This time it’s official: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last Friday approved a plan to reorganize the agency by changing the way the Commission’s field offices operate. After announcing the reorganization plan in early May, the EEOC had scheduled another meeting to deliberate and vote on the proposal May 16. However, the Commission announced that it had postponed that meeting to be rescheduled later after EEOC Commissioner Stuart Ishimaru joined union protests against the reorganization proposal.
Following those protests, the EEOC announced it was inviting public comments on the proposed reorganization so that the Commission could consider those comments before voting on the plan Friday, July 8.
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 the Commission approved the “repositioning” plan Friday, EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez praised the initiative, which was approved on a 3-1 vote. Ishimaru cast the lone dissenting vote.
"Repositioning will enable the EEOC to build up its front-line staff so that charging parties and the public will get better, faster service," said Dominguez. "EEOC is expanding – not reducing – its presence. All current offices will continue to provide a full range of services, and two new offices will be opened in areas that need more service. More staff will be available for daily interactions with the public.”
During the past two months, Dominguez, Chief Operating Officer Leonora Guarraia and other top EEOC officials met with a host of groups representing the civil rights community, the bar, and labor unions; and with numerous members of Congress, to discuss the plan and field questions. The agency solicited public comments on the proposal, held a public forum June 23 and posted an extensive Q&A on its web site.
As a result of reviewing the input, certain changes to the plan were made including: Moving various counties to jurisdictions of other EEOC offices; and providing that each state and local fair employment practice agency (FEPA) will have a relationship with only one EEOC district office for the purposes of administration of its contract and file review of its cases.
The proposal approved today is the second of three repositioning efforts 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, Dominguez said. The first effort involved establishing a National Contact Center, on a pilot basis, as the agency strives to better serve members of the public. The third phase will involve a more streamlined Washington headquarters, with well-defined lines of responsibilities and clarification of roles.
The EEOC cited a letter of support from the president of the National Academy of Public Administration – which had previously urged a similar reorganization within EEOC.
Dominguez said, "It is critical to the Commission’s continued viability that this plan be implemented as soon as possible. Any delay will only exacerbate the very concerns that the plan seeks to address and prevent the Commission from hiring new staff, attaining needed budgetary efficiencies and improving customer service."