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Please go to the Notable Results page for a summary of the items below.
- Safer Workplaces: The Department has taken a strategic approach to promoting health and safety that includes strong and fair enforcement and education and outreach efforts to help drive fatality and serious injury and illness rates in the American workplace to record lows. From 2001 through 2006, the overall injury and illness rate declined by 22 percent, and the worker fatality rate dropped by 7 percent from 2001 to 2006. Most notable is the reduction in the fatality rate among Hispanic workers, which declined by 17 percent between 2001 and 2006. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Record Wage and Hour Recoveries for Workers: Since 2001, the Department’s Wage and Hour Division’s strong and fair enforcement coupled with effective outreach to employers and workers has resulted in the agency recouping more than $1.25 billion for nearly two million workers. In FY 2007, 341,624 workers received recovered back wages – the second largest number since 1993, and the amount of wages recovered – $220,613,703 – is the highest ever. This represents a 67 percent increase over back wages recovered in 2001. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Preserving Workers’ Benefits: The Department’s strategic approach to protecting workers’ health, retirement and other benefit plans has set records – including $10.7 billion in monetary results since 2001 and $1.5 billion in 2007. During this same period, DOL has completed over 28,000 civil investigations and over 1,200 criminal investigations, which resulted in the indictment of 806 individuals for criminal activity related to employee benefit plans. Because of improved targeting and better outreach to workers and employers, the proportion of investigations closed “with results” has increased by 30 percent since FY 2001 and the number of criminal investigations closed with either a guilty plea or a criminal conviction has increased by 43 percent. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Safeguarding Jobs Tied to Commerce Through West Coast Ports: In October 2002, the Department helped resolve an impasse between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The labor dispute had caused the temporary closure of ports on the West Coast – costing the U.S. economy as much as $1 billion per day. The resolution of the dispute marked the first successful use of the Taft-Hartley Act in 30 years and protected the jobs of numerous workers who rely on the West Coast ports operating for their livelihood. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Combating Corruption Harming Union Members: During FY 2007, the Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) secured 100 indictments and 118 convictions against union officials and related parties for crimes, such as fraud and embezzlement. Since 2001, OLMS investigations have yielded a total of 842 indictments with 802 convictions and returned more than $88 million in restitution to rank-and-file union members. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Combating Corporate Fraud: The Department’s strong national enforcement strategy of investigating allegations of corporate misconduct that harms the benefit plans of workers was highlighted by the filing of DOL’s lawsuit against Enron, its officers, directors and administrative committee members. This single lawsuit resulted in a $220 million settlement to cover retirement and pension benefits of Enron employees and retirees. The Department’s strong enforcement efforts in this area help to ensure that those who manage pension and welfare plans are held accountable for any actions that harm workers. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Protecting Workers from Discrimination: In FY 2007, over 22,000 workers who had been subjected to unlawful employment discrimination by government contractors received more than $51 million in back pay, annualized salary and benefits. Ninety-eight percent of this amount was collected in cases of systemic discrimination – those involving a significant number of workers or applicants subjected to discrimination because of an unlawful employment practice or policy. This reflects a 78 percent increase over monetary remedies obtained in FY 2001 and marks the third consecutive year that DOL posted record enforcement numbers in this area. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Standing Up for Low-Wage Workers: The Department’s Wage and Hour Division has focused its resources on ensuring proper payment of wages to low- wage workers throughout the country. One example is an aggressive enforcement and communications plan to protect the rights of low-wage workers in the poultry processing industry. This has resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars in back pay owed to domestic and foreign-born workers alike. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Safer Workplaces for Miners: Since 2001, the Department’s mine safety and health agency has taken several actions, including issuing effective regulatory measures, strengthening enforcement, and improving training, technology and outreach, to help reduce fatality and serious injury and illness rates to record lows. In 2007, mining fatality and injury rates had been reduced by approximately 30 percent compared to averages of the 1990s. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Gulf Coast Recovery: The Department quickly responded to the 2005 storms that devastated the Gulf Coast by making resources available for workers displaced by the hurricanes and by providing technical assistance and resources to help protect those participating in cleanup and recovery activities. DOL provided over $290 million in emergency funds to give more than 99,000 dislocated workers a paycheck to participate in the cleanup and recovery efforts and to provide education and training for new career opportunities. Another $44 million in grants was provided to states to process claims and expedite unemployment insurance and disaster unemployment assistance payments for those left unemployed in the wake of the hurricanes. DOL effectively reallocated resources and developed innovative ways to disseminate information to protect workers and ensure compliance with labor laws by employers in the region. The Department also provided outreach by working with faith-based organizations, community activists, the federal contracting community, foreign consulates and local media. Since the 2005 hurricanes, DOL has opened more than 900 hurricane-related Wage and Hour cases and collected nearly $10.3 million in back wages for over 14,000 workers. DOL also continues to provide support to programs, including industry and community college partnerships, that train workers for jobs critical to the long-term economic recovery and rebuilding efforts in the region. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Compensating the Nation’s Energy Workers Exposed to Radiation: The Department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs successfully implemented the provisions of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act in 2001 (Part B) and again when Congress ordered the transfer of cases from the Department of Energy to DOL in October 2004 (Part E). Through 2007, DOL has provided eligible workers who were exposed to radiation and other toxic substances during employment, or their families, over $2.9 billion in lump sum compensation under Part B, Part E or both, as well as $170.8 million in medical benefits. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Employment Initiative to Reduce Recidivism of Ex-Offenders: In 2004, the Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives launched a Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI) designed to strengthen urban communities by competitively awarding grants to employment-centered organizations that provide mentoring, job training and other transitional services for ex-offenders. By the end of 2007, efforts through this initiative had placed 6,690 participants into jobs and achieved one-year post-release recidivism rates of 20 percent for those involved in the program – less than half the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ national benchmark of 44 percent. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Record Number of Partnerships to Promote Safety and Health: The Department has fostered more safety and health partnerships with unions and businesses than ever before. At the end of FY 2007, there were more than 1,830 Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) sites, more than 1,070 Safety and Health Achievement and Recognition Program (SHARP) sites, more than 150 Strategic Partnerships and more than 450 Alliance Program Agreements. Of the over 1,070 SHARP sites, almost half involve unions – an all-time high. Employers participating in VPP have a Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) case rate that is 52 percent below the average for non-participating employers. These types of partnerships demonstrate that improved outreach to employers and workers can effectively increase compliance with safety and health laws. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Common-Sense Approach to Ergonomics: The Department implemented a comprehensive strategy to effectively address musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace in response to Congress’ rejection of the previous administration’s “one-size-fits-all” rule, whose efficacy was challenged by many in the scientific community and which was estimated to have cost more than $4.5 billion. DOL developed a four-pronged approach that combined industry-specific guidelines, outreach, enforcement and research. The result has been a decline in ergonomic injuries. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Revised Overtime Rules to Protect Workers and Reduce Litigation: In August 2004, for the first time in over 50 years, the Department of Labor modernized and clarified overtime regulations to guarantee and strengthen overtime rights for more American workers than ever before. These regulations, for the first time ever, also explicitly guaranteed overtime protection for blue collar workers, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, factory workers, construction workers and hourly workers, among others. The changes enhanced overtime protection for workers by making the rules easier for employers to comply with, easier for workers to understand and easier for DOL’s Wage and Hour investigators to enforce effectively. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Improving Mine Safety: The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, also known as the MINER Act, was signed into law by President George W. Bush on June 15, 2006. This legislation is the most significant mine safety legislation since the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and contains a number of reforms to improve safety and health in America’s mines. In 2006 and 2007, the Department quickly and successfully implemented key provisions of this Act, including the publication of rules on emergency mine evacuation, civil penalties for violations and new safety requirements for seal strength criteria and construction – all of which provide better protections for our nation’s miners. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Strengthened Union Financial Disclosure Reports: Since 2001, the Department has worked to improve the administration of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), including the design and usefulness of the financial reports required by the Act, in order to provide union members with greater financial transparency. With the first significant update of the annual union financial disclosure report used by the nation’s largest unions (Form LM-2) in over 40 years, the Department has empowered rank-and-file union members to easily access clear and concise information on how their dues money is spent and on the financial condition of their unions – an action that is consistent with the President’s call for greater financial disclosure for corporations and pension funds. Although the reforms were challenged by special interest groups, the reforms were upheld in a significant U.S. Federal District Court decision and affirmed in large part by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Enhanced Union Conflict-of-Interest Disclosures: Certain problems were also identified with Form LM-30, the report filed by union officers and union employees to disclose possible conflicts between their personal financial interests and their duty to the union and its members. DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards made revisions to improve disclosure and clarify the form and instructions, which had remained essentially unchanged for more than 40 years. The need for these enhanced protections was illustrated by several cases where conflicts of interest should have been disclosed to union members and certain conduct could have – and should have – been prevented. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Protecting Jobs for Veterans: Although the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) was enacted in 1994, no regulations existed to help employers comply with it until this Administration. In 2005, the Department issued the first-ever regulations implementing statutory protections for employment and reemployment rights and benefits of National Guard and reservists when they return to civilian life. This is one of a series of proactive steps DOL has taken to ensure job security for those who put themselves in harm’s way to defend our freedoms. Other initiatives that DOL is involved with include REALifelines, a comprehensive new program to provide individualized job training, counseling and re-employment services to each and every veteran seriously injured or wounded in the War on Terrorism, and Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which assists separating service members during their period of transition into civilian life by offering job-search assistance and related services. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Pension Reform: On August 17, 2006, President Bush signed the Pension Protection Act (PPA) – the most sweeping reform of America’s pension laws in over 30 years. The Act helps to shore up the defined benefit pension system and provides for greater transparency of these plans for workers. It also allows for automatic enrollment in 401(k)-type plans and allows workers to receive investment advice related to their retirement accounts. Highlights of Department actions include publishing the October 2007 Qualified Default Investment Alternatives (QDIA) final rule and the November 2007 changes to the annual return/report regarding plan financial condition, investments and operations (Form 5500). The QDIA regulations enable employers to enroll workers in their 401(k) and other defined-contribution plans automatically while ensuring that their savings are appropriately invested so that workers have assets available at retirement. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Safeguarding Retirement Security in 401(k)-Type Plans: In February 2002, Secretary Chao outlined the President’s proposal to improve worker retirement security in defined contribution plans. The proposal included five main reforms: 30-day advance notice before a blackout period; restrictions on corporate officers from trading company stock held outside the plan during a blackout period; increased access to quality, professional investment advice; freedom to diversify investment in company stock after three years; and better information through quarterly benefits statements. The first two provisions were enacted as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and the final three provisions were enacted as part of the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Modernized Labor Certification Application Process: The Department's Permanent Foreign Labor Certification (PERM) program helps meet workforce needs when there are no available American workers to fill an open job and ensures that the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect U.S. workers. In December 2004, DOL published new regulations for the PERM program to permit electronic filing of applications. These new regulations significantly reduced paperwork and allowed for prompt decisions on requests for labor certification. Under the previous system, a backlog of more than 300,000 applications for labor certification had developed. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Combating Immigration Fraud: In May 2007, the Department implemented regulations to enhance program integrity and combat fraud and abuse in the permanent employment of aliens in the United States. The changes prohibit the substitution of alien beneficiaries on approved labor certifications; prohibit the sale, barter or purchase of permanent labor certifications or applications; and impose a 90-day window for employers to file approved permanent labor certifications in support of a petition with the Department of Homeland Security. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Leveling the Playing Field for Faith-Based and Community Organizations: In carrying out President Bush’s Executive Order 13279, the Department launched innovative projects to build stronger public-private partnerships with faith-based and community organizations that serve youth, job-seekers, workers and former prisoners who have paid their debt to society. In addition, DOL issued new regulations to ensure the equal treatment of organizations and individuals, without regard to religious affiliation or lack thereof. DOL also simplified the grant application formats and provided additional technical assistance to help faith-based and community organization partners apply for, and administer, funding. This has resulted in more than 1,326 grants worth $701 million being awarded to faith-based and community organizations from 2002-2007. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Enhanced Ability to Target Discrimination Among Federal Contractors: An independent research firm determined that the Equal Opportunity (EO) Survey, which had been used as a discrimination targeting mechanism, failed to find contractors who are actually discriminating. It found that using the EO Survey as a method of targeting discrimination actually directed the resources of the Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to the wrong places (this method had a 93 percent false positive rate). Therefore, in 2006, OFCCP eliminated the EO Survey requirement and directed resources to initiatives and programs that more effectively target discrimination. Return to the Notable Results page.
- First-Ever Interpretative Standards to Tackle Systemic Compensation Discrimination: In 2006, the Department published interpretive standards for evaluating compensation practices. This action provided contractors, who had previously had to comply with difficult to understand legal obligations, with the first ever definitive guidance on the subject. Because of the new transparent standards and their consistency with court rulings on pay discrimination law, the agency now has a much stronger basis to recognize and pursue investigations of possible systemic compensation discrimination. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Updating the Rule on Who is an Applicant in the Internet Age: In October 2005, the Department finalized regulations clarifying the recordkeeping requirements for federal contractors concerning who is an “applicant” in the context of the Internet and related technologies. Since the advent of the Internet and the creation of “on-line” job markets in the mid-to-late 1990s, DOL’s regulations had not kept pace with the new technologies. The final rule provides clarity to stakeholders and reduced recordkeeping burdens for federal contractors. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Protecting the Integrity of the Unemployment Trust Fund: In 2003, the Department published a regulation to protect the integrity of the Unemployment Trust Fund by ensuring that funds could only be spent on unemployment benefits, as was originally intended by law. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Helping Employers and Unions Comply with the Law: In June 2002, the Department launched a new initiative to help employers and others in the regulated community understand how to comply with the laws and regulations DOL administers. Under the Compliance Assistance Initiative, which supplements and is a complement to vigorous enforcement efforts, DOL has made compliance assistance an integral part of how the Department fulfills its mission to protect job seekers, wage earners, retirees and union members. As part of this initiative, Secretary Chao created an Office of Compliance Assistance headed by a senior career official. Return to the Notable Results page.
- The President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI): In 2006, the Department launched Career Advancement Account (CAA) demonstration projects in eight states. CAAs were first announced as an element of President’s American Competitiveness Initiative and are part of a broader effort to reform the workforce investment system and the billions of dollars spent on worker training. CAAs are self-managed accounts that get more training dollars directly in the hands of workers. These accounts empower and encourage workers to seek the training that best suits their needs. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Expanding Opportunity for Spouses of Serving Military: In November 2007, the Departments of Labor and Defense jointly launched an initiative to provide military spouses with opportunities to pursue portable careers in high-demand, high-growth occupations. This three-year Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative, offered at 18 sites in eight states with large military populations, will utilize Career Advancement Accounts, modeled on those created for the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative, and enable military spouses to develop the skills needed to successfully start, navigate and advance their careers. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED): In the global economy, developing a skilled workforce is a key factor in our nation’s economic competitiveness. As part of the President’s Competitiveness Agenda, the Department launched the WIRED initiative to integrate workforce development with economic development and to demonstrate that a trained workforce can generate economic development and job creation in a region. The WIRED initiative operates in 39 regional economies in 31 states and Puerto Rico. In total, DOL has invested $326.3 million in WIRED through FY 2007 and has leveraged over $483 million in additional investments from 10 federal agency partners, state universities, land grant colleges, private sector partners, foundations and states to support innovate approaches to education and workforce development that go beyond traditional strategies and state borders. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Community-Based Job Training Grants: In October 2005, the Department launched the first competitive round of grants under the President’s Community-Based Job Training Initiative to strengthen the capacity of community and technical colleges to train workers in the areas and skills required by today’s employers. The Department has now held three $125M grant competitions and total awards to date are $325M to 211 community college partnerships to support workforce training for high growth industries, such as healthcare, construction, advanced manufacturing and energy. Return to the Notable Results page.
- High Growth Job Training Initiative: The Department has focused job training programs on preparing workers for jobs in growing sectors of the economy. In 2004, DOL implemented the President’s High-Growth Job Training Initiative and created partnerships between employers, the workforce investment system and educational institutions. Awards through 2007 totaled $288 million for 156 projects. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Hispanic Worker Initiative: To expand career opportunities for Hispanic workers, the Department developed an initiative that focuses on their specific needs. The initiative helps develop language and occupational skills, helps Hispanic youth stay on an educational path that leads to rewarding careers and encourages collaboration between employers, community colleges and the public workforce system to help Hispanic workers build skills for jobs in growing industries. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Demanding Effectiveness from Programs: The Department has assessed all programs for their effectiveness, sought to utilize resources more effectively, and end those programs that do not fulfill their mission. As a result, between FY 2001 to FY 2007, ineffective programs costing $344 million were eliminated and resources were redirected. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Meeting the Goals of the President’s Management Agenda: The President’s Management Agenda (PMA) is a results-driven strategy for improving the management of the Federal government. DOL was the first agency to receive all green scores from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the first five categories of the PMA (E-Government, Financial Performance, Human Capital, Budget Performance and Integration and Competitive Sourcing). Return to the Notable Results page.
- Streamlining DOL’s Regulatory Agenda: The Department has reduced its regulatory agenda from an unrealistic 145 items in the Fall of 2000 to approximately 87 items at the end of FY 2007. This was accomplished by: withdrawing items that were outdated and had not actually been acted upon for years, completing several unfinished regulations, and better aligning DOL’s regulatory initiatives with the Department’s priorities. This approach has reduced uncertainty for the regulated community and allowed DOL to concentrate its resources on modernizing existing regulations to improve worker protections. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Reformed Performance Appraisal System for DOL Employees: The Department revamped its performance and appraisal system for civil service employees. This revamped system created performance plans for managers, set pay-for-performance standards, and established a realistic rating system for all of DOL’s 15,000 employees. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Rebuilding Labor Oversight Capability and Making Information Available to Union Members and the Public: The Department’s Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS), the primary Federal agency with oversight responsibility for labor unions, is being rebuilt after years of neglect during the 1990s. This Administration has doubled funding for the office and added almost 100 new investigators. The union audit program, which languished during the 1990s, and now has been substantially restored with the number of audits rising from 238 in 2001 to 775 in 2007 – an increase of 226 percent. OLMS also established a public disclosure Web site at www.unionreports.gov that contains union annual financial reports and reports required to be filed by employers, labor relations consultants, and union officers and employees, as well as copies of collective bargaining agreements. The increased oversight and the expanded public access to information has improved the overall transparency and accountability of unions and better protected union member rights. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Recognized Outside the Government for Excellence: In 2008, the Department received its eighth consecutive Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting from the Association of Government Accountants. Since 2001, DOL has received four President’s Quality Awards and has been ranked #1 four times among all Federal agencies for its Annual Performance and Accountability Report by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Modern Approach to Affirmative Action Programs: In March 2002, the Department established procedures permitting multi-establishment federal contractors to develop written affirmative action programs (AAPs) along business or functional lines. Standard establishment-based AAPs often cover only a small number of employees, which make them more difficult to use for demonstrating compliance with equal employment opportunity requirements. The new business or functional line AAPs improve the ability of government contractors to meet equal employment opportunity obligations and also ease paperwork and time-cost burdens for contractors by reducing the number of written affirmative action programs they are required to create. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Achieving Results Without New Spending: Without increasing spending, the Department has consistently met its strategic goals and achieved new records in worker protection. In fact, DOL has achieved cost savings in its discretionary budget of 15 percent in real terms since 2001. Return to the Notable Results page.
- Competed Older Worker Grants: In 2002, for the first time ever, the Department successfully competed approximately $342 million in grants for the national Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). In 2006, DOL awarded nearly $260 million to 18 organizations that successfully competed in the second SCSEP grant competition. These grants, which had been largely awarded to the same grantees for years prior to introducing competition in 2002, help to transition older workers from unemployment to community service to full time employment. The Department also published final regulations implementing Title V of the Older Americans Act of 2000 that include new performance standards for grantees. Return to the Notable Results page.