Daily Labor Report No.75 - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

EEOC Union Decries Outsourced EECO Call Center as Inefficient, Costly and Says "PULL THE PLUG"


An outsourced call center, launched a year ago to handle most of the routine telephone inquiries to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is providing inferior service to constituents and is adding another layer of bureaucracy to the agency, according to a survey conducted by the union representing EEOC employees.

The union, the National Council of EEOC Locals No. 216, American Federation of Government Employees, has been opposed to the call center since it was proposed, as part of a commission-wide restructuring plan recommended by the National Academy of Public Administration in February 2003.

Some 116 EEOC employees from 33 offices responded to the survey which was posted on the union's Web site. Among the respondents, 79 percent rated the call center's performance as unsatisfactory and 91 percent said that processing inquiries through the call center took "as much or more time" than calls that came directly to EEOC field offices. Comments "consistently cited concerns about inaccurate and incomplete information provided by the call center," according to the union, with 56 percent of the respondents reporting that they did not receive "useful information" from the call center's contract employees.

"The survey results confirm that it is time to pull the plug on the call center when the contract expires in September," said AFGE President Gabrielle Martin, an EEOC trial attorney in Denver, in an April 17 statement, announcing the survey results.

An EEOC spokesman said April 18 that the commission appreciated the union's input, but questioned the validity of the survey results.

"The survey apparently ignored such fundamentals of polling as random sampling, representative sampling, and adequate sample size and can't be considered an accurate measure of the call center's operation," Charles Robbins told BNA.

"EEOC has been pleased with the center's overall performance during this pilot period," he added.

The Lawrence, Kan., call center is being operated by Pearson Government Solutions under a $4.9 million, two-year contract to handle the approximately 1 million routine, annual telephone inquiries that are directed to EEOC field offices (54 DLR A-3, 3/22/05) .

According to the union, the center handled "only a third of that amount" since it was launched a year ago. Robbins disputed the union figure and said that the commission would have a breakdown on call numbers later in the month.