Govexec.com reports that the reorganization includes an effort to move 20% of its headquarters resources to the field. In a memo emailed to staff, EEOC chair Cari Dominguez said the commission has been granted permission to offer early outs and has requested limited buyout authority, according to the news report.
Early retirement allows employees to retire at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25 years of service. The memo said details of the offers, including a timetable, positions covered and the amount of the buyouts, will be released once approval of the request is received from the Office of Personnel Management and Office of Management and Budget.
Dominguez said the buyout authority would be limited and will not apply to all eligible employees. In addition, all workers taking advantage of the voluntary options will need to leave by June 30. Money freed up when employees leave would be shifted toward hiring investigators, mediators and attorneys needed in field offices, according to the memo.
The move comes before the third phase of the EEOC’s restructuring plan – to streamline the commission’s headquarters. The first phase involved establishing an outsourced national customer service center and the second involved downgrading eight of its 23 district offices and adding two local offices in Mobile, Alabama and Las Vegas, Nevada (See EEOC Reorganization Approved ).
The restructuring effort has faced opposition (See EEOC Reorganization Moves Past Objection ) as critics believe the level of service provided by the EEOC will decline. The American Federation of Government Employees is launching a radio and newspaper advertising campaign Wednesday to raise awareness of what it refers to as a crisis at the agency, hoping the campaign will prompt legislators to boost the agency’s funding.
The union argues that the EEOC is severely understaffed, and says the agency has lost 20% of its workforce through a hiring freeze that has been in place since 2001 for all but emergency positions. It also says the agency’s backlog of cases is continuing to grow, with more than 30,000 cases backed up now.
The union wants the EEOC to reverse its field office reorganization and stop experimenting with the national customer service center.