The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) contracted with IMPAQ International, LLC in September 2012 to conduct a review of evaluations of EEOC’s private sector enforcement program. This was the first review of evaluations contracted by the EEOC’s OIG. The purpose of the review is to provide EEOC leadership and stakeholders with recommendations to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of EEOC private sector enforcement activities including mediation.1 A thorough analysis based on research about new and useful approaches to enforcement will help inform the Commission and its workforce about EEOC’s strengths and concerns. Study recommendations are geared toward aiding the EEOC in its efforts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its private sector enforcement activities.
Overview and Purpose. The review focused on synthesizing information from evaluations examining EEOC’s key charge processing activities, as well as input obtained through interviews with EEOC leadership. The following research questions guided the review:
What factors are associated with the efficiency with which the EEOC carries out private charge processing activities?
What factors are associated with the effectiveness with which the EEOC carries out private charge processing activities?
What are the key information gaps related to developing strategies to more efficiently and effectively carry out private sector charge processing activities?
EEOC’s litigation activities were not part of the scope of the review.
Methodology. This project had three overarching tasks. The first task to review the recent literature examining private sector enforcement activities of the EEOC was executed during the period of September – November 2012. Numerous data sources including online law literature (e.g., HeinOnline) and research databases (e.g., EBSCOHost, Google Scholar), as well as online library resources at the University of Maryland and The Johns Hopkins University were used to identify and retrieve relevant studies. The literature search included peer-reviewed journal articles, government reports, books, integrated reviews of relevant literature, meta-analyses, and grey literature (e.g., unpublished reports and conference proceedings). To avoid omissions of key studies, the project team used a snowballing technique to identify publications that were not uncovered during the initial search. This approach entailed reviewing the bibliographies and reference lists of the publications identified during the initial search in order to identify other relevant studies. The Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) also assisted in identifying and obtaining relevant documents. Studies as current as 2013 were identified. The period of the last 10 years (since 2003) was considered the most relevant, although older studies were included if pertinent. Studies obtained through the literature search were
1 The review did not identify information gaps or concerns with EEOC mediation activities. Accordingly, the recommendations do not pertain to mediation activities.
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assessed for relevance to the project and validity. Relevant EEOC documents were reviewed, as well.
The second task was interviewing EEOC leadership to obtain their insights regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of private charge processing activities. In collaboration with the COTR, the project team scheduled telephone interviews with key individuals. The following individuals from the EEOC were interviewed:
Chief Operating Officer
Director, Office of Research, Information and Planning
Director, Office of Field Programs
Operations and Policy Specialist, Office of Field Programs
Attorney Advisor, Office of Field Programs
Three District Directors
Interview protocols developed and followed to gather information in a systematic manner are provided as appendices. All interviews were conducted in either October 2012 or February 2013.
The third task was to synthesize this information to identify recommendations to aid the EEOC in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of its private sector enforcement activities. This task was carried out throughout the course of the project from October 2012 – February 2013. The information synthesis identified four areas related to the Priority Charge Handling Process (PCHP) in which recommendations to improve effectiveness and efficiency could be made. The areas are (1) improving the consistency of intake procedures, (2) determining the significance of a charge, (3) addressing systematic discrimination, and (4) improving data collection.
The COTR provided a draft of this report to the EEOC for their review and comment. The Office of the Chair (OC), Office of Field Programs (OFP), and Office of Research, Information, and Planning (ORIP) provided written comments, which have reprinted in appendices G, H and I, respectively. Technical elements of these comments have been incorporated as appropriate.
Recommendations. Based on the review of the literature and the interviews conducted in this study, the following recommendations are made to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of EEOC’s private sector charge processing:
1. The EEOC should further standardize intake procedures across field offices. Consistent with ongoing efforts to improve the uniformity of intake materials and other efforts to establish greater communication with and between field offices, best practices related to the intake interview should be identified and widely adopted with accompanying training as needed. For example, field staff in some offices have adopted the practice of being “frontal” with charging parties. In this approach, field staff gather during the intake interview as much information as possible while simultaneously clearly explaining
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the law and the relief to be expected to the charging party. The intent of this approach is to have the decision to file a charge be made with clear expectations and to avoid instances in which the charging party files a charge “just to file a charge.” The Office of Field Programs is working toward standardizing intake procedures across field offices. Oversight by EEOC leadership to ensure that progress continues in this area is encouraged.
2. The EEOC should document criteria for determining Category C charges. To enhance efficiency and effectiveness and promote the delivery of excellent and consistent service as sought in the Strategic Plan, the EEOC should continue to pursue ways to improve its triaging of charges, especially with regard to identifying Category C charges. The criteria used for assessing the significance of a charge vary across field staff and case characteristics, but it is challenging to standardize criteria. Accordingly, the EEOC should consider new approaches to efficiently determining Category C charges to reduce the inventory of pending charges and enable field staff to devote limited resources to effectively identifying and addressing potentially significant charges (i.e., Category A and B charges). The PCHP guidelines, the EEOC FY 2012–2016 Strategic Plan, and the Strategic Enforcement Plan define how to categorize and thus pursue a charge. Nevertheless, detailed guidelines are needed to aid consistency across field staff in determining whether a charge should be classified as Category C. Criteria for determining whether a charge is Category C should be distributed widely across field offices with appropriate training for field staff. Field office managers should be instructed to oversee adherence to the criteria. Additionally, to further improve consistency, a standardized set of parameters and keywords based on these criteria should be incorporated into the EEOC Integrated Mission System (IMS) database to allow field staff during their case research to refer to determinations of similar cases across field offices.
3. The EEOC should continue efforts to develop a national approach for addressing systemic discrimination. The EEOC has made progress in recent years addressing system discrimination. The Commission has set a target that by FY 2016, 22-24 percent of the cases on its active litigation docket will constitute systemic cases. This is an increase from the 20 percent baseline of FY 2012. To attain the FY 2016 goal, we encourage the EEOC to remain committed to identifying systemic discrimination through a strategic, nationwide, and coordinated approach aided by newly adopted and future technological capabilities, excellent guidance from subject experts, and continued oversight by EEOC leadership.
4. The EEOC should continue to review the range of information obtained during intake interviews and how it is stored in the IMS. Along with further standardizing intake procedures, the EEOC should examine the information that is currently obtained from charging parties and assess whether every element of information is essential and whether additional information is needed for a given charge or for addressing systemic discrimination. In addition, assessments should be made regarding how to more effectively store intake information in the IMS by identifying and defining standardized
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phrases, clauses, parameters, and keywords to enable field staff to input data more consistently and investigate charges more effectively and efficiently.
5. The EEOC should investigate the merits of expanding the information it obtains related to hiring and terminations. The EEOC should investigate whether it would be advantageous to its mission to obtain more information. Currently, much of the data collected on hiring and termination is determined by law. The EEOC should consider both obtaining additional information from the employers, employees, and applicants currently providing information, and expanding the groups of employers and employees required to provide the EEOC with information. This is a key information gap. Should the EEOC determine that additional information would enhance its effectiveness and efficiency in addressing employment discrimination, it should assess what changes to procedures, rules, and laws would be necessary.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office of the Inspector General Review of Evaluations HTML Version