oversight

Equal Employment Opportunity: SSA Region X's Changes to Its EEO Process Illustrate Need for Agencywide Procedures

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-07-16.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States General Accounting Office

GAO          Report to Congressional Requesters




July 2003
             EQUAL
             EMPLOYMENT
             OPPORTUNITY
             SSA Region X’s
             Changes to Its EEO
             Process Illustrate
             Need for Agencywide
             Procedures




GAO-03-604
             a
                                               July 2003


                                               EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY

                                               SSA Region X’s Changes to Its EEO
Highlights of GAO-03-604, a report to          Process Illustrate Need for Agencywide
congressional requesters
                                               Procedures


 Employees at the Social Security
 Administration’s (SSA) Region X—
                                               In a geographic area where minorities represent a small portion of the
 which covers Alaska, Idaho,                   civilian workforce (about 13.5 percent), Region X generally had a higher
 Oregon, and Washington—                       percentage of each minority group, except for American Indian and Alaska
 expressed concern about the                   Natives. Moreover, the percentage of minority employees in Region X had
 Region’s equal employment                     increased from about 19 percent in fiscal year 1997 to about 27 percent in
 opportunity (EEO) process for                 fiscal year 2001. Women represented a much higher proportion of SSA’s
 employment discrimination                     workforce than of the civilian workforce. Differences among racial/ethnic
 complaints. GAO was asked to                  and gender groups for most of the personnel actions reviewed were not
 (1) provide information for fiscal            statistically significant.
 years 1997 through 2001 on the
 composition of the Region X                   For fiscal years 1997 and 1998, current and former Region X EEO counselors
 workforce and for personnel
 actions such as promotions,
                                               described a process that mirrored the informal stage of the required federal
 awards, and adverse actions by                sector complaint process. In fiscal year 1999, Region X changed its EEO
 EEO group; (2) describe the EEO               process, so that EEO counselors were no longer allowed to talk with
 complaint process in Region X and             managers but were required to submit their questions in writing. In addition,
 any changes to it; (3) assess                 managers were encouraged to routinely have an attorney from the Office of
 whether the Region’s process is               the General Counsel (OGC) review their written responses before these
 consistent with federal regulations           responses were provided to the EEO counselors. After the changes were in
 and related guidance; and (4)                 place for about a year, SSA headquarters officials held discussions with
 assess the familiarity with the EEO           Region X officials to explain that having written inquiries and OGC involved
 process of the Region’s employees             in the informal EEO process was not consistent with the intent of resolving
 and their attitude toward it.                 issues informally. Beginning early in fiscal year 2001, neither written EEO
                                               counselor queries to managers nor OGC involvement was required in the
                                               informal process. Region X’s former use of written queries and OGC
 GAO recommends that SSA adopt                 involvement were counter to the spirit of EEO regulations and their related
 agency-specific procedures for                guidance, which emphasize the informal nature of precomplaint counseling.
 counselors to use in processing
 discrimination complaints, so                 In doing its work at Region X, GAO found that SSA had issued EEO
 employees have the same process               handbooks for managers and employees, but the handbooks do not contain
 everywhere. GAO also                          agency-specific procedures on how EEO counselors are to process
 recommends that Region X take
                                               complaints of discrimination. Agency-specific procedures are required by
 actions to enhance its EEO
 environment to increase trust and,            EEO regulations. Absent such procedures, components of an agency can
 where necessary, address                      use different procedures, as illustrated by Region X, resulting in employees
 differences in personnel actions              across the country being treated differently.
 across racial, ethnic, and gender
 groups.                                       To gain an understanding of how familiar the Region’s employees are with
                                               the EEO process and their willingness to participate in it, GAO surveyed all
 SSA agreed with GAO’s findings                of the Region’s employees. Most Region X employees reported having
 and cited actions it was taking on            received or seen within the last 2 years written materials about EEO
 two of GAO’s three                            regulations and how to contact regional EEO counselors. Also, almost half
 recommendations.                              the employees reported a willingness to participate in counseling or to file a
                                               formal EEO complaint if they believed they had been discriminated against.
www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-604.
                                               However, a sizeable portion of employees—about 40 percent—reported
To view the full report, including the scope   being unwilling or uncertain about becoming involved with the processes
and methodology, click on the link above.      established for handling EEO complaints.
For more information, contact Victor S.
Rezendes on (202) 512-6806 or at
rezendesv@gao.gov.
Contents



Letter                                                                                        1


Letter                                                                                       1
                             Results in Brief                                                3
                             Background                                                      6
                             Composition of the Region X Workforce                           8
                             Region X Made Temporary Changes to the Informal Stage of the EEO
                               Process                                                      17
                             GAO Survey of
                               Region X Employees about EEO                                 20
                             Region X’s Temporary Changes Were Counter to the Spirit of EEOC’s
                               Regulations and SSA’s Guidance                               22
                             Conclusions                                                    25
                             Recommendations                                                26
                             Agency Comments                                                27


Appendixes
              Appendix I:    Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                              29
                             Objective 1                                                     29
                             Objective 2                                                     31
                             Objective 3                                                     31
                             Objective 4                                                     32
             Appendix II:    EEO Laws and Regulations Applicable to Federal Employees
                             34
                             Laws Prohibiting Discrimination                         34
                             EEOC Regulations Governing the Processing of Employment
                                Discrimination Complaints                            34
             Appendix III:   Region X Workforce by Grade Level                               39
                             Region X Employees in Grades GS-13 through GS-15                39
                             Region X Employees in Grades GS-9 through GS-12                 40
                             Region X Employees in Grades GS-5 through GS-8                  41
                             Region X Employees in Grades GS-1 through GS-4                  43
             Appendix IV:    Temporary Promotions, Training, and Awards                      46
                             Experience: Temporary Promotions                                46
                             Training                                                        48
                             Awards                                                          49
              Appendix V:    Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of Adverse Actions, EEO
                             Complaints, and Grievances                              53



                             Page i                                       GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                          Contents




                          Adverse Actions                                                  53
                          Adverse Actions Appealed to MSPB                                 54
                          Region X EEO Precomplaint Counseling and Formal EEO
                            Complaints Filed                                               56
                          Grievances                                                       63
                          Settlements                                                      64
          Appendix VI:    Selected Results of GAO’s Survey of Region X Employees on
                          Equal Employment Opportunity                            66
                          Operations of Region X’s CREO                           66
                          Experiences with Situations Involving EEO in Region X   68
                          Narrative Comments                                      69
         Appendix VII:    GAO Survey of Region X Employees about EEO                       70
         Appendix VIII:   Comments from the Social Secuity Administration                  78
          Appendix IX:    GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                            84
                          GAO Contact                                                      84
                          Acknowledgments                                                  84


Tables                    Table 1: Composition of Region X Workforce in Fiscal Years 1997
                                   and 2001 by EEO Group Compared With CLF and CWF                 10
                          Table 2: Comparison of the Percentage of Competitive Promotions
                                   to the Average Percentage Representation of Each EEO
                                   Group in the Workforce for Fiscal Years 1997 Through 2001
                                   in Region X                                                     14
                          Table 3: Comparison of the Percentage of Separations to the
                                   Average Percentage Representation of Each EEO Group in
                                   the Workforce for Fiscal Years 1997 Through 2001 in
                                   Region X                                                        16
                          Table 4: Final Disposition of Questionnaire                              32
                          Table 5: Percentage Distribution across Grade Levels by Race/
                                   Ethnicity and Gender for Fiscal Year 1997                       45
                          Table 6: Percentage Distribution across Grade Levels by Race/
                                   Ethnicity and Gender for Fiscal Year 2001                       45
                          Table 7: Comparison of the Percentage of JEPs to the Average
                                   Percentage Representation in the Workforce for Fiscal
                                   Years 1997 Through 2001 in Region X by EEO Group                47
                          Table 8: Comparison of the Percentage of Temporary Promotions
                                   to the Average Percentage Representation in the Region X
                                   Workforce for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001 by EEO
                                   Group                                                           48




                          Page ii                                       GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Contents




Table 9: Comparison of the Percentage of GETA Training to the
          Average Percentage Representation by EEO Group in the
          Region X Workforce for Fiscal Years 1998 through 2001            49
Table 10: Comparison of the Percentage of Monetary Awards to the
          Average Percentage Representation by EEO Group in the
          Region X Workforce for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001            50
Table 11: Comparison of the Percentage of Quality Step Increases to
          the Average Percentage Representation by EEO Group in
          the Region X Workforce for Fiscal Years 1997
          through 2001                                                     51
Table 12: Comparison of the Percentage of Honor Awards to the
          Average Percentage Representation by EEO Group in the
          Region X Workforce for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001            52
Table 13: Types of Adverse Actions in Region X for Fiscal Years 1997
          through 2001 by EEO Group                                        54
Table 14: Adverse Actions in Region X for Fiscal Years 1997 through
          2001 That Were Appealed to MSPB and Their Disposition
          by EEO Group                                                     55
Table 15: Requests for Counseling in Region X and Their Disposition
          in Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001                                    56
Table 16: Bases Cited in EEO Counseling for Region X in Fiscal Years
          2000 and 2001                                                    57
Table 17: Issues Cited by Individuals Requesting Counseling in
          Region X in Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001                           58
Table 18: Formal EEO Complaints Filed by Region X Employees for
          Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001 and Their Disposition             59
Table 19: Bases for EEO Complaints Filed in Region X in Fiscal Years
          1997 through 2001                                                60
Table 20: Issues Cited in Complaints Filed for Fiscal Years 1997
          through 2001                                                     61
Table 21: Reasonable Accommodations Requested by Region X
          Employees for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001 by EEO
          Group                                                            63
Table 22: Section 9 Grievances Filed in Region X by EEO Group for
          Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001                                   64
Table 23: Number of Settlement Agreements and Amounts Awarded
          on Settlements for MSPB Appeals, EEO Complaints, and a
          Mixed Case Filed in Region X in Fiscal Years 1997 through
          2001                                                             65
Table 24: Minority Status and Sex of Respondents Who Were
          Unwilling or Uncertain to Participate in Counseling
          Because They Feared Retaliation                                  67



Page iii                                        GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
          Contents




          Table 25: Minority Status and Sex of Respondents Who Were
                    Unwilling or Uncertain to File a Formal Complaint
                    Because They Feared Retaliation                                67
          Table 26: Percentage of Respondents Indicating Whether Decisions
                    Were Based on Merit and Free of Bias and Favoritism            68
          Table 27: Percentage of Respondents Indicating Decisions Were
                    Sometimes or Never Based on Merit and Free of Bias and
                    Favoritism                                                     69


Figures   Figure 1: Region X Workforce in Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO
                    Group                                                           9
          Figure 2: Hiring in Region X for Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO
                    Group                                                          13
          Figure 3: The EEO Complaint Process with Related Time
                    Frames                                                         37
          Figure 4: Region X Employees in Grades GS-13 through GS-15 in
                    Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO Group                        40
          Figure 5: Region X Employees in Grades GS-9 Through GS-12 in
                    Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO Group                        41
          Figure 6: Region X Employees in Grades GS-5 through GS-8 in
                    Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO Group                        43
          Figure 7: Region X Employees in Grades GS-1 through GS-4 in
                    Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO Group                        44




          Page iv                                       GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Contents




Abbreviations

ADR          alternative dispute resolution
AFGE         American Federation of Government Employees
AIAN         American Indian/Alaska Native
AJ           administrative judge
CLF          Civilian Labor Force
CPS          Current Population Survey
CREO         Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity
CWF          civilian workforce
EEO          equal employment opportunity
EEOC         Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
GETA         Government Employees Training Act
GS           general schedule
JEP          Job Enhancement Program
MD-110       Management Directive-110
MSPB         Merit Systems Protection Board
NAACP        National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
OCREO        Office of Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity
OGC          Office of the General Counsel
SES          Senior Executive Service
SSA          Social Security Administration

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Page v                                                   GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Page vi   GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Letter

A
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548



                                    July 16, 2003                                                                               Leter




                                    The Honorable Jim McDermott
                                    The Honorable Jennifer Dunn
                                    The Honorable Adam Smith
                                    House of Representatives                                                                    Leter




                                    An October 2000 report by the Seattle branch of the National Association
                                    for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)1 alleged that the Social
                                    Security Administration’s (SSA) Region X—which covers Alaska, Idaho,
                                    Oregon, and Washington and has about 1,800 employees—may have
                                    violated federal regulations governing equal employment opportunity
                                    (EEO) and the processing of employment discrimination complaints. The
                                    report alleges, among other things, that the Office of the General Counsel
                                    (OGC) in Region X interfered with EEO precomplaint counseling, the
                                    informal stage of the EEO complaint process.2 In addition, the report
                                    alleges that in the informal stage, EEO counselors were required by Region
                                    X management to submit written inquires to responsible management
                                    officials rather than conversing with them to get information. SSA did not
                                    agree with the report’s allegations but agreed to two of its
                                    recommendations: to provide on-site precomplaint counseling at one of
                                    the Region’s largest facilities and to provide ongoing training to
                                    management on provisions concerning employees’ rights in SSA’s labor-
                                    management agreement. As a result of the NAACP report, you asked us to
                                    look at the Region’s EEO program.

                                    Federal employees are protected by various federal laws that prohibit
                                    employment discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national
                                    origin, age, or disability (see app. II). In addition, federal employees are
                                    protected from retaliation for filing a complaint, participating in an
                                    investigation of a complaint, or opposing any practice made unlawful under
                                    these antidiscrimination laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity
                                    Commission (EEOC) has issued regulations that govern how the
                                    discrimination claims of federal employees are to be processed
                                    administratively.3 Federal agencies covered by these regulations are

                                    1
                                     Seattle Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Racism
                                    and Disparate Treatment Issues: Region 10, Social Security Administration (Seattle:
                                    2000).
                                    2
                                     Although the Region handles the informal stage of the EEO complaint process, SSA
                                    requires formal complaints be filed with SSA headquarters in Baltimore.




                                    Page 1                                                  GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
responsible for developing and implementing their own EEO programs and
complaint processing procedures consistent with EEOC’s regulations.

As agreed with your offices, our objectives were to (1) provide information
on the composition of Region X’s workforce by EEO group (race/ethnicity
and gender) for fiscal years 1997 through 2001 overall and for personnel
actions such as promotions, awards, and adverse actions; (2) describe the
Region’s EEO complaint process and any changes to it during the 5-year
period; (3) assess whether the Region’s EEO complaint process was
consistent with federal regulations and related guidance; and (4) assess the
familiarity of the Region’s employees with the EEO process and their
attitude toward it.

For our discussion of the composition of Region X’s workforce as well as
the breakdown of personnel actions by EEO group, we used SSA data
provided by the Region’s human resources management information
system for fiscal years 1997 through 2001 for African Americans, American
Indian/Alaska Natives (AIAN), Asian/Pacific Islanders (Asian), Hispanics,
and Whites.4 Each racial/ethnic group was broken down by gender. As part
of our analysis of the composition of SSA staff for selected personnel
actions, we tested to see if statistically significant differences by EEO
group occurred.5 Our analyses of personnel actions are designed to
provide information at a common and aggregate level about EEO group
differences in personnel actions at Region X and not to determine whether
or not discrimination existed. The presence of a statistically significant
difference does not prove discrimination, nor does the absence of a
statistically significant difference prove that staff have not been
discriminated against.

To describe the EEO process in the Region and any changes made to it for
the 5-year period, we reviewed documents provided by SSA headquarters
and Region X officials and interviewed those officials. To determine
whether the Region’s EEO complaint process is consistent with federal

3
 29 C.F.R. Part 1614.
4
  These data include temporary employees but do not include SSA components in Region X
that are not under the line authority of the then Regional Commissioner (i.e., the Office of
Hearings and Appeals, OGC, the Office of Inspector General, and the Regional Office of
Quality Assurance).
5
 The presence of statistically significant differences means that we are 95-percent confident
that differences could happen by chance less than 5 percent of the time.




Page 2                                                     GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                   regulations, we reviewed EEOC’s regulations governing how the
                   discrimination claims of federal employees are to be processed and
                   compared their requirements with the processes employed by the Region.
                   Also, to assess the familiarity of the Region’s employees with the EEO
                   process and their attitude toward it, we surveyed all of the Region’s
                   employees.

                   We did our work in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Seattle from January
                   2002 through May 2003 in accordance with generally accepted government
                   auditing standards. Details of our scope and methodology are in
                   appendix I.



Results in Brief   Women made up over 70 percent of SSA’s national workforce in fiscal year
                   2002, and Region X’s workforce has mirrored this throughout all ethnic
                   groups for fiscal years 1997 through 2001, with about two-thirds of its
                   employees being women in each of those years. Also in each year, White
                   employees comprised the majority of the Region X workforce, but their
                   representation declined from about 81 percent of the workforce in fiscal
                   year 1997 to about 73 percent in fiscal year 2001. Conversely, minority
                   employees in Region X increased a corresponding 8 percentage points,
                   from about 19 percent in fiscal year 1997 to about 27 percent in fiscal year
                   2001. Increases occurred in all minority EEO groups, except for AIAN
                   women; the largest percentage increase occurred among Hispanic women.
                   A comparison of the Region X workforce for fiscal years 1997 and 2001
                   with the regional Civilian Labor Force shows that Region X generally had a
                   higher representation of minority employees in its workforce for all EEO
                   groups except AIANs.

                   Concerning selected personnel actions, Hispanic women had the largest
                   increase in the percentage of hires they represent, and African American
                   women had the largest decrease. For each EEO group, we looked at the
                   percentage of promotions and found that most EEO groups were promoted
                   at a rate that was about the same as or slightly higher than each group’s
                   average percentage of representation in the workforce. African American
                   men and White women had the highest positive percentage difference (1.1
                   percentage points) between their percentage of competitive promotions
                   and representation in the workforce. Only White men and African
                   American women were promoted at rates lower than their average
                   percentage representation in the workforce, with a 2.2 and 1.0 percentage-
                   point difference, respectively. Also, for each EEO group, we compared the
                   percentage of separations with the average percentage of the workforce,



                   Page 3                                          GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
and this comparison showed that all minority EEO groups separated at a
rate that was slightly higher than the average percentage of each group
represented in the workforce for the period. African American women had
the largest percentage difference between their percentage of separations
and representation in the workforce (1.3 percentage points), followed by
AIAN women (1.1 percentage points). Only White men and women
separated at rates lower than their average percentage of representation in
the workforce.

Our analysis showed no statistically significant differences among EEO
groups for most of the personnel actions we reviewed. However, it did
show statistically significant differences for some types of awards and
adverse actions. The analysis for the 5-year period showed statistically
significant differences among races concerning quality step increases and
nonmonetary, or honor, awards. In addition, the analysis showed
statistically significant differences among races for short-term suspensions
and between the sexes concerning removals. This analysis was not
designed to determine whether or not discrimination existed but can
indicate areas warranting further study by management. Region X has not
reviewed these differences to uncover their causes or to determine their
appropriateness.

Region X made changes to its EEO process in fiscal years 1999 and 2001.
For fiscal years 1997 and 1998, current and former Region X EEO
counselors described a process that mirrored the informal stage of the
complaint process outlined in EEOC’s guidance to federal agencies. In
fiscal year 1999, Region X changed its EEO complaint process, so that EEO
counselors were no longer allowed to talk with managers about what had
transpired between employees alleging possible discrimination and
managers but were required to submit their questions in writing. The then
Regional Commissioner said the changes were instituted because regional
managers said that EEO counselors were not accurately reporting their
views. In addition, managers were encouraged to routinely have an
attorney from OGC review their written responses before these responses
were provided to the EEO counselors. After the changes were in place for
about a year, SSA headquarters’ officials held discussions with Region X
officials to explain that having written inquiries and OGC involved in the
informal EEO process was not consistent with the intent of having the
process arrive at an informal resolution of issues. Beginning early in fiscal
year 2001, EEO counselors were not required to put queries to managers in
writing, and OGC involvement was not required in the informal process.
The changes Region X made to its complaint process in fiscal year 1999 are



Page 4                                           GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
not specifically addressed in federal sector EEOC regulations. Neither
EEOC’s regulations nor its related guidance addresses the appropriateness
of written counselors’ queries, written managers’ responses, or OGC
involvement in the informal process. However, these changes seem to have
been counter to the spirit of the regulations and their related guidance,
which emphasize the informal nature of precomplaint counseling.

Also, in doing our work at Region X, we found that SSA had issued EEO
handbooks for managers and employees that discussed EEO in general and
the basic EEO process. However, the handbooks do not contain agency-
specific procedures on how EEO counselors are to process complaints of
discrimination. Agency-specific procedures are required by EEO
regulations. Absent such procedures, components of an agency can use
different procedures, as illustrated by Region X, resulting in employees
across the country being treated differently.

To gain an understanding of how familiar the Region’s employees were with
the EEO process and their willingness to participate in it, we surveyed all
of the Region’s employees on the EEO process and EEO in the Region.
Most Region X employees reported having received or having seen within
the last 2 years written materials about EEO regulations and how to
contact regional EEO counselors. When asked about their willingness, if
they believed that they had been discriminated against, to either participate
in EEO counseling or to file a formal EEO complaint, almost half of
respondents indicated that they would be generally or very willing to
participate in counseling or to file a formal EEO complaint. However, a
sizeable portion of respondents to our survey—about 40 percent—
indicated they were unwilling or uncertain about becoming involved with
the processes established for handling EEO complaints. Our survey results
indicate that if Region X does not work to improve the perceptions of
employees, it may not achieve a trusting workplace.

We recommend that the Commissioner of SSA adopt agency-specific
procedures for counselors to use in processing complaints of
discrimination to ensure that employees face the same process
everywhere. We also recommend that Region X take actions to enhance its
EEO environment to increase trust and, where necessary, address
differences in personnel actions across racial, ethnic, and gender groups.
In commenting on a draft of this report, SSA said it was updating materials
dealing with the EEO process and would include procedural guidelines as
called for in EEOC’s regulations governing federal agencies’ EEO
procedures. SSA also said that as part of its normal review process, it will



Page 5                                           GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
             review the statistically significant differences we found in Region X
             personnel actions. However, SSA did not agree with our recommendation
             that Region X take actions to enhance its EEO environment to increase
             trust. SSA’s written comments are discussed near the end of this letter and
             reproduced in appendix VIII.



Background   SSA administers three major federal programs that provide benefits to
             more than 50 million people. The Old Age and Survivors Insurance
             program provides benefits to retired workers and their dependents and
             survivors. The Disability Insurance program provides benefits to disabled
             workers. Supplemental Security Income provides income for aged, blind,
             and disabled individuals with limited incomes and resources. Heading SSA
             is a Commissioner who leads a central office in Baltimore and 10 regional
             offices. The field organization, which is decentralized to provide service at
             the local level, includes approximately 1,300 field offices.

             Federal law prohibits discrimination against employees and applicants for
             employment on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age,
             or disability (see app. II for more details about antidiscrimination laws).
             Under EEOC regulations, employees or applicants for employment who
             believe that they have been discriminated against by a federal agency may
             file a complaint with that agency. Before filing a complaint, the employee
             must consult an EEO counselor at the agency in order to try to informally
             resolve the matter. The employee must contact an EEO counselor within
             45 days of the matter alleged to be discriminatory or, in the case of a
             personnel action, within 45 days of the effective date of the action. EEO
             counselors should determine if the employee believes that his or her
             problem is the result of one or more of the allowable bases—race, color,
             sex (including equal pay), religion, national origin, age (40 and over), or
             disability—or in retaliation for having participated in an activity, such as
             filing a complaint, that is protected by the various antidiscrimination
             statutes. Counselors are to advise individuals that, where the agency




             Page 6                                           GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
agrees to offer alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the particular case,6
they may choose to participate in either counseling or in ADR.

After the counselor determines the basis or bases and claims, he or she is
to conduct a limited inquiry of the matter, which generally involves
speaking or meeting with the two parties. When the counselor has a good
grasp of the issues involved, he or she is ready to attempt resolution.
Resolution means that the employee and the agency come to terms with the
matter and agree on a solution. In seeking resolution, the counselor is to
listen to and understand the viewpoint of both parties and act as a neutral
and not as an advocate for either the employee or the agency. Counseling
is to be completed within 30 days from the date the employee contacted the
EEO office for counseling.7 If the matter is not resolved by the 30th day of
counseling or if ADR is unsuccessful,8 the counselor is required to inform
the employee in writing of his or her right to file a formal discrimination
complaint with the agency. The written notice must inform the employee
of the (1) right to file a discrimination complaint within 15 days of receipt
of the notice, (2) appropriate agency official with whom to file a complaint,
and (3) duty to ensure that the agency is informed immediately if the
complainant retains counsel or a representative.

After a complainant files a formal discrimination complaint, the agency
must decide whether to accept or dismiss the complaint. If the agency
dismisses the complaint, the complainant can appeal the dismissal to
EEOC. If the agency accepts the complaint, it must investigate the
complaint and present the complainant with a report of the investigation
results. The complainant may then choose between requesting a hearing
before an EEOC administrative judge or a final decision from the agency.
Because SSA requires all employees to file formal complaints with its
headquarters in Baltimore, the formal process was outside of the scope of

6
  ADR generally refers to any procedure agreed to by the parties in a dispute that is used to
resolve issues in controversy including, but not limited to, mediation or arbitration. As of
January 1, 2000, all federal agencies covered by 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 were required to
establish or make available an ADR program during the informal (precomplaint counseling)
and formal complaint stages of the EEO process. According to a Region X official, as of
March 7, 2003, participation in the ADR process is currently limited to mediation and
available to Region X employees within the Seattle commuting area.
7
  Before the end of the 30-day period, the employee may agree in writing with the agency to
postpone the final interview and extend the counseling period for up to an additional 60
days.
8
 ADR is to be completed within 90 days.




Page 7                                                     GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                     our review. Appendix II provides additional information on the processing
                     of employment discrimination complaints.



Composition of the   SSA’s national workforce is predominantly women—about 71 percent in
                     fiscal year 2002—and Region X’s workforce mirrors this in all ethnic
Region X Workforce   groups. For each of fiscal years 1997 through 2001, about two-thirds of all
                     Region X employees were women. The majority of Region X employees
                     were age 40 and over, constituting about three-quarters of the workforce in
                     each year. The number of employees with disabilities increased slightly
                     from about 10 percent in fiscal year 1997 to 11 percent in fiscal year 2001.
                     Over the 5-year period, most of the Region X workforce was in the general
                     schedule (GS) grade levels 5 through 12. The distribution across grade
                     levels by EEO group varied somewhat but was generally close to the
                     representation of the various EEO groups in the Region’s workforce. The
                     main differences were higher proportions of men in the GS-13 through 15
                     grade levels and higher representation of African Americans and Hispanics
                     in the GS-5 through 8 grades. As discussed in the section on hiring,
                     substantial numbers of African Americans and Hispanics have been hired
                     over the last few years, which may explain their higher representation in
                     grades GS-5 through 8. See appendix III for a discussion of grade levels by
                     EEO group. Figure 1 shows the Region X workforce by EEO group for
                     fiscal years 1997 and 2001.




                     Page 8                                          GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Figure 1: Region X Workforce in Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO Group

     AIAN
              0.4
      Men
              0.5
                1.2
  Women
               1.0
    Asian

      Men           1.6
                      2.2
                         3.2
  Women
                               5.0

 Hispanic
                     2.1
      Men
                         3.5
                         3.3
  Women
                                     6.5
 African
American
                     2.3
      Men
                       2.6
                               5.0
  Women
                                5.5

    White
                                                         25.7
      Men
                                                     24.2
  Women                                                                                                     55.3
                                                                                                48.9
            0                     10         20                 30             40                50                60
            Percentage of employees

                       1997 (N=1,726)

                        2001 (N= 1,847)

Source: Region X data.




                                           From fiscal year 1997 to fiscal year 2001, the EEO group that experienced
                                           the largest increase in its percentage of the workforce was Hispanic
                                           women, who almost doubled from 57, or 3.3 percent of the workforce, to
                                           120, or 6.5 percent. This increase was followed by that of Asian women,
                                           who increased by almost two-thirds from 55, or 3.2 percent of the
                                           workforce, in fiscal year 1997 to 93, or 5.0 percent of the workforce, in
                                           fiscal year 2001. The percentage of the workforce represented by White
                                           men and women and by AIAN women declined over the 5-year period.

                                           To judge its diversity, SSA compares its workforce with the Civilian Labor
                                           Force (CLF). Because the CLF data SSA uses are based on 1990 census




                                           Page 9                                         GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                                                                  data, we also calculated regional civilian workforce (CWF) data of those
                                                                  age 18 and older in the four states covered by Region X for fiscal year 2001,
                                                                  based on 2001 Current Population Survey data.9 Table 1 shows data on the
                                                                  composition of the Region X workforce in fiscal years 1997 and 2001 and
                                                                  compares those workforces to data on the CLF and CWF. Region X
                                                                  generally had a higher or equal representation of minority employees in its
                                                                  workforce for all EEO groups compared with both the CLF and the CWF,
                                                                  except AIAN men in fiscal years 1997 and 2001 and AIAN women in fiscal
                                                                  year 2001. In addition, the representation of White men in the Region was
                                                                  below the CLF and the CWF for both fiscal years 1997 and 2001.



Table 1: Composition of Region X Workforce in Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO Group Compared With CLF and CWF

                                                                         Region X workforce                                         Regional
                                                                                                                              CLF                CWF
                                               As of September 30, 1997                 As of September 30, 2001            (FY 1990)          (FY 2001)
EEO group                                             Number                Percent            Number           Percent           Percent            Percent
African American men                                           39               2.3                  48              2.6                 1.1                1.1
African American women                                         87               5.0                 101              5.5                 0.9                1.1
AIAN men                                                         7              0.4                    9             0.5                 0.9                1.0
AIAN women                                                     21               1.2                  19              1.0                 0.8                1.5
Asian men                                                      27               1.6                  41              2.2                 1.6                1.8
Asian women                                                    55               3.2                  93              5.0                 1.6                2.2
Hispanic men                                                   36               2.1                  65              3.5                 2.3                2.2
Hispanic women                                                 57               3.3                 120              6.5                 1.5                2.6
White men                                                    443               25.7                 447             24.2                49.1               43.2
White women                                                  954               55.3                 904             48.9                40.0               43.3
Total                                                     1,726               100.1               1,847             99.9                99.8           100.0
Source: Region X data and GAO analysis of Current Population Survey.

                                                                  Note: Totals do not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.




                                                                  9
                                                                    The Current Population Survey is a monthly survey of about 50,000 households conducted
                                                                  by the Bureau of the Census and is the primary source of current information on the labor
                                                                  force characteristics of the U.S. population.




                                                                  Page 10                                                   GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Composition of Selected    We reviewed the EEO groups of those individuals who in fiscal years 1997
Personnel Actions by EEO   through 2001 were hired, promoted, separated, or received awards or
                           against whom Region X took adverse actions. For most of the personnel
Group                      actions we reviewed, our analysis showed no statistically significant
                           differences among EEO groups, but it did show statistically significant
                           differences for some types of awards and adverse actions.10 The analysis
                           showed statistically significant differences among races and between the
                           sexes concerning quality step increases for fiscal year 2001. We also found
                           statistically significant differences by race/ethnicity for nonmonetary, or
                           honor, awards. Our statistical analysis showed no significant differences
                           among EEO groups for written reprimands; however, it showed statistically
                           significant differences among races for suspensions and statistically
                           significant differences between the sexes concerning involuntary
                           separations. Human capital management principles include certain
                           internal safeguards to help achieve consistency, equity, nondiscrimination,
                           and nonpoliticization in the performance management process. One of
                           these safeguards can be reviewing the results of personnel actions for
                           statistically significant differences across groups. According to a Region X
                           official, the Region has not reviewed such differences to uncover their
                           causes or to determine their appropriateness.

Hiring                     From fiscal 1997 through fiscal year 2001, hiring among all minority groups
                           except AIAN men and women increased as a percentage of those hired.
                           The largest increase occurred among Hispanics. Hiring of Hispanic women
                           increased from 9, or 5.1 percent of all hiring, in fiscal year 1997 to 21, or 9.8
                           percent in fiscal year 2001. Hiring of Hispanic men increased from 4, or 2.3
                           percent of all hiring, in fiscal year 1997 to 14, or 6.5 percent in fiscal year
                           2001. According to SSA officials, one of the reasons for the increase in
                           Hispanic hires was that in fiscal year 1998 the Region hired 57 Spanish
                           language bilingual telephone service representatives11 when Spanish
                           language calls began being routed to the Auburn Teleservice Center as part
                           of the national phase-in of the “direct-in” option of service for the Spanish-
                           speaking




                           10
                            We were unable to determine whether minorities and women were significantly less likely
                           to be hired or promoted because we had no data on applicants by race/ethnicity and gender.
                           11
                            Telephone service representatives provide information to inquirers about eligibility and
                           benefits paid under SSA programs.




                           Page 11                                                   GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
public.12 African American women had the largest decrease in the
percentage of hires they represent, and the percentage of AIAN men and
women declined slightly. Figure 2 shows hiring in Region X by EEO group
for fiscal years 1997 and 2001. All EEO groups were hired at rates that
were above their representation in the workforce, except White men and
women.




12
 “Direct-in” refers to when a caller is first connected to the 1-800-number, hears an option
that allows the bypass of English prompts, and allows the caller to go directly to Spanish
prompts. According to a Region X official, in fiscal year 2002, the number of Spanish calls
handled by Spanish bilingual employees in the teleservice center in Auburn, Wash., reached
a high of 362,200.




Page 12                                                   GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
             Figure 2: Hiring in Region X for Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO Group
                  AIAN
                   Men       1.7
                            0.9
                                2.9
                Women
                              1.9

                  Asian
                               2.3
                   Men
                                    3.3
                                          5.1
                Women
                                           5.6
              African
             American
                                      4.0
                   Men
                                        5.1
                                                       9.1
                Women
                                                 7.4

              Hispanic
                               2.3
                   Men                       6.5
                                          5.1
                Women
                                                        9.8

                  White
                                                                     24.0
                   Men
                                                                   22.8
                                                                                                  43.4
                Women
                                                                                      36.7
                          0                 10                20            30               40          50
                          Percentage of hires

                                    1997 (N=175)

                                      2001 (N=215)

             Source: Region X data.



Promotions   Promotions involve either the selection of a current or former federal
             employee for a higher grade position, using procedures that compare the
             candidates on merit (i.e., competitive promotions), or promotion of an
             employee without competition when the employee had earlier been
             competitively selected and had demonstrated readiness for the next grade
             (i.e., career ladder promotions). Because career ladder promotions do not
             involve current competition, we focused on competitive promotions. We
             calculated the percentage of promotions received by members of each EEO
             group over the 5-year period and compared it with the group’s average
             percentage of the workforce overall. This comparison showed that most
             EEO groups were promoted at a rate that was generally about the same as
             or somewhat higher than each group’s average percentage of



             Page 13                                                        GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
representation in the workforce for the period. African American men and
White women had the largest positive percentage difference (1.1 percent)
between their percentage of competitive promotions and representation in
the workforce. Only White men and African American women were
promoted at rates lower than their average percentage of representation in
the workforce, with a 2.2 and 1.0 percentage difference, respectively. 13
Table 2 compares the percentage of competitive promotions to the average
percentage representation of each EEO group in the workforce for fiscal
years 1997 through 2001 in Region X.



Table 2: Comparison of the Percentage of Competitive Promotions to the Average
Percentage Representation of Each EEO Group in the Workforce for Fiscal Years
1997 Through 2001 in Region X

                                                   Total
                                            competitive    Percentage of    Average percentage
                                         promotions for      competitive   representation in the
EEO group                                       5 years      promotions      workforce (5 years)
African American men                                 25              3.6                     2.5
African American women                               30              4.3                     5.3
AIAN men                                              4              0.6                     0.4
AIAN women                                           12              1.7                     1.0
Asian men                                            13              1.9                     1.9
Asian women                                          31              4.5                     4.0
Hispanic men                                         20              2.9                     3.0
Hispanic women                                       35              5.1                     5.4
White men                                           156             22.6                    24.8
White women                                         364             52.8                    51.7
Total                                               690            100.0                  100.0
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.


Experience, training, and awards are among the elements considered in the
merit promotion process. Appendix IV describes by EEO group, those
employees in Region X who participated in selected training opportunities
and received temporary promotions and awards during fiscal years 1997


13
 Hispanics were promoted at slightly lower rates than their representation in the
workforce. Hispanic men represented 2.9 percent of competitive promotions and 3.0
percent in the Region’s workforce for the 5-year period. Hispanic women represented 5.1
percent of competitive promotions and 5.4 percent of the Region’s workforce.




Page 14                                                           GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
              through 2001. Concerning awards, our statistical analysis showed that for
              the 5-year period, Whites were significantly more likely to receive quality
              step increases than African Americans, Hispanics, and AIANs; Asians were
              significantly more likely to receive quality step increases than Hispanics
              and AIANs; and African Americans were significantly more likely to receive
              quality step increases than Hispanics. There were no statistically
              significant differences between men and women. Because the Region
              acknowledged a disparity among racial/ethnic groups concerning quality
              step increases and began trying to address this disparity in fiscal year 1997,
              we also did a statistical analysis of quality step increases for fiscal year
              2001 alone. By fiscal year 2001, only two statistically significant differences
              remained—women were significantly more likely to receive quality step
              increases than men and Hispanics were significantly less likely to receive
              quality step increases than African Americans or Whites—which shows
              substantial progress. Our analysis also showed that for the 5-year period,
              Asians were significantly more likely to receive nonmonetary, or honor,
              awards than Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics. Also, AIANs were
              significantly more likely to receive honor awards than Hispanics.

              Our statistical significance analysis was not designed to determine whether
              or not discrimination occurred. However, the analysis could indicate areas
              warranting further study.

Separations   Separations include voluntary transfer to another SSA regional office,
              resignation, retirement, and involuntary removal or termination.
              Involuntary separations are discussed under adverse actions. Although
              there were definite increases in the percentage of separations among
              specific EEO groups for fiscal years 1997 through 2001, all EEO groups
              experienced fluctuations in separations over the 5 years we reviewed. In
              addition, the percentage of separations accounted for by retirements
              increased from about a third in fiscal year 1997, to about 40 percent in
              fiscal year 1998, peaked at about 55 percent in fiscal year 1999, declined to
              almost 40 percent in fiscal year 2000, and returned to about a third in fiscal
              year 2001.

              We calculated the percentage of separations each EEO group represented
              over the 5-year period and compared it with the average percentage of the
              workforce by EEO. This comparison shows that all minority EEO groups
              separated at a rate that was slightly higher than the average percentage
              each group represented in the workforce for the period. African American
              women had the largest percentage difference between their percentage of
              separations and representation in the workforce (1.3 percentage points),



              Page 15                                           GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                  followed by AIAN women (1.1 percentage points). Only Whites separated
                  at rates lower than their average percentage representation in the
                  workforce. Table 3 compares the percentage of separations to the average
                  percentage of each EEO group in the workforce for fiscal years 1997
                  through 2001 in Region X.



                  Table 3: Comparison of the Percentage of Separations to the Average Percentage
                  Representation of Each EEO Group in the Workforce for Fiscal Years 1997 Through
                  2001 in Region X

                                                              Total                         Average percentage
                                                   separations for    Percentage of        representation in the
                  EEO group                                5 years      separations          workforce (5 years)
                  African American                              20                2.6                        2.5
                  men
                  African American                              50                6.6                        5.3
                  women
                  AIAN men                                       4                0.5                        0.4
                  AIAN women                                    16                2.1                        1.0
                  Asian men                                     19                2.5                        1.9
                  Asian women                                   37                4.9                        4.0
                  Hispanic men                                  27                3.6                        3.0
                  Hispanic women                                48                6.3                        5.4
                  White men                                    174             22.9                         24.8
                  White women                                  365             48.0                         51.7
                  Total                                        760            100.0                       100.0
                  Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.



Adverse Actions   Region X took 142 adverse actions over the 5-year period.14 These actions
                  included written reprimands, short-term suspensions (i.e., 14 days or less),
                  long-term suspensions (i.e., 15 days or more), demotions, and terminations
                  or removals. Of the 142 actions, 65, or about 46 percent, were for
                  individuals who entered computer databases without authorization. Our
                  statistical analysis showed no significant differences among EEO groups
                  for written reprimands. However, for short-term suspensions, AIANs and
                  African Americans were significantly more likely to receive suspensions of
                  14 days or less than Whites. Also, men were significantly more likely to


                  14
                       Of the 142 actions, 8 were for performance, not conduct.




                  Page 16                                                         GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                        experience a removal or termination than women. As mentioned earlier,
                        our statistical analysis was not designed to determine whether or not
                        discrimination existed but can identify areas worthy of further study by
                        management. Appendix V contains detailed information on adverse
                        actions, appeals of such actions, formal EEO complaints filed, and
                        grievances filed under the union grievance procedure for fiscal years 1997
                        through 2001 in Region X.



Region X Made           Region X made changes to its informal EEO process in fiscal years 1999
                        and 2001. For fiscal years 1997 and 1998, current and former Region X EEO
Temporary Changes to    counselors described an informal process that mirrored the federal sector
the Informal Stage of   complaint process outlined in EEOC’s guidance. In fiscal year 1999, Region
                        X made changes to this process, under which EEO counselors were no
the EEO Process         longer allowed to talk with managers but were required to submit questions
                        in writing to managers about what had transpired between employees and
                        managers. In addition, managers were encouraged to routinely have an
                        attorney from OGC review their written responses before these responses
                        were provided to the EEO counselors. In fiscal year 2001, after discussions
                        with SSA headquarters officials had occurred, additional training was
                        provided (for EEO counselors, OGC, and executive staff), and the then
                        Regional Commissioner made conference calls to every manager about this
                        issue, EEO counselors were again allowed to talk with managers.
                        Counselors said revoking the changes brought the process back to what it
                        was previously.

                        Because the Region could not provide us with documentation on how it
                        carried out its EEO complaint process or how it changed, we contacted
                        former and current EEO counselors and discussed this area with regional
                        officials. For fiscal years 1997 and 1998, Region X EEO counselors
                        described an informal process similar to the informal stage of the federal
                        sector complaint process outlined in EEOC guidance Management
                        Directive 110 (MD-110).15 First an employee would approach an EEO
                        counselor, who would take notes about the person’s complaint, including
                        the claim being made and the basis or bases for the complaint. The EEO
                        counselor would then advise the employee of his or her rights. The
                        counselor would call the manager identified by the employee, identify for
                        the manager the issues and bases of the complaint, and get the manager’s

                        15
                         EEOC uses MD-110 to supplement its EEO regulations (29 C.F.R. Part 1614) with
                        additional guidance relating to the processing of complaints.




                        Page 17                                                GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
input on what had transpired. Several counselors said that after meeting or
talking with the employees and managers, they would typically read back
managers’ statements to them to make sure that they had captured what
the managers said. One counselor mentioned letting managers read the
statement.

According to SSA headquarters and Region X officials, in fiscal year 1999,
Region X made changes to the procedures in the informal stage of its EEO
complaint process. These changes (1) required Region X EEO counselors
to put in writing questions to managers and (2) commonly involved the
Region’s OGC in the informal stage of the process. The then Regional
Commissioner referred to these changes collectively as the “written
approach.” After these changes took place, EEO counselors were no longer
allowed to talk with managers. In addition, according to the then Regional
Commissioner, as part of the written approach, managers were encouraged
to routinely have an attorney from OGC review their written responses
before these responses were provided to the EEO counselors.

SSA’s then Associate Commissioner of the Office of Civil Rights and Equal
Opportunity (OCREO) said that he thought the written queries came out of
Region X managers’ distrust of what the EEO counselors attributed to
managers in their reports. The then Regional Commissioner said that
regional managers had reported that EEO counselors were not accurately
reflecting managers’ views in the counselors’ reports, including a manager
who in January 1998 said at a hearing on a formal EEO complaint that he
had not said things attributed to him. In addition, according to the then
Regional Commissioner, EEO counselor training was inadequate before
1999, and the change to written queries was put in place about the same
time that the Region put in place a formal training process for EEO
counselors.16 The then Regional Commissioner said that she wanted to use
the written approach to give managers the opportunity to give their views
until training was completed.



16
 A Region X official said that in 1999 Region X management instituted an intensive training
plan to address subject matter needs of EEO specialists and established the practice of
reinforcing each EEO counselor’s role as a neutral third party. This new training in the
Region was put into place about the same time that EEOC began requiring specific training
for EEO counselors. According to EEOC’s Director of Federal Sector Programs, EEOC
guidance did not have a specific training requirement for EEO counselors until November 9,
1999, when the regulations and guidance were revised. Under the revised guidance, EEOC
requires new EEO counselors to receive a minimum of 32 hours of EEO counselor training
before assuming counseling duties.




Page 18                                                  GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Also, in 1999, the Region began relying more on OGC in matters concerning
employee relations. In a memo dated February 4, 1999, the Region
announced that a new partnership had been put in place and that OGC
would be providing advice and counsel on all employee relations issues and
cases. According to the memo, these issues and cases were to include
misconduct, performance and attendance problems, reasonable
accommodation for employees with disabilities, and standards of conduct.
The memo does not refer to OGC involvement in EEO complaints and
cases. However, according to the then Regional Commissioner and others,
in fiscal year 1999, OGC began reviewing managers’ written responses to
counselors’ inquiries during the informal stage of the EEO process. The
then Associate Commissioner of OCREO said that after the February 1999
memo, he believes that it became normal in Region X for managers to
consult with OGC. He said that he thought that the OGC involvement was
gradual in the beginning. The Regional Chief Counsel said that not every
manager availed himself or herself of OGC’s services.

The then Associate Commissioner of OCREO said that he started in his
position in March 2000 and that he thought he first became aware that
Region X was involving OGC in a routine way in the EEO process in
summer 2000. The then Associate Commissioner said that he and the then
SSA Deputy Commissioner for Human Resources agreed that there was a
perception that Region X’s reliance on OGC went beyond the informal
process. The then Associate Commissioner said that during the informal
process, there should be a limited inquiry and that it should not prevent
EEO counselors from talking with managers or involve OGC. The then
Associate Commissioner said that SSA headquarters officials held
discussions with Region X officials to explain that having OGC involved in
the informal EEO process gave the appearance that the “deck is stacked
against employees.” In discussions between SSA headquarters and Region
X officials, the then Associate Commissioner said that both headquarters
and regional officials agreed that it would be good to have training to get
the process back to what was outlined in EEOC’s guidance. As a result, the
then Associate Commissioner said that SSA headquarters sent OCREO staff
to the Region to provide training in October 2000 on basic counseling,
limited inquiries, and report writing. According to the then Associate
Commissioner, the training was provided to the Civil Rights and Equal
Opportunity (CREO) staff, including EEO counselors and the CREO
manager, OGC, and executive staff.

In addition, the then Regional Commissioner said that she spoke with the
Area Director for Alaska and Washington, the Area Director for Idaho and



Page 19                                        GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                     Oregon, and the Director of the Auburn Teleservice Center17 and told them
                     that OGC was not to be used during the informal stage of inquiry. After the
                     training took place, the then Regional Commissioner said that she also had
                     conference calls with every manager about this issue. According to a
                     Region X official, these conference calls took place on October 8, 2000.
                     Notes from a Region X official concerning these conference calls indicate
                     the following topics on the informal stage of the EEO process were
                     discussed:

                     • The role of the counselor is to conduct a neutral and limited inquiry, not
                       an investigation.

                     • Counselors will no longer submit questions in writing; they will engage
                       in a verbal dialogue with managers and supervisors, with emphasis on
                       informality.

                     • It is important to remember that a counselor is not trying to prove right
                       or wrong. He or she is working toward a solution.

                     • Resolution during informal counseling varies with the nature of
                       complaint.

                     Because the Region did not provide documentation that the written
                     approach was no longer a part of its informal EEO process, we contacted
                     Region X officials and former and current EEO counselors to confirm that
                     such a change took place. According to two Region X EEO counselors who
                     were in those positions at the time, beginning in early fiscal year 2001, they
                     no longer had to put their queries in writing and were again allowed to talk
                     with managers.



GAO Survey of        To gain an understanding of how familiar the Region’s employees are with
                     the EEO process, their willingness to participate in it, and their views on
Region X Employees   the work environment, we surveyed all of the Region’s employees on the
about EEO            EEO process and EEO environment in the Region and achieved a
                     75 percent response rate. According to the results of our survey, most
                     Region X employees are familiar with the EEO process, with almost two-
                     thirds of Region X employees reporting having received or having seen

                     17
                      The Auburn Teleservice Center is one of SSA’s four largest such centers with telephone
                     service representatives.




                     Page 20                                                  GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
within the last 2 years written materials about the federal government’s
EEO regulations and written materials describing how to contact regional
EEO counselors. Most respondents indicated that they believed decisions
concerning job or project assignments, training, formal ratings, and
monetary awards were always or mostly based on merit and free of bias
and favoritism. However, 23 percent of respondents reported that they felt
they had been discriminated against. For example, when asked if they felt
they were denied a job, promotion, or other job benefit because of unlawful
discrimination, 10 percent of respondents cited race, 8 percent cited age,
and 8 percent cited sex. In addition, when asked if they chose not to apply
for a promotion or developmental opportunity because they felt they had
little or no chance of being selected, 11 percent of respondents indicated
that age was the reason for not applying, 10 percent indicated race was the
reason, and 6 percent indicated sex was the reason.

When asked about their willingness, if they believed that they had been
discriminated against, to either contact Region X’s CREO to participate in
counseling or to contact OCREO in Baltimore to file a formal EEO
complaint, almost half of respondents indicated that they would be
generally or very willing to participate in counseling or to file a formal EEO
complaint. About 40 percent of respondents indicated that they were
unwilling or uncertain to participate in counseling or to file a formal EEO
complaint if they believed that they had been discriminated against. When
asked to describe their reason for this unwillingness or uncertainty, about
55 percent indicated that they were unwilling or uncertain to participate in
counseling, and 51 percent, to file a formal EEO complaint because they
feared retaliation. Also, 45 percent of respondents indicated that they were
unwilling or uncertain to participate in counseling because of a concern
that their contact with the EEO counselor would not be kept confidential.
Our prior work has shown that leading organizations work to ensure that
they create a workplace that is free of discrimination and in which
employees do not fear or experience retaliation for engaging in activities
protected by antidiscrimination laws.18 Our survey results indicate that if
Region X does not work to improve the perceptions of employees, it may
not achieve a trusting workplace. Appendix VI discusses more of the
results of our survey, and appendix VII contains a copy of our questionnaire
and the responses to the questions.


18
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Human Capital: The Role of Ombudsmen in Dispute
Resolution GAO/GGD-01-466 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 13, 2001) and A Model of Strategic
Human Capital Management GAO-02-373SP (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 15, 2002).




Page 21                                                GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Region X’s Temporary      The changes Region X made to the informal stage of its EEO process are
                          not specifically addressed in federal sector EEO regulations. Neither
Changes Were Counter      EEOC’s regulations nor the related guidance—MD-110—directly addresses
to the Spirit of EEOC’s   the appropriateness of written counselors’ queries, written managers’
                          responses, or OGC involvement in the informal process. However, these
Regulations and SSA’s     changes were counter to the spirit of the regulations and the related
Guidance                  guidance, which emphasize the informal nature of precomplaint
                          counseling. In addition, these changes were counter to SSA’s EEO
                          handbook for managers and supervisors, which discusses meetings and
                          conversations between counselors and managers but not written
                          inquiries.19

                          One of the stated purposes of precomplaint counseling is for employees
                          who believe they have been discriminated against to attempt to informally
                          resolve the matter.20 MD-110 states that in almost all instances, informal
                          resolution, freely arrived at by all parties involved in the dispute, is the best
                          outcome of a counseling action. Appendix A to MD-110, which contains
                          methods for seeking resolution, suggests that during precomplaint
                          counseling, the counselor talk or meet with agency officials to explain the
                          employee’s allegations, afford the agency an opportunity to present its
                          position concerning the allegations, and suggest how the problem might be
                          resolved.

                          SSA’s then Associate Commissioner of OCREO said that the changes made
                          by Region X in the informal EEO process, although not illegal, were
                          counter to the spirit of the regulations and the related guidance, MD-110.21
                          The then Associate Commissioner said that by having written EEO
                          counselor queries and managers’ responses and involving OGC, the
                          informal stage of the EEO process in Region X was more like an
                          investigation in the formal stage of the EEO process. In addition, in a June
                          2001 letter to a Region X employee, SSA’s then Deputy Commissioner for
                          Human Resources wrote that, “Except in rare instances, OGC should not be
                          involved in the precomplaint process.” When asked whether OGC was

                          19
                           Social Security Administration, Equal Employment Opportunity Handbook for Managers
                          and Supervisors of the Social Security Administration (Baltimore: Nov. 1995).
                          20
                               29 C.F.R. sec. 1614.105(a).
                          21
                            SSA’s then Associate Commissioner of OCREO said that he prefaced all of his remarks
                          about the EEO process in Region X with the fact that his office did not find or see anything
                          illegal or that any person had been discriminated against.




                          Page 22                                                   GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
involved in the informal stage of the EEO complaint process in other SSA
regions, the then Associate Commissioner for OCREO said that he has
never had any complaints or allegations that OGC was involved in the
informal part of the process in other regions.

In addition, the EEOC regulations require that all agencies ensure that all
agency employees provide full cooperation to EEO personnel in the
processing and resolution of precomplaint matters.22 According to a recent
EEOC report,23 the involvement of OGC during the informal stage of the
EEO process may thwart attempts during counseling to resolve matters
before the filing of a formal complaint. An EEOC official responsible for
overseeing agencies’ EEO programs said that involving OGC in the informal
stage of the process causes EEOC concern because complaints should be
resolved informally and OGC involvement can hinder the counselor’s
ability to facilitate resolution. This official added that having managers put
responses to counselors’ queries in writing and involving OGC at the
informal stage of the process could drag out the process and that the longer
the process takes, the less likely it is to result in an informal settlement. In
addition, the EEOC official said that EEOC encourages alternative dispute
resolution (ADR), and requiring managers to put responses in writing is
counter to ADR. Finally, the EEOC official said that written EEO counselor
queries and managers’ responses and the involvement of OGC in the
informal process were counter to the spirit of the regulations.

Written counselors’ queries and written managers’ responses were counter
to SSA’s EEO handbook for managers, which discusses meetings and
conversations between counselors and managers. The handbook also
discusses EEO counselors contacting responsible management officials to
discuss the issues causing concern,24 the basis or bases for the complaint,
and the remedy sought by the employee. The handbook for managers also
states that the manager’s cooperation with the counselor is required by
regulation and that the manager may have a representative present when
meeting with an EEO counselor. Thus, the language in the handbook for
managers is similar to appendix A of MD-110, which suggests that the


22
     29 C.F.R. sec. 1614.102(b)(6).
23
 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Onsite Report: U.S. Department of
Agriculture (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 26, 2003).
24
 According to SSA officials, SSA is currently revising its EEO handbook for managers and
supervisors as well as its employees’ edition.




Page 23                                                 GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                            counselor talk or meet with agency officials and points out the requirement
                            of EEOC’s regulations that all agencies ensure that all agency employees
                            provide full cooperation to EEO personnel in the processing and resolution
                            of precomplaint matters.



SSA Has Not Adopted         In doing our work on Region X, we asked SSA headquarters and Region X
Procedures for Counselors   for documents pertaining to the processing of EEO complaints. Among
                            other things, SSA provided its EEO handbook for managers and
Processing EEO Complaints
                            supervisors as well as its employees’ edition, which inform managers and
as Required by EEOC         employees what they can expect when faced with the EEO process.
Regulations                 However, the handbooks, which were issued in November 1995, do not
                            contain agency-specific procedures on how EEO counselors are to process
                            such complaints. Under EEOC’s regulations, agencies have certain
                            responsibilities for maintaining a continuing affirmative program to
                            promote equal opportunity and to identify and eliminate discriminatory
                            practices and policies.25 In order to implement their programs, the
                            regulations require agencies to (1) make written materials available to all
                            employees and applicants informing them of the variety of EEO programs
                            and administrative and judicial remedial procedures available to them and
                            (2) prominently post such materials in all personnel and EEO offices and
                            throughout the workplace.26 In addition, the regulations require agencies
                            to adopt procedures for processing—both at the informal and formal
                            stage—individual and class complaints of discrimination that are
                            consistent with all other applicable provisions of the regulations and the
                            instructions for complaint processing contained in MD-110.27

                            SSA has addressed two of these regulatory requirements. It has
                            communicated in memorandums to all employees its policy prohibiting
                            discrimination against employees and applicants for employment, most
                            recently in a February 10, 2003, memorandum. SSA headquarters and
                            Region X officials provided us with copies of the written materials
                            containing information on the administrative and judicial remedial
                            procedures available. On a visit to Region X, we saw such written materials
                            posted on a wall in the Auburn Teleservice Center. We also used SSA’s


                            25
                                 29 C.F.R. sec. 1614.102 (a).
                            26
                                 29 C.F.R. sec. 1614.102 (b) (5).
                            27
                                 29 C.F.R. sec. 1614.104 (a).




                            Page 24                                        GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
              Intranet to reach the Seattle Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Web site
              and confirm that the information is available electronically to Region X
              employees as is current information about whom to contact. SSA’s EEO
              handbooks for managers and employees discussed earlier also provide
              much information to their target groups. However, SSA has not fully
              implemented the third regulatory requirement to adopt agency-specific
              procedures for processing EEO complaints. When asked if SSA had
              adopted procedures for processing EEO complaints, the then Associate
              Commissioner for OCREO and Region X’s manager for CREO said that SSA
              follows the processes and procedures outlined in the guidance on the
              EEOC regulations—MD-110.

              An EEOC official responsible for overseeing agencies’ EEO programs said
              that EEOC anticipated that an agency would have step-by-step,
              agency-specific procedures on how the agency would implement the
              broader requirements covered by EEOC’s regulations and related guidance.
              The EEOC official said that EEOC anticipated that when agencies adopted
              such procedures, they would be in writing, so others could review them, if
              necessary. According to the EEOC official, having agency-specific
              guidance is important so that people processing complaints know exactly
              how to implement the regulations. The official said he thinks it is
              appropriate for agencies to have standard operating procedures, especially
              when they have more than one installation or operations spread across
              installations or regions, to help ensure consistent compliance with the
              regulations. The EEOC official said that it was an issue of fairness to both
              the employees in the EEO offices because they need to know what to do
              and what is expected of them and to those who may file a complaint
              because they are entitled to similar treatment across geographic areas for
              fairness.



Conclusions   Our analysis showed no statistically significant differences for most of the
              personnel actions we reviewed. However, we found statistically significant
              differences among groups for certain awards and adverse actions in Region
              X. This analysis was not designed to determine whether or not
              discrimination existed. However, the analysis can identify areas worthy of
              further study by management. Human capital management principles
              include reviewing personnel actions to identify and address statistically
              significant differences across groups in order to help ensure EEO in the
              workplace. Region X has not reviewed such differences to uncover their
              causes or to determine their appropriateness.




              Page 25                                         GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                  Concerning whether the Region’s EEO complaint process is consistent with
                  federal regulations, Region X’s changes to written queries and OGC
                  involvement in its informal EEO complaint process are not specifically
                  addressed in federal sector EEO regulations. However, these changes were
                  counter to the spirit of the regulations and the related guidance, which
                  emphasize the informal nature of precomplaint counseling and informal
                  resolution. In addition, these changes were counter to SSA’s EEO
                  handbook for managers and supervisors, which discusses meetings and
                  conversations between counselors and managers.

                  In doing our work at Region X, we found that although SSA had issued EEO
                  handbooks in November 1995 for managers and supervisors as well as
                  employees, the handbooks do not contain agency-specific procedures on
                  how EEO counselors are to process complaints of discrimination. Agency-
                  specific procedures on how to process EEO complaints—both at the
                  informal and formal stage—are required by EEOC’s regulations and are
                  especially important if employees are geographically dispersed, as in SSA,
                  to ensure that all employees have the same process available to them.
                  Without agency-specific procedures for EEO counselors to process
                  complaints of discrimination, counselors in different components could
                  use different procedures, with the result that employees are not treated
                  consistently. Also, agency-specific procedures could alert managers to
                  possible problem areas when they consider changing processes and could
                  help prevent changes like the temporary ones in Region X that ran counter
                  to the spirit of EEOC’s regulations.

                  In addition, a sizeable portion of respondents to our survey—about 40
                  percent—indicated they were unwilling to become or uncertain about
                  becoming involved with the processes established for handling EEO
                  complaints. Frequently cited reasons for concern about becoming involved
                  with the EEO process were a fear of retaliation and that contact with the
                  EEO counselor would not be kept confidential. These concerns could
                  deter individuals in Region X from exercising their rights concerning EEO.



Recommendations   We recommend that the Commissioner of SSA:

                  • Direct the Regional Commissioner of Region X to review the statistically
                    significant differences we found in adverse actions and awards to
                    determine why they occurred and what, if any, corrective action is
                    needed.




                  Page 26                                        GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                  • Adopt standard operating procedures for EEO counselors that include
                    step-by-step procedures for processing complaints of discrimination so
                    that counselors and others involved in the process across the country
                    know what to do and employees face the same process everywhere.

                  • Direct the Regional Commissioner of Region X to establish a plan to (1)
                    enhance the Region’s EEO environment to increase trust and (2)
                    measure the plan’s effectiveness, such as with a periodic survey of
                    employees.



Agency Comments   In a letter dated June 26, 2003 (see app. VIII), SSA’s Commissioner said that
                  the agency acknowledged the report’s general findings and said that SSA is
                  committed to ensuring equal treatment for all employees and that its
                  policies and practices are in compliance with EEOC’s procedures for
                  processing complaints of discrimination. Regarding our first
                  recommendation, SSA said that it would continue to monitor statistically
                  significant differences. However, SSA did not address the extent to which
                  it would take action, if needed. We continue to believe that this is an
                  important component of following up and alleviating concerns. Regarding
                  our second recommendation that it adopt standard operating procedures
                  for EEO counselors, SSA stated that it has standard operating procedures
                  in the form of EEO handbooks and an EEO training manual that SSA uses
                  to instruct EEO counselors on how to process EEO complaints. As
                  discussed in the draft report, the handbooks did not provide detailed
                  procedures on how EEO counselors are to process EEO complaints.
                  However, the comments state that SSA is going to update the handbooks
                  and training manual to provide the procedural guidelines called for in
                  EEOC’s regulations governing the EEO process for federal agencies.

                  SSA said that it agrees all regions should foster an environment where
                  employees feel they can raise concerns and take part in a process designed
                  to resolve complaints and acknowledged that the change to the EEO
                  process in Region X may have caused some distrust. However, SSA
                  disagreed with our third recommendation that the Regional Commissioner
                  of Region X establish a plan to enhance the Region’s EEO environment to
                  increase trust and measure the plan’s effectiveness. The comments said
                  that our survey found that 51 percent of the Region’s employees were very
                  or generally willing to participate in EEO counseling, 13 percent were as
                  willing as unwilling, and 10 percent were uncertain. SSA also said that
                  because Region X is no longer following the change to the EEO process
                  that may have caused some distrust, implementing a plan to improve trust



                  Page 27                                          GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
will not be necessary. Our survey was conducted in early 2003, or about 2
years after the “written approach” to the informal stage of EEO complaint
processing was discontinued. Our survey found that 40 percent of
employees were unwilling or uncertain about using the current EEO
process, indicating to us a need to focus on enhancing the environment to
increase trust. While SSA said it would share best practices from other
human resource management audits with Region X, a periodic focus on
Region X would, in our view, provide knowledge of issues specific to
Region X.


We will send copies of this report to the Commissioner of SSA, the Director
of the Office of Management and Budget, and interested congressional
committees. We also will make copies available to others upon request. In
addition, the report is available on GAO’s home page at http://www.gao.gov.
If you or your staff have questions about this report, please contact me on
(202) 512-6806 or Kiki Theodoropoulos, Senior Analyst, on (202) 512-4579.
Key contributors to this report are listed in appendix IX.




Victor S. Rezendes
Managing Director, Strategic Issues




Page 28                                        GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix I

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                                                    AA
                                                                                                       ppp
                                                                                                         ep
                                                                                                          ned
                                                                                                            n
                                                                                                            x
                                                                                                            id
                                                                                                             e
                                                                                                             x
                                                                                                             Iis




              As agreed, our objectives were to (1) provide information on the
              composition of Region X’s workforce by EEO group (race/ethnicity and
              gender) for fiscal years 1997 through 2001 overall and for personnel actions
              such as promotions, awards, and adverse actions; (2) describe the EEO
              complaint process and any changes to it in the Region for the 5-year period;
              (3) assess whether the Region’s EEO complaint process is consistent with
              federal regulations and related guidance; and (4) assess the familiarity
              with the EEO process of the Region’s employees and their attitude toward
              it.



Objective 1   To identify the composition of Region X’s workforce by EEO group
              (race/ethnicity and gender) for fiscal years 1997 through 2001 in general
              and for selected personnel actions (i.e., hires, promotions, separations,
              awards, training, and adverse actions), we used SSA data provided by the
              Region’s human resources management information system for the 5-year
              period.1 These data were limited to those employees of Region X who were
              under the line authority of the then Regional Commissioner and, therefore,
              do not include employees of the Office of Inspector General, Office of
              Hearings and Appeals, the Office of the General Counsel, and the Regional
              Office of Quality Assurance.

              We assessed the reliability of data provided by Region X on the workforce,
              hires, promotions, separations, and awards for fiscal years 1997 and 2001
              by comparing them against the number of employees for Region X in the
              Office of Personnel Management’s Central Personnel Data File and doing
              electronic data testing for obvious errors in completeness, accuracy, and
              reasonableness. We found data on the workforce, permanent promotions,
              separations, and quality step increases to be sufficiently reliable for fiscal
              years 1997 and 2001 for the purposes of this report. We did not check the
              reliability of data on temporary promotions because they included details
              to lateral positions, which are not counted as temporary promotions in the
              Central Personnel Data File. Data on race/ethnicity for hires reported to
              us by Region X were significantly different from such data for SSA Region
              X hires in the Central Personnel Data File.




              1
                Region X provided data on the following EEO groups: African American men and women,
              American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) men and women, Asian/Pacific Islander (Asian)
              men and women, Hispanic men and women, and White men and women.




              Page 29                                               GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




We discussed the differences with SSA headquarters and Region X officials
to determine the reason for them. The lead human resources official in
Region X said that when a new hire is processed via an accession action,
the employee cannot be paid until the personnel action is released and
updated through the Federal Personnel and Payroll System, the automated
personnel action processing system SSA uses. During fiscal years 1997
through 2001, the official said that often, because of time constraints, the
system—which required a code for race/ethnicity—was coded with
unverified data (i.e., White) so the action could go through and the
employee be paid.2 The official said that in August 2002 SSA began
requiring the human resources staff processing the new hire personnel
actions to have the completed form with race/ethnicity submitted
electronically or by fax on the day the employee reports for duty, so the
data can be coded properly into the initial accession action. An OPM
official analyzed Region X data on hires and confirmed that submissions of
subsequent personnel actions updated race/ethnicity for some Region X
employees. As a result, we decided the data on hires were sufficiently
reliable for our purposes.

We assessed the reliability of data on selections to the Job Enhancement
Program, adverse actions and their appeals, EEO counseling requests, EEO
complaints, reasonable accommodations, grievances, and settlements, by
doing in-depth comparisons of narratives concerning the data with the
data provided by Region X. In cases where we found differences, we
discussed inconsistencies with regional officials and took steps to correct
them. We determined that the data on Job Enhancement Program
selections, adverse actions and their appeals, EEO counseling requests,
EEO complaints, reasonable accommodations, grievances, and settlements
were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report.

To judge its diversity, SSA compares its workforce with the Civilian Labor
Force (CLF). Because data on the U.S. CLF that SSA uses are based on
1990 census data, we decided to use data from the 2001 Current Population
Survey, which is a monthly survey of about 50,000 households conducted
by the Bureau of the Census and is the primary source of current
information on the labor force characteristics of the U.S. population. To


2
 According to the Region X official, such coding was done with the knowledge and
confidence that the code would be corrected when the new employee paperwork was
received, usually within the following week, providing accurate race/ethnicity data based
on the new employee’s self-identification for the system.




Page 30                                                   GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
              Appendix I
              Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




              identify the fiscal year 2001 regional civilian workforce, we used the March
              2001 Current Population Survey to identify the number of individuals 18 or
              older working in the private sector and for federal, state, and local
              governments in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

              As part of our analysis, for our discussion of the composition of SSA staff
              for selected personnel actions, we determined whether statistically
              significant differences by race/ethnicity or gender occurred. Our analyses
              of personnel actions are not designed to show that discrimination does or
              does not exist; instead they are designed to provide information at a
              common and aggregate level about race/ethnicity and gender differences
              in personnel actions at Region X. Therefore, our results should not be
              interpreted to indicate whether discrimination has or has not occurred.
              The presence of statistically significant difference does not prove
              discrimination, nor does the absence of statistically significant difference
              prove that staff have not been discriminated against. The presence of
              statistically significant differences means that we are 95 percent confident
              that differences could happen by chance in less than 5 percent of the cases.



Objective 2   To describe the EEO process in Region X and any changes made to it for
              the 5-year period, we reviewed documents provided by SSA headquarters
              and Region X officials and interviewed those officials. Because the Region
              was not able to provide us with written documentation on how it carried
              out the informal stage of the EEO complaint process and when changes to
              the process occurred, we contacted former and current Region X EEO
              counselors and headquarters officials and relied on their views concerning
              when these changes took place.



Objective 3   To determine whether the Region’s EEO complaint process was consistent
              with federal regulations, we reviewed EEOC’s regulations3 and the related
              guidance—EEOC’s Management Directive 110 (MD-110)—governing how the
              discrimination claims of federal employees are to be processed
              administratively and compared their requirements with the processes
              described by SSA headquarters and Region X officials. We also reviewed a
              recent EEOC on-site report on the U.S. Department of Agriculture, part of
              which concerned the involvement of OGC in the informal part of the EEO


              3
               29 C.F.R. Part 1614.




              Page 31                                         GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
              Appendix I
              Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




              process. In addition, we contacted an EEOC official responsible for
              overseeing agencies’ EEO programs to identify EEOC’s views concerning
              whether the types of changes Region X made to its EEO process were
              consistent with federal regulations and the related guidance.



Objective 4   To assess the familiarity with the EEO process of the Region’s employees
              and their attitude toward it, we designed and sent questionnaires to all
              SSA Region X employees to get their views on EEO. We pretested the
              questionnaire instrument to minimize measurement error and assure
              ourselves that respondents could interpret the questions correctly and
              could provide the information requested. We modified question wording
              and questionnaire format on the basis of what we learned from these
              pretests.

              SSA provided us with the home addresses for all individuals employed by
              Region X as of August 27, 2002. On September 18, 2002, we mailed 1,801
              questionnaires to these home addresses. One individual returned the
              questionnaire, indicating that he or she was no longer an employee of
              Region X. Because this individual did not answer any questions in the
              survey, we dropped this individual from the universe of employees,
              resulting in a revised universe of 1,800 Region X employees. After the
              initial and a follow-up mailing, we received 1,364 questionnaires. However,
              we received 9 questionnaires in which the tracking number for
              nonresponse follow-up had been removed (see table 4). Therefore, our
              analysis is based on 1,355 questionnaires, for a response rate of 75.3
              percent. Table 4 summarizes the disposition of the questionnaire returns
              for the revised universe of 1,800.



              Table 4: Final Disposition of Questionnaire

              Disposition                                             Number                            Percent
              Useable returns                                            1,355                              75.3
              Delivered but not returned                                    436                             24.2
              Returned but not useablea                                       9                              0.5
              Total                                                      1,800                             100.0
              Source: GAO analysis.
              a
               We received nine questionnaires in which the tracking number for nonresponse follow-up had been
              removed. Because anyone who did not respond to the initial mailing was sent two questionnaires,
              these nine questionnaires were not included in our analysis because they may have been duplicates.




              Page 32                                                       GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




The questionnaire offered respondents the option of providing additional
comments relating to any of the items discussed therein. Of the 1,355
useable returns, 307 respondents, or 22.7 percent, provided narrative
comments. The questionnaire results express the viewpoints and attitudes
of SSA Region X employees. All responses were anonymous; if
respondents included references to names, these references were marked
out before questionnaires were submitted to data entry.

All data were double-keyed and verified as part of the data entry process.
Computer analyses were performed to identify inconsistencies (e.g.,
inappropriate skip patterns) or other indications of errors. All computer
analyses were verified by a second independent analyst. Although it was
not possible to test the validity of the respondents’ answers or the
comments they made, we took several steps to check the quality of our
questionnaire data. We reviewed and edited completed questionnaires,
made internal consistency checks on several items, and rechecked the
accuracy of data entry on a random sample of questionnaires. The
practical difficulties of administering any questionnaire may introduce
errors, commonly referred to as nonsampling errors. For example,
differences in how a particular question is interpreted by respondents
could introduce unwanted variability in the questionnaire’s results. We
took steps in the development of the questionnaire, the data collection,
and the data analysis to minimize nonsampling errors. These steps, which
we discussed earlier, included pretesting and revising the questionnaires
accordingly.

The percentage of respondents by race/ethnicity closely mirrored the
percentage of each race/ethnicity in the population of Region X employees.
The percentage of men and women responding to the survey also matched
their respective percentages in the Region X workforce.

The 95-percent confidence intervals for the percentage of respondents who
were unwilling or uncertain to participate in counseling or to file a formal
discrimination complaint were +1.4 percentage points. The 95-percent
confidence intervals for the reasons why respondents were unwilling or
uncertain to participate in counseling or to file a formal discrimination
complaint were + 2.3 percentage points.

We did our work in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Seattle from January
2002 through May 2003 in accordance with generally accepted government
auditing standards.




Page 33                                         GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix II

EEO Laws and Regulations Applicable to
Federal Employees                                                                                                     Appendx
                                                                                                                            Ii




Laws Prohibiting   Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, makes it illegal for
                   employers, including federal agencies, to discriminate against their
Discrimination     employees or job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or
                   national origin.1 The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects men and women who
                   perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-
                   based wage discrimination.2 The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of
                   1967, as amended, prohibits employment discrimination against individuals
                   who are 40 years of age or older.3 Sections 501 and 505 of the
                   Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, prohibit discrimination against
                   qualified individuals with disabilities who work or apply to work in the
                   federal government.4 Federal agencies are required to provide reasonable
                   accommodation to qualified employees or applicants for employment with
                   disabilities, except when such accommodation would cause an undue
                   hardship. In addition, a person who files a complaint or participates in an
                   investigation of an EEO complaint or who opposes an employment practice
                   made illegal under any of the antidiscrimination statutes is protected from
                   retaliation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is
                   responsible for enforcing all of these laws.



EEOC Regulations   Federal employees or applicants for employment who believe that they
                   have been discriminated against by a federal agency may file a complaint
Governing the      with that agency.5 EEOC has established regulations providing for the
Processing of
Employment
Discrimination
Complaints


                   1
                    42 U.S.C. secs. 2000e et seq.
                   2
                    29 U.S.C. sec. 206(b).
                   3
                    29 U.S.C. secs. 621 et seq.
                   4
                    29 U.S.C. secs. 791 and 794a.
                   5
                     For allegations of discrimination under Title VII and the Rehabilitation Act, filing an
                   administrative complaint is a prerequisite to filing a civil action in court. See 42 U.S.C. sec.
                   2000e-16(c) and 29 U.S.C. sec. 794a(a)(1).




                   Page 34                                                      GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix II
EEO Laws and Regulations Applicable to
Federal Employees




processing of federal sector employment discrimination complaints.6 This
complaint process consists of two stages, informal, or precomplaint
counseling, and formal. Before filing a complaint, the employee must
consult an EEO counselor at the agency in order to try to informally
resolve the matter. The employee must contact an EEO counselor within
45 days of the matter alleged to be discriminatory or, in the case of a
personnel action, within 45 days of the effective date of the action. EEO
counselors should determine if the employee believes that his or her
problem is the result of discrimination on one or more of the bases—race,
color, sex (including equal pay), religion, national origin, age (40 and over),
disability—or in retaliation for having participated in activity protected by
the various antidiscrimination statutes. Counselors are to advise
individuals that, when the agency agrees to offer alternative dispute
resolution (ADR) in the particular case,7 they may choose to participate in
either counseling or in ADR.

After the counselor determines the basis or bases and claims, he or she is
to conduct a limited inquiry of the matter, which generally involves
speaking or meeting with the two parties. When the counselor has a good
grasp of the issues involved, he or she is ready to attempt resolution.
Resolution means that the employee and the agency come to terms with
the matter and agree on a solution. In seeking resolution, the counselor is
to listen to and understand the viewpoint of both parties and act as a
neutral and not as an advocate for either the employee or the agency.
Counseling is to be completed within 30 days from the date the employee
contacted the EEO office for counseling.8 If the matter is not resolved by
the 30th day of counseling or if ADR is unsuccessful,9 the counselor is


6
  29 C.F.R. Part 1614. EEOC has supplemented these regulations with additional guidance
relating to the processing of complaints with Management Directive-110 (MD-110), issued
November 9, 1999.
7
  ADR generally refers to any procedure agreed to by the parties in a dispute that is used to
resolve issues in controversy including, but not limited to, conciliation, facilitation, or
mediation. As of January 1, 2000, all federal agencies covered by 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 were
required to establish or make available an ADR program during the informal (precomplaint
counseling) and formal complaint stages of the EEO processes. According to an SSA Region
X official, as of March 7, 2003, participation in the ADR process is currently limited to
mediation and is available to Region X employees within the Seattle commuting area.
8
 Before the end of the 30-day period, the employee may agree in writing with the agency to
extend the counseling period for up to an additional 60 days.
9
 ADR is to be completed within 90 days.




Page 35                                                    GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix II
EEO Laws and Regulations Applicable to
Federal Employees




required to inform the employee in writing of his or her right to file a
formal discrimination complaint with the agency. The written notice must
inform the employee of the (1) right to file a discrimination complaint
within 15 days of receipt of the notice, (2) appropriate agency official with
whom to file a complaint, and (3) duty to ensure that the agency is
informed immediately if the complainant retains counsel or a
representative.

After a complainant files a formal discrimination complaint, the agency
must decide whether to accept or dismiss the complaint. If the agency
dismisses the complaint, the complainant has 30 days to appeal the
dismissal to EEOC.10 If the agency accepts the complaint, it has 180 days to
investigate the accepted complaint and present the complainant with a
record of investigation.11 Once the agency finishes its investigation and the
complainant receives the investigation results, the complainant has 30
days to choose between requesting (1) a hearing before an EEOC
administrative judge (AJ)12 or (2) a final decision from the agency. When a
hearing is not requested, the agency must issue a final decision within 60
days. In cases where a hearing is requested, the AJ has 180 days to issue a
decision and send the decision to the complainant and the agency. If the AJ
issues a finding of discrimination, he or she is to order appropriate relief.
After the AJ decision is issued, the agency has 40 days to issue a final order
notifying the complainant whether or not the agency will fully implement
the decision of the AJ, and the employee has 30 days to file an appeal with
EEOC.13 If the agency issues an order notifying the complainant that the
agency will not fully implement the decision of the AJ, the agency also
must file an appeal with EEOC at the same time. Figure 3 illustrates the
EEO complaint process.




10
   An agency may dismiss an individual’s complaint for a number of reasons, including failure
to contact an EEO counselor in a timely manner, failure to file a complaint in a timely
manner, or failure to state a claim based on covered discrimination.
11
     This period can be extended an additional 90 days when both parties agree.
12
  A complainant may request a hearing at any time after 180 days have elapsed from the
filing of the complaint, regardless of whether the agency has completed its investigation.
13
 If the agency does not issue a final order within 40 days, the decision of the AJ becomes
the final action of the agency.




Page 36                                                     GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                                                     Appendix II
                                                     EEO Laws and Regulations Applicable to
                                                     Federal Employees




Figure 3: The EEO Complaint Process with Related Time Frames


                  Alleged discriminatory
                       action occurs

                                  45 days
 Informal
 stage                                                     Complainant and
                    EEO counselinga                       agency agreement
                                                         to extend counseling
                                 30 days
                                                                    Additional
                                                                    60 days
                      Notice of right
                      to file a formal
                         complaint                  90 days

                                 15 days

 Formal
 stage                                                              Dismissed                                    30 days
                    Formal complaint
                    filed with agency                               complaint

                                                                   Hearing not         60 days       Final agency          30 days
                                 180 days                           requested                          decision

                    Accepted complaint
                     investigated and          30 days                                                                                       Appeal to
                  report of investigation                                                                                                     EEOC
                                                                Hearing requested
                                                                                                                         Complainant
                  issued to complainant                          by complainant
                                                                                  180 days            Administrative       30 days
                                                                  before EEOC
                                  Additional                                                         judge’s decision
                                                                  administrative                                            Agency
                                   90 days
                                                                      judge                                                 40 days
                     Complainant and
                    agency agreement
                  to extend investigation

Source: GAO, based on EEOC regulations.

                                                     a
                                                      Where the agency agrees to offer ADR in the particular case, employees may choose between
                                                     participation in ADR and counseling activities. ADR generally refers to any procedure agreed to by the
                                                     parties in a dispute that is used to resolve issues in controversy including, but not limited to, mediation.




                                                     Page 37                                                             GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix II
EEO Laws and Regulations Applicable to
Federal Employees




If a complaint is one that can be appealed to the Merit Systems Protection
Board (MSPB) such as a removal, reduction in grade or pay, or suspension
for more than 14 days,14 the complaint is a “mixed case.” With a mixed-case
complaint, the complainant has no right to a hearing before an EEOC AJ.
However, a complainant may appeal a final agency decision to the MSPB
within 30 days of receiving the agency’s decision. EEOC regulations
provide that an individual may raise claims of discrimination in a mixed
case, either as a mixed-case EEO complaint with the agency or a direct
appeal to MSPB, but not both. Under EEOC regulations, whatever action
the individual files first is considered an election to proceed in that forum.
Filing a formal EEO complaint constitutes an election to proceed in the
EEO forum; contacting an EEO counselor or receiving EEO counseling
does not constitute such an election.15




14
 MSPB is an independent quasi-judicial agency in the executive branch that serves as the
guardian of federal merit systems.
15
 For employees of agencies subject to 5 U.S.C. sec. 7121(d) and covered by a collective
bargaining agreement that permits claims of discrimination to be raised in a negotiated
grievance procedure, the employees similarly must elect to file an EEO complaint or a
grievance.




Page 38                                                  GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix III

Region X Workforce by Grade Level                                                                                  Appendx
                                                                                                                         iI




                        Over the 5-year period from fiscal years 1997 through 2001, with the
                        exception of managers in the Senior Executive Service (SES) and eight
                        wage grade employees, the Region X workforce was in the general
                        schedule (GS) pay plan.1 The GS pay plan consists of 15 grades. The
                        following sections contain a discussion of Region X employees by EEO
                        group in grade levels GS-13 through 15, GS-9 through 12, GS-5 through 8,
                        and GS-1 through 4.



Region X Employees in   A total of 75 employees were in grades GS-13 through GS-15 in fiscal year
                        1997, and 134 in fiscal year 2001. The largest proportional gain in these
Grades GS-13 through    grades was among White women, who increased from 19, or about 25
GS-15                   percent of these grades, in fiscal year 1997 to 44, or about 33 percent, in
                        fiscal year 2001. This was followed by a proportional increase in these
                        grades among Asian women, who increased in number from 2, or almost 3
                        percent of the grades, in fiscal year 1997 to 10, or 7.5 percent, in fiscal year
                        2001. Proportional increases also occurred among African American
                        women, AIAN men, and Hispanic men. Hispanic women increased from 0
                        in fiscal year 1997 to 4, or 3 percent of these grades in fiscal year 2001.
                        Figure 4 shows the change in Region X employees in grades GS-13 through
                        GS-15 by EEO group between fiscal years 1997 and 2001.




                        1
                         The then Regional Commissioner, a White man, was the only SES manager in Region X in
                        fiscal year 1997 and most of fiscal year 1998. In fiscal years 1999 through 2001, there were
                        two SES managers in the Region, the then Regional Commissioner, an Hispanic woman, and
                        the then Deputy Commissioner, an African American man.




                        Page 39                                                   GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                        Appendix III
                        Region X Workforce by Grade Level




                        Figure 4: Region X Employees in Grades GS-13 through GS-15 in Fiscal Years 1997
                        and 2001 by EEO Group
                             AIAN
                                         1
                              Men
                                                 3
                                         1
                          Women
                                     0

                         Hispanic
                                                 3
                              Men
                                                     4
                                     0
                          Women
                                                     4

                         African
                        American
                                                 3
                              Men
                                             2

                          Women                  3
                                                           7


                            Asian
                                                     4
                              Men
                                                 3
                                             2
                          Women
                                                               10

                            White
                                                                                   39
                              Men
                                                                                                       57
                                                                        19
                          Women
                                                                                         44
                                    0           10                      20   30    40         50            60
                                    Number of employees

                                                         1997 (N=75)

                                                         2001 (N=134)

                        Source: Region X data.




Region X Employees in   A total of 791 employees were in grades GS-9 through GS-12 in fiscal year
                        1997, and 837 in fiscal year 2001. The largest proportional gain in these
Grades GS-9 through     grades from fiscal year 1997 to 2001 was among Hispanic women, who
GS-12                   increased from 26, or 3.3 percent of the grades, in fiscal year 1997 to 46, or
                        5.5 percent, in fiscal year 2001. This was followed by a proportional
                        increase among Asian women, whose presence in the grades went from 28,
                        or 3.5 percent in fiscal year 1997, to 41, or 4.9 percent, in fiscal year 2001.



                        Page 40                                                   GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                                                 Appendix III
                                                 Region X Workforce by Grade Level




                                                 Proportional increases also occurred among African American men and
                                                 women, Asian men, and Hispanic men. Figure 5 shows the distribution of
                                                 Region X employees in grades GS-9 through GS-12 by EEO group from
                                                 fiscal year 1997 to fiscal year 2001.



Figure 5: Region X Employees in Grades GS-9 Through GS-12 in Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO Group

     AIAN
              4
      Men
              3
                  10
   Women
                  8

 African
American
                  8
      Men
                      17
  Women                         31
                                 35

    Asian
                  9
      Men
                       20
                            28
  Women
                                  41

 Hispanic
                      13
      Men
                           21
                            26
  Women
                                      46

    White
                                                           187
      Men
                                                           183
                                                                                                                              475
  Women
                                                                                                                        463
            0                              100               200                     300                400                         500
            Number of employees
                           1997 (N=791)

                           2001 (N=837)
Source: Region X data.




Region X Employees in                            A total of 818 employees were in grades GS-5 through GS-8 in fiscal year
                                                 1997, and 844 in fiscal year 2001. The largest proportional gain in these
Grades GS-5 through                              grades was among Hispanic women, who increased from 28, or 3.4 percent
GS-8                                             of these grades, in fiscal year 1997 to 66, or 7.8 percent, in fiscal year 2001.



                                                 Page 41                                            GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix III
Region X Workforce by Grade Level




This increase was followed by a proportional increase among Hispanic
men, whose presence in these grades doubled from 20, or 2.4 percent in
fiscal year 1997, to 40, or 4.7 percent in fiscal year 2001 and Asian women,
who increased from 22, or 2.7 percent, to 36, or 4.3 percent. The largest
proportional loss occurred among White women, who decreased from 439,
or 53.7 percent of the grades in fiscal year 1997, to 387, or 45.9 in fiscal
year 2001; this was followed by a loss among White men, who decreased
from 213, or 26 percent of the grades in fiscal year 1997, to 205, or 24.3
percent in fiscal year 2001. No change occurred in the number of African
American or AIAN men in these grades in fiscal years 1997 and 2001.
Figure 6 shows Region X employees in grades GS-5 through GS-8 in fiscal
years 1997 and 2001 by EEO group.




Page 42                                         GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                                                    Appendix III
                                                    Region X Workforce by Grade Level




Figure 6: Region X Employees in Grades GS-5 through GS-8 in Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001 by EEO Group
      AIAN
               2
       Men
               2
                3
    Women
                 6

     Asian
                     14
       Men
                      18
                       22
    Women
                             36

  African
 American
                           28
       Men
                           28
                                  49
    Women
                                    56

  Hispanic
                      20
       Men
                                40
                           28
    Women
                                         66

     White
                                                                      213
       Men
                                                                    205
                                                                                                                  439
    Women
                                                                                                       387
             0                                100             200                       300            400                   500
             Number of employees
                          1997 (N=818)

                          2001 (N=844)

Source: Region X data.




Region X Employees in                               A total of 35 employees were in grades GS-1 through GS-4 in fiscal year
                                                    1997, and 30 in fiscal year 2001. Numbers for both years included students.
Grades GS-1 through                                 There were no African American, Asian, or Hispanic men in these grades in
GS-4                                                fiscal years 1997 and 2001. The largest proportional increase occurred
                                                    among AIAN women, who increased from 1, or 2.9 percent of these grades
                                                    in fiscal year 1997, to 5, or 16.7 percent in fiscal year 2001. This increase
                                                    was followed by a proportional increase in Asian women, who doubled
                                                    from 3, or 8.6 percent of these grades in fiscal year 1997 to 6, or 20.0
                                                    percent in fiscal year 2001. The largest proportional loss was experienced
                                                    among White women, who decreased from 21, or 60 percent of these




                                                    Page 43                                          GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix III
Region X Workforce by Grade Level




grades in fiscal year 1997 to 10, or 33.3 percent in fiscal year 2001. Figure 7
shows Region X employees in grades GS-1 through GS-4 from fiscal year
1997 through fiscal year 2001 by EEO group.



Figure 7: Region X Employees in Grades GS-1 through GS-4 in Fiscal Years 1997
and 2001 by EEO Group

   Hispanic
                0
         Men
                0
     Women                        3
                                  3

   African
  American
                0
         Men
                0
                                        4
     Women
                                   3

       AIAN
                0
         Men
                      1
                      1
     Women
                                            5

       Asian
                0
         Men
                0
                                   3
     Women
                                                6

       White
                                  3
        Men
                              2
                                                                            21
     Women
                                                     10
               0               5                    10    15           20            25
               Number of employees

                          1997 (N=35)

                          2001 (N=30)
 Source: Region X data.




Tables 5 and 6 show the distribution across grade levels by race/ethnicity
and gender compared with their representation in the Region’s workforce
for fiscal years 1997 and 2001, respectively. As shown in the tables, the
distribution across grade levels by race/ethnicity or gender varied
somewhat but was generally close to the representation of the various
racial/ethnic groups or gender makeup of the Region’s workforce. The



Page 44                                                    GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix III
Region X Workforce by Grade Level




main differences were higher proportions of men in the GS-13 through
GS-15 grade levels and higher representation of African Americans and
Hispanics in the GS-5 through GS-8 grades.



Table 5: Percentage Distribution across Grade Levels by Race/Ethnicity and Gender
for Fiscal Year 1997

                     GS-5 through GS-9 through                GS-13 through        Workforce as of
Group                        GS-8        GS-12                        GS-15     September 30, 1997
African                              9.4              4.9               8.0                     7.3
Americans
AIANs                               0.6               1.8               2.7                     1.6
Asians                              4.4               4.7               8.0                     4.8
Hispanics                           5.9               4.9               4.0                     5.4
Whites                             79.7              83.7              77.3                    81.0
Men                                33.9              27.9              66.7                    32.0
Women                              66.1              72.1              33.3                    68.0
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

Note: Because the numbers were so small, we did not include data for grades GS-1 through 4.




Table 6: Percentage Distribution across Grade Levels by Race/Ethnicity and Gender
for Fiscal Year 2001


                       GS-5 through            GS-9 through    GS-13 through       Workforce as of
Group                          GS-8                   GS-12            GS-15    September 30, 2001
African                              10.0               6.2               6.7                   8.1
Americans
AIANs                                    0.9            1.3               2.2                   1.5
Asians                                   6.4            7.3               9.7                   7.3
Hispanics                            12.6               8.0               6.0                  10.0
Whites                               70.1              77.2              75.4                  73.1
Men                                  34.7              29.2              51.5                  33.0
Women                                65.3              70.8              48.5                  67.0
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

Note: Because the numbers were so small, we did not include data for grades GS-1 through 4.




Page 45                                                              GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix IV

Temporary Promotions, Training, and Awards                                                                 Appendx
                                                                                                                 iIV




                       Experience, training, and awards are among the elements considered
                       under SSA’s merit promotion process. Experience includes such
                       developmental assignments as temporary promotions and outside
                       activities. Training includes both external coursework (e.g., college
                       courses) and internal courses (provided by the agency). Awards include
                       monetary and nonmonetary, or honor, awards. The analysis for the 5-year
                       period showed statistically significant differences among races concerning
                       quality step increases and honor awards. These analyses were not
                       designed to determine whether or not discrimination occurred but could
                       indicate areas warranting further study by management.

                       The following sections describe by EEO group those who participated in
                       temporary promotion and selected training opportunities or received
                       awards for fiscal years 1997 through 2001.



Experience:            For an employee to receive a temporary promotion to an existing position
                       for which he or she is qualified, the employee must meet (1) established
Temporary Promotions   position qualification standards for the position and (2) time-in-grade
                       requirements for promotion. Region X employees can gain experience
                       through two kinds of temporary promotions or lateral assignments. The
                       Job Enhancement Program (JEP) is a regional noncompetitive program
                       that allows employees to voluntarily apply for temporary assignments
                       (both promotions and details to existing positions) as a method of
                       enhancing career development. According to a 2002 SSA report on Region
                       X,1 JEPs enable regional employees from grades GS-3 up to GS-14 to take a
                       detail for up to 120 days in different positions. Table 7 shows the
                       distribution of those employees selected for JEPs by EEO group over the 5
                       years.




                       1
                        Social Security Administration, Human Resources Management Assessment Report for
                       Review Conducted April 29-May 3, 2002 in Region X, Office of Human Resources
                       (Baltimore: 2002).




                       Page 46                                              GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix IV
Temporary Promotions, Training, and Awards




Table 7: Comparison of the Percentage of JEPs to the Average Percentage
Representation in the Workforce for Fiscal Years 1997 Through 2001 in Region X by
EEO Group

                                                                             Average percentage
                                             Total JEPs   Percentage of     representation in the
EEO group                                across 5 years           JEPs                workforce
African American men                                21              4.0                       2.5
African American                                    34              6.5                       5.3
women
AIAN men                                             0                0                       0.4
AIAN women                                           4              0.8                       1.0
Asian men                                            4              0.8                       1.9
Asian women                                         14              2.7                       4.0
Hispanic men                                         9              1.7                       3.0
Hispanic women                                      14              2.7                       5.4
White men                                          125             24.0                     24.8
White women                                        295             56.7                     51.7
                                                                      a
Total                                              520            99.9                     100.0
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

Note: JEPs include both temporary promotions and details to lateral positions.
a
Total does not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.


According to a Region X official, temporary promotions other than those
under a JEP can be made noncompetitively for up to 120 days.2 For
promotions greater than 120 days, a vacancy announcement is required for
all positions. Some vacancies are announced as not-to-exceed promotions
for periods ranging from 1 to 2 years, with a 5-year maximum allowable.
Such announcements may state, “this position may be extended or become
permanent without further competition.” Table 8 compares the
percentage of temporary promotions to the average percentage
representation of each EEO Group in the workforce for fiscal years 1997
through 2001 in Region X.




2
 If a temporary promotion that was not expected to exceed 120 days was originally made on
a noncompetitive basis, any extension beyond 120 days must be made under a competitive
procedure. Temporary promotions can be made for either bargaining or nonbargaining unit
positions.




Page 47                                                          GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
           Appendix IV
           Temporary Promotions, Training, and Awards




           Table 8: Comparison of the Percentage of Temporary Promotions to the Average
           Percentage Representation in the Region X Workforce for Fiscal Years 1997 through
           2001 by EEO Group

                                                    Total temporary   Percentage of Average percentage
                                                        promotions       temporary representation in the
           EEO group                                 across 5 years     promotions           workforce
           African American men                                  4              4.3                   2.5
           African American                                      9              9.7                   5.3
           women
           AIAN men                                              0              0.0                   0.4
           AIAN women                                            0              0.0                   1.0
           Asian men                                             2              2.2                   1.9
           Asian women                                           3              3.2                   4.0
           Hispanic men                                          4              4.3                   3.0
           Hispanic women                                        1              1.1                   5.4
           White men                                            19             20.4                  24.8
           White women                                          51             54.8                  51.7
           Total                                                93            100.0                100.0
           Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.




Training   When asked for data on training opportunities in Region X for fiscal years
           1997 through 2001, the Region provided data on employees who
           participated in the Government Employees Training Act (GETA) program
           (for fiscal years 1998 through 2001). Under the GETA program, SSA pays
           for tuition and book expenses for an employee who enrolls in an approved
           course taken at a university, college, or other recognized educational
           institution. Courses covered included American Sign Language; various
           languages (e.g., Spanish, French, and Russian); writing; and Windows-
           based computing (e.g., Excel, PowerPoint). Table 9 compares the
           percentage of individuals receiving GETA training to the average
           percentage representation by EEO group in the Region X workforce for
           fiscal years 1998 through 2001.




           Page 48                                                         GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
         Appendix IV
         Temporary Promotions, Training, and Awards




         Table 9: Comparison of the Percentage of GETA Training to the Average Percentage
         Representation by EEO Group in the Region X Workforce for Fiscal Years 1998
         through 2001

                                                                                       Average percentage
                                                  Total GETA training   Percentage of representation in the
         EEO group                                     across 4 years   GETA training           workforce
         African American men                                      8              1.8                   2.5
         African American                                         35              7.9                   5.3
         women
         AIAN men                                                  0              0.0                   0.4
         AIAN women                                                4              1.0                   1.0
         Asian men                                                 8              1.8                   1.9
         Asian women                                              11              2.5                   4.0
         Hispanic men                                             12              2.7                   3.0
         Hispanic women                                           30              6.8                   5.4
         White men                                                69             15.6                  24.8
         White women                                             265             60.0                  51.7
                                                                                    a
         Total                                                   442           100.1                 100.0
         Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.
         a
         Total does not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.




Awards   SSA’s awards are divided into monetary and honor awards. According to
         Region X, monetary awards consist of Recognition of Contribution awards,
         which recognize employees who have maintained high-quality
         performance and may be either a one-time performance award paid as a
         lump sum or a quality step increase, which permanently increases pay;
         Commendable Act or Service awards, which are granted to an employee—
         as an individual or as a member of a group—to recognize major
         accomplishments or contributions that have promoted the mission of the
         organization; and On-the-Spot awards, which are special act or service
         awards that recognize employees for noteworthy accomplishments or
         contributions on individual tasks or assignments.3 We found for the 5-year
         period statistically significant differences among races concerning quality
         step increases and honor awards. Table 10 compares the percentage of



         3
          For the 5-year period on which we focused, Region X gave group special act awards only in
         fiscal year 2001.




         Page 49                                                             GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix IV
Temporary Promotions, Training, and Awards




monetary awards to the average percentage representation by EEO group
in the workforce for the 5-year period.4



Table 10: Comparison of the Percentage of Monetary Awards to the Average
Percentage Representation by EEO Group in the Region X Workforce for Fiscal
Years 1997 through 2001

                                                              Percentage of Average percentage
                                            Total monetary        monetary representation in the
EEO group                                awards for 5 years         awards           workforce
African American men                                   173              2.0                   2.5
African American                                       443              5.0                   5.3
women
AIAN men                                                27              0.3                   0.4
AIAN women                                              96              1.1                   1.0
Asian men                                              174              2.0                   1.9
Asian women                                            296              3.3                   4.0
Hispanic men                                           229              2.6                   3.0
Hispanic women                                         436              4.9                   5.4
White men                                            2,159             24.4                  24.8
White women                                          4,823             54.5                  51.7
                                                                          a
Total                                                8,856           100.1                 100.0
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.
a
Total does not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.


According to the Region X Affirmative Employment Plan for fiscal year
1997, the region conducted an analysis of award types and recipient EEO
profiles in fiscal years 1996 and 1997. According to this report, in fiscal
year 1996, only Whites received quality step increases; the Region began
addressing this disparity in fiscal year 1997. Our statistical analysis for the
5-year period showed that Whites were significantly more likely to receive
quality step increases than African Americans, Hispanics, and AIANs;
Asians were significantly more likely to receive quality step increases than
Hispanics and AIANs; and African Americans were significantly more
likely to receive quality step increases than Hispanics. There were no
statistically significant differences between men and women. Because the

4
 Because more monetary awards are given than there are people in an EEO group in the
Region (i.e., some individuals get more than one monetary award), we could not test for
statistical significance of monetary awards.




Page 50                                                            GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix IV
Temporary Promotions, Training, and Awards




Region acknowledged a disparity among racial/ethnic groups concerning
quality step increases and began trying to address this disparity in fiscal
year 1997, we also did a statistical analysis of quality step increases for
fiscal year 2001 alone. By fiscal year 2001, only two statistically significant
differences remained—women were significantly more likely to receive
quality step increases than men and Hispanics were significantly less likely
to receive quality step increases than African Americans or Whites—which
shows substantial progress. Table 11 compares the percentage of quality
step increases to the average percentage representation by EEO group in
the workforce for the 5-year period.



Table 11: Comparison of the Percentage of Quality Step Increases to the Average
Percentage Representation by EEO Group in the Region X Workforce for Fiscal
Years 1997 through 2001

                                         Total quality step   Percentage of Average percentage
                                           increases for 5      quality step representation in the
EEO group                                             years       increases            workforce
African American men                                     8              1.6                    2.5
African American                                        22              4.4                    5.3
women
AIAN men                                                 0              0.0                    0.4
AIAN women                                               2              0.4                    1.0
Asian men                                               11              2.2                    1.9
Asian women                                             22              4.4                    4.0
Hispanic men                                             3              0.6                    3.0
Hispanic women                                          12              2.4                    5.4
White men                                              130             25.7                  24.8
White women                                            295             58.4                  51.7
                                                                          a
Total                                                  505           100.1                  100.0
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.
a
Total does not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.


According to Region X, honor awards consist of the Commissioner’s
Citation, which is SSA’s highest honorary award that is granted to
individuals who have made a superior contribution to SSA; the
Commissioner’s Team Award, which recognizes groups of employees for
their team approach in carrying out or supporting SSA’s mission of
providing quality service in administering national Social Security
programs; and the Deputy Commissioner’s Citation and the Regional




Page 51                                                            GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix IV
Temporary Promotions, Training, and Awards




Commissioner’s Citation, both of which recognize SSA employees for
outstanding achievements to SSA. Our analysis showed that for the 5-year
period, Asians were significantly more likely to receive honor awards than
Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics. Also, Native Americans were
significantly more likely to receive honor awards than Hispanics. Table 12
compares the percentage of honor awards to the average percentage
representation by EEO group in the workforce for the 5-year period.



Table 12: Comparison of the Percentage of Honor Awards to the Average
Percentage Representation by EEO Group in the Region X Workforce for Fiscal
Years 1997 through 2001

                                                                             Average percentage
                                               Total honor    Percentage of representation in the
EEO group                                awards for 5 years   honor awards            workforce
African American men                                     2              1.3                   2.5
African American                                         5              3.4                   5.3
women
AIAN men                                                 2              1.3                   0.4
AIAN women                                               2              1.3                   1.0
Asian men                                                4              2.7                   1.9
Asian women                                             11              7.4                   4.0
Hispanic men                                             4              2.7                   3.0
Hispanic women                                           2              1.3                   5.4
White men                                               31             20.8                  24.8
White women                                             86             57.7                  51.7
                                                                          a
Total                                                  149            99.9                 100.0
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.
a
Total does not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.




Page 52                                                            GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix V

Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of Adverse
Actions, EEO Complaints, and Grievances                                                                          Append
                                                                                                                      x
                                                                                                                      iV




                  The following sections discuss the adverse actions taken by Region X,1
                  appeals of such actions filed with the Merit Systems Protection Board
                  (MSPB), precomplaint EEO counseling sought, formal EEO complaints
                  filed, and grievances filed by Region X employees in fiscal years 1997
                  through 2001.



Adverse Actions   Region X took 142 adverse actions over the 5-year period.2 For
                  nonprobationary employees, the common pattern of progressive discipline
                  is reprimand, short-term suspension (a suspension of 14 days or less), long-
                  term suspension (a suspension of 15 days or more), and removal.
                  Probationary employees face terminations.3 Of the 142 actions, 65, or
                  about 46 percent, were for individuals who entered computer databases
                  without authorization.4

                  Our statistical analysis showed no significant differences among EEO
                  groups for written reprimands. However, we found statistically significant
                  differences among races for short-term suspensions and between the sexes
                  concerning removals. For short-term suspensions, AIANs and African
                  Americans were significantly more likely to receive suspensions of 14 days
                  or less than Whites. Men were significantly more likely to experience a
                  removal or termination than women. About 14 percent of those who had
                  adverse actions taken against them had disabilities compared with the
                  representation in the Region’s workforce of about 11 percent. Table 13
                  shows the types of adverse actions by EEO group.




                  1
                   Eight actions were for performance, not conduct.
                  2
                   Because numbers of adverse actions were small in each of the 5 years, we combined all
                  actions for the 5-year period.
                  3
                   The Region stated that any of these steps may be bypassed if management determines by
                  the severe nature of the behavior that a lesser form of discipline would not be appropriate.
                  4
                    Other offenses each accounted for less than 10 percent of all actions and included failure to
                  adhere to leave rules or being away without leave and failure to follow standards of
                  conduct.




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                                                   Appendix V
                                                   Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
                                                   Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
                                                   Grievances




Table 13: Types of Adverse Actions in Region X for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001 by EEO Group

                                                 Suspension                 Involuntary separationa
                                     Written                                                                                      Total
EEO group                         reprimand    Short-term Long-term           Termination        Removal       Demotion         actions        Percent
African American                          0             5              1                   1              3              0            10           7.0%
men
African American                          4             7              1                   1              1              0            14           9.9%
women
AIAN men                                  0             0              2                   1              0              0             3           2.1%
AIAN women                                0             4              0                   0              0              0             4           2.8%
Asian men                                 1             2              0                   0              1              0             4           2.8%
Asian women                               0             3              1                   0              1              0             5           3.5%
Hispanic men                              1             4              0                   1              1              1             8           5.6%
Hispanic women                            3             4              0                   3              2              0            12           8.5%
White men                                 9            12              2                   9              5              0            37         26.1%
White women                              10            21              5                   5              4              0            45         31.7%
Total                                    28            62             12                  21            18               1          142           100.0
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.
                                                   a
                                                    When a probationary employee is discharged or a temporary employee is separated because of
                                                   conduct or performance, the action is characterized as a termination. When a nonprobationary
                                                   employee is discharged, the action is characterized as a removal. Eight other individuals resigned
                                                   when faced with termination or removal—one African American woman, one Hispanic man, three
                                                   White men, and three White women.




Adverse Actions                                    Employees can appeal adverse actions to MSPB.5 Appealable actions
                                                   include removal, reduction in grade or pay, or suspension of 15 days or
Appealed to MSPB                                   more. Under the negotiated national agreement between SSA and the
                                                   American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), employees may
                                                   elect to appeal such actions to MSPB or through the negotiated grievance
                                                   procedure but not both.

                                                   Of the 142 adverse actions Region X took from fiscal year 1997 through
                                                   fiscal year 2001, 15 employee appeals were filed with MSPB. Of these 15
                                                   appeals, SSA settled 9; MSPB found that SSA’s action was appropriate in 3
                                                   cases; MSPB dismissed 2 appeals; and 1 is still pending. Table 14 shows the

                                                   5
                                                    MSPB’s mission is to ensure that federal employees are protected against abuses by
                                                   executive branch agency management, that agencies make employment decisions according
                                                   to merit systems principles, and that federal merit systems are kept free from prohibited
                                                   personnel practices.




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                                                         Appendix V
                                                         Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
                                                         Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
                                                         Grievances




                                                         number of Region X employee appeals to MSPB by EEO group and their
                                                         disposition for the 5-year period.



Table 14: Adverse Actions in Region X for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001 That Were Appealed to MSPB and Their Disposition
by EEO Group

                                                                                                    Disposition
EEO group                                Appeals filed                 Settled                Affirmeda               Dismissed               Pending
African American men                                2                         2
African American women                              0
AIAN men                                            1                                                   1
AIAN women                                          0
Asian men                                           0
Asian women                                         2                                                   2
Hispanic men                                        0
Hispanic women                                      2                         2
White men                                           3                         2                                                  1
White women                                         5                         3                                                  1                  1
Total                                              15                         9                         3                        2                  1
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

                                                         Note 1: Settlements include reduced, rescinded, and mitigated agency actions.
                                                         Note 2: One employee may have filed more than one appeal.
                                                         a
                                                         Affirmed means that an agency’s action was found to be appropriate.


                                                         When a federal employee alleges that a removal, reduction in grade or pay,
                                                         or suspension of 15 or more days is discriminatory, the employee may file a
                                                         formal EEO complaint, and because the complaint can be appealed either
                                                         to MSPB or EEOC, the complaint is a “mixed case.” Under EEOC
                                                         regulations, whatever action an employee files first is considered an
                                                         election to proceed in that forum. For example, filing a formal EEO
                                                         complaint constitutes an election to proceed in the EEO forum, although
                                                         contacting an EEO counselor or receiving EEO counseling does not
                                                         constitute such an election. For Region X employees, who are covered by a
                                                         collective bargaining agreement that permits claims of discrimination to be
                                                         raised in a negotiated grievance procedure, they similarly may elect to file
                                                         an EEO complaint or a grievance. Before filing a grievance that alleges
                                                         discrimination, the employee may first discuss the allegation with an EEO
                                                         counselor.




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                          Appendix V
                          Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
                          Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
                          Grievances




Region X EEO              SSA is required to prepare and submit an annual report to EEOC that
                          includes the number of individuals counseled, monetary and nonmonetary
Precomplaint              settlements made during the precomplaint counseling phase, the number
Counseling and Formal     of complaints filed during a reporting period, the bases and issues alleged
                          in all complaints filed during a reporting period, and the number and
EEO Complaints Filed      amounts of monetary and nonmonetary settlements of closed complaints.



Precomplaint Counseling   We requested data for fiscal years 1997 through 2001 on the number of
                          individuals who approached the Region’s Civil Rights and Equal
                          Opportunity office to ask for counseling because they felt that they had
                          experienced discrimination. The Region provided data for only the last 2
                          years because, according to a Region X official, verifiable data were only
                          available for fiscal years 2000 and 2001.6 Table 15 shows the incidents of
                          counseling requests for fiscal years 2000 and 2001.



                          Table 15: Requests for Counseling in Region X and Their Disposition in Fiscal Years
                          2000 and 2001

                                                                                        Disposition
                                                     Requests for
                          Fiscal year                 counselinga       Withdrawn     Settled     Not pursued        Closedb
                          2000                                     38           6            2                 2           28
                          2001                                     35           0            1                11           23
                          Total                                    73           6            3                13           51
                          Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.
                          a
                           Does not necessarily equate to the number of individuals seeking counseling, because one individual
                          may account for more than one request for counseling in each year.
                          b
                           Closed includes matters that were resolved with an informal settlement agreement, resolved without
                          an informal settlement agreement, and unresolved.


                          Under EEOC regulations, before filing an EEO complaint, in order to try to
                          informally resolve the matter, individuals who believe they have been
                          discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including
                          equal pay), national origin, age (i.e., 40 or over), or handicapping condition


                          6
                            SSA changed its national reporting mechanism from manual to electronic reporting, and
                          beginning in fiscal year 2000, SSA initiated a national database for tracking EEO counseling
                          activity.




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Appendix V
Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
Grievances




or who have suffered retaliation or reprisal must consult an EEO
counselor. Table 16 provides the bases cited in fiscal years 2000 and 2001—
the 2 years for which Region X provided data on incidents of EEO
counseling.



Table 16: Bases Cited in EEO Counseling for Region X in Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001

                                                 Fiscal years
Bases                                              2000                  2001                  Total
Race                                                  14                     7                    21
Color                                                  0                     0                      0
Religion                                               0                     0                      0
Sex                                                    7                    12                    19
National origin                                        1                     0                      1
Age                                                   13                     7                    20
Disability                                            17                    16                    33
Retaliation/reprisal                                  12                     5                    17
                     a
Parental status                                        0                     1                      1
Unstated                                               1                     0                      1
Total                                                 65                    48                   113
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

Note: One request for counseling may contain one or more bases.
a
 This basis is not covered by the EEOC regulations but is prohibited by Executive Order 13152 (May 2,
2000).


Table 17 shows the issues cited by individuals who requested EEO
counseling in fiscal years 2000 and 2001.




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                        Appendix V
                        Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
                        Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
                        Grievances




                        Table 17: Issues Cited by Individuals Requesting Counseling in Region X in Fiscal
                        Years 2000 and 2001

                                                                                             Number of requests for
                        Issues                                                               counseling citing issue
                        Assignment of duties                                                                      3
                        Suspension                                                                                3
                        Termination                                                                               4
                        Disparate treatment                                                                       3
                        Duty hours                                                                                3
                        Evaluation/appraisal                                                                      2
                        Harassment (nonsexual)                                                                   18
                        Harassment (sexual)                                                                       2
                        Hostile work environment                                                                  2
                        Promotion/nonselection                                                                   21
                        Retirement (involuntary)                                                                  2
                        Time and attendance/leave                                                                 5
                        Training                                                                                  3
                        Reasonable accommodation                                                                  7
                        Working conditions                                                                        7
                        Other                                                                                    10
                        Total                                                                                    95
                        Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

                        Note: One request for counseling may contain one or more issues.


                        Employees requesting counseling and Region X entered into three informal
                        settlement agreements during counseling requested in fiscal years 2000
                        and 2001. The informal settlements agreed to included a lump sum
                        payment of $5,000, a letter of recommendation, and a temporary
                        promotion under a JEP.



Formal EEO Complaints   If employees cannot resolve to their satisfaction the matters for which they
Filed                   sought counseling, they file formal complaints with the Office of Civil
                        Rights and Equal Opportunity in SSA headquarters in Baltimore. Table 18
                        shows the number of formal complaints filed by Region X employees for
                        fiscal years 1997 through 2001 and the disposition of those complaints.




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                                                     Appendix V
                                                     Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
                                                     Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
                                                     Grievances




Table 18: Formal EEO Complaints Filed by Region X Employees for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001 and Their Disposition

                                                                                     Disposition
                                                                                     Finding of discrimination
Fiscal year                Fileda        Withdrawn     Settled      Dismissed                     No              Yes     Total closed          Pending
                                                                                                                     b
1997                            10               1             6               1                    1               1                10                    0
1998                            26               4             9               7                    3                0               23                    3
1999                            23               3          10                 4                    4                0               21                    2
2000                            16               4             5               4                    1                0               14                    2
2001                            14               0             2               3                    0                0                 5                   9
Total                           89              12          32                19                    9                1               73                16
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

                                                     Note: For settlements, a global settlement can address more than one filed EEO discrimination
                                                     complaint, MSPB appeal, or union grievance and may account for more than one individual settlement.
                                                     a
                                                      Because one individual may have filed more than one EEO complaint, the number filed is not
                                                     necessarily equal to the number of complainants.
                                                     b
                                                      The EEOC administrative judge hearing the case had a finding of discrimination and offered partial
                                                     relief, which SSA and the complainant are appealing.


                                                     Table 19 shows by fiscal year the bases for the 89 EEO complaints filed by
                                                     Region X employees in fiscal years 1997 through 2001.




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                                                Appendix V
                                                Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
                                                Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
                                                Grievances




Table 19: Bases for EEO Complaints Filed in Region X in Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001

                                                                      Fiscal years
Bases                                    1997                 1998               1999                2000                2001               Total
Race                                       7                    12                   10                  8                   5                 42
  African American                         5                      4                  8                   4                   2                 23
  Asian                                    1                      0                  0                   1                   0                     2
  Hispanic                                 1                      1                  0                   0                   2                     4
  Other                                    0                      1                  0                   0                   0                     1
  White                                    0                      6                  2                   3                   1                 12
Color                                      0                      0                  0                   0                   1                     1
Religion                                   0                      3                  0                   0                   1                     4
Sex                                        4                    25                   14                  7                   3                 53
  Women                                    3                    14                   5                   1                   2                 25
  Men                                      1                    11                   9                   6                   1                 28
National origin                            2                      3                  7                   1                   1                 14
Age                                        0                      5                  7                   7                   0                 19
Handicapping                               2                      7                  11                  9                   8                 37
condition
  Mental                                   1                      0                  4                   3                   3                 11
  Physical                                 1                      7                  7                   6                   5                 26
Retaliation/reprisal                       4                    11                   14                  8                   2                 39
Total                                     19                    66                   63                 40                 21                 209
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

                                                Note: Because one individual may have filed more than one EEO complaint, the number filed is not
                                                necessarily equal to the number of complainants, and one EEO complaint may contain one or more
                                                bases.


                                                Table 20 shows the number of issues cited in the 89 EEO complaints filed
                                                by Region X employees during fiscal years 1997 through 2001.




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Appendix V
Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
Grievances




Table 20: Issues Cited in Complaints Filed for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001

Issues                                           Number of issues cited in complaints filed
Assignment of duties                                                                     5
Awards                                                                                   8
Reprimand                                                                                7
Suspension                                                                               8
Termination                                                                              4
Duty hours                                                                               2
Evaluation/appraisal                                                                     2
Harassment (nonsexual)                                                                  30
Harassment (sexual)                                                                      2
Hostile work environment                                                                 4
Pay including overtime                                                                   3
Promotion/nonselection                                                                  29
Reasonable accommodation                                                                16
Retirement (involuntary)                                                                 1
Time & attendance                                                                       11
Training                                                                                 3
Working conditions                                                                      19
Other                                                                                    4
Total                                                                                  158
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

Note: One filed complaint may contain one or more issues.


As shown in table 19, the top four bases for which Region X employees
filed EEO complaints were sex, race, retaliation (i.e., for filing a complaint
or participating in an investigation of a complaint), and handicapping
condition. Of those bases that involved handicapping condition, six also
claimed that they were denied reasonable accommodation. Reasonable
accommodation includes any modification or adjustment to a job
application process, the work environment, or the way a job is customarily
performed that enables a qualified applicant with a disability to compete
equally or a qualified person with a disability to perform the essential




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Appendix V
Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
Grievances




functions of the position or enjoy equal benefits and privileges of
employment.7

As shown in table 20, the top four issues cited in the filed complaints were
harassment (nonsexual), nonselection for promotion, working conditions,
and reasonable accommodation.

The reasonable accommodation process begins when an individual makes
a request for the accommodation, followed by a request in writing
(completion of a form) or in electronic format. Among the items that can
be approved of as an accommodation at the regional level are requests of
office equipment costing less than $100, a change in schedule, and requests
for reassignment. For office equipment or assistive technologies (e.g.,
computer hardware or software that enable people with disabilities to
perform the essential functions of their job) costing $100 or more, assistive
technologies training, and sign language interpreter services, a request
must be forwarded to the Disability Services Team in the Office of Civil
Rights and Equal Opportunity in SSA headquarters in Baltimore. Table 21
shows the number of accommodations requested by Region X employees
for fiscal year 1997 through 2001 and their disposition.




7
 The accommodation must be job related and not items already required for personal use
(e.g., hearing aids, prosthetic devices, wheelchairs, and transportation to work).
Reasonable accommodation is determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration
the individual’s specific disability and existing limitations to the performance of a job
function, the essential duties of the job, the work environment, and the feasibility of the
proposed accommodation.




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                                                      Appendix V
                                                      Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
                                                      Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
                                                      Grievances




Table 21: Reasonable Accommodations Requested by Region X Employees for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001 by EEO Group

                                                                Accommodation                                        Disability Services Team
EEO group                   Requested         Withdrawn   Approved      Denied Alternate Forwarded                  Approved       Denied      Alternate
African                                  6            0            0           2             1              3                 3           0               0
American men
African                                  7            0            4           3             0              1                 1           0               0
American
women
Hispanic                                 4            1            1           0             0              3                 2           1               0
women
White men                                23           0            9           6             4              4                 2           0               1
White women                              45           5           18           4             4            19                  7          10               0
Total                                    85           6           32          15             9           30a                15           11               1
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

                                                      Note: Multiple categories may be recorded for a single request for accommodation. For example, in
                                                      one case, an accommodation may be denied. In another case, a request may be forwarded to the
                                                      Disability Services Team, which may deny the requested accommodation and approve an alternative
                                                      accommodation. We counted each category of accommodation; therefore, one person may have
                                                      multiple results to his or her request.
                                                      a
                                                       For three requested accommodations that were forwarded to the Disability Services Team, there is no
                                                      record of the Disability Services Team’s decision.




Grievances                                            Under the negotiated national agreement between SSA and the AFGE,
                                                      individual employees or their union representatives may file Section 9
                                                      grievances on such matters as adverse actions or EEO issues.8 At any time
                                                      after the Section 9 grievance is filed, up to the time the grievance decision
                                                      is issued, the grievance may be withdrawn. If a management official finds
                                                      that the grievance has merit, or can agree with the
                                                      employee/representative on some or all of the points at issue, he or she
                                                      may grant full or partial relief, giving the employee all or a portion of what
                                                      was requested.9 If the management official does not find a violation of the
                                                      negotiated agreement or workplace policy or practice, or cannot agree to


                                                      8
                                                        Such grievances are filed in accordance with Article 24, Section 9 of the SSA/AFGE
                                                      National Agreement. In addition, the union as an institution may file grievances against a
                                                      particular level of management in accordance with Article 24, Section 10 of the SSA/AFGE
                                                      National Agreement; such grievances are not discussed in this report.
                                                      9
                                                       Occasionally, management may offer something other than what was requested, which
                                                      satisfies the employee/representative, and the grievance is resolved.




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                                                      Appendix V
                                                      Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
                                                      Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
                                                      Grievances




                                                      the requested relief, the grievance is denied. Unresolved Section 9
                                                      grievances may be advanced to arbitration by the union. Multiple
                                                      categories may be recorded for a single grievance. For example, in one
                                                      case, a grievance may be denied, and the grievant takes no additional
                                                      action. In another case, a grievance may be denied, and the
                                                      grievant/representative invokes arbitration, and then does or does not
                                                      pursue the case. We counted each category of relief or arbitration for each
                                                      grievance. Table 22 shows the Section 9 grievances filed in Region X for
                                                      fiscal years 1997 through 2001.



Table 22: Section 9 Grievances Filed in Region X by EEO Group for Fiscal Years 1997 through 2001

                                                                              Relief                                     Arbitration
                                  Grievances                                                                         Not                       Settlement
EEO group                               fileda   Withdrawnb       Granted       Partial     Denied       Invoked pursued Awarded                 reached
African American                           16             2               2            0        13               8           1            3              3
men
African American                           24             8               7            4         6               2           1            0              0
women
AIAN men                                    2             1               0            0         1               1           1            0              0
AIAN women                                  3             0               0            1         2               0           0            0              0
Asian men                                   1             0               0            0         1               0           0            0              0
Asian women                                 5             0               1            0         4               0           0            0              0
Hispanic men                                6             2               2            0         3               3           1            0              1
Hispanic women                             12             3               1            1         7               3           2            0              1
White men                                  57             17              7            6        28               5           2            1              1
White women                               134             20             36            11       66              10           8            0              0
Total                                     260             53             56            23      131              32          16            4              6
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

                                                      Note 1: One individual may have filed more than one grievance.
                                                      Note 2: Multiple categories may be recorded for a single grievance. For example, in one case, a
                                                      grievance may be denied, and the grievant takes no additional action. In another case, a grievance
                                                      may be denied, and the grievant/representative invokes arbitration, and then does or does not pursue
                                                      the case. We counted each category of relief or arbitration, when appropriate, for each grievance;
                                                      therefore, one person may have multiple categories to his or her grievance.
                                                      a
                                                       Two grievances were found not grievable, so they were only counted as filed.
                                                      b
                                                       Withdrawn includes five grievances that were withdrawn after arbitration was invoked.




Settlements                                           Twenty-one settlement agreements were signed by SSA and the individuals
                                                      who appealed an adverse action, filed an EEO complaint, or filed a



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Appendix V
Region X Adverse Actions, Appeals of
Adverse Actions, EEO Complaints, and
Grievances




grievance. These agreements could consist of monetary or nonmonetary
terms or both, and five consisted entirely of nonmonetary terms.10 A global
settlement addressed more than one filed EEO discrimination complaint,
MSPB appeal, or union grievance; therefore, the number of complaints
settled is higher than the number of settlement agreements.11 Table 23
contains information on settlement agreements for appealed adverse
actions, filed EEO complaints, and a mixed case that includes a union
grievance for fiscal years 1997 through 2001.



Table 23: Number of Settlement Agreements and Amounts Awarded on Settlements
for MSPB Appeals, EEO Complaints, and a Mixed Case Filed in Region X in Fiscal
Years 1997 through 2001

                                         Number of settlement
Fiscal year settled                             agreementsa                               Amount
1999                                                             2                     $17,820.00
2000                                                             4                      11,163.91
2001                                                             2                       8,337.86
2002                                                           11                      143,831.66
2003                                                             2                          20,000
Total                                                          21                    $201,153.43
Source: GAO analysis of Region X data.

Note: A global settlement can address more than one filed EEO discrimination complaint, MSPB
appeal, or union grievance; therefore, the number of complaints settled may be higher than the
number of settlement agreements.
a
 The number of settlement agreements includes five that had only nonmonetary terms. Settlement
agreements do not constitute an admission of any wrongdoing, harassment, discrimination, and/or
violation of law, statute, or regulation.




10
 The terms of the five nonmonetary settlements agreed to for complaints filed in fiscal
years 1997 through 2001 included rescinded terminations, removals, or suspensions;
restoration or credit for sick and annual leave; lateral reassignment or promotion; and a
handwritten apology.
11
 For EEO complaints alone, 32 complaints filed in fiscal years 1997 through 2001 were
settled (as shown in table 18).




Page 65                                                        GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix VI

Selected Results of GAO’s Survey of Region X
Employees on Equal Employment
Opportunity                                                                                                   Appendx
                                                                                                                    iVI




                       In our survey of Region X employees about EEO, we asked all Region X
                       employees for their views (1) on the operations of Region X’s Civil Rights
                       and Equal Opportunity (CREO) office and (2) about their experiences with
                       situations involving EEO in Region X within the past 2 years. Because we
                       received more than a 70 percent response rate (75 percent), our results are
                       representative of the views and attitudes of Region X employees.1



Operations of Region   Almost 60 percent of respondents were either generally or very familiar
                       with the responsibilities of the CREO office before reading our description
X’s CREO               of those responsibilities. In addition, most Region X employees are
                       familiar with the EEO process. About two-thirds of respondents reported
                       having received or having seen within the last 2 years written materials
                       about the federal government’s EEO regulations and written materials
                       describing how to contact regional EEO counselors.

                       When asked about their willingness, if they believed that they had been
                       discriminated against, to either contact Region X’s CREO to participate in
                       counseling or to contact the Office of Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity
                       (OCREO) in Baltimore to file a formal EEO complaint, almost half of
                       respondents indicated that they would be generally or very willing to
                       participate in counseling or to file a formal EEO complaint. Also, 3 percent
                       of respondents indicated that they had contacted CREO to participate in
                       counseling in the last 2 years, and 2 percent of respondents indicated that
                       they had contacted OCREO in Baltimore to file a formal complaint during
                       that time.

                       About 40 percent of respondents indicated that they were unwilling or
                       uncertain to participate in counseling or to file a formal EEO complaint if
                       they believed that they had been discriminated against; we did an analysis
                       of their responses to identify the reason for this unwillingness or
                       uncertainty. About 55 percent of the respondents indicated that they were
                       unwilling or uncertain to participate in counseling and 51 percent to file a
                       formal EEO complaint if they believed that they had been discriminated
                       against because they feared retaliation.



                       1
                        The percentage of respondents by race/ethnicity closely mirrored the percentage of each
                       race/ethnicity in the population of Region X employees. The percentage of men and women
                       responding to the survey also matched their respective percentages in the Region X
                       workforce.




                       Page 66                                                 GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix VI
Selected Results of GAO’s Survey of Region X
Employees on Equal Employment
Opportunity




We did a further analysis of those respondents who indicated that they
were unwilling or uncertain to participate in counseling if they believed
that they had been discriminated against because they feared retaliation.
Table 24 shows the breakdown of respondents by race/ethnicity and sex of
those who indicated an unwillingness or uncertainty to participate in
counseling. Table 25 shows the breakdown of respondents by
race/ethnicity and sex of those who indicated an unwillingness or
uncertainty to file a formal complaint.



Table 24: Minority Status and Sex of Respondents Who Were Unwilling or Uncertain
to Participate in Counseling Because They Feared Retaliation

Race/ethnicity                                     Percentage of respondents who feared retaliation
Nonminority                                                                                     73
Minority                                                                                        27
Sex
Men                                                                                             29
Women                                                                                           71
Source: GAO’s survey of Region X employees about EEO.




Table 25: Minority Status and Sex of Respondents Who Were Unwilling or Uncertain
to File a Formal Complaint Because They Feared Retaliation

Race/ethnicity                                     Percentage of respondents who feared retaliation
Nonminority                                                                                     77
Minority                                                                                        23
Sex
Men                                                                                             28
Women                                                                                           72
Source: GAO’s survey of Region X employees about EEO.


Other reasons respondents indicated for being unwilling or uncertain to
participate in counseling if they believed that they had been discriminated
against included the concern that their contact with the EEO counselor
would not be kept confidential (about 45 percent) and the concern that the
matter, if resolved informally, would not result in a mutually satisfactory
solution for all parties concerned (about 34 percent). Other reasons
respondents indicated for being unwilling or uncertain to file a formal



Page 67                                                             GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                       Appendix VI
                       Selected Results of GAO’s Survey of Region X
                       Employees on Equal Employment
                       Opportunity




                       complaint if they believed that they had been discriminated against
                       included the concern that their complaint would not be handled in a fair
                       manner (about 33 percent).



Experiences with       As shown in table 26, most Region X employees responding to our survey
                       indicated that they believed decisions concerning job or project
Situations Involving   assignments, training, formal ratings, and monetary awards were always
EEO in Region X        or mostly based on merit and free of bias and favoritism. About half of the
                       respondents indicated that they believed that decisions concerning
                       nonmonetary awards and recognition were always or mostly based on
                       merit and free of bias and favoritism. Less than half of the respondents
                       indicated that they believed decisions concerning promotion and career
                       advancement were always or mostly based on merit and free of bias and
                       favoritism.



                       Table 26: Percentage of Respondents Indicating Whether Decisions Were Based on
                       Merit and Free of Bias and Favoritism

                                                                       Percentage of respondents indicating decisions
                                                                                           were
                                                                                                   Sometimes or never or
                                                                       Always or mostly based on almost never based on
                       Type of personnel or pay                         merit and free of bias and merit and free of bias
                       decision                                                         favoritism        and favoritism
                       Job or project assignments                                              61                       18
                       Training                                                                68                       12
                       Formal performance                                                      74                       11
                       appraisals/ratings
                       Monetary awards and bonuses                                             61                       21
                       Promotion and career                                                    44                       21
                       advancement
                       Nonmonetary awards and                                                  50                       22
                       recognition
                       Source: GAO’s survey of Region X employees about EEO.


                       Table 27 shows, by sex and minority status, those respondents who
                       indicated that they believed such personnel or pay decisions were
                       sometimes or never or almost never based on merit and free of bias and
                       favoritism.




                       Page 68                                                            GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                     Appendix VI
                     Selected Results of GAO’s Survey of Region X
                     Employees on Equal Employment
                     Opportunity




                     Table 27: Percentage of Respondents Indicating Decisions Were Sometimes or
                     Never Based on Merit and Free of Bias and Favoritism

                     Type of personnel or pay decision                       Men Women   Nonminority     Minority
                     Job or project assignments                               7     11            13           6
                     Training                                                 5      8             8           4
                     Formal performance                                       4      6             7           3
                     appraisals/ratings
                     Monetary awards and bonuses                              8     14            15           6
                     Promotion and career advancement                         9     13            16           6
                     Nonmonetary awards and recognition                       8     15            17           6
                     Source: GAO’s survey of Region X employees about EEO.




Narrative Comments   The questionnaire offered respondents the option of providing additional
                     comments relating to any of the items discussed therein. Of the 1,355
                     useable returned questionnaires (see app. I), 307 respondents, or 22.7
                     percent, provided narrative comments. In descending order, these
                     comments most frequently concerned

                     • perceived inequities in merit hiring, promotions, and awards (30.3
                       percent);

                     • complaints of perceived discrimination or other negative personal
                       experiences (21.5 percent); or

                     • disgruntlement over affirmative action and workforce diversity (9.4
                       percent).




                     Page 69                                                       GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix VII

GAO Survey of Region X Employees about
EEO                                                                                                                              Append
                                                                                                                                      x
                                                                                                                                      iI
                                                                                                                                      V




                                                    United States General Accounting Office


                                                    Survey of SSA Region X Employees About
                                                    Equal Employment Opportunity


               Introduction

               The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), an independent agency of Congress, is reviewing
               equal employment opportunity (EEO) issues and the EEO complaint process at SSA Region X at
               the request of Representatives Jim McDermott, Jennifer Dunn, and Adam Smith. As part of this
               review, we are surveying all SSA Region X employees to get their views on the operations of
               SSA Region X’s Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity (CREO) Office and their experiences
               concerning EEO.

               Your responses will help GAO understand how SSA Region X employees view the Region’s
               EEO operations and their work environment. Responses will be discussed in summary form in a
               report to congressional requesters and will not include any information that could be used to
               identify individual respondents. The survey is numbered only to allow us to send follow-up
               surveys to people who do not respond the first time and will not be used to identify you with your
               response. The link between you and your response will be destroyed before the report is issued,
               and your individual responses will not be shared with SSA.

               The survey should take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Space has been provided at the end
               of the survey for any comments you may want to make. Additional pages may be added if
               necessary.

               Please complete and return the survey in the pre-addressed envelope within 5 working days to
               avoid costly follow-up efforts. Because of delays in mail delivery in the Washington, D.C. area,
               please send the survey to our Norfolk Office in the event the envelope is misplaced.

                               U.S. General Accounting Office
                               Norfolk Office
                               5029 Corporate Woods Drive
                               Suite 300
                               Virginia Beach, VA 23462

                               Attention: Ms. Kiki Theodoropoulos
                                          SSA Region X Survey


               If you have any questions, please contact Kiki Theodoropoulos on (202) 512-4579 or at
               theodoropoulosv@gao.gov.

               Thank you for your time and cooperation.




                                   Page 70                                                          GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                                      Appendix VII
                                      GAO Survey of Region X Employees about
                                      EEO




SECTION I—Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity (CREO) Office

The CREO office manages the Region’s equal employment opportunity (EEO), affirmative action, and complaint
programs. Among other things, it is responsible for disseminating information on the agency’s EEO program and
complaint process, developing EEO and affirmative action plans, and processing and resolving discrimination
complaints.

The following questions ask for your views on the operations of SSA Region X’s CREO. Please mark your answers
with an “X” --- _

1. Before reading the description of the responsibilities of SSA Region X’s CREO at the beginning of this section,
   how familiar or unfamiliar were you with these responsibilities? (Mark only one response)

   1. ˆ Very familiar                         15% (196)
   2. ˆ Generally familiar                    44% (751)
   3. ˆ As familiar as unfamiliar             15% (944)
   4. ˆ Generally unfamiliar                  15% (1130)
   5. ˆ Very unfamiliar                       11% (1,269)

2. At any time within the past 2 years, do you recall receiving the following materials or seeing them posted at
   SSA Region X? (Mark all that apply)

                                                                               I neither
                                                                                             I don’t remember
                                                  I received    I saw this     received
                                                                                            whether I received      Total
                                                      this     information   nor saw this
                                                                                                 or saw this     Respondents
                                                 information      posted     information
                                                                                            information posted
                                                                                posted
   a.   Written materials about the federal           ← 65% (852) Æ           8% (105)          27% (354)           1,311
        government’s EEO regulations.
   b.   Written materials that describe SSA           Å 59% (768) Æ           10% (134)         31% (405)           1,307
        Region X’s EEO program.
   c.   Written materials describing how to           Å 63% (823) Æ           12% (157)         25% (330)           1,310
        contact SSA Region X’s EEO
        counselors, such as their names,
        locations, and telephone numbers.
   d.   Notices, memoranda, or newsletters            Å 51% (668) Æ           15% (194)         34% (440)           1,302
        that communicate SSA Region X’s
        EEO complaint policy.
   e.   Notices, memoranda, or newsletters            Å 79% (1040) Æ           6% (77)          15% (199)           1,316
        that communicate SSA Region X’s
        sexual harassment policy.
   f.   Notices, memoranda, or newsletters            Å 48% (627) Æ           17% (223)         35% (456)           1,306
        that communicate SSA Region X’s
        reasonable accommodation policy.
   g.   Other materials (Please specify):              Å 27% (46) Æ           12% (21)          61% (104)            171




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                                  GAO Survey of Region X Employees about
                                  EEO




3. If you believed that you had been discriminated             6. If you believed that you had been discriminated
   against, how willing or unwilling would you be to              against and the matter had not been resolved in
   contact SSA Region X’s CREO to participate in                  counseling, how willing or unwilling would you be
   counseling? (Mark only one)                                    to contact SSA OCREO in Baltimore to file a
                                                                  formal discrimination complaint? (Mark only one)
   1. ˆ Very willing→Skip to question 5           24% (317)
   2. ˆ Generally willing→ Skip to ques 5         27% (352)       1. ˆ Very willing→ Skip to question 8         20% (263)
   3. ˆ As willing as unwilling                   13% (178)       2. ˆ Generally willing→ Skip to ques 8        26% (345)
   4. ˆ Generally unwilling                       18% (234)       3. ˆ As willing as unwilling                  12% (163)
   5. ˆ Very unwilling                             9% (115)       4. ˆ Generally unwilling                      19% (249)
       ---------------------------------------                    5. ˆ Very unwilling                           12% (154)
   6. ˆ Uncertain                                 10% (127)           ---------------------------------------
                                                                  6. ˆ Uncertain                                11% (145)

4. If you were uncertain or unwilling to participate in
   counseling, which of the following describes your           7. If you were uncertain or unwilling to file a formal
   reason(s)? (Mark all that apply)                               discrimination complaint, which of the following
                                                                  describes your reason(s)? (Mark all that apply)
   1. ˆ I would be concerned that my          274
        contact with the EEO counselor                            1. ˆ I would be concerned that my           149
        during the counseling session                                  complaint would not be investigated
        would not be kept confidential.                                in a competent manner.
   2. ˆ I would be concerned that I would     152                 2. ˆ I would be concerned that my           198
        be assigned to an EEO counselor                                complaint would not be thoroughly
        who was not competent or                                       investigated.
        well trained.                                             3. ˆ I would be concerned that my           233
   3. ˆ I would be concerned that the         167                      complaint would not be handled in
        matter would not be resolved in a                              a fair manner.
        timely manner.                                            4. ˆ I would be concerned that my           159
   4. ˆ I would be concerned that too         210                      complaint would not be handled
        much of my time would be                                       in a timely manner.
        consumer in the complaint process.                        5. ˆ I would be concerned that too          218
   5. ˆ I would be concerned that the         227                      much of my time would be
        matter, if resolved informally,                                consumed in the complaint process.
        would not result in a mutually                            6. ˆ I would be concerned that I would      184
        satisfactory solution for all parties                          be alienated from my coworkers.
        involved                                                  7. ˆ I would fear retaliation.              346
   6. ˆ I would be concerned that I would     194                 8. ˆ I would not be willing to file a       122
        be alienated from my coworkers.                                formal complaint for personal reasons.
   7. ˆ I would fear retaliation.             345                 9. ˆ Other – Please specify:                 90
   8. ˆ I would not be willing to              96                      _____________________________________
        participate for personal reasons.                              _____________________________________
   9. ˆ Other – Please specify:                97
        _____________________________________
        _____________________________________                  8. Within the past 2 years, have you contacted SSA
                                                                  OCREO in Baltimore to file a formal
                                                                  discrimination complaint?
5. Within the past 2 years, have you contacted SSA
   Region X’s CREO to participate in counseling?                  1. ˆ Yes                                   2% (21)
                                                                  2. ˆ No                                   98% (1,304)
   1. ˆ Yes                                       3% (41)
   2. ˆ No                                       97% (1,283)




                                  Page 72                                                          GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                                  Appendix VII
                                  GAO Survey of Region X Employees about
                                  EEO




SECTION II—Your EEO Experiences

The following questions ask for your views about your experiences about situations involving EEO in SSA Region
X within the past 2 years.

9. Within the past 2 years, how much of the time, if any, have decisions about you in each of the following areas
   been based on merit and free of bias and favoritism. (Mark only one box in each row)

                                  Almost      Most of the   As often as    Some of the     Never or      Does not
                                  always        time            not           time       almost never     apply
                                    (1)          (2)            (3)            (4)           (5)           (6)
   a. Job or project            44% (581)     17% (224)     6% (83)         9% (114)      10% (131)     14% (191)
      assignments
   b. Training                  51% (665)     17% (222)     6% (85)         6% (80)       6% (83)       14% (180)
   c. Formal performance        56% (732)     18% (243)     6% (76)         5% (62)       6% (77)       10% (127)
      appraisals/ratings
   d. Monetary awards and       45% (588)     16% (218)     7% (90)         11% (151)     10% (128)     11% (145)
      bonuses
   e. Promotion and career      34% (443)     10% (129)     7% (93)         8% (107)      13% (177)     28% (365)
      advancement
   f.   Non-monetary awards     37% (487)     13% (172)     8% (101)        9% (123)      13% (172)     20% (257)
        and recognition
   g. Other (Please specify)    15% (14)      6% (6)        3% (3)          3% (3)        23% (22)      50% (48)
      __________________
      __________________


10. Within the past 2 years, do you feel you have been denied a job, promotion, or other job benefit because of
    unlawful discrimination based on any of the following characteristics? (Mark only one box in each row)

                                                                                         Don’t know/
                                             Yes                     No
                                                                                         Can’t judge
                                             (1)                     (2)
                                                                                             (3)
   a. Age                                  8% (111)              76% (1,009)              16% (209)
   b. Sex                                  8% (100)              77% (1,018)              15% (197)
   c. Handicapping condition               4% (48)               80% (1,050)              16% (209)
   d. Marital status                       2% (21)               86% (1,125)              13% (166)
   e. National origin                      5% (66)               82% (1,075)              13% (172)
   f.   Political affiliation              1% (19)               85% (1,108)              15% (182)
   g. Race                                 10% (137)             75% (988)                15% (200)
   h. Religion                             2% (21)               84% (1,099)              14% (183)
   i.   Other (Please specify)             50% (84)              33% (55)                 17% (29)
        _____________________
        _____________________




                                  Page 73                                                        GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                                  Appendix VII
                                  GAO Survey of Region X Employees about
                                  EEO




11. Within the past 2 years, do you feel you have experienced any of the following? (Mark only one box in each row)

                                                                                                       Don’t know/
                                                                            Yes             No
                                                                                                       Can’t judge
                                                                            (1)             (2)
                                                                                                           (3)
   a. Deliberately misled by an agency official about your right to       9% (115)      80% (1077)     11% (149)
      compete for a job or promotion
   b. Influenced by an agency official to withdraw from competition       2% (29)       89% (1186)       9% (123)
      for a federal job or promotion to help another person’s chances
      for getting that job or promotion
   c. Denied a job or promotion because one of the selecting or          10% (139)      73% (976)      17% (228)
      recommending officials gave an unlawful advantage to another
      applicant
   d. Denied a job or promotion that went instead to a relative of one    2% (27)       83% (1,099)    15% (205)
      of the selecting officials

12. Within the past 2 years, did you choose not to apply for any promotion or developmental opportunity because
    you felt you had little or no chance of being selected? (Mark only one box in each row)

                                                                                                       Don’t know/
                                                                            Yes             No
                                                                                                       Can’t judge
                                                                            (1)             (2)
                                                                                                           (3)
   a. Because of your age                                                11% (145)     81% (1,078)       8% (106)
   b. Because of your sex                                                 6% (85)      86% (1,128)       8% (104)
   c. Because of your handicapping condition                              4% (51)      86% (1,128)     10% (136)
   d. Because of your marital status                                      2% (24)      91% (1,193)       8% (99)
   e. Because of your national origin                                     4% (59)      88% (1,155)       8% (99)
   f.   Because of your political affiliation                             1% (16)      91% (1,191)       8% (107)
   g. Because of your race                                               10% (134)     82% (1,084)       8% (106)
   h. Because of your religion                                            1% (11)      91% (1,183)       9% (111)
   i.   Other (Please specify)                                           58% (108)     31% (58)        10% (19)
        ________________________________________________

13. Within the past 2 years, do you feel that you have been retaliated against or threatened with retaliation by
    management for doing any of the following? (Mark only one box in each row) If no to all, go to question 18.

                                                                                                       Don’t know/
                                                                            Yes             No
                                                                                                       Can’t judge
                                                                            (1)             (2)
                                                                                                           (3)
   a. Making disclosures concerning health and safety dangers;           5% (67)       88% (1,149)      7% (96)
      unlawful behavior; and/or fraud, waste, and abuse
   b. Exercising any appeal, complaint, or grievance right               8% (110)      84% (1,100)      8% (105)
   c. Testifying for or otherwise assisting any individual in the        4% (51)       87% (1,146)      9% (115)
      exercise of whistleblowing, equal employment opportunity, or
      appeal rights
   d. Refusing to obey an unlawful order                                 2% (29)       90% (1,168)      8% (107)
   e. Reporting unwanted sexual attention or sexual harassment           1% (13)       91% (1,191)      8% (101)


                                  Page 74                                                     GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
                                 Appendix VII
                                 GAO Survey of Region X Employees about
                                 EEO




                                                          I was threatened    This was done     Does not apply
                                                                with              to me
                                                                 (1)                (2)               (3)
    a. Poor performance appraisal                                21                 20               196
    b. Denial of promotion                                       18                 41               182
    c. Denial of opportunity for training                         6                 41               189
    d. Denial of award                                            9                 69               162
    e. Assignment to less desirable or less important             9                 37               193
       duties
    f. Transfer or assignment to a job with less                 10                 18               206
       desirable duties or working conditions
    g. Assignment to a different geographical location            2                 10               222
    h. Suspension from my job                                    11                  8               217
    i.    Fired from my job                                      12                  4               222
    j.    Grade level demotion                                    3                  7               221
    k. Shunned by coworkers or managers                          14                 80               153
    l.    Verbal harassment or intimidation                      22                 83               138
    m. Required to take a fitness-for-duty exam                   1                  7               223
    n. Other (Please specify)                                     6                 20                18
       _________________________________
       _________________________________


15. In response to retaliation or threat of retaliation, did you take any of the following actions? (Mark all that apply)

     1.   ˆ I took no action (Go to question 17)                                                         104
     2.   ˆ Complained to a higher level of agency management                                             46
     3.   ˆ Complained to the Office of Inspector General within my agency                                 2
     4.   ˆ Complained to some other office within my agency (e.g., the personnel office or CREO office)  14
     5.   ˆ Filed a complaint through my union representative                                             49
     6.   ˆ Filed a formal grievance within my agency                                                     18
     7.   ˆ Filed an EEO (discrimination) complaint                                                       18
     8.   ˆ Filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel                                           3
     9.   ˆ Filed an action with the Merit Systems Protection Board                                        3
    10.   ˆ I took an action that has not been specified (Please specify)                                 37
           __________________________________________________________________________________________
           __________________________________________________________________________________________

16. What happened to you as a result of your reporting retaliation or threat of retaliation? (Mark all that apply)

    1.    ˆ It got me into more trouble                                                        27
    2.    ˆ It made no difference                                                             39
    3.    ˆ The action of retaliation was withdrawn                                             5
    4.    ˆ The threat of retaliation was withdrawn                                             9
    5.    ˆ Actions were taken to compensate me for the action of retaliation                   5
    6.    ˆ Decision concerning the action of retaliation is still pending                    22
    7.    ˆ Other (Please specify):                                                           33
           __________________________________________________________________________________________




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                                   Appendix VII
                                   GAO Survey of Region X Employees about
                                   EEO




17. If you took no action in response to retaliation or threat of retaliation, why did you choose not to take any
    formal action? (Mark all that apply)

    1.   ˆ Not applicable, I took action                                                     18
    2.   ˆ Still might take some action                                                        6
    3.   ˆ Not serious enough                                                                14
    4.   ˆ Didn’t know I could                                                                7
    5.   ˆ Process wouldn’t solve the problem                                                50
    6.   ˆ Fear of management retaliation                                                    71
    7.   ˆ Problem was solved informally                                                      2
    8.   ˆ Waited too long/missed deadline                                                     4
    9.   ˆ Too complicated                                                                    8
   10.   ˆ Too expensive                                                                      3
   11.   ˆ Process isn’t fair                                                                23
   12.   ˆ I left the work unit                                                               8
   13.   ˆ Don’t know/can’t judge                                                            15
   14.   ˆ Other (Please specify)                                                            31
          __________________________________________________________________________________________
          __________________________________________________________________________________________

III. Demographic Questions

Please answer the following questions to help us analyze the results of the survey.

18. How many years have you been in your current             21. How many years have you been employed with
    position at SSA Region X?                                    SSA Region X?
   1.    ˆ   Less than 1 year            11% (153)               1.   ˆ   Less than 1 year               6% (80)
   2.    ˆ   1 to less than 3 years      29% (390)               2.   ˆ   1 to less than 5 years        26% (352)
   3.    ˆ   3 to less than 10 years     30% (406)               3.   ˆ   5 to less than 10 years       18% (240)
   4.    ˆ   10 or more years            29% (396)               4.   ˆ   10 or more years              50% (671)

19. Are you currently a supervisor or non-supervisor?        22. Please identify your office:
   1. ˆ Supervisor                        9% (123)               Name:          _______________________________
   2. ˆ Non-supervisor                   91% (1,212)             City:          _______________________________
                                                                 State:         _______________________________
20. Please indicate your current grade.
                                                             23. Please indicate your sex.
    1.   ˆ   GS-4                         1% (7)
    2.   ˆ   GS-5                         4% (55)                1. ˆ Male                              33% (444)
    3.   ˆ   GS-6                         4% (55)                2. ˆ Female                            67% (889)
    4.   ˆ   GS-7                         5% (72)
    5.   ˆ   GS-8                        29% (391)           24. Are you of Hispanic origin?
    6.   ˆ   GS-9                         6% (76)                1. ˆ Yes                               11% (140)
    7.   ˆ   GS-10                       <1% (2)                 2. ˆ No                                89% (1,188)
    8.   ˆ   GS-11                       29% (392)
    9.   ˆ   GS-12                       12% (164)           25. Please indicate your race. (Mark only one)
   10.   ˆ   GS-13                        6% (86)
   11.   ˆ   GS-14                        2% (28)                1.   ˆ   American Indian/Alaska Native      1% (14)
   12.   ˆ   GS-15                        1% (9)                 2.   ˆ   African American/Black             8% (103)
   13.   ˆ   SES or Executive            <1% (2)                 3.   ˆ   Asian/Pacific Islander             8% (105)
   14.   ˆ   Other                       <1% (6)                 4.   ˆ   White                             74% (950)
                                                                 5.   ˆ   Other (Please specify)             8% (104)



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                                   GAO Survey of Region X Employees about
                                   EEO




If you have any comments relating to any of the items discussed in this questionnaire, please write them here.
                                                    23% (307)




                                   Page 77                                                      GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
Appendix VIII

Comments from the Social Secuity
Administration                                                  Appendx
                                                                      iI
                                                                      V




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Administration




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Administration




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Appendix IX

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                                       Appendx
                                                                                                  IiX




GAO Contact       Victor S. Rezendes, (202) 512-6806



Acknowledgments   In addition to the individual named above, Thomas G. Dowdal, Karin K.
                  Fangman, Nathan Morris, Terry Richardson, Kiki Theodoropoulos, Michael
                  R. Volpe, and Gregory H. Wilmoth made key contributions to this report.




(450090)          Page 84                                      GAO-03-604 EEO at SSA Region X
GAO’s Mission            The General Accounting Office, the audit, evaluation and investigative arm of
                         Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities
                         and to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal
                         government for the American people. GAO examines the use of public funds;
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