EEO Investigations and Claims
Utilizing an Internal Workforce vs. Contractors
We’re getting ready to kick-off our second session here today at our 462 Users Conference – a panel session that will discuss internal workforce versus contractors. The panelists will compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of using in-house, full-time counselors vs. collateral duty vs. contractors. In this session, we’ll be hearing from the following panelists:
- Moderator: Alethea Long-Green, Director, Human Capital Solutions, STGi
- Bonita White, Director, EEO Compliance and Operations Division, HHS
- Mariam Harvey, Director, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, Treasury
- Alvin Dillings, Sr. Policy Advisor, Office of Civil Rights, DOI
Here we go…
Agencies have been asked to do more with less
From 2008 to 2011, the number of EEO claims increased by 5,000. But, agencies weren’t seeing their workforce grow at the same rate. So, what’s happened is the need supplement the federal workforce through outsourcing or by implementing collateral duty. Agencies have been asked to do more with less. But, is it cheaper to use contractors? And, how are our agencies using contractors? The panel referenced the June Washington Technology article “Who’s Cheaper? Feds or Contractors?".
Bonita White from HHS started the discussion, stating that between their six EEO offices, they utilize five prime contractors within the organization who primarily focus on investigations. Dillings, DOI, also noted that they heavily utilize contractors on the investigation side, as well as for final EEO decisions. In contrast, Marion Harvey, Department of Treasury has used contractors and collateral duty in the past, but is currently employing 19 full-time, internal EEO investigators to manage their 300/year investigations.
Measuring the effectiveness of contractors
According to Long-Green, the two key indicators for measuring contractors is quality and time. What are contractors vs. internal staff delivering? Is it on time and who is accountable for the quality of that work?
Harvey notes that it is important to have templates in place for contracted investigators to use as a general guideline to ensure a base level of quality. But, most investigation materials aren’t received for about 6 months to 2 years after the case has been investigated. This makes it very hard to ensure the quality of the work, and the analysis of an investigation is typically viewed as a lesson-learned for future cases. This issue was similar to that seen by HHS and DOI. However, White noted that having project officers monitoring quality control on the front end could greatly improve quality. It is the agencies’ job to be proactive.
Using statements of work to ensure quality and timeliness
How can you use your statements of work to ensure quality/timeliness? Dillings noted that first your statements of work set the tone for the contractor relationship. You should include specific timelines for deliverables and explain the repercussions for not meeting those deadlines, i.e. a 10% deduction in pay. He also explained the importance of how documents will be received to ensure efficiency and stressed the fact that it is the agencies’ responsibility to make sure the statement of work is upheld. Harvey and White agreed and added that having a penalty clause provides added incentive to deliver on-time.
So, knowing what we know now, which route looks to be the better one to go – federal employees or contractors? Despite what the VA said, it looks like the jury is still out.
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