Below are notes from the 6th Meeting of the National Labor-Management Relations Council on September 20, 2010. Also included are the handouts on the B(1) pilots and a set of viewgraphs from the working group on metrics. Thanks again to the Agency note taker for performing this valuable service to the community. At the end of the notes, I’ve taken the liberty of making a few comments.
National Labor-Management Relations Council Meeting
September 20, 2010
The minutes of the July 7, 2010 meeting were adopted without discussion.
Accountability Government Initiative
OMB announced that the President has issued a memorandum, subject: Accountability Government Initiative (AGI), in which he tasks OMB with leading the AGI. The memo covers a memo from OMB providing an update on the performance management agenda. Copies of the memos were distributed.
All implementation plans have been approved except for Social Security Administration. FMCS is assisting the parties.
Permissive (b)(1) Bargaining Pilots
The enclosed handout was provided identifying the activities/agencies which have agreed to be (b)(1) pilots. Six agencies have agreed to be pilots. Two Marine Corps activities were identified within DoD.
It was noted that there is a long list of (b)(1) pilots recommended by only one party (likely the union). However, instead of addressing those, the Council agreed that it would be more productive addressing those pilots where both sides had agreed to participate. A couple of agencies indicated that they were still in discussions with their unions about becoming pilots, and it was made clear that new pilots could always be added to the list.
Later in the meeting, NFFE questioned what should happen with all the (b)(1) pilots recommended by only one party? OPM said that once consensus was reached by the parties, they would be added to the list of pilots. NFFE asked if a working group would be developed to help the parties reach agreement. The council did not agree to this effort. VA suggested that local councils discuss (b)(1) pilots and they can raise their concerns to the national council for assistance. (It seemed VA was suggesting that the parties would jointly come to the council for guidance.)
It was noted that as (b)(1) pilots are successful, the different (b)(1) topics being negotiated will expand , and upon the successes being reported to the national council, more activities will be interested in joining a (b)(1) pilot.
The working group looking at metrics briefed the council on their status. (See attached slides.) They previously sent out a draft document to the council members and are looking for their comments.
It was noted that the briefing was only a draft as the council still has to approve the working group’s recommendations. Of significance:
– Initial report by the agencies to the council is March 31, 2011 and then followed up six months later.
– Focus is on three areas: 1. Mission and Service Delivery; 2. Employee Satisfaction and Engagement; and 3. Labor-Management Relationships
– As to Mission and Service Delivery, some proposed metrics identified were general outcomes, process/cycle time, error rate/quality, cost savings, revenue collected. (See slides, bottom of page 3)
– With Employee Satisfaction and Engagement metrics, you would consider such things as historical baseline and retention rates. (See slides, bottom of 4.)
– Labor management relationship considers both quantitative and qualitative assessments. For quantitative, there is pre-decisional involvement, issue resolution, negotiations and dispute resolution. For qualitative, you would measure such things as productivity of relationship, information sharing, effectiveness of bargaining.
– The group also addressed (b)(1) bargaining identifying mission and service delivery, employee satisfaction and engagement, and dispute resolution as metrics. (See slides, top of page 6.)
In discussing the briefing, some issues raised by the council members were:
– Tension between council need for information and reporting burden
– Bottom line improvement of government is key
– Use existing data service where possible
– Difficult to measure agility
– One size doesn’t fit all
– Choose metrics relating to your goal
Kaiser Permanente briefed the working group and said that they looked at things that when resolved benefited the employees or the employer.
Once the metrics are approved, the working group will digest input from the field and report to the council.
It was said that we owe it to the American people to account for our efforts.
One member commented that the individual councils can select the metrics that relate to what they are doing.
OPM noted that its council was tackling government-wide training. They came to agreement and are now looking at implementation.
The FLRA noted that it is considering adding metrics (once developed) to its training efforts.
A council member said, the more practical the metrics (not just data gathering) the better.
It was raised that there needs to be a connection between the national council and local councils.
DHS stated that agencies should not be creating mission/service metrics; instead, we should use ones already in existence.
The council agreed that all the individual reports should be rolled up at the agency level. The council needs to figure out how to pull together all this data in an efficient manner.
VA suggested that knowledge and certifications should be considered to the extent they relate to mission accomplishment.
OPM asked the council members if there were any other areas the council should look at. OPM suggested flexiplace/telework and asked the group if they thought discussion at the council would be fruitful. (This was also briefly raised at the last council meeting.) After some discussion, the topic was narrowed down to how to keep the government operational during a snow storm or other natural/man-made disaster. The group did not seem to readily agree that this was an area for the group to consider, but they would think about it.
SEA said that more OPM guidance/guidelines would be helpful for the discussion.
It was noted that it was hard to come up with a one size fits all policy.
DHS said that work space was a closely related issue.
OPM noted that if the snow days issue was resolved, it would likely also resolve other related issues.
IFPTE voiced concern that working away from the office is antithetic to the private sector where you need to be at work to perform work (otherwise it might be thought that the job could be done without you).
OPM noted significant increases from the 90s to 2009 for work
being performed in non-work areas. The goal is to have all workers functional when the office is closed. Go from 30% able to 90% able.
One member asked what the council would do on this issue. Mr. Berry noted that the council’s working groups have been successful to date and he was just asking if the council thought this would be a good topic to consider.
AFGE noted that it was supportive of the topic. It said there are a number of myths surrounding this issue. It is important to identify challenges. A discussion on this topic would be helpful.
OMB said that there must be caution that the guidance consider the differences of the agencies and the impact a policy could have on those differences.
DHS suggested identifying vital services/duties vs. those duties where people have to come to work, like border patrol. Then share with the American public what those vital services are that we provide even on snow days.
OPM suggested tackling the smaller issues (snow days/natural disasters) before tackling the broad telework issue.
It was noted that this is not just a DC-area problem.
Other areas suggested by the council members for council consideration:
-Defining phrases of the E.O. NFFE said there is no common understanding of the phrases of the E.O. and that this is impeding the ability of the forums to implement local councils or to be effective where councils exist. The council members have ten days to send in terms they want the working group to consider defining.
There was discussion that the national council has to be careful that it not dictate too much to the local councils.
The next meeting is scheduled for October 6, 2010 at 1000 at OPM.
First, I’d like a word about metrics. Allegedly, the purpose of the executive order was to improve government operations, not offer a giveaway to Federal unions because they are Federal unions. The metrics work group has apparently focused on the metrics of making employees happy and improving the Labor/Management relationship (Code for making the unions happy) but has avoided a serious attempt at assessing outcomes that improve government. Not a surprise, but certainly a disappointment.
Second, regarding B(1), I’ll admit to some confusion. The notes include the following:
Later in the meeting, NFFE questioned what should happen with all the (b)(1) pilots recommended by only one party? OPM said that once consensus was reached by the parties, they would be added to the list of pilots. NFFE asked if a working group would be developed to help the parties reach agreement. The council did not agree to this effort. VA suggested that local councils discuss (b)(1) pilots and they can raise their concerns to the national council for assistance. (My emphasis)
So if only the union wants to bargain B(1), it can press the Agency politically with the help of the Council to push it into B(1) whether it wants to go or not. Shame on you OPM, if that’s true.
Third, based on the continued lack of plan approval, it appears that our friend Mr. Gage (AFGE’s National President) may be gaming his former employer, the Social Security Administration, in an effort to force some concession from the Agency or cause it embarrassment for some perceived past action not to his liking. Hey, OPM, you may want to avoid getting dragged into that pit.
As always, my comments are my responsibility alone.