EEOC Stays With Reorganization Despite Criticisms

June 27, 2005 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is sticking with its plan to downgrade eight of its 23 district offices and add two local offices in Mobile, Alabama and Las Vegas, Nevada.

At a public question and answer session at the EEOC’s headquarters in Washington, DC, Nicholas Inzeo, director of the agency’s office of field programs, said the commission projects the plan will save the agency more than $8 million in an eight-year period, according to a news report.   Eight district offices, headed by senior executives or GS-15-level regional attorneys will be downgraded to field offices directed by GS-15-level managers or GS-14-level supervisory trial attorneys, thinning the top-heavy management structure and allowing more rank and file employees to perform frontline duties such as outreach and litigation, said Inzeo.   He added that no employees would lose their jobs or have to move.

Critics of the proposal were concerned that the level of service would decline in the eight reclassified district offices and that not much money could really be saved if two new offices were to be opened.   Gabrielle Martin, president of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National Council of EEOC Locals No. 216, was particularly concerned that the reorganization didn’t address the agency’s already serious staffing shortage, adding that she thought any savings from the restructuring should be used to hire new employees.

In answer to these concerns, Inzeo reiterated that no trial attorneys employed by the EEOC would be lost and no offices would close, making it unlikely that the public would notice any cutbacks in service. Cynthia Pierre, director of field management programs, added that the number of field offices was increasing from 51 to 53, expanding the territory the agency covers.   They said they lack the budget for new hires and believe the plan is designed to make better use of the approximately 2,400 current staff members.

To the question of savings, Inzeo said, more than $4 million would be saved as higher-salaried upper-level executives retire and are replaced by managers in lower pay grades, and it is estimated by the EEOC that another $3.4 million could be saved through reductions in office rental costs.

Representatives of the AFGE questioned whether the proposal was based on accurate statistics concerning case loads.   Inzeo cited as an example the findings of EEOC officials that the Milwaukee district office handled fewer than 1,400 cases during a four-year period, while the Chicago office nearby received more than 6,000 cases in the same time. He pointed out that there’s no need for two district offices, with disparate workloads but the same management structure, in such proximity.

EEOC chairwoman Cari Dominguez noted that agency officials have received 85 written comments from the public on the proposal, and will consider the feedback and modify the plan “where appropriate.”   The final plan will be discussed and voted on at a July 8 meeting of the commission.

-Rebecca Moore