Equal Employment Opportunity: The Policy Framework in the Federal Workplace and the Roles of EEOC and OPM Page: 2 of 39
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Highlights of GAO-05-195, a report to the
Ranking Minority Member, Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental
Affairs, U.S. Senate
Why GAO Did This Study
The federal government has
created a framework to provide for
EEO by prohibiting unlawful
discrimination based on such
factors as race, color, religion,
gender, national origin, age, and
disability, and offers redress when
discrimination and retaliation have
occurred. To further EEO and help
bring about a diverse workforce,
federal agencies are required to
carry out affirmative employment
and minority recruitment
programs. EEOC and OPM have
primary responsibility for ensuring
that the government's policies for a
fair, equitable, and inclusive
workplace are carried out.
In response to a congressional
request that GAO provide
information on the federal
government's performance in
promoting EEO and managing its
diverse workforce, this report
provides information on (1) the
statutory and policy framework
relating to EEO, affirmative
employment, and workforce
diversity and (2) the roles and
responsibilities of EEOC and OPM
within the framework and how
these agencies carry out these roles
GAO is not making
recommendations in this report.
To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact George H.
Stalcup at (202) 512-9490 or
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
The Policy Framework in the Federal
Workplace and the Roles of EEOC and
What GAO Found
Various statutes, executive orders, and other executive policy form the
framework of EEO policy that governs civil rights and personnel
management in the federal workplace. In 1972 federal workers received
statutory civil rights protections when Congress passed the Equal
Employment Opportunity Act, which extended to federal workers
protections under title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964
prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion,
gender, or national origin. The 1972 act also required federal agencies to
establish affirmative employment programs to address the
underrepresentation of minorities and women in the federal workforce. In
1973 federal employees and applicants for employment with disabilities
received employment discrimination protections under the Rehabilitation
Act, and federal agencies were required to prepare affirmative employment
program plans for the hiring, placement, and advancement of such
individuals. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 further underscored the
government's commitment to EEO, stating that for the federal workforce to
reflect the nation's diversity, federal personnel management should follow
merit principles by treating employees fairly and equitably, and that
personnel actions should be free from prohibited personnel practices,
including discrimination. The 1978 act also required agencies to conduct a
continuing recruiting program to address minority underrepresentation.
Other statutes, executive orders, and executive policy are also part of the
federal workplace EEO policy framework.
EEOC and OPM each play important leadership roles within this framework in
ensuring EEO in the federal workplace. EEOC is responsible for enforcing
federal laws prohibiting discrimination and oversees federal agencies' EEO
programs, including their affirmative employment programs. OPM is the
government's human capital manager and is responsible for ensuring that
personnel management functions follow the merit principles, including those
related to EEO. OPM is to assist agencies in carrying out their minority
recruitment programs and evaluating the effectiveness of these programs in
eliminating minority underrepresentation. EEOC and OPM issue regulations and
directives to carry out their responsibilities and exercise oversight by reviewing
federal workforce demographic data; reviewing reports from agencies on their
progress in meeting program requirements; conducting on-site reviews at federal
agencies; and providing technical assistance, training, and guidance. In addition,
both agencies publish annual reports on program activities and workforce
demographics. Although responsibility for ensuring that EEO is shared among
agencies, EEOC has also been charged under statute and executive order with
providing leadership and coordination to promote efficiency and eliminate
conflict, competition, duplication, and inconsistency.
We provided OPM and EEOC with a draft of this report for their review and
comment. OPM said that, in general, the report accurately reflects OPM's
current roles and responsibilities. We clarified the report in response to EEOC's
comments to indicate that this report focuses on affirmative employment and
that we previously reported on EEOC's complaint process responsibilities.
United States Government Accountability Office
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Equal Employment Opportunity: The Policy Framework in the Federal Workplace and the Roles of EEOC and OPM, report, April 29, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc297910/m1/2/: accessed June 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.