A report on how federal agencies can make their equal employment
opportunity complaint systems more effective is on its way, according to
members of an interagency task force.
The task force was convened in October 1999 to study and recommend
ways to improve the EEO redress process. The Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission is struggling to deal with a backlog of thousands
of federal EEO complaints and spin-off complaints.
The group, formed by EEOC and the National Partnership for
Reinventing Government, plans to issue a preliminary report on its
findings this summer. The report will include recommendations for best
practices and will solicit agencies to volunteer in pilot programs
testing the new approaches.
"After the report is issued, the next step will be to establish
some process to make this continue through some community of
practice," said Carlton Hadden, acting director of the EEOC's
Office of Federal Operations.
Some employees say the task force has not yet done enough to reach
out to federal workers. "I think there are a lot of people out
there who would like to provide suggestions if they even knew this task
force was going on. I don't think there has been any effort to be
inclusive," said one Labor Department employee, who requested
Among the complaints: references to the task force are hard to find
on NPR's Web site, the task force's Web
site is not updated regularly, the group has not published a request
for input from the federal community in the Federal Register, and
outreach efforts are given little visibility and public attention.
An NPR spokesperson said the task force's Web site and NPR's Web site
will be updated shortly.
While the task force acknowledges there have been some complaints,
members have been successful in geting people to participate at the team
level, Hadden said.
The task force includes a senior leadership committee with
representatives from various interest groups, including Blacks in
Government (BIG), the American Federation of Government Employees, the
National Treasury Employees Union, and groups representing Hispanics,
Asians and people with disabilities.
The NAACP declined to join the task force, dismissing it as a
"logo for maintaining the status quo," said Leroy W. Warren,
chairman of the NAACP's federal sector task force. "We're not going
to get in bed with them. We want to be able to speak freely," he
Gerald Reed, National President of BIG, said federal employees should
use the senior leadership committee as a vehicle for input. "I
would advise every other stakeholder group to go to their senior
leadership committee member that sits at the table to make sure their
concerns are addressed. So far it's been successful for us."
According to Reed, BIG's initial concerns about having a voice within
the task force were alleviated once its members understood that despite
the official name of the group--"NPR/EEOC Interagency Federal EEO
Task Force"--it was set up to focus narrowly on the complaint
process. People might be confused about the name and think the task
force's mission is broader, Reed said.
The task force will take time to listen to what the interested
parties are saying before publishing its report this summer, Hadden
said. In fact, the task force has deliberately avoided setting a
specific deadline for its report to make sure it has enough time to
receive and process comments.
"We really do want ideas. This is the first time that we've had
a setting where it's not just the agencies and the EEOC, but also the
advocacy groups having a dialogue. So we do indeed want feedback. This
is perfect time for that," he said.
The task force's Web site includes an e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org)
to which comments can be send, Hadden said. In addition, several town
hall meetings are being planned in San Antonio, Texas, St. Louis, Mo.,
and Los Angeles, Calif. A town hall meeting is scheduled for Tuesday,
April 25 at EEOC headquarters in Washington.