A. Trend Analysis
In FY 2004, OPM experienced a surge in EEO complaints; however, the spike in total complaints is attributable to an isolated occurrence and does not reflect any trend or deviation from the relatively minor complaint activity that typically occurs at OPM. Specifically, in FY 2004, a group of 45 retirees from the Panama Canal Commission each filed individual complaints, alleging race and national origin discrimination in the Panama Canal Commission’s determinations on whether they were entitled to a rate pay adjustment while they were employed, and which subsequently affected their annuities as calculated by OPM. As such, these 45 complaints resulted from an atypical situation where a group of individuals in fact challenged an action by an agency other than OPM, with OPM being only indirectly involved because of its administration of the retirement system. Additionally, the challenged practice should have been more properly raised through a class complaint since only a single employment action was at issue, and the filing of separate individual complaints on a single employment decision creates a misleading appearance of a problem due to the resulting upswing in OPM’s EEO complaints during FY 2004. Otherwise, OPM’s complaints activity data does not reflect any trend.
B. Causal Analysis
See paragraph A above.
C. Practical Knowledge Gained through Experience
Through experience in managing its workforce based upon merit principles, and with the arrival of a new EEO Director with substantial experience in EEO, OPM will continue to apply a wealth of practical knowledge towards ensuring EEO and civil rights. OPM is committed to EEO principles and practices in all of its management decisions and personnel activities, and it is the goal of OPM to develop and retain a high-quality, diverse workforce that is representative of our society. OPM believes that a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic environment promotes better communication, ideas and trust between individuals. Therefore, OPM will continue its emphasis on attracting the best candidates from a variety of sources, selecting and advancing the best qualified employees based upon merit, training its managers and employees on their EEO rights and responsibilities, providing equal opportunities to all individuals, and providing a prompt, fair, and impartial review and adjudication of any allegations of discrimination.
See paragraph D below for specific actions taken by OPM to advance its EEO program.
D. Actions Planned/Taken to Improve Agency Complaint or Civil Rights Program
Towards the end of FY 2004, OPM took major steps towards creating a model EEO program. OPM hired a new EEO Director, provided substantial funding for the EEO office, and approved all recruitment necessary to meet the EEO office’s staffing needs based upon its workload and mission. OPM also maintained the EEO Director’s direct reporting access to the Director of OPM on major EEO matters.
In FY 2004 and continuing in FY 2005, OPM’s EEO Office has instituted major improvements to position itself for a banner performance year in FY 2005. The EEO Office procured and implemented an on-line computer database to manage and track EEO complaints data. The EEO Office recruited a full staff of highly qualified employees with EEO program experience and has also begun providing its staff with regular training to deliver a full complement of high-quality EEO services. The EEO Office has made great progress in developing standard operating procedures and internal controls to improve complaints processing time frames, consistent with EEO regulations. The EEO Office has also improved its procurement process to more efficiently and expediently employ contractor services for EEO investigations and alternative dispute resolution. Moreover, the EEO Office has improved its communication with its customers to better serve complainants and to enhance the complaints information provided to managers, and has provided EEO training to Agency employees and managers to proactively prevent discrimination.
Additionally, OPM continues to regularly assess its practices and policies to ensure compliance with EEO laws and to avoid systemic barriers to EEO. OPM is currently in the process of considering updated policies on EEO, anti-harassment, and reasonable accommodation. OPM believes that it will best achieve the Presidential Management Agenda emphasis on strategic management of human capital by focusing on the following principles: demonstrated commitment to EEO from agency leadership; integration of EEO into the agency’s strategic mission; management and program accountability; proactive prevention of unlawful discrimination; efficiency; and responsiveness and legal compliance.