the work with the people. So if you lose someone tomorrow, whether that vacancy will be filled as versus any other office depends on the workload.
The workload figures for each and every office have been provided in the briefings that we have given to the commissioners for their review. This is the basis for the structure that has been proposed. And it's simply that.
MR. WARREN: But the question I'm asking you, I think you're jiving around. You're running around. You'll to answer my question directly. What are the specific offices? Have you worked up the total?
If you were going to make a major budget project, anything else, you would put up before and after. And you would have lines coming over total everything you do. You've got some simulations you've done, I would assume.
MR. LEE: No, sir. No.
MR. WARREN: If you haven't done that, why are you here today?
MR. LEE: No. You're wrong, sir.
MR. WARREN: I'm not wrong. I've seen what I see. I have --
MS. GUARRAIA: Excuse me.
MR. WARREN: -- had 30 years' experience in this.
MR. LEE: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, sir, but, you see, this is a proceeding that goes forward as far as agency staffing from week to week, from month to month, from year to year.
You can project out if you like. This is going to happen in six months. This is going to happen in a year. And more people will leave in one location and another. Workload will increase in another location and another. So that's how you have to make those decisions.
We could give you projections and say, "This is what is going to happen, but I would doubt that it would be correct when the day came that that was supposed to happen and it didn't because something else happened somewhere else."
I'm just being up front with you on it, how it works. You may do it someway different if it was you doing it, but this is how we do it here.
MR. INZEO: For planning purposes, we're not assuming that -- no employees are losing their jobs. No one is going to be forced to leave. So we're not planning that any office is going to lose any employees.
What Jim is indicating is that, as we know, people retire, people leave for other jobs. We don't know in what offices they are going to occur.
What we want to do is have a structure that will allow us to hire more people to fill against those vacancies. And by doing this, we think we will be able to.
MR. WARREN: The numbers you gave for the new offices, the figures you gave, I don't know what kind of offices you are going to establish when they are coming at people at $55,000 a year or whatever you gave. Those figures do not reflect having a competent staff. That's just another shell game. I'm not saying this --
MS. GUARRAIA: Okay. That's an opinion, Mr. Warren. Please give an opportunity for someone else to have --
MR. WARREN: Okay.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you, sir.
Another question? Thank you.
MS. WATTS: Good afternoon. I am Beverly Watts. I am here representing the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies, the majority of whom are fair employment practices agencies across the country at the state and local levels.
We do have written comments, but I think out of these, I will craft a few questions that I think are relevant to the FEPAs, many of whom are meeting in Atlanta or finishing a meeting in Atlanta.
I think one of the prime concerns was the timing of everything -- and this is sort of a statement; so I apologize -- was the limited information and timing with respect to holding a forum when they are in Atlanta.
The FEPAs process about 40 percent of all of the charges at this point because they dual file cases with the EEOC and consider themselves a primary partner in all of this.
A number of questions were the factors used to develop the plan and whether or not there was any real attempt to bring FEPAs into the planning process and, if so, if that was done and perhaps not communicated, what impact has been discerned with respect to the impact on FEPA and FEPA operations at the state and local levels.
MR. INZEO: Let me start on that. The primary factors that we used in looking at where we should have EEOC offices and what size they should be, we looked at workload and we looked at geographic proximity. We have good historical information on workload, both private sector charges and federal sector charges.
We wanted to make sure that we had sufficient people available where the work was. Individuals who have chosen to -- and what we used were those dual-filed charges that were assigned as EEOC being primarily responsible for processing them.
We did not anticipate that any of the work that the FEPAs are doing would now be performed by EEOC. So in that regard, we didn't anticipate any impact on the FEPA agencies, no reduction in the services that they would be performing, or the contracts that they have with the EEOC to resolve charges.
MS. WATTS: Okay. Well, I guess, again, this is a question relative to publicity and what I know about local offices. Given that there is the notion that you all are closing offices, and has become a public issue, are you now going to look back at what this impact might be on FEPAs? Because, like it or not, sometimes we're not driven by reality but by perception.
And if someone thinks your office is closed, it could impact FEPAs because FEPA would be standing at somebody's door.
MR. INZEO: We will continue to work with our Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs, both in terms of the opening of offices. And also I guess we will need to announce that the reports of the demise of some of the offices were premature.
MS. WATTS: Depending on which media market, it could be the demise of some local offices, too.
MR. INZEO: Okay.
MS. WATTS: And that's really I think some things that came out of our deliberations and discussions. What are some expected outcomes with respect to customer services and efficiencies for this offices if this proposed reorganization is implemented?
MR. INZEO: We want to be able to have offices that have workloads that are manageable. We don't want some offices with very small workloads and others with very large workloads.
It's important that anyone filing a charge with EEOC in any office be able to have prompt, efficient service from EEOC in terms of the types of work we do, the mediation work that we do with employees and employers. We want that to be conducted efficiently and within the guidelines set by the Commission.
We don't want some offices able to handle their workload well and others not as well because their workloads are too large. So by balancing workloads the best we can, we hope to be able to provide better, more efficient service to everyone who has business pending with the EEOC.
MS. PIERRE: Yes. And I think I just wanted to add that what we're doing in a number of the cases, especially with the offices that are being recategorized from district offices to field offices, is we're adjusting the management structure to the workload in the office.
We currently have a number of district offices who have receipts of under 2,000, like under 1,600 charges. And they have been set up with a management structure, the same as districts which handle five to six thousand charges. They don't need to have the same management structure.
So while we're not reducing the staff in those offices in terms of the front-line staff, we are reclassifying or recategorizing those offices to fit what their actual situation is.
And it's pretty similar to what we did last year when we recategorized Albuquerque from a district office to an area office. Nothing changed in terms of the staffing or the functions, but it was basically recognizing reality.
MR. LEE: And if I could just add, Beverly, if I could, I want to take this opportunity to express from our agency to all our FEPA partners that enforcement of the civil rights laws is only possible through our cooperation.
And certainly the FEPA presence that we know well was taken into consideration here. In fact, I think we have taken something of a hit for it from those who don't realize the substantial contributions that our FEPA partners make.
When we have been asked why a particular EEOC office was going to be designated the way it is being designated, in a large part, in many cases that was due to the work that the FEPA partner in that jurisdiction did and the number of charges that they process. We didn't need our office to be at a level other than what we are designating it at.
So we recognize that and appreciate it. And we couldn't do without you. And I hope people understand that don't understand our work, both our works, that we're in this together. So where the EEOC offices and the level that it's at, it's being done in cooperation with all of your members.
MS. WATTS: Thank you.
The other question deals with geographical boundaries and the effect and the impact that it's having on some FEPAs in particular. The question is, what was the rationale for boundaries that would have a FEPA reporting to two different -- and these are state-run operations. These would be the state civil rights agencies. We report to more than one district office.
As an aside, I think the scheme poses some immediate administrative challenges and workload increases. FEPAs do a lot of work in this country but generally are challenged themselves by inadequate staffing levels. So is there any rationale or reason for this?
And the second piece of this is, is there some consideration to changing this? And that was really a real pointed question.
MR. INZEO: Okay. Let me discuss that. Under this proposal, there are some offices - there are some states where there is more than one EEOC office. Currently we have three states like that, California, Texas, and Illinois, that in those states, people are served by more than one EEOC office. And under this proposal, there would be other states designated to be served by more than one EEOC office, largely because of geographic proximity.
As we discussed with -- and I'm sorry you missed it this morning. As we discussed it with the FEPAs in Atlanta, the contract administration will all be done out of one EEOC office, not out of two.
We were fortunate on Monday to meet with the IAOHRA board and fortunate to speak to Vanessa, who is a FEPA director in a state where there is more than one EEOC office. She indicated that by planning, by communication, by working hard and doing it right, we can make it work. But we do it with one contract and one work-sharing agreement, not multiple ones. And we'll do it by our district directors working closely with the FEPA directors to make sure that the reporting and the processing all go smoothly.
MS. WATTS: Does that mean that the state and local staff are going to be enhanced in some manner or one state and local person will be assigned to a state? Am I to glean that from that? So that you don't have a state working with two or three state and local coordinators? There are differences that we have noted in the past.
MR. INZEO: Right. Depending on the workload involved, we would have one or more people working with the FEPA. In some of the states with very large workloads, where the state or local agency has a very large workload, we will have more than one EEOC person working with them.
Typically they will be in the same office but not always. That requires some challenges for us to make sure that matters are being processed in the same way that the policies and expectations are similar, but we have been working with FEPA agencies to do that and we think we can.
MS. WATTS: And I guess the final question is, will the commissioners consider delaying this vote, given the answers that have been heard today and that are on the Web site, to allow FEPAs more input into the process and to assist in what we believe would be a more appropriate communications process in terms of putting the word out as to what would happen and how it will happen?
I have heard a couple of different things, and it keeps expanding. I think that may be something that might be beneficial. So that is my final question.
MR. LEE: I think you need as we go forward through this to distinguish between two things. One is the decision, and two is the implementation. Presuming for the purpose of this discussion the adoption of the plan by the Commission, it will not by any means be implemented in an instantaneous manner, but we will have to work with everyone, including our FEPA partners, as we go forward to bring it into full fruition.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you. Thank you, Beverly.
Another question? Yes?
MS. SCHONFIELD: I am Rachel Schonfield. I'm with the National Council of the EEOC Locals and Local 3599. We represent the employees at the EEOC. And we're busy employees in all of our offices.
I'm hearing a lot today about questions about our workload and plans that need to be in flux and changed based on workload. However, the EEOC has a pretty consistent amount of charges that come in. I believe it's about 80,000.
Something that is not consistent is our backlog. Our backlog of cases that we cannot get to is rising to over 50,000 is estimated by the EEOC's budget in F.Y. '06.
The choices of offices if I understand what is happening in today's meeting is that these offices have a smaller workload and, thus, are appropriate for being downgraded to field offices.
However, if you look at the workload, the New Orleans office, Detroit office, Baltimore office, Cleveland office, and Detroit office that are being downgraded have less charges filed than the Charlotte office, the Memphis office, the San Francisco office, and the St. Louis office, which are not being downgraded, which doesn't leave a lot of rhyme or reason to where this is coming from in terms of the workforce data.
I would just ask that, isn't it true that the proposal is really based on continued separation savings, as the Chief Financial Officer of the EEOC calls it, which is 50 percent of our workforce is eligible for retirement? And the plan is that they will keep leaving and that we will keep having a smaller workforce and with less staff. Will there not be less enforcement of civil rights?
MR. INZEO: Let me address, first of all, the last part of your question dealing with savings. As part of the plan -- and I mentioned earlier that the CFO had estimated salary and benefit savings of $4.8 million.
As I understand how he arrived at that, he made some assumptions about when people in affected positions would be retiring because if you replace an SES district director with a GS-15 field office director or with a GS-14 enforcement manager or you replace a GS-15 regional attorney with a GS-14 supervisory trial attorney, there are savings there.
The proposal allows us first to redeploy people but, secondly, also to realize some savings as people who retire are, those people in the affected positions, replaced with lower GS-level positions that cost the EEOC less.
So that is how the savings are derived, not by reducing staff but by salary savings, by having front-line staff at lower grade levels than higher-level management staff.
MS. SCHONFIELD: Okay. But if I can be allowed to follow up, it seems the EEOC has been pretty much implementing this under the radar for a couple of years. And right now we are down to that amount of SES directors, from 23 to 15. So this year's budget is already based on that amount. So we wouldn't be going down any on those SESers.
And in terms of adding staff, you mentioned that we may be able to redeploy 40 administrative staff. I question whether they would have their credentials and how much the training would be, but even so, we have lost over 500 employees, which is 15 percent of our workforce, since the hiring freeze began in 2001. And I don't understand from these numbers where the savings come from or where the people come from.
MR. INZEO: Okay. The savings that I talked about come from eventually replacing people at lower levels, both management and administrative staff. $4.8 million over the course of 8 years isn't a lot, but one reason it is not a lot is no one is being laid off, no one is losing a job, being downgraded, or forced to go to another city.
We will be able to use people we have, deploy to front-line positions, and then also realize some savings that will also allow us to hire more people, use more money for the litigation program, the mediation program, and other mission-related programs.
You know, also, kind of following up on the question from Beverly, one reason for looking to open a smaller office in Mobile, Alabama, there's no FEPA in Alabama. There's no FEPA in Mississippi either. And the Mobile office can then serve southern Alabama and southern Mississippi as well as the adjoining counties in the panhandle of Texas to get EEOC in a position where we can better serve people in that area.
MS. SCHONFIELD: Well, being from Florida, I would be remiss in pointing out that it's actually the panhandle of Florida that Mobile is going to take up. And we have the FEPA concern --
MR. INZEO: Did I say Texas?
MS. SCHONFIELD: Yes.
MR. INZEO: I'm sorry. It's sitting right there. I'm sorry. It is --
MS. SCHONFIELD: We do have the concern of splitting the state. And the Mobile office, as I understand it, will have five employees, who will probably end up coming from Birmingham. So you will have five fewer employees in Birmingham.
So I still have a question about staffing and savings, but thank you for your answer.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
MS. PIERRE: I just wanted to add you mentioned, Rachel, you compared some district office statistics, but you actually didn't use district office comparisons along the line. For example, I think you were citing Detroit had a larger workload than Charlotte. I think you are looking at wrong statistics.
When we consider a district, we consider not just the main office but the total district. So Charlotte has the Charlotte office plus an area office and two local offices. So the workload for looking, comparing the management structure for a district is based on the total district, not just the main office in the district.
MS. SCHONFIELD: I was referring to a chart that has been provided to Congress.
MS. PIERRE: Yes. It was probably misinterpreted.
MS. GUARRAIA: Okay. Are there other questions?
MS. STARRETT: We would like to get a copy of these briefings that you're mentioning, the documents and the numbers that you provided.
MS. GUARRAIA: Can I ask you, please -- I'm sorry.
MS. STARRETT: Could we do that?
MS. GUARRAIA: Could you identify yourself?
MS. STARRETT: I'm sorry.
MS. GUARRAIA: That's okay.
MS. STARRETT: I'm Sarah Starrett. I'm also with AFGE in the Women's Affairs Practices Department.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
MS. STARRETT: I work with Ms. Brooks.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
MS. STARRETT: We would just like to request a copy of these documents that have been referenced here that contain these budget numbers because I think it really would be helpful for the public to know where you're getting these numbers from. Could I get an answer?
MR. INZEO: I'd have to consult with the Chief Financial Officer to see if there's a document that's in existence that we could provide.
One thing, let me address I think a statement made, more than a question asked, that we have lost more than 500 people since F.Y. 2001. I don't think that's accurate, but I will ask our director of human resources what our staffing level was then, what it is now. But I don't think we have lost 500 people over that period of time.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
MR. LEE: In addition, we brought on 100 new people --
MS. GUARRAIA: This past year.
MR. LEE: -- in this period of time. And as for budget numbers and the like, we'll have to go back and review what's on the Web site. I believe that most, if not all, of the documents that have been provided in congressional briefings are out there, but we'll just have to go back and check and see if there is additional information that can be provided.
MS. FRYE: Thank you.
Jocelyn Frye from the National Partnership for Women and Families. And I co-chair the Employment Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil rights.
First of all, thank you for responding to our questions. We greatly appreciate it. I have a few more questions to ask.
The first is, one of the things that you noted in response to one of our questions was about the caseloads with respect to individual attorneys. And one of the estimates that I believe you provided was the possibility of the dockets for regional attorneys increasing by up to one-third.
I wondered if you could explain why you think that that will not result in any delays in terms of processing cases.
MR. LEE: I think what we have had over time, over the last 25 years, is a growth in the disparity between districts. We have had substantial programs. And we have had programs that have gone to very, very small levels. What this plan does is provide for more equality, if you will, between, more parity between, programs.
I spent well over a decade as the regional attorney in our New York office. And I managed the largest litigation program during that time that the Commission had. And I can assure you that, even if my prediction is correct of one-third, that 15 regional attorneys are quite adequate to manage that caseload without any delays or anything of that nature.
Why? Because we have just had too many people with too many small programs. And basically the capacity of a regional attorney is much larger than that in many cases.
MS. FRYE: So, then, can you talk a little bit about what you expect your projected litigation to be like over the next few years? Do you expect increases in certain areas?
MR. LEE: You know, I expect certainly to be some localized increases but nothing that I would consider that would raise an issue of unmanageability. I think that certain programs we would like to bring more cases. It's within our capacity to do so. And we're dedicated towards making that happen.
But I think the program as a whole unless there's a substantial change in charge activity, which has been fairly constant over the past number of years, I wouldn't see a change forthcoming for the program as a whole.
Yes, it will go up in a few places, may go down a little in some places from year to year, but I don't see substantial changes.
MS. FRYE: Another question that a number of people have raised is the decision-making process in downgrading some of the offices. And I wondered if somebody could use an example of one of the offices that has been downgraded and talk through the process, the decision-making process, in making the determination that you could downgrade one of those offices.
MR. INZEO: I can give you an example. As an example, let me talk about our Milwaukee district office. We looked at the average receipts in each district office over a four-year period, both private sector and federal sector, to see what types of activities those offices had.
The Milwaukee office over that four-year period had an average workload of just under 1,400 cases. The Chicago district office -- and Milwaukee and Chicago are relatively close to each other -- has a workload of 6,000 cases.
Because of the proximity, the geographic proximity of the two, we felt that we didn't need two district offices that close to each other, that the workload of the smaller one could be handled by an office that had a smaller designation, a field or area office, and that we wanted to be able to keep the management and administrative levels in the offices with the larger workload.
So the Chicago office remained as a district office. The Milwaukee office under the proposal would become an area office reporting to the Chicago office. And, you know, we did this in consultation with the General Counsel's office, with their looking at their litigation workloads for the offices.
And in doing that, I believe it was over a year ago that Vice Chair Earp and former Commissioner Miller led a task force of EEOC employees, mostly field employees. And they identified criteria to look at in terms of repositioning.
They identified ten criteria that could be used and considered in looking at offices. We looked at some of those criteria depending on the workload, geographic proximity, and other things that would be apparent based on, you know, the particular situation of that office.
So in terms of an example, that's one that comes to my mind.
MS. FRYE: Okay. That's helpful.
My last two questions I will ask together because I don't want to take too much time. The first one is that type of explanation I think is very useful for a lot of people in understanding how the decisions were made. And so my question is, do you expect to put out at some point a document that provides some of that analysis that went behind sort of the proposal that you came up with because I think it would be informative and useful? So that's the first question.
And the second one is, do you expect -- as somebody pointed out at the beginning of this, that there are a number of comments that you have received and you continue to receive comments. Do you expect to make any modifications to the proposal based on the comments that you have received?
MR. LEE: I would expect so. That's my frank assessment, but comments have still just been arriving.
MR. INZEO: Right.
MR. LEE: And we really need to sit down and have a discussion, but I would expect that that would be the case.
MR. INZEO: It would certainly be my recommendation based on some of the discussions that we have had, including our discussions at the FEPA meeting, that certain refinements be made in the proposal.
We'll be talking about those probably beginning about five minutes after this meeting ends and continuing to do that as we continue to get phone calls and comments in and other discussions of issues and concerns.
MR. LEE: We have received some employee comments that we think are well-taken or suggestions. It's all under review and will have to be considered as we conclude our discussions with various groups.
MR. INZEO: It's not responsive to your question, but in terms of the question about EEOC personnel, at the end of fiscal year 2002, I am told that we had 2,783 FTE and that at the end of this current fiscal year, we expect to have an FTE of 2,410, and that's a difference of 373 FTE.
There was one other point.
MS. FRYE: About a written analysis or something.
MR. INZEO: I said that the discussions would begin five minutes after this meeting.
MS. FRYE: Yes.
MR. INZEO: I'm not committing this to starting a written analysis at that point. We have tried to provide the factors, the criteria. I don't know that I would even pretend to get everyone else's thoughts. I'm not sure I could even collect my own all the time.
And I think in terms -- you know, if you look at what is on the Web site and the answers to the questions that the Leadership Conference propounded, in terms of the factors we looked at, you know, we looked at individual situations, we used the factors. You know, we generally looked at workload, both on the enforcement side and on the litigation side. We looked at geographic proximity and worked with those in terms of devising a proposal.
MS. FRYE: Thank you.
MR. GALLAGHER: Hello. My name is Kurt Gallagher from AFGE as well. And I would like to thank you all for the opportunity for asking some questions to some that would clarify.
I did read the information on the Web site. In some of it, there are some inconsistencies among some of the documents. You may help clarify some of those inconsistencies.
Maybe I misheard earlier, but I thought I heard that there were 23 district offices. But according to the Web site, there are 24. I was just wondering. I just want to confirm the nine that are being downgraded. Is it Albuquerque, Cleveland, Denver, Baltimore, Seattle, Detroit, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and New Orleans? Is that correct?
MR. INZEO: That sounds right. Albuquerque is currently an area office.
MR. GALLAGHER: Is it? Okay. Because the Web site indicates it's a district office.
MR. INZEO: Okay.
MR. GALLAGHER: Okay.
MR. LEE: Right. The Web site should have been updated. That decision was made at least a year ago or so.
MR. GALLAGHER: Okay. So the answer to that question. It sounds like there will be some added workload to the remaining district offices because the local, area, and field offices underneath them will sort of report. At least some of the work flow will go through those district offices.
But there doesn't seem to be any sort of proposal for increased staff. So how will that workload, increased workload, be handled?
MR. INZEO: The workload that is currently handled by each local area and district office will continue to be handled by that office.
MR. GALLAGHER: But the workload that flows through the district office, either for approval or whatever you said, these offices had to report to the district offices, which would suggest some sort of work assignment, some sort of work flow, some sort of staffing need. I was just wondering --
MR. LEE: I think the answer is that for the 15 district directors and 15 regional attorneys, we will be asking some of them, who will be leading consolidated districts, to do some more than they have done in the past. We think it's well within their ability and capacity to do so.
MR. GALLAGHER: Okay.
MR. INZEO: One thing just so that there isn't an understanding, most enforcement work is delegated to local, area and in the future to field office directors. So most enforcement decisions in terms of investigating cases and that part of our process is delegated to those offices. Not much of that work goes up to the district office.
On the legal side, litigation recommendations go to regional attorneys, but the day-to-day work of offices is done in those offices. So we're not talking about every case going from a smaller office to be reviewed by a larger office.
MR. LEE: Not by any means.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thank you for the clarification.
And, finally, some of the districts are going to swell in terms of the populations that they cover. For San Francisco, for example, the increased population will be able 80 percent of an increase. For Indianapolis, the population served by that office will more than double, same thing for, I believe it is, the Philadelphia office, the three offices that will have huge increases. I just wanted to make sure that that was sort of factored in.
Something that would help us sort of understand the process, it was sort of alluded to by Mr. Warren and my colleague from AFGE, the workload data, if that were made public, that would certainly help us to see and understand this plan. So I would just like to request that that be made available to the public.
MR. INZEO: Okay.
MR. GALLAGHER: That's being used to cite and justify these changes.
MR. INZEO: Right.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thank you.
MR. INZEO: I think workload data is available on our Web site. We can check. Again, we can check. I had thought that data for the ten-year period was available, but we can check on that. And if it's not available, we can make sure that it is provided.
There was a comment made earlier about EEOC and having a growing inventory. Let me address that just very briefly. EEOC's inventory over the last three years has remained relatively constant at around 30,000 charges. That's a level that we think provides a manageable workload for EEOC.
Even this year, where we had projected -- and when I say "we," I mean the Office of Field Programs had projected -- that there may be an increase, what we found, at least through mid-year, is that our inventory is not increasing.
So inventory is a function of the charges that come in and the charges that we're able to resolve. We noted this year somewhat of a decline in the number of charges coming in so far. We won't know the final number until the year is over, but the inventory figures right now would indicate that there is no increase in inventory as we speak.
MS. GUARRAIA: I'm sorry. Could I first have a whole round with everybody who hasn't had a chance yet?
MS. BROOKS: Thank you very much. Just one final question that occurred to me when we were talking about inventory and receipts. As you know, AFGE is now working very hard with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, who in part of their reorganization for personnel has cited that EEOC is the agency that will handle the due process for the employees in those two departments as they limit due process access.
Has the agency taken that into consideration of that increased workload that may be coming from those two departments?
MR. LEE: Well, I guess you're the first to tell us that. We have not heard from the Department of Defense. We have not heard from the Department of Homeland Security. I guess the Chair would like to --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: And I did have input into their proposed regs. What we wanted to make sure was incorporated was that they would be covered by the same process that we have in place today. So essentially the 1614 regs would apply, even as they reorganize. So I'm not aware of --
MS. BROOKS: Well, I'm happy to report to you that they took your comments into consideration and have adopted as the court du jour, if you will, and as they limit other opportunities for employees to try to correct those wrongs.
MR. INZEO: Right.
MS. BROOKS: So we are anticipating an increase in trying to say to employees, "These are the areas that EEOC covers," but not every employee comes to us. So I would anticipate that as the opportunities are limited in those two departments to correct what an employee might see as a wrong will be coming to EEOC.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
MR. INZEO: Thank you.
We have had jurisdiction in the federal sector over all of those agencies in the past. And so that has been factored into our workload. We will continue. And it's good to know that we will continue to have the enforcement authority in that area, adjudication authority.
MS. BROOKS: I don't know if you got my point. Yes, you have had it all along alongside the grievance procedures that have been in place in many of these areas. And as they are reworking the personnel, they are limiting those opportunities --
MR. INZEO: Right.
MS. BROOKS: -- for other procedures.
MR. INZEO: Right.
MS. BROOKS: That's my point.
MR. INZEO: Right.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: What I'm hearing you say is that we should brace ourselves for an increased workload?
MS. BROOKS: Yes.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Okay.
MS. MARTIN: Good afternoon. Gabrielle Martin, President of the National Council of EEOC Locals number 216, which represents the employees here at EEOC, and a trial attorney in the Denver district office, one of the offices targeted for downgrading.
I want to start by asking, is there ever going to be a time when everybody gets the same information? Because I have been making the congressional rounds. I get information from them. I have been on the Web site. I have talked to different constituent groups and gotten things passed on. And everybody seems to have some different information.
And even when you're answering questions today, you're saying, "We're going to have to go back and check that." I think it would do all of us well if there was one set of data that went out that said the same thing. And I'd just like to know if that is ever going to happen.
MR. LEE: I think you have to understand that as we have gone forward here, we have tried to be responsive. We have tried to get things up on the Web site as quickly as possible. One of our major efforts was our recent response to The Leadership Conference. I believe it was some 56 questions or so and answers.
And we have had our work cut out for us in educating congressional staff, who have asked questions, such as, "What is Title VII?" and other things. So it has been a learning experience for them.
So I wouldn't be surprised that people have different recollections or whatever. We have attempted to be consistent, --
MS. MARTIN: I'm talking about documents.
MR. LEE: -- as consistent as possible. And hopefully we will --
MS. MARTIN: Okay. I'm asking if there will ever be one set of documents that goes out and is available, as opposed to depending on who you are, you get certain data. And then when you start to talk to people, it's just different, not the recollection, the document.
MR. LEE: You show us yours. We'll show you ours. We'll see if they line up.
MS. MARTIN: But we're all here asking EEOC to tell us what the answer is. So I think it --
MR. LEE: That's why we're here.
MS. MARTIN: -- is not like giving anybody any great comfort level when you say, "We'll see what you already have. And we'll tell you if we're going to show you something else."
MR. INZEO: Gabrielle, the documents that consist of the proposal are up on the Web site.
MS. MARTIN: Right.
MR. INZEO: Now, depending on the questions that people ask or the comments that people make, we may provide them other information because they want that information.
The comment was made earlier about EEOC having reduced its staff by 500 people. That isn't information that came from us, and it wasn't accurate. But we can respond to it.
Other people will ask for different information or something else. And we will provide that. You know, some of it may be things that are up on our Web site but somewhere else on our Web site.
And so I don't know that. I'm not sure that it is even feasible to collect everything that has been provided to everyone and make it available to everyone. I mean, some people have particular questions. We'll answer that question.
MS. MARTIN: But why does the data change just because you answer a different question.
MR. INZEO: I don't think the data changes.
MS. MARTIN: Okay. Well, as I said, I've gotten documents from different sources. They don't seem to jibe. And even when Rachel was reading from a document, you said, "That's not really accurate. It's not showing everything it's supposed to show. But, yet, it's documents you give to people and tell them to rely on."
MR. INZEO: Right. But --
MS. MARTIN: So that's what I'm asking.
MR. INZEO: But you're not showing us documents that we can even confirm that.
MS. MARTIN: And here we go with the show me what you've got, and here the public still doesn't know what we're talking about and what is included in those numbers. I mean, if we try to use them, we're constantly being told, "Oh, you're not reading those right."
And I think Mr. Warren asked, "Well, is there the justification that says, 'Here are the numbers. Here is what we think will happen." And I'm trying to get to that same information another way.
If I go to anybody in this room and say, "What have you been given?" all the numbers and things should match up, the Commission's message about how to count should add up, and what those numbers represent should add up.
So let me ask this question. At your July 8th meeting when you are discussing all of this, will there be a discussion of "These are the particular numbers we relied on. Here is where we are going. Here are the geographic distances when you talk about proximity"?
MR. INZEO: I think information has been presented to the commissioners. What you gave me would appear to be an earlier draft version of that information. And it appears that the information is substantially, if not entirely, the information given to the commissioners.
MS. MARTIN: Okay. I just want to know, and I'm not hearing it. I guess you answered. You said it's impossible to get everybody the same information and have it available to them.
MR. LEE: But it depends on what people ask.
MS. MARTIN: So I guess that's your answer.
MR. LEE: If you're saying, "Keep a record of every piece of paper, every comment you made. Record every answer you ever gave anybody" when we have been doing this for weeks and weeks over multiple times with multiple people, the answer is, you know, we haven't recorded every single thing we have done and said or provided. We have attempted to answer people's questions as they have arisen.
MS. PIERRE: People ask us about information, citing different points in time that they want data for. So that is going to differ. And you may end up with different documents out there with different information because they are based on stopping at certain points in time, different points in time.
So I don't think you're going to find -- we're not even in a position to give out identical information because we are not being asked identical questions from all the different sources.
MS. MARTIN: Okay. So is there one set of data that could be made available?
MS. PIERRE: I think the major is, you know, if you have a specific question.
MS. MARTIN: That's your final thing.
MS. PIERRE: No.
MS. MARTIN: And here's the question. Is there one set of data that is what you are going to be relying on so that everybody here can see it?
MS. PIERRE: The most useful thing would be if you think there are discrepancies in information, tell us what they are. And we'll clarify that.
MS. MARTIN: Okay. We will continue to go down that road and try to find out what the real data is.
MR. LEE: I would suggest to you that the documents on the Web site have been the ones that have been vetted. Some document that somebody produces somewhere along the way we don't know who gave it to them, when they gave it to them, when it was for, what it was for, what time period it was for. We want what are we relying upon on the Web site.
MS. MARTIN: Okay. I get it. We're just never going to see that. Thank you.
MR. LEE: The eeoc.gov. That's all you have to do to see it.
MS. MARTIN: Well, that is the data that everybody said didn't make any sense. So then this other data came on. But I'll move on to another question because I don't think we're going to get an answer there.
I wanted to talk about this 500 employees that we have lost since 2001 because based on what your Chief Financial Office tells us and looking at staffing reports, we have had that reduction. Now we're talking about increasing the number of offices, which means once again we're going to rob Peter to pay Paul.
And in our F.Y. '06 budget submission, we're calling for even fewer employees than we have this year. And we're acknowledging that: one, at least for next year, there are going to be 51,000 cases we can't get to. And I heard you say on average it's 30,000 a year.
So what is this plan doing to address this back-load if we're asking for less staff and acknowledging there's always going to be this back-load? How does that make us more efficient or better serve the public?
MR. LEE: Well, that's why you have to ask yourself the question, do you want more managers or do you want more front-line employees? What is better to address that?
And I think you just heard we don't expect it to be 30,000, 50,000 next year. We expect it to be substantially the same. And we don't agree with your 500 number.
MS. MARTIN: Okay. Don't agree with the 500 number, but the 51,000 is in our budget request.
MS. PIERRE: It's a projection.
MR. INZEO: It's a projection that was made a year ago based on --
MS. MARTIN: Well, that is still the projection that Congress is operating under --
MR. INZEO: Right.
MS. MARTIN: -- when we talk to them. So you're saying you haven't clarified for them that there are some differences here?
MR. INZEO: No. They're clear about that. They understand it. They know that it was a projection that was done over a year ago. They know that if they want to know what exists today, they can ask that question. They do. We tell them. But there is a big difference between a projected number that was done a long time ago and what is happening today.
MS. MARTIN: And so today it's 30,000 is what we really think it is going to be?
MR. INZEO: In terms of projection to the end of the year?
MS. MARTIN: Yes.
MR. INZEO: The projection was in that neighborhood.
MS. MARTIN: Okay.
MR. INZEO: And that was provided by the research and information people.
MS. MARTIN: Okay. So it's going to be at least 30,000. We're asking for fewer employees. Maybe I'm wrong. Does the number of employees we're asking for -- are the managers somehow not included in that?
So I'm supposed to believe that there is a different number that is going to go down. So if we reduce the rank and file numbers, there will still be more employees?
MR. INZEO: Let's remember that the inventory was 111,000 10 years ago. The inventory now is substantially smaller. I mean, we have shown that nationwide we are able to handle that workload efficiently.
MS. MARTIN: At 30,000 per year. And we have projected it to grow. And we have seen it. That's in our budget statement. So is that wrong, too?
MR. INZEO: We projected it over a year ago. And what I am telling you is right now at mid-year, we had seen no inventory growth.
MS. MARTIN: No inventory growth or no backlog growth?
MR. LEE: What do you think the average caseload for an investigator should be?
MS. MARTIN: I think the average investigators, you guys should know the number of cases. At one time, it was 35. And now it's back up to 70. So that's why I'm concerned about when we say to Congress, "We're going to have a backlog," but we're not asking for people, one, we're doing a disservice to the public; and, two, we are doing a disservice to our employees. We have a lot of dedicated employees who want to do this work who are buried and can't do it well.
MR. LEE: I think the facts show otherwise.
MS. MARTIN: No comment on the 35. Are you saying it should be higher? Because that was a Commission --
MR. LEE: You know, if you're asking me can an investigator comfortably handle a caseload of 70, the answer is yes, easily so.
MS. MARTIN: Efficiently and effectively?
MR. LEE: Yes.
MR. INZEO: But, Gabrielle, if you do, I mean, I'm just sitting here thinking of the math. If there's an inventory of 30,000 charges. And there are 700 to 800 employees. I don't think you get to 70 charges per investigator.
MS. MARTIN: There's a lot of offices right now where if I walk in to the employee's office, they say, "Here it is. Count it." So that's why I think again one set of data where somebody has touched all the files might make a lot more sense.
MR. INZEO: Well, all of that data is supposed to be in our information system. As far as we know, it is. But, I mean, you can't get to 70 charges per employee if you've got an inventory of 30,000 and 700 to 800 investigators.
MS. MARTIN: Well, I think you can. And I think you get served in a lot of ways by how those are staffed because we all know employees at lower grades don't carry as many cases which dumped them on higher-graded employees.
But let me go to another subject.
MS. PIERRE: Could I just add something, Gabrielle?
MS. MARTIN: Sure.
MS. PIERRE: Because I think it is easy to trade statistics all day. My office goes out and does field reviews of the various offices. And we do touch the files that the investigators have.
Many of the offices, they only have 20 to 30 cases that they're handling at a time because included with the cases in an office are cases that are being processed by mediators who hold 10-20 cases at a time. Those are included in an office workload, but the mediators are not being considered when you quote the norm of investigators against the total number of cases, total number of cases being processed, not just by investigators but by mediators as well.
So while the number of cases in an office, if you divide them by the number of investigators, may make it seem like 50-60 cases per investigator. You're not considering some of those cases are being held by mediators. And the investigators actually have fewer cases in their offices. And I'm seen them in terms of touching.
So, you know, I don't know if it's that useful to keep trading statistics, but we are aware and concerned that investigators have manageable workloads. And that's the way we are attempting to reposition, to make sure that the management structure is in place to help the investigators be able to move their cases along more effectively, have more investigators and mediators on the front line. And that's where we want to put the resources.
MS. MARTIN: Yes. Well, I agree. Every once in a while, you come out and you look at a couple of offices a year. And that's why --
MS. GUARRAIA: Gabrielle, I'm sorry. We've got other people waiting.
MS. MARTIN: Okay. Let me ask one more question --
MS. GUARRAIA: Okay.
MS. MARTIN: -- because it's near and dear to my heart. We have this proximity issue. And we have Denver. That's 1,000 miles from the nearest proposed district office. We've got offices, two of them in there, that have a smaller workload than Denver.
So I'm just kind of confused about what the real criteria are in terms of the workload, what's in the region, in terms all of the cases in the office and how we get attached to something that's 1,000 miles away at the closest and you create another big district, San Francisco, that also has people in an office 1,000 miles away. What are the real criteria?
MR. INZEO: The Denver district office under this proposal would become the Denver field office, reporting to the Phoenix district office. The Phoenix office had a workload of in the nature of 3,700 charges. The Denver office had a workload in the neighborhood of 2,400 charges.
MR. LEE: Not even to consider the Albuquerque workload as well.
MR. INZEO: Right. And that is just the Phoenix workload, not the Albuquerque workload.
MS. MARTIN: L.A., San Diego, and San Francisco.
MR. INZEO: Yes.
MS. MARTIN: I mean, those are two other districts that have smaller caseloads. And those are actually -- they're slicing and dicing those. So it leaves Denver out there in the West.
It sort of says, "We don't care about the West because we're going to reduce the number of district offices in this huge geographic territory, where it costs a whole lot of money to travel, sort of to nil." We're out there in the middle, and we report to someone else. And now we've got added layers of supervision there.
MR. INZEO: The Los Angeles office has a larger workload. And I would imagine --
MS. MARTIN: It depends on whose figures you've got.
MR. INZEO: Not a question of whose figures you've got. It's 2,400, Los Angeles roughly 3,000 charges. And, you know, in terms of serving California, I think we do better by having the district office in Los Angeles than we would in Denver.
MS. MARTIN: We've already got a district in California. So you've got these huge geographic territories 1,000 miles in the middle to get to Denver or somewhere else.
MR. INZEO: A thousand miles from where?
MS. MARTIN: L.A.
MR. LEE: Not Phoenix. It's not 1,000 miles from Phoenix.
MS. MARTIN: Okay. Nine hundred.
MS. GUARRAIA: I'm sorry. We're trying to get everybody. Thank you.
MS. RUIZ BOLING: Good afternoon. First of all, I would like to thank you all for giving us this opportunity to ask questions and hear your comments.
What I would like to talk about is the meeting that is going to be held five minutes after we adjourn this one. First of all, when you have that meeting and you do your assessment of our comments, will you consider keeping the State of New Jersey, the State of Ohio, the State of Michigan, the State of Florida, the State of New Mexico, and the State of Nevada intact, reporting to one district office?
MS. GUARRAIA: Before they answer, could I ask you to identify yourself? I'm so sorry.
MS. RUIZ BOLING: I'm sorry.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
MS. RUIZ BOLING: Vanessa Ruiz Boling. I am the Second Vice President of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies and the director of a FEPA in Fort Worth, Texas.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
MS. RUIZ BOLING: Will that be part of your consideration?
MR. INZEO: It will be part of our consideration. And there are two ways of -- and I may be thinking too much of what our discussions this week, but there are two levels that I process that. Number one is in terms of our relationship with the FEPAs in those areas. And my recommendation there will be that there be one contract, one work-sharing agreement, not multiple ones.
Now, the other part of that question, though, is in terms of people who come to EEOC seeking our service. Would we tell someone who calls us from Los Cruces, New Mexico that they should travel to Albuquerque or travel to El Paso if they want to come in to talk to an EEO investigator? My recommendation would be that we tell them that they should go to El Paso because that is considerably closer.
MS. RUIZ BOLING: I'm from El Paso. So yes, I agree with that one.
MR. LEE: I think we can accommodate the concerns of our FEPA partners by one contract, one office administering that contact, but also what we wanted to do is to use metropolitan areas in a way that would be of assistance to the public.
And my friends in New Jersey I am under the impression must be quite a bit younger than I am because what we are doing there is what we did in the past. It was that way before with the Newark office, our Newark office, as part of the New York metropolitan area. That always seemed to make sense to me then. It seems to make sense to me now.
We don't want to burden our friends in New Jersey - I'm on the litigation side of the house- but it would be my recommendation that the Philadelphia office continue to administer that contact. The relationships that they, the New Jersey FEPA, have continue but that the Newark, our Newark, office be part of our New York district because it encompasses that metropolitan area.
And hopefully the FEPA interest, the public interest, the EEOC interest can be brought together in that way.
MS. RUIZ BOLING: And I ask, then, if that is the case, will there be one state and local coordinator designated to review those cases? Because I think that is what most are concerned about, is the mixed review process.
MR. LEE: Right, right. I think that that is one thing that we should seriously consider.
MR. INZEO: Right. I would commit to having our offices have a discussion with the FEPA directors on that topic because it's a good idea to have one person, but if there is too much work for this person and the FEPA workload is going to not be processed quite as quickly or as efficiently, there are trade-offs there. And we want to make sure that in consultation with the FEPA directors, we have the right balance.
MS. RUIZ BOLING: Thank you.
And, then, finally, when will these, the new proposed plan, the new repositioning plan, be made available to the public? If you're taking the public comment and you're considering the decisions that we have been -- the map that has been drawn so far, so to speak, when will the new proposal be made available to the public? And will there be a comment period prior to the July 8th meeting?
MR. INZEO: And then a comment period on the comment periods?
MR. LEE: I think that is for discussion as well.
MS. RUIZ BOLING: You can't give us a date that we can hope to see the new plan?
MR. LEE: I think we would like to do it as soon as possible. We just don't know how quickly we can do it.
MS. RUIZ BOLING: Thank you.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Lea. My name is Stuart Ishimaru. I'm a member of the Commission.
MR. LEE: You look familiar.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thanks very much.
I have a question. The packet that I received before the meeting that was originally scheduled contains data, figures that involve workload that I found very helpful and financial information. Is this on our Web site? And if not, would it be helpful to put that up there?
It did not strike me that this was anything that was proprietary or confidential in any way, although I've been keeping it such. But is there not a reason that we can't make this information public to address Gabrielle's concerns about everyone looking at the same sets of numbers? Because I think it was very helpful for me to look at the workload data.
And by workload, we're talking about charge data. And some would question whether charge data is really, in fact, the only measure of workload or a measure of workload.
Nonetheless, is it on our Web site, one? And, two, if it is not, could we put it up so that everyone could be looking at the same sets of figures?
MR. INZEO: I don't know. I don't --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I don't think it's there either, but I was talking with Lea earlier today. And sometimes some of us just have Web site access problems of finding things on our Web site.
But would it be advisable to put this information on our Web site so we all can be looking at the same sets of numbers?
MR. INZEO: You know, we'll have to talk to the people involved and see if there is any reason that can't be provided and put up on the Web site.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Okay. Because I think it's helpful so that everyone can see what we're talking about here and how we're analyzing everything. So I, too, would ask that if it's not up, that we put that up because I found it useful in analyzing the proposal that the --
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: I can certainly look into that, Commissioner. And certainly we have been working with you and your staff in making sure that whatever information you needed to vote on July 8th is made available.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Sure. And I certainly appreciate that. Could you also --
MR. LEE: When do we get back together again? I've lost track of the dates now.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: We were supposed to go tomorrow. And I think we're having a briefing with you on Tuesday.
MS. GUARRAIA: I think it's been postponed to -- as a moderator, what the heck. It's postponed until Monday because we're doing another --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I think it's Tuesday, actually. Tuesday.
MR. LEE: Oh, is it? Okay.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: The second question I have -- and this hasn't been touched on, but for the people in the offices that are being downgraded, for the lack of another term.
MS. GUARRAIA: Reclassified.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: For the eight offices that are being reclassified, how are the people who are directly affected by the reclassification, the director, deputy director, regional attorney, and a number of administrative people, how will they be utilized in the new office? And how will they get to these new positions?
For example, a person who is an administrative person and excels in administrative duties may or may not be able or be interested in a front-line job that we have talked about here today.
I'm interested in hearing how this transition will happen, whether positions will be competed, whether some people will go into new positions as a matter of changing functions, but if you could spend a few minutes talking about that because that's one thing we haven't talked about.
And for the people who are directly affected, I don't know if they have been told directly yet what may happen to them if this is approved. But at least to talk through the process I think might be helpful.
MR. INZEO: Both the General Counsel's Office and OFP have implementation groups set up working with field people. On the OPF side, we have asked the current district directors to start planning on redeploying the affected staff.
We want to hear from them as to what their recommendations would be for redeploying staff. That comes from the district directors, who have told us that they will be able by working with those employees to know what they're interested in, what their capabilities are.
At the headquarters level, we're working with the Office of Human Resources. And we can look at personnel files, but personnel files are sometimes limited because we've got employees out there who have good, long careers who may well be capable of doing something that by simply looking at the OPF, you wouldn't know.
So by getting the directors involved, working with the employees, coming up with plans and then working with OHR because in some instances, we may be looking at creating new jobs that don't exist now that may be a combination of one or two or more jobs that are out there now.
But depending on the circumstance of a district office, where they may need some help, the skills of the people who are available, we may be able to work to create new jobs because you're right.
Not everyone is going to neatly fit into the existing jobs that you have. And not every administrative officer is going to want to be a mediator or investigator or a program analyst.
But we think we can do that. We have been having some discussions with OHR. We have been having considerable discussions with the district directors.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But your intention is to put most of those jobs into front-line jobs, investigators, mediators, and people who are dealing directly with our caseload.
MR. INZEO: Right.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So this would be an exception to the rule, rather than --
MR. LEE: I don't consider it an exception to the rule.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, no. The exception meaning trying to work out some other position for something that may not fit for one of these people who are being affected.
MR. INZEO: What I would --
MR. LEE: Certainly the preference is to move people into front-line positions, --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Right.
MR. LEE: -- assuming that, you know, that is an appropriate fit, yes.
MR. INZEO: And while someone may not be a mediator, they may be working in the mediation function, which is a front-line function. In order to be able to get parties to agree to mediation, you know, it may be that -- one of the jobs we have currently in the field, investigative support assistant. Some of these individuals may be working in those jobs. They do a considerable amount of work in intake of charges. So these are front-line positions. There may be combinations of them that we use in order to be able to accomplish this.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Could you also talk about people who are in higher-graded jobs right now who are affected by this plan? What happens to those people if they go into a new job that's at a lower grade level?
I know there are certain personnel protections for people, but if a person goes into a lower-graded job, do they over time lose their present grade and go to a lower grade because they would be doing lower-graded work?
MR. INZEO: There are really two ways of approaching that. First of all, if someone voluntarily takes a job at a lower grade, they go to that lower grade.
The types of protections you're talking about I think come about where someone involuntarily is reassigned to a lower-graded job. As one of the principles of the Chair's employee-friendly plan, no one will involuntarily be reassigned to a lower-graded job.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But if the person can't or doesn't want to do the job, what happens to them then? Aren't they being involuntarily moved? It may be the question of what is voluntary and what is not.
MR. LEE: I think from our point of view, your hypothetical is extremely remote. I in the general sense --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Let's say, Jim, for this that you have a regional attorney that turns into a trial attorney that would max out at a 14. Would they be downgraded automatically? Would that be a voluntary downgrade? And why is that inconceivable?
MR. LEE: Well, for a number of reasons because, one, I personally and the General Counsel has had a discussion with each and every individual affected of a considerable length as to what their desires are, where they can be best utilized. And I do not expect whatsoever for people to go into lower-graded positions or to be downgraded in the sort of ways that you're talking about.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So would it be fair to say, at least for the Office of General Counsel, that there would not be any monetary savings by this plan?
MR. LEE: I don't think that's fair to say because I don't believe that all of these individuals will remain within our office. But a number of them, their talents may be utilized elsewhere in the agency in vacant positions.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So there would be savings to the Office of General Counsel because the positions would move to another part of the agency?
MR. INZEO: The other saving over time, Commissioner, would --
MR. LEE: That's right.
MR. INZEO: -- arise when someone who is currently a GS-15 regional attorney retires or goes to another job and that person is then replaced with a GS-14 attorney. So you get savings that way.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I understand. I don't want to monopolize the mike. I regret that we have to do this in this format, rather than to do it at the meeting. And I hope at the meeting, we'll have a chance to ask more questions.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: You'll have ample time, but I'm assuming you've shortened our Commission meeting by at least half an hour.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I hope so. I hope we start the meeting early in the day.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Hope springs eternal, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: My thanks to the panel.
CHAIR DOMINGUEZ: Thank you. Thank you.
MS. GUARRAIA: Okay. Is there somebody else who hasn't come?
MR. HOUSTON: My name is Terrence Houston. I work with the Office of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones. And, as you guys may be aware, she's had a few intense concerns with your proposal.
I just want to, first of all, get some clarification regarding something somebody mentioned earlier. As far as staffing levels for fiscal year 2001, according to you guys' numbers, it was 2,924. And for fiscal year '06, the request, I think you just said, is 2,410. So that's probably where it seems to me it's a little bit over 500 losses in staff.
The Congresswoman is kind of concerned as far as the Cleveland office. It's gotten numerous awards. It's had a very good working relationship with the two offices in Columbus, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission as well as the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolutions. Both of them work in Columbus, which would fall under the new jurisdiction I believe of the office in Indianapolis.
The Cleveland office is going to see a decrease of 41 percent of its jurisdiction. The Cincinnati office is actually going to see its jurisdiction triple to about five and a half million. Both the Cleveland office and Cincinnati office under your structure will both see its numbers reach an equal number of five and a half million. However, the Cleveland office has 52 staff. The Cincinnati office has approximately ten staff.
So I'm just trying to figure out what the logic was in determining this new jurisdiction and if during your future meetings you will give reconsideration to your jurisdiction for the Cleveland office.
MR. LEE: Well, let me try and address it in part because you have strayed, at least accidentally, on some of my home turf: Cincinnati, Ohio.
If you watch the nightly news there, they talk about the tri-state area, the tri-state being Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Basically if you are on the other side of the bridge in Covington or Newport, you had to deal with the EEOC office in Louisville. You didn't deal with the office in Cincinnati. That never made much sense to me or if you're in Laurenceberg, Indiana, just over the line, you were dealing with Indianapolis, rather than Cincinnati.
This is just an example from the plan of what we were trying to utilize metropolitan areas for our offices. So that is part of the rationale in the same way our Washington field office, we gave them jurisdiction for the Montgomery County, the Washington, D.C. suburbs. This is what we're talking about.
The other aspects of your questions maybe I'll defer to my colleague about Cleveland, but this is the thinking that went into the rationale in the same way our Washington field office, we gave them jurisdiction for the Montgomery County, the Washington, D.C. suburbs. This is what we're talking about.
The other aspects of your question maybe I'll defer to my colleague about Cleveland, but this is the thinking that went into at least part of what you're talking about here.
MR. INZEO: In terms of since Cleveland, Cincinnati offices, since Cleveland would be a field office under this proposal, the workload in the Cleveland office has averaged 2,200 charges. In the Cincinnati office, which is an area office, somewhat smaller, it's averaged just over 800 charges a year.
So it will pick up a little bit more of the territory jurisdiction in Ohio, but we will be able to because of the relative symmetry of the State of Ohio use both offices to make sure that the work in the state is managed well.
MR. HOUSTON: I'm just concerned, especially like how does it help when you take jurisdictionally from the Columbus region when historically for about 4 years now Columbus, Ohio had such a positive and very effective working relationship with the civil rights jurisdiction in that Columbus region. Just was that a factor in your repositioning?
MR. INZEO: We will be working with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and with their Executive Director, Michael Peyton, to make sure that -- and, as we said earlier, there will be one contract and one work-sharing agreement. There won't be two different ones. But we will work with him to make sure that the work between the two agencies is handled smoothly.
You're right. Let me update you. Not only has the Cleveland office in prior years received awards. The Cleveland office this year received an award from our Chair for the outreach, the joint outreach, that they did with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the Detroit district office, in combination.
MR. HOUSTON: It doesn't seem like -- given the fact that it's received the awards, that it doesn't make sense to me that this repositioning would -- I mean, I just don't understand where the repositioning is coming from, especially when you limit the jurisdiction of the Cleveland office when it has 52 employees. The Cincinnati office is considerably less. And you're equally out their jurisdictions. I mean, I am not sure if that makes much sense.
MR. LEE: The major factor here is balancing of workloads, attempting to provide some sort of parity between offices. And that was the major consideration here.
The Cleveland office will continue and continue to serve the people of Cleveland and northeastern Ohio.
MR. HOUSTON: And also since the jurisdiction is limited, will steps be taken to ensure that current staffing levels are maintained for the Cincinnati office also since the jurisdiction is greatly expanded, will there be steps taken to ensure that the Cincinnati office has adequate staffing levels?
MR. INZEO: Yes.
MR. HOUSTON: Okay. Like, have you guys finalized any considerable initiatives or plans basically to ensure that happens or, I mean, what is happening with that as of now?
MR. INZEO: We look at workloads on a quarterly basis and take a look at -- and what we then do is say, you know, in a perfect world, how many investigators, how many mediators would we want to have in every office? I know the General Counsel's Office does the same thing with their litigation program.
And then as we are able to hire more people, we look at those offices that have the greatest needs and hire people into those offices. You know, we continue to track that.
And we'll continue to make sure that the Cleveland and Cincinnati offices, like all of our offices, have as many staff people as we can provide.
MR. LEE: I met last week on that very issue. If the key operative word in your question is "finalize," the answer is no. But certainly under active discussion and consideration, it's an awareness as to how we need to proceed.
MR. HOUSTON: Well, I appreciate you guys taking the opportunity to have this forum. And I appreciate the correspondence that has happened with Congress so far. And we'll definitely be looking at this in the future.
MR. LEE: Thank you.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
Okay. I had announced at the beginning of the session that there were some questions that had been e-mailed in. And I wanted to give those individuals an opportunity to hear the answers from the panel.
One of the questions -- I believe it comes from -- well, I don't have the person's name, but they're from Louisville, Kentucky. And their question is, will the agency pay relocation for staff who have to move as a result of repositioning?
MR. INZEO: Let me address that.
MS. GUARRAIA: Sure.
MR. INZEO: There are two ways that that question comes up. There will be some people who will seek to move, who will want to move, other people who may bid on open jobs. And also, you know, we may ask people to move.
Where we ask someone to move, we typically will pay permanent change of station costs for them. Where an employee because of his or her own situation asks to move to another office, typically we do not pay permanent change of station expenses for that. So we will be guided by that.
And the Chair is committed not to forcibly moving people geographically.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
Another question is, what is the timetable to fully implement the repositioning plan?
MR. INZEO: Most of EEOC's major systems, our charge data system, our IMS system, the financial system, and our personnel system, will all change over at the beginning of the fiscal year.
As a result, we hope to be able to be operating in the new structure with all of those systems changed over on October 1st. There will, though, undoubtedly still be decisions being made, you know, probably especially affecting personnel, even after that, because I don't know that anything dealing with personnel can be final because people will move, people will retire, and then we will be in the process of reviewing what the levels are and if there's authority to hire more people, looking at who has been redeployed and where we need staff in any given office.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
If an office is determined to be over staff as a result of the new geographical boundaries, how do you plan to deal with extra staff?
MR. INZEO: When we have that problem, we'll note it.
MS. GUARRAIA: Okay.
MR. INZEO: You know, where jurisdictional boundaries are being moved, if the conclusion we find is that there is more work in one area and we have more staff in an adjoining area, then we may well take charges from the nearest place and have those processed by the office that has too many staff. I don't know that we contemplate that that will happen going in, but if it does, we can make adjustments.
MS. GUARRAIA: We can handle it, yes.
Okay. Why is the Washington field office not reporting to a district office? Why is the Washington field office reporting directly to the director of field programs?
MR. INZEO: A number of years ago, the decision was made by the Commission to have the Washington field office because of its location here and what I imagine are what the Commission considered to be unique characteristics of the Washington field office report directly to headquarters.
At that time, they were four or five blocks away. Now they are four or five floors away. It hasn't been overly stressful having that office report directly into OFP, into headquarters.
MS. GUARRAIA: Thank you.
MR. WARREN: One question I am concerned about, you heard this from us before on the task force and some other groups, will this repositioning, bottom line, result in an expedited processing of cases and increase in summary judgments? And that is a very serious problem in the community, the summary judgment issue.
MR. INZEO: This proposal will not have any impact on that. It's not designed to either increase it or decrease it.
MR. WARREN: Well, you know, let me just say I am not sure what the right answer is. And I'm not going to sit here and tell a lie. There is something wrong with some of these cases, the expedited settlements.
It seems to be the AJ is going to get rid of some of these cases. And I'm saying, is that being looked at in terms of how this thing is working for the employees?
MS. GUARRAIA: I'm sorry. Wait a minute. You're talking about federal sector case processing?
MR. WARREN: Yes.
MR. INZEO: Yes.
MS. GUARRAIA: Okay. This forum is dealing with the repositioning of the Commission's field offices.
MR. WARREN: Well, let me just say something. Whatever you do is going to impact the cases, whether it's federal sector or whatever. There is some impact in it.
MS. GUARRAIA: Yes. There is currently --
MR. WARREN: And the employees are the same. I mean, that's the question before us, the serious question.
MS. GUARRAIA: We agree it's serious. And that's why Commissioner Ishimaru has a task force reviewing federal sector case processing at this time.
MR. WARREN: There is a task force going on?
MS. GUARRAIA: Yes.
MR. WARREN: Who are they going to be getting input form?
MS. GUARRAIA: I just said Commissioner Ishimaru is --
MR. WARREN: That's not what I asked you. You are not listening. Okay? I asked you specifically, are they going to be asking the employees and the stakeholders about the process? Is there going to be any kind of meeting, any kind of discussion?
MS. GUARRAIA: I believe there has been.
MR. LEE: I think the answer, Mr. Warren, is I would assume so, but Commissioner Ishimaru, who is here, can best address that. None of us are on his task force. Here he is.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Let me say that a member of my staff is working on this. There is no task force.
MS. GUARRAIA: I'm sorry I misspoke there, sir.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: There is no task force. There are no dollars assigned. We are working with other members of the Commission to try to come and give the Chair some recommendations, but don't mischaracterize this as a task force.
MR. WARREN: Well, let me just --
MS. GUARRAIA: I apologize if I mischaracterized it.
MR. WARREN: I appreciate what --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I appreciate your desire to have input into this. And let me assure you that with this process of trying to look at what has been proposed by various folks out there, that we do want to get input and will do that and have started that process. But we are definitely working on it.
MR. WARREN: No. I'm not knocking you. What I am concerned about, with the effort that you have got there, this is the kind of misstatement, misleading information that they talked about earlier.
Let me just say, whether I disagree with you or not, whether you are a little bit concerned, middle of the road, or whatever, if you've got integrity, I can respect that. But I can't respect deceitful answers, deceitful personalities, and listening and saying what you want me to say.
I'm going to be truthful to you. I'm going to be fair with you. I don't care whether you like me or not. That is the way it is. That is not a truthful statement you made. This is what Ms. Gabrielle talked about earlier, where people are giving different statements. I just want to make that very clear. That ought to be cleaned up.
As a leader, you are responsible to not play loose and footsie with the truth. And I want to say that very clearly because that disturbs me deeply in our heart.
I think one of the things --
MS. GUARRAIA: Do you have a question, sir?
MR. WARREN: Yeah, I have a question. I'm fixing to ask it right now.
MS. GUARRAIA: Okay.
MR. WARREN: I mean, don't be heavy-handed with me. This is not Cuba. Okay? Now, the question is, what is going to be the difference between what is the authority under 15 offices, the regional -- are there going to be any change in authority for the people in the revised structure versus the current structure?
MR. INZEO: I don't think so.
MR. WARREN: So everything -- in other words, the responsibility is going to be done the same. Have you planned any system -- are you going to go to this big grandiose idea? Do you have any system in place to monitor the effectiveness or do some prototype testing to make sure what you're doing is working?
MR. INZEO: Right. I'll let Cynthia address that. We have staff in the Office of Field Programs and Field Management that does go out to a number of offices every year to do reviews of all of the operations of the office.
MS. PIERRE: Right. We actually have a schedule to visit every office -- that means of all the 51 offices -- every 3 years. Last year we went to 12 offices. This year we're going to 10 or 12 again, and it's based on our resources.
But if we undergo the repositioning as planned, we will certainly be looking at the effect of the repositioning on charge processing, customer service, and so forth as we go out over the next few years.
MR. WARREN: The other question I have, the last question, is you're going to be cutting down senior management. What is going to happen to the workload that these managers have now? It's not going to dissipate, is it?
So you've got some problems evidently with staff and back office staffing, so to speak, now or administrative support. Some of these, there's some staffing problems. Now, you can sit here and do any kind of funny dance you want to, but that's a problem.
The question mark is, this change did not do anything to cut on the process and the workload. We are concerned that the lack of budget and the lack of resources is resulting in a lack of civil rights for all employees, inadequate enforcement.
So how do we deal with this in terms of what is going to happen, big picture?
MR. INZEO: The big picture I think is that by having slightly fewer top management people, slightly fewer administrative people, we will be able to have more people who are investigators and attorneys who do the front-line work.
MR. WARREN: Okay. How many people are we talking about in this big picture? See, I'm trying to get the big picture, not these little -- you know, I want a straight answer, and I'm not getting it today, unfortunately, on most of these issues. How many folks are going to be put in this pool? How many folks will be freed up, managers, to do the work?
MR. INZEO: I think we anticipate that that number will be at least 40, perhaps as many as 80, but it will depend on how many there are at the point where we do the repositioning and the redeployment of people. I don't know. You know, I don't have an exact number in front of me.
MR. WARREN: Well, see, let me just say I --
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, Nick, -- wait, Mr. Warren -- just to be clear, Mr. Warren was asking about managers specifically. You are talking about the overall number of employees who would be affected to put to the front line.
MR. INZEO: Including administrative staff, yes.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Including administrative staff?
MR. INZEO: Yes.
MR. WARREN: That is exactly what I asked.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: There would be a subset of managers within the numbers you were just talking about.
MR. INZEO: Okay. I think in terms of the SES managers, currently I think they will all remain in SES positions in the field. And then in terms of there are some deputy directors in those cities. And some of that may -- where they end up may depend on what they bid on or what jobs they might choose to do.
And then on the regional attorney side, there would be some regional attorneys involved.
MR. WARREN: Let me say this. You've got to pay these people the same salaries, regardless of whatever you do, for two years unless you lay them off. So that's why I raised that question earlier about where these cost savings are coming from. There is some disconnect somewhere.
Let me just say, in closing, two things.
MR. INZEO: Okay.
MR. WARREN: You have not done a good job to put this package together. We have this session today. It was good we had it, but its value has been limited because you either weren't prepared or you called us a bunch of fools and give us any kind of answers without giving us an answer. That's the other thing.
The second thing is, where do we go after today? Because I don't think you're ready to make a vote on the 8th of July. I don't think you've got the documents. I don't think you've got the information. And I don't think the public is going to follow you.
What you are doing, you are creating a bunch of people going to be out here protesting in front of this building for press conferences and pickets when you're doing the kind of things you're doing today.
MR. INZEO: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Warren.
MS. GUARRAIA: Are there any other questions before we come to closure?
MS. GUARRAIA: If not, as the moderator, I want to thank you all for participating. I want to thank the panel. And I hope this has been educational. Thank you all.
(Whereupon, at 4:20 p.m., the foregoing matter was adjourned.)
This page was last modified on July 6, 2005.