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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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DOL Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2003
Outcome Goal HR

Establish DOL as a Model Workplace

The Department is committed to recruiting, developing, and retaining a high-quality, diverse workforce that effectively meets changing mission requirements and program priorities. Through workforce analysis and planning, the Department identifies the human capital requirements to meet our organizational goals and needs, so that DOL will ensure that the right people are in the right positions at the right time.

Workforce planning is directed towards reducing the distance between the Department's decision-makers and our customers, enhancing front-line service delivery, addressing current and projected staff shortages, ensuring that employees have the skills critical to their current positions and are prepared to progress to higher levels of responsibility, and anticipating changes to staff and competency requirements. For example, employees in occupations that are no longer necessary as a result of technology or changing business practices are afforded the opportunity to be retrained, and the impact of an aging workforce is minimized via succession planning programs such as the Senior Executive Service Development Program, the Mid-Level Management Development Program, and the MBA Outreach Effort.

The Department also remains committed to ensuring safe and healthful workplaces for our employees, while reducing the human costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses. The Department is expanding use of technology to provide and deliver web-based, interactive occupational safety and health training targeted to the hazards and conditions contributing to injuries and illnesses. Best practices at work sites with lower than average injury rates are being evaluated to determine whether these practices can be used effectively elsewhere.

The Department has three related Performance Goals, all of which were achieved in FY 2003. In addition, DOL earned a “green” progress score for Strategic Management of Human Capital in the latest President's Management Agenda Scorecard. A more detailed discussion of results and strategies follows.

Establish DOL as a Model Workplace

Performance Goal HR1 (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management) - FY 2003

The right people are in the right place at the right time to carry out the mission of the Department.

Indicators1

Develop competencies for nine more mission-critical occupations and develop/select tools for workforce skills assessment based upon competencies.

Improvement will be realized in 20 percent of diversity indicators for professional and mission-critical occupations exhibiting under-representation in FY 2002.

Continued improvement is realized in the extent to which diversity in the DOL workforce reflects the civilian labor force.

Results

This goal was achieved. DOL performance met or exceeded targeted levels for all performance indicators.

Program Description

To accomplish its mission more effectively, DOL strives to attract highly competent and diverse job applicants. DOL has developed targeted recruitment efforts to increase the diversity of the Department's workforce and to address under-representation in professional and mission-critical occupations. The Department has continued to develop competency models for its mission-critical occupations. These competency models will allow us to assess the skills of our workforce, identify skill gaps, develop training programs to eliminate skill gaps, and focus recruitment efforts on attracting applicants with the right competencies.

Analysis of Results

Because the Department regularly exceeded its previous targets for managers' satisfaction with the quality of applicants referred for their vacancies, it no longer reports on that indicator. Additionally, the Department no longer reports on retention for targeted professional occupations, as recent data demonstrated a level of improvement that no longer warranted attention. To better define this goal, DOL has established two sub-goals. Each sub-goal is supported by one or more performance indicators. The FY 2003 results by sub-goal and indicator follow.

The DOL workforce is a prepared and competent workforce.

  • Develop competencies for nine more mission-critical occupations and develop/select tools for workforce skills assessment based upon competencies.

    This target was reached. The President's Management Agenda calls for the elimination of workforce skill gaps in mission-critical occupations — those major occupations essential to the accomplishment of the Department's mission.

    Competencies measure the knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and other characteristics needed to perform work roles or occupational functions successfully. Identifying these core competencies serves as the first step to assessing and eliminating skill gaps in the workforce. Of the 27 mission-critical occupations the Department identified as part of its overall workforce planning analysis, it developed competency models for 18 of these occupations by the end of FY 2002 and for the remaining nine occupations in FY 2003. To aid in performing competency assessments, DOL has purchased an online competency assessment tool. Once the competency models have been loaded into the tool, it will allow for self and supervisory assessment of skills, identify development needs, and link the development needs to relevant training programs. Competencies will provide the foundation for implementing an e-Recruit tool that will screen applicants based on identified competencies for the occupation.

The DOL workforce is a diverse workforce.

  • Improvement will be realized in 20 percent of diversity indicators for professional and mission-critical occupations exhibiting under-representation in FY 2002.

    This target was reached. Under-representation of racial and ethnic groups and women exists in many of the Department's professional and administrative occupations. At the end of FY 2002, DOL determined that pockets of under-representation still existed in 69 ethnic-occupational groupings (such as Hispanic engineers, or Asian/Pacific Islander attorneys). In the 69 professional or mission-critical administrative occupation-ethnic group categories, representation improved in 26, or 38 percent, exceeding the goal of 20 percent.

  • Continued improvement is realized in the extent to which diversity in the DOL workforce reflects the civilian labor force.

    This target was reached. The following chart provides diversity data on the Department of Labor for the last four years. There was continued improvement in the two main under-represented groups, Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders. By the end of FY 2003, representation of Asian/Pacific Islanders had risen to 4.0 percent, exceeding the rate in the civilian labor force. Representation of people with disabilities also substantially improved, in part due to a self-certification survey of all employees conducted in FY 2002. This survey enabled us to update our database with more accurate information.

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    Goal Assessment and Future Plans

    The performance indicator for measuring the quality of the workforce will be changed for FY 2004. With the completion of competency models for all mission-critical occupations, the focus of the competency initiative will shift toward assessing skill gaps in the workforce and developing strategies to close those gaps. DOL will assess skill gaps using the new online competency assessment tool. A new indicator on succession planning will be added to address management skill gaps. To reach the target for this indicator, DOL will have to graduate at least 75 percent of employees participating in DOL's SES Candidate Development and Mid-Level Management Development programs. The diversity indicator will also be modified slightly, shifting focus from ethnic and minority diversity in the overall DOL workforce to diversity in mission-critical occupations and leadership positions.

Reduce the Rate of Lost Production Days

Performance Goal HR2 (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management) – FY 2003

Reduce the rate of lost production days by two percent (i.e., number of days employees spend away from work due to work related injuries and illnesses).

Results

The goal was achieved. For FY 2003 the Department achieved a rate of 46.9 lost days per 100 employees, against a target of 52.6 lost days per 100 employees.

Program Description

DOL's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM) strives to reduce work related injuries and illnesses by focusing on hazard recognition and control, emergency preparedness, electrical safety, ergonomics, and indoor air quality. DOL addresses workplace safety by equipping supervisors and employees with the knowledge they need to identify and eliminate unsafe work conditions and to actively promote effective safety management.

Analysis of Results

DOL's reduction in lost production days is attributable to implementing the strategies outlined below and to providing agencies with quarterly reports on their progress towards achieving this goal. With frequent data updates, agencies are able to target intervention efforts promptly and accurately.

Strategies

To reduce the number of lost production days, DOL organized an interagency workplace safety group. The interagency group developed and DOL implemented the following recommendations: to contract with a vendor to provide return-to-work assistance to the Agency workers' compensation coordinators; to increase the use of injured workers to fill limited or light duty vacant positions; and to provide training for agency workers' compensation coordinators on return-to-work strategies. The Department worked closely with the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) to identify injured employees who are the best candidates for return to productive employment. This effort, coupled with closer cooperation between the workers' compensation coordinators and frontline managers, permitted the Department to provide earlier accommodation to partially disabled workers. OASAM conducted a training conference for DOL's agency workers' compensation coordinators on how to effectively return employees to work. The Department also enhanced its existing guide on strategies to return injured employees to work to incorporate recommendations for working with a Department contractor who is an expert in return-to-work strategies. DOL has increased its staff resources dedicated to return-to-work efforts.

Management Issues

Management Challenges: DOL has limited resources to dedicate to hiring and training workers' compensation coordinators. DOL is actively encouraging agencies to use workplace accommodation flexibilities to return employees to work.

Internal Program Evaluations and Audits: DOL conducts annual safety and health work-site inspections, and annual safety and health reviews of Job Corps Centers. The key findings from these recent evaluations and audits are that the most frequent cause of injuries is “slips, trips, and falls,” and that the second most frequent injury cause is repetitive motion. It should be noted that the majority of Job Corps student injuries occur during recreation.

Goal Assessment and Future Plans

The Department has met or exceeded its safety and health goals for the second straight year. This achievement is a direct result of the emphasis management has placed on improving employee safety and giving due attention to the workers' compensation processes. Future plans include:

  • Enhancing the Safety and Health Information Management System to include expanded reporting. This will ensure managers and supervisors have the detailed information necessary to actively manage their safety program, by eliminating the causes of injuries and illnesses to DOL employees;
  • Conducting Job Corps Center annual safety reviews by contract to ensure consistency and uniformity;
  • Implementing agency safety and workers' compensation program reviews;
  • Expanding the use of web-based or other electronic safety and health training to include supervisors, employee representatives, and persons who conduct safety self-inspections; and
  • Increased involvement of Human Resources Specialists to identify employees on the “Primary Consideration List” that demonstrate return-to-work potential.

Reduce the Injury Rate and Improve The Timeliness of Filing Injury Claim Forms

Performance Goal HR3 (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management) – FY 2003

Reduce the overall occurrence of injuries and illnesses for DOL employees by three percent, and improve the timeliness of filing injury/illness claims by five percent.

Indicators

Decrease the total case rate of illnesses, accidents, and injuries by three percent.

Increase in timeliness of reporting new injuries by five percent.

Results

The goal was achieved. DOL achieved an injury/illness rate of 2.5. DOL's performance for the timeliness of filing workers' compensation claims in FY 2003 was 83.6 percent on time. This exceeds DOL's timeliness goal of 78 percent for FY 2003, and represents a 6.43 percentage point improvement over FY 2002.

Program Description

This goal is one of two that DOL uses to measure its successful implementation of the Federal Employees Safety and Injury Prevention Initiative led by DOL's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Reduction in the rate of injuries and illness to DOL employees is critical, as it will lead to increased productivity and decreases in costly workers' compensation claims. To reduce DOL employees' injuries and illnesses, the Department's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM) monitors work-related injuries and illnesses, and initiates appropriate interventions and corrective action. These include creating, designing, equipping, and operating an ergonomic assessment room where employees are able to try various work station products designed to reduce the possibility of repetitive motion syndrome. Providing regional safety and health managers with an inspection protocol ensures consistent, standardized workplace inspections throughout the Department.

Analysis of Results

In FY 2003, DOL achieved both targets for this goal. DOL's improved performance represents significant improvement in providing a safer, more healthful work environment for employees and in securing medical and income replacement benefits in a timely manner. Because of the varied missions and occupational demands of the Department's work force, injury and illness rates differ between DOL agencies. OASAM continues to provide to DOL's agencies detailed and targeted analysis of their respective injury rates and types. In addition to providing agency-specific recommendations based on these analyses, the Department has selected repetitive stress injuries for special emphasis on a department-wide basis.

Strategies

In FY 2001, the Department deployed key reporting and information systems that provide faster claims filing and greater accessibility to injury data. For example, the Safety and Health Information Management System expansion provides the capability to file claims electronically with OWCP. This significantly improved the timeliness of filing claim forms. In addition, the expansion of this management information system provides a wealth of data that DOL agencies now use to promptly analyze the nature and causes of its employees' injuries and illnesses. OASAM trained DOL safety and health officers and workers' compensation coordinators to make effective use of these tools. In FY 2003, the Department continued its emphasis on timely case reporting and reduction of injury/ill-ness rates. DOL expanded supervisory safety training to include a safety module in the Leadership Competencies course and placed a revised Supervisory Safety Self Study Guide on the Department's Intranet. The Department also placed information on the identification of common hazards and repetitive stress assessments on the DOL Internet.

Management Issues

Data: OWCP provides data for the timeliness of injury claims in its time-lag report for Federal agencies. This data is also tracked “real-time” by OASAM's Safety and Health Information Management System. OSHA provides final injury and illness rates to Federal agencies by combining OWCP workers' compensation claims data with employment data from the Office of Personnel Management.

Management Challenges: Factors influencing DOL's success in reducing the rate of injury and illness of its employees include maintaining a continued focus of DOL agency managers on actions to reduce injury/illness rates, and training managers, supervisors, and employees on how to identify, avoid, and correct/minimize hazards in the workplace. Factors influencing DOL's success in exceeding its timeliness goal include instituting electronic workers' compensation claims filing and maintaining the focus of DOL's managers and supervisors on prompt claims reporting.

Internal Program Evaluations and Audits: DOL conducts annual safety and health work-site inspections, and annual safety and health reviews of Job Corps Centers. Key findings from these recent evaluations and audits include: the most frequent cause of injuries is “slips, trips, and falls.” The second most frequent injury cause is repetitive motion. These two causes relate to the majority of injuries being sprains/strains and repetitive motion trauma. The majority of Job Corps student injuries occur during recreation.

Goal Assessment and Future Plans

The goals for FY 2004 will be a three percent reduction in the injury/illness rate and achieving 85 percent timeliness in reporting workers' compensation cases to OWCP.


1These are the indicators that the Department finalized for the Revised Final FY 2003 Performance Plan. Due to an error, they were not updated in the version of that document that was published on the DOL website.


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