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News Release

U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia Signs First Secretary’s Orders and Announces Department Management Decisions

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia announced a series of management decisions, including his first Secretary's Orders since his confirmation in September 2019.

"Two constitutional principles that have guided me since my confirmation are 'fair notice' and the duty to 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed,'" Secretary Scalia said. "Establishing policy for the Department, making sure the Department is well-run, and taking responsibility for its actions are important duties of the Secretary of Labor. Today's actions enhance the ability that I and future secretaries will have to fulfill those duties."

Secretary's Orders are the primary means for formally communicating policies, decisions regarding the distribution and performance of the department's business, as well as delegations of authority and assignment of responsibilities from the Secretary of Labor. These orders are often issued to ensure the department's orderly compliance with Executive Orders and statutory functions and responsibilities.

"Today's Orders and decisions show the respect for the crucial policy role of the Office of the Secretary and the commitment to maximize every resource that is allocated to the Department," said Deputy Secretary Patrick Pizzella. "Secretary Scalia has thoughtfully engaged with Department leaders and staff and these decisions offer a clear path forward." 

Secretary's Order and Proposed Rule for Secretarial Review of Administrative Review Board and Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals Decisions

The first Secretary's Order, 01-2020, establishes the Secretary's authority to review, at his discretion, decisions of the Administrative Review Board (ARB). 

Prior to 1996, the Secretary of Labor directly decided many cases with the assistance of an executive office. In 1996, the Secretary of Labor delegated responsibility to oversee and decide these departmental adjudications to the newly created ARB. This action provided that ARB decisions would be the final action of the department. Although ARB decisions are made on behalf of the Secretary, the 1996 delegation did not provide any way for the Secretary to review them in his discretion.

By establishing discretionary secretarial review of ARB decisions, Secretary's Order 01-2020 provides an additional mechanism by which the Secretary may fulfill his responsibility to oversee and direct the actions of the department. The order contemplates that review will be limited to cases of "exceptional importance." Similar review procedures are in place at the Departments of Justice, Education and the Interior.

At the same time he signed Secretary's Order 01-2020, Secretary Scalia also signed a direct final rule and identical notice of proposed rulemaking that amends various departmental regulations to establish a similar system of discretionary secretarial review over cases pending before, and decisions issued by, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA). An identical direct final rule and notice of proposed rulemaking will be published shortly in the Federal Register.

The department created BALCA in 1987 by regulation to streamline and promote uniformity in Administrative Law Judge decisions pertaining to the department's foreign labor certification programs. As with the ARB, when BALCA was established, no mechanism was put in place to allow the Secretary to exercise appropriate oversight of its decisions. The changes to the department's regulations address this gap.

The Secretary's Order and rule preserve existing processes by which the ARB and BALCA consider and decide cases, while also giving the Secretary discretion to issue his or her own decision in a case where warranted. Both the Secretary's Order and the rules include new safeguards to ensure fair process for the parties in cases where discretionary review is exercised by the Secretary. 

Secretary's Order Regarding Procedures for Appointment of Individuals to Department Appellate Boards

Secretary's Order 02-2020 will rescind Secretary's Order 05-2018 to streamline the process by which members of the ARB, the Benefits Review Board (BRB) and the Employment Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB) are appointed, reverting to the longstanding process that previously existed for these appointments.  

Secretary Order for Reestablishing the Management Review Board

Secretary's Order 03-2020 will reestablish the department's Management Review Board (MRB). The MRB is an internal body of agency heads focused on improving the management and administration of the department.

The MRB was first established in 2001 as a means of communicating the department's leadership priorities; implementing administration initiatives; and ensuring that all department agency heads were working together to implement the President's Management Agenda (PMA) and the Secretary's strategic goals.

The MRB will be co-chaired by Bryan Slater, the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (ASAM), and James Williams, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The ASAM and CFO oversee the department's administrative and financial portfolio, including information technology, human resources, acquisition, and financial and risk management.

The first MRB meeting is scheduled to take place in March 2020.

Reassignment of Members and Alternate of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board

Effective today, the Secretary authorized reassignments for the ECAB appointees, naming Alec Koromilas as Chief Judge and Chairman, Christopher Godfrey as Member and Vice Chairman, and Patricia Howard Fitzgerald as Alternate Member.

Alec Koromilas

Judge Koromilas was appointed as one of three permanent members of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board in January 2002.

Judge Koromilas received his Juris Doctor degree from Franklin Pierce Law School and his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Boston University. He is a member of both the New Hampshire and Maine State Bars. 

Christopher Godfrey

Judge Godfrey was appointed to the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board in August 2014.

Judge Godfrey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Drake University College of Arts and Sciences and a Juris Doctor degree with Honors from Drake University School of Law. He is a member of the Iowa Bar.

Patricia Howard Fitzgerald

Judge Patricia Howard Fitzgerald was appointed as one of the three permanent members of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board in July 2012.

Judge Fitzgerald holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Juris Doctor degree from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law. She is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia Bars.

The ECAB was created in 1946 to hear appeals taken from determinations and awards under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act with respect to claims of federal employees injured in the performance of duty. The ECAB is comprised of a chair, two members and a variable number of alternates, all appointed by the Secretary.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Office of the Secretary
February 21, 2020
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Media Contact: Emily Weeks
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