Daily Labor Report

No. 48 Monday, March 14, 2005


EEOC Commissioner Ishimaru Seeks More Access To Budget Data to Make 'Informed Votes'


Stuart Ishimaru, the sole Democrat on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, criticized the head of the civil rights enforcement agency April 21 for failing to make internal financial information available to members of the panel.

However, Chair Cari Dominguez responded that commissioners "receive appropriate information on the budget and its implementation," and that she is following historical precedent at EEOC in terms of her authority to implement the budget.

While Ishimaru, who has been attempting to obtain more budget data for several weeks, emphasized that he "absolutely trusted" Dominguez and did not suspect any financial malfeasance at the agency, he said that commissioners need more information in order to make "informed votes" on those matters.

The commissioner said that Dominguez's office failed to respond to his March request for information on specific financial allotments to the agency's field offices and instead provided "a nine page-power point presentation showing gross cuts of our budget." The information provided "did not come close" to answering his questions, he said.

Ishimaru made his remarks at an April 21 commission meeting he had requested to discuss four routine procurement contracts.

The four procurement contracts were approved on a 3-0 vote. Dominguez, Vice-Chair Naomi Earp and Commissioner Leslie Silverman voted in favor. While Ishimaru abstained from the vote, he added that he also supported each of the contracts.

EEOC needs "all the services that are on the agenda," he said, but commissioners should not be voting "without knowing where the rest of our funds are being obligated...What I need to know, before I cast an informed vote on financial decisions is what those commitments are."

Chair Says Commissioners Get 'Appropriate' Data

Dominguez did not address budget issues at the commission meeting. However, in a statement subsequently provided to BNA, she said that she has "ensured that commissioners receive appropriate information on the budget and its implementation, " and that she was continuing the commission's long-term administrative policies.

"Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Chair is responsible for the 'administrative operations of the commission' and this extends to the implementation of the budget and the use and expenditure of funds," Dominguez said. "This is how the commission has operated historically, not only during my tenure, but also under my predecessors."

Dominguez added that only 10 percent of the agency's budget is discretionary and "goes to the day-to-day operation of the commission, which is the Chair's responsibility."

Commissioners have been provided with "appropriate information on the budget and its implementation," she said. "In addition, by EEOC order, contracts in excess of $100,000 require approval by the commission. For those expenditures, each commissioner receives detailed information, with estimated cost figures to facilitate informed decisions. This information has been sufficient for commissioners to vote on proposed expenditures before them."

By Nancy Montwieler