Equal Employment Opportunity: DHS Has Opportunities to Better Identify and Address Barriers to EEO in Its Workforce

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "DHS has generally relied on workforce data and has not regularly included employee input from available sources to identify "triggers," the term EEOC uses for indicators of potential barriers. GAO's analysis of DHS's MD-715 reports showed that DHS generally relied on workforce data to identify 13 of 15 triggers, such as promotion and separation rates. According to EEOC, in addition to workforce data, agencies are to regularly consult a variety of sources, such as exit interviews, employee groups, and employee surveys, to identify triggers. Involving employees ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. August 31, 2009.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "DHS has generally relied on workforce data and has not regularly included employee input from available sources to identify "triggers," the term EEOC uses for indicators of potential barriers. GAO's analysis of DHS's MD-715 reports showed that DHS generally relied on workforce data to identify 13 of 15 triggers, such as promotion and separation rates. According to EEOC, in addition to workforce data, agencies are to regularly consult a variety of sources, such as exit interviews, employee groups, and employee surveys, to identify triggers. Involving employees helps to incorporate insights about operations from a frontline perspective in determining where potential barriers exist. DHS does not consider employee input from such sources as employee groups, exit interviews, and employee surveys in conducting its MD-715 analysis. Data from the governmentwide employee survey and DHS's internal employee survey are available, but DHS does not use these data to identify triggers. By not considering employee input on DHS personnel policies and practices, DHS is missing opportunities to identify potential barriers. Once a trigger is revealed, agencies are to investigate and pinpoint actual barriers and their causes. In 2007, through its departmentwide barrier analysis, DHS identified four barriers: (1) overreliance on the Internet to recruit applicants, (2) overreliance on noncompetitive hiring authorities, (3) lack of recruitment initiatives that were directed at Hispanics in several components, and (4) nondiverse interview panels. GAO's analysis of DHS's 2007 and 2008 MD-715 reports showed that DHS has articulated planned activities to address identified barriers, has modified nearly all of its original target completion dates by a range of 12 to 21 months, and has not completed any planned activities; although officials reported completing other activities in fiscal year 2007 and 2008 associated with its EEO program. Nearly half of the planned activities involve collaboration between the civil rights and human capital offices. DHS said that it modified the dates because of staffing shortages. In order to ensure that agency programs are effectively and efficiently implemented, it is important for agencies to implement internal control activities, such as establishing and tracking implementation goals with timelines. This allows agencies to pinpoint performance shortfalls and gaps and suggest midcourse corrections. DHS has not developed project plans with milestones beyond what is included in its MD-715 report and its Human Capital Strategic Plan. These documents include only the anticipated outcomes and target completion dates, not the essential activities needed to achieve the outcome. Identifying the critical phases of each planned activity necessary to achieve the intended outcome with interim milestones could help DHS ensure that its efforts are moving forward and manage any needed midcourse corrections, while minimizing modification of target dates. DHS uses a variety of means to oversee and support components, including providing written feedback on draft reports to components that are required to prepare their own MD-715 reports, conducting program audits, and convening a council of EEO directors from each of the components."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • August 31, 2009

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Equal Employment Opportunity: DHS Has Opportunities to Better Identify and Address Barriers to EEO in Its Workforce, report, August 31, 2009; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc296175/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.