Department of Labor

Recommendations and Actions

Agency Reinvention Activities

Goals for Reinvention

Following the kickoff of the Department of Labor's (DOL's) reinvention program on April 29, 1993, the department, under the leadership of Labor Secretary Robert Reich, has been laying the foundation for a long-term, successful effort to improve the department's services and its operations. Since January, the department has worked to clarify its mission and critical objectives. By redesigning its policy initiatives, the department is assuming leadership in shaping a new American labor policy. The steps the department has taken to develop this policy include: developing a comprehensive worker adjustment strategy, working with the Department of Education to produce an innovative school-to-work transition initiative for youth, and encouraging employers to provide ongoing training for employees to improve competitiveness.

To redesign the operations of the department, Secretary Reich has sent the message to DOL employees that this is a new era, one in which their ideas and proposals for improvement are actively sought and will be rapidly implemented. The department wants to demonstrate that DOL management will stand behind the suggestions of its employees.

Getting Started

DOL's reinvention program is a joint partnership between the department and the unions representing its employees. Based on the premise that DOL should examine all programs and activities, DOL has created a three-pronged approach to review and approve employee proposals to improve DOL. The department has created three levels of teams staffed by volunteers from throughout the department: agency reinvention teams, functional reinvention teams, and the leadership team. These teams are charged with making recommendations to streamline the department and improve its ability to deliver services in an effective and efficient manner.

Agency Reinvention Teams. DOL has set up separate teams in all of its large agencies. These agencies include the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the Employment Standards Administration (ESA), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM), the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA), and the Office of the Solicitor (SOL). Teams will also be established in most of the smaller agencies.

These teams are leading the individual agency efforts to examine their own programs and practices. The department recognizes that any examination of current practice would fail without full employee involvement. To be sure that the teams include all perspectives, DOL established the composition of the teams in partnership with the unions.

Functional Reinvention Teams. These cross-cutting teams are examining issues of relevance and concern either to several DOL agencies or department-wide. These teams are looking at broad-based issues such as enforcement and adjudication, employment and training, and human resources.

The Leadership Team. This team provides general direction and policy for operating the reinventing DOL program. The team began by publicizing the program and encouraging all employees to submit ideas. The leadership team is responsible for overseeing the agency and functional reinvention teams. Although agency teams have a large measure of autonomy, the functional teams are proposing changes that require review by the leadership team. Finally, the leadership team serves as the bridge between DOL and the National Performance Review.

Employee Involvement

In keeping with its commitment to give all employees an opportunity to participate in reinventing the department, DOL has already completed several activities. The department began with a kickoff meeting for all department employees in Washington on April 29, 1993. Tom Peters, the co-author of In Search of Excellence, was the keynote speaker. He encouraged DOL employees to examine existing operations and programs and challenged them to change those that are incompatible with the department's desire to improve customer service, encourage employee involvement, and enhance organizational effectiveness.

In addition, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary have conducted a number of town meetings in Washington and throughout the regional offices to solicit ideas on how to improve DOL. Vice President Gore attended one of these meetings and, together with Secretary Reich, fielded employees' questions and suggestions.

The department has also invited all employees to participate in reinvention through a program called PRIDE (Proposals to Reinvent and Improve DOL Effectiveness). DOL has sent a tear-off form to all DOL employees asking for their proposals to improve customer service, enhance program efficiency, eliminate unnecessary rules, and improve morale by empowering employees. To date, employees have already submitted hundreds of PRIDE forms.

In July 1993, a three-day reinvention retreat brought together a cross-section of the department's management and employee leadership. The retreat participants identified more than 300 ways to improve customer service, improve program management, or reduce costs. The most popular proposals were assigned to working groups for further development at the retreat. The remaining ideas then went to the DOL functional and agency reinvention teams for review and action.

The Secretary took immediate action to accept, reject, or assign responsibility for further review of the proposals that had been developed by the working group at the retreat. The Secretary then gave each team responsible for further review of a proposal 90 days to act and report to the DOL retreat participants. Examples of DOL's proposals that have been enacted include volunteering to pilot performance budgeting concepts, automating the time and attendance system, implementing a flexible workplace pilot program, and setting a goal to eliminate one-third of all DOL required forms and reports by the end of the fiscal year.

Reinvention Labs

DOL believes that ideal settings for reinvention laboratories are programs or offices where services to the public are highly visible. The department has already begun work in three labs:

--- customer satisfaction surveys;

--- one-stop career guidance centers; and

--- the Cincinnati 2000 Program.

In these public settings, DOL is seeking to empower workers to review how they go about their work and look for ways to improve the services they deliver. These reinvention labs are working to enhance services from a customer's point of view. The labs are looking constantly to decentralize authority to give front-line DOL employees responsibility to make decisions. The labs are also seeking ways to promote competition within the government, believing that competition and choice lead to better service. Finally, the labs are building performance measures that provide accurate and timely indicators of how well DOL is doing its work.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys. The Wage and Hour Division has articulated as its mission to "enforce the nation's employment standards to serve and protect the present and future workers of America." In seeking ways to fulfill this mission, the division is seeking to exceed all customer requirements. It will be working through an internally designed quality model to improve both enforcement and wage determination processes.

To test its progress in meeting these goals, the division will conduct a customer survey as part of its joint labor-management, quality improvement efforts. The survey will measure customer satisfaction and expectations among workers whose complaints the division has investigated. The division is pilot-testing the survey in three district offices before conducting the survey nationwide.

One-Stop Career Guidance Centers. ETA is working to develop one-stop career guidance centers. These centers will give job seekers and employers a common point of access for career guidance activities. These activities, until now, have been available only through separate offices.

Job seekers will be able to go to a one-stop center and get most of the information they need to find desirable work. In these centers, individual job seekers will find information on labor markets, jobs, and education and training programs. These information programs will be paired with skills assessment and career counseling. Employers will also be served by the centers through screening, recruitment, and testing services. This array of services in one location should go far to empower the unemployed and underemployed.

These centers will move the department away from the fragmented delivery system of training and employment services to a system that is customer focused and responsive to the market. These centers will offer universal coverage and access, and they will be performance and outcome based.

The Cincinnati 2000 Program in OSHA. In its Cincinnati 2000 program, OSHA is experimenting with a new style of management. Procedural rules now require supervisory review for even the most minor action.

The Cincinnati 2000 program focuses on changing the way OSHA does business by emphasizing teamwork, self-reliance, and employee input. The goal of the project is to improve the quality of work by challenging employees and shifting accountability from management to employees.

This project will give compliance officers wider latitude to manage their inspections. The program will reduce the demands on supervisory time and allow the supervisors to function as executives, truly managing their employees and troubleshooting where necessary.

Employees in DOL may apply to have their program or office chosen as a laboratory. With this in mind, DOL sent a Reinvention Laboratory Application Form to all workers.

Looking Forward

The Department of Labor has stated that it will intensify its efforts to ensure that its internal reinvention becomes an ongoing and integral part of departmental thinking. The department is also working to create an organizational structure that places more authority in front-line employees, increases direct communication between all levels of employees, and eliminates needless layers of review. Finally, DOL has committed to working with the NPR to implement the recommendations made in this report.

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