The Labor Department in The Carter
A Summary Report January 14, 1981
By Ray Marshall
Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM)
Through legislation and Executive Orders, several new programs and additional responsibilities were added to the Department of Labor during the Carter Administration. These, in turn, had an impact on the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, which was responsible for their orderly integration into the structure and systems of the Department.
One of the most significant organizational changes was the transfer of the Mine Safety and Health Administration from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Labor. That change alone increased the size of the Department by some 3,300 positions. Another important organizational change was the consolidation in the Department of the Federal Contract Compliance Program which merged the program responsibilities of 11 Federal agencies. That change added some 1,100 employees to the Department's rolls.
The Comptroller's Office had a lead role in the development and implementation of plans related to the President's Financial Priorities Program. Particular attention was given to the closeout of grants and contracts, including the significant reduction of backlogs in those areas. High priority objectives were established to improve cash management and debt collection procedures. A new policy on indirect cost determinations was issued.
Significant progress was also made in the development and implementation of an automated procurement accountability and control system, which provides for document generation and control of both obligations and payment scheduling. The Mine Safety and health Administration's accounting operations were integrated with those of the Department. Another major effort eliminated a large backlog of data required for the Federal Procurement Data System, the government-wide system managed by GSA that provides financial and management data on all government contracts.
Operationally, the Department has decentralized both payroll and accounting input functions to its regional offices, and the latter to headquarters components. Plans are now being formulated to complete the decentralization effort by shifting payroll input functions to headquarters offices. Plans are also being made for a comprehensive modernization of the integrated personnel-payroll system to accommodate the demands of Civil Service Reform, new Treasury requirements, and other increased workloads.
The Department was among the very first to utilize two OMB automated budget systems in order to provide more accurate and timely data in the formulation and execution processes. DOL's effort was completed two years ahead of the schedule established by OMB for government wide implementation. These systems greatly facilitate management and the zero based budgeting processes which were mandated less than four years ago. The Department can now provide computer generated ranking and cumulative totals of budget authority, outlays and ceilings, as well as the majority of the special tables and exhibits required by OMB. Concurrently there has been an effort to refine and update the automated position control system; further work needs to be done in this area. Other systems work has also been completed, providing budget projections at detailed levels for Departmental management components.
The Comptroller's Office also did extensive work developing and installing improved management controls on certain object classes; for example, travel, consulting services, and furniture. These new planning and execution controls derive directly from concerns expressed by OMB, GAO, Treasury and the Congress. There were also numerous activities related to the implementation of the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA).
Meeting the challenge of the Civil Service Reform Act was the focus of OASAM's personnel activities and resources the past two years.
In 1979, I approved regulations implementing the Department's Senior Executive Service (SES), providing for a single personnel system to manage the personnel requirements of DOL senior executives, including performance standards development, performance appraisal, compensation and executive development. Central to the work of developing the SES regulations was a concerted effort to obtain input from senior managers and to keep them appraised of progress. Employee briefings, newsletters and a major two day conference offering participants an opportunity to review, discuss and make recommendations on the proposed regulations helped sustain two-way communications and build support for these major changes, once implemented.
In FY 80, the remaining development was completed and all SES systems were implemented. Work on the Executive Development programs also was successfully concluded in FY 1980. The DOL plan was the first SES candidates program from a Cabinet level agency approved by OPM, further supporting OPM's recognition of DOL's government-wide leadership position in implementing CSRA.
Other major initiatives of FY 79-80 included the development of a performance appraisal system for DOL supervisors and managers in grades GS 13-15, linking management compensation and performance appraisal for the first time. Personnel management highlights included a major review of supervisory training in the Department completed during FY 80, and special recruitment efforts focusing on under representation of Hispanic employees in DOL, resulting in an increase of DOL Hispanic employment from 393 to 1,104, a 280 percent increase over four years. The Department earlier had made much more progress in the employment and upgrading of women and blacks.
To meet the increased safety and health needs caused by a doubling of the number of employees in the Department, OASAM recruited additional professional personnel. A computerized accident reporting system for the Department became operational in 1980.
Equal Employment Office activities emphasized two program areas, the aforementioned Hispanic recruitment and upward mobility. The Hispanic recruitment effort included the Vacancy Outreach Service, designed to develop qualified Hispanic applicants for professional, para-professional, and technical positions throughout the Department; HACE was founded in 1977 to serve as a channel through which special concerns of Hispanics could be communicated to top departmental officials and to the Hispanic Employment Program Manager; and my goal for each Agency within the Department to achieve a nationwide representational goal of 4 percent for Hispanics. Hispanic representation in the Department increased from 3.1 percent in April 1977 to 4.6 percent in September 1980.
In the area of upward mobility, I established the first numerical upward mobility goals for each Agency and region. The number of such positions that have been filled each year has increased from 70 in FY 77 to 189 for FY 80. Additionally, the Department received approval from the Civil Service Commission for a training agreement whereby standard qualification requirements could be waived under the upward mobility program thereby ensuring an increase in the pool of employee applicants who had demonstrated the potential for upward mobility but had not met certain technical qualification requirements.
These internal affirmative action programs are very important to the Department's mission. Not only does greater representation of those who have been excluded enhance the Department's ability to target its resources to the heterogeneous American work force, but also improves both the quality of our personnel (by providing a wider pool from which to select) and greater opportunities for those who have been excluded. Affirmative action also makes it possible for the country to develop its human resources more effectively.
The most important statutory change affecting the Department's internal EEO program was the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which included the Garcia Amendment, requiring a precise definition of minority under representation. The resulting Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program was first implemented in the Department for FY 80.
The most significant accomplishments of the Administrative Programs and Services Division were those made by the Library, and in the area of Space Management. The Library added over 50 online data base services, significantly enhancing research capabilities and providing timely access to detailed and current informational sources.
A computerized circulation data base system was implemented to enhance effective control of Library resource materials, to assist management in readily identifying duplications and to save staff and patron time.
Another noteworthy accomplishment took place when the Solicitor's Law Library was consolidated with the DOL Library.
Significant activities in space management included the establishment of over 30 field offices to administer the Black Lung Benefits Program, the expansion of the Office of Administrative Law Judges in Washington, D.C., and the establishment of new offices in three cities. The Federal Contract Compliance merger necessitated the establishment of over 700 field offices, as well as the provision of space for 200 people in the Department's headquarters.
Productivity and Quality of Working Life
Since 1967 the Department of Labor has participated in the government wide productivity measurement and reporting system. While the leadership of this program government wide rests with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each Agency of the Department provides its own information for processing by BLS. As of Fiscal Year 1980, all major Agencies of the Department are compiling and reporting productivity statistics. For Fiscal Year 1979, there were approximately 525 separate measures used by managers in fourteen different component parts of the Department to measure productivity. While the gathering and reporting on this information rests with each operating Agency, this effort is coordinated by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management.
In April 1979, recognizing the concept known as quality of working life, I issued a directive dealing with the improvement of internal productivity and quality of working life in the Department of Labor. Each Assistant Secretary in the Department was assigned responsibility for developing and carrying out activities aimed at improving organizational productivity and for protecting and improving the quality of working life for the employees. I also established a Committee on Internal Productivity and Quality of Working Life, composed of one representative from each Agency in the Department, to advise me on actions and proposals to improve DOL productivity and quality of working life.
At this writing the Committee is promoting quality of working life projects in the DOL Agencies.
In addition to the organizational changes noted earlier, the Department established an Office of Special Investigations and later the Office of the Inspector General and an Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. An Office of Civil Rights was established to centralize DOL efforts toward seeking equality of opportunity in programs receiving financial assistance from the Department. Within OASAM a Directorate of Management Policy and Systems was established to provide a focus on management policy, systems and consulting services, and a Directorate on Information Technology was established with responsibility for Automated Data Processing (ADP), Data Telecommunications, and Work Processing Technology.
Among general management improvements, two areas were prominent, public-use reporting and mail costs. The Department tightened its restrictions on reporting requirements imposed on the general public, eliminating duplication and unnecessary data collection. New legislation and other program changes, however, added new requirements for information, which offset these savings.
Initiatives were also taken to reduce the Department's expenditure for postal service. A thorough, nation-wide training program was conducted. An incentive recognition program was instituted and an automatic package weighing and accounting system was designed. A computer-driven mail survey reporting system was also developed.
The Department also made progress during the last four years in its relations with the Department's unions as reflected in the two agreements which have been negotiated with the American Federation of Government Employees locals. These agreements were reached after a long period of tough bargaining on both sides required to overcome past difficulties, but they are now model agreements in many ways.