Following an outcry of protests from federal labor groups and even one of its own commissioners, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is inviting public comments on a proposed reorganization that would change how the agency’s field offices operate.
According to EEOC officials, the reorganization was designed to reposition and strengthen the Commission’s field structure. EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez said the benefits of strengthening the field structure would enhance the agency’s enforcement presence and delivery of services; improve the efficiency of its operations; and eliminate or reduce costs. Under the plan, EEOC officials said no jobs would be lost and that all current EEOC offices would remain open. Furthermore, additional offices would be opened in Las Vegas and in Mobile, Ala.
After announcing the reorganization plan earlier in the month, the EEOC had scheduled another meeting to deliberate and vote on the proposal May 16. However, EEOC announced that it had postponed that meeting to be rescheduled later after EEOC Commissioner Stuart Ishimaru joined union protests against the reorganization proposal.
Consequently the EEOC now expects to vote on the reorganization at its meeting on July 8, 2005.
The EEOC is inviting the public to submit comments on the proposal before that vote. Those interested should send their comments via e-mail to: Repositioning.Comments@eeoc.gov, or via fax to: 202-663-4114. Written comments should be sent to the Executive Secretariat, EEOC, 1801 L Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20507. Comments should be submitted by June 17, 2005. According to the EEOC Web site, public comments will be carefully considered and shared with all Commissioners.
The plan is an internal realignment and will not affect the way the public does business with the agency. The public may continue to call, visit and write to EEOC offices as they always have. Charging parties may continue to file charges in any convenient EEOC office.
According to the EEOC site, there will be no layoffs of employees, no offices will close, and two new offices will be opened in the reorganization, designed to meet administration expectations for all executive-branch agencies to be well-managed, highly efficient, customer-centered and results-driven.
Specifically, this plan calls for expanding jurisdictional areas of district offices, which will take from 23 to 15 the number of offices headed by district directors and regional attorneys. The Commission is expanding its number of field offices, from one to nine, and will also have 15 area offices and 14 local offices, including two local offices that will be established to respond to the growing population of workers in Mobile, Alabama, and Las Vegas. The reorg would reduce the number of managers and administrators while increasing front-line staff conducting investigations, mediations and litigation, and provide more outreach educational services to the community.
EEOC leaders stated that the field structure proposal is actually the second of three repositioning efforts, all designed to “put the Commission in a more viable position to carry out its mission, given shifting demographics, a changing business environment, explosive technological advancements, and budgetary considerations.”
The first effort involved establishing a National Contact Center, on a pilot basis, in an effort to better serve the public. The third phase will involve a more streamlined Washington headquarters, with well-defined lines of responsibilities and clarification of roles.
The EEOC has set up a special Web page for questions and answers concerning the proposed field repositioning plan here.