On December 15, 2010, the Department of Commerce Labor-Management Forum met in the Secretary’s Conference Room, Herbert Hoover Building, Washington, DC. The meeting started at 1:30 p.m. and concluded at 3:30 p.m. See attached for a list of attendees.
The members adopted the minutes of the September 15, 2010, meeting of the Forum.
The members heard presentations from each of the three standing Working Groups (Innovation, Metrics, and Communications)
• Innovations Working Group
o Travel B1 Pilot Project. Andy Winer, Co-Chair of the innovations working group, stated that they had submitted the Travel B1Pilot Project to the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations but the project has not yet received formal approval from the Council because the Council cancelled its December meeting.
o Audiovisual. Sean Cartwright, Economic Development Administration, informed the Forum that management and labor are currently discussing the parameters and specifics of the audiovisual pilot project and he will make a more detailed presentation at the next Department Forum meeting in March.
o Child and Elder Care. Robert Budens, POPA/USPTO, proposed that we consider a project to better publicize the child and elder care policies at each bureau. He requested names and contact information for each of the Bureaus on child and elder care programs. This information will be valuable in learning what each bureau and operating unit is telling its employees about the availability of such programs and will help to create a list of best practices. Mr. Budens expressed his belief that communications to employees is in need of improvement. Kathy Dudda and Randy Myers (POPA/USPTO) are spearheading this effort.
• Metrics Working Group
Bill Fleming, Co-Chair of the metrics-working group, provided the Forum with an update on three initiatives:
o Travel B1 pilot project. The Office of Administrative Services issued Travel Bulletin #04, FY 10 on Use of Non-Contract Fares., The metrics reports from ADTRAV (Adventure Travel, DOC’s contract travel agency) are resulting in more detailed and useable information. The reports from ADTRAV show the savings or extra costs from flying non-contract carriers. The data for the costs is being refined to include justifications for travelers incurring any additional costs for using non-contract carriers. There is a need to communicate to more employees about the policy in order to obtain better results regarding the savings. A Forum member suggested there should not be any cost overages and that the cost increases suggest that the system is not working. Another member of the Forum recommended ADTRAV provide information to the individual traveler on the lowest fares available to see real savings. However, ADTRAV already does this. ADTRAV has been instructed to tell all travelers if there is a lower fare at the time they are booking travel.
o Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). Last year Commerce employee participation in FEVS was 46%, 6 % below the government wide average. The working group has set a target of 60% Commerce employee participation for 2011.
o Move to Metrics Report. Based on information obtained from the National Council, the Forum must report on the use of its metrics to the National Council in March, September, and December 2011.
• Communications Working Group. Howard Friedman, Co-Chair of the communications working group, discussed two priorities for the group: (1) improving participation in the Employee Viewpoint Survey through better communication; and (2) better communicating the accomplishments of the Forum through its website or other means. A member suggested that the group identify Bureau best practices regarding increased employee participation in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and better understand how the employee survey information has been used to drive change. Mr. Friedman also discussed the need to determine whether we have the most meaningful content available on the new labor management website and whether we are missing other helpful information. The working group also wants to make sure the site is intuitive, easy to scan, readable.
• Mr. Friedman also suggested that the co-chairs send out a department-wide email making employees aware of our progress to date with the Forum (i.e., one of the first agencies to adopt a charter, progress on the travel pilot project, etc.), and announcing the establishment of the website.
o Bill Fleming (OHRM) presented the key points of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, including unscheduled telework, promoting management effectiveness, reducing the cost of space and operations, and enhancing worklife balance.
o Danette Campbell (USPTO) discussed key components of the USPTO’s telework program including:
♦ Tailoring each telework program to the particular needs of the business unit;
♦ Focusing on output, not employee location;
♦ Clearly defining performance metrics;
♦ Foregoing office space for Hoteling employees who telework 4-5 days a week;
♦ Improving current communication tools for teleworkers.
o Ben Felder (Census) discussed the Bureau’s effort to move forward with a telework program. He stated that:
♦ In 2003, headquarters approved a new telework program that permitted two days per pay period of teleworking;
♦ The policy does not permit teleworking when confidential Title 13 or Title 26 data is involved;
♦ In 2008 the policy changed to allow teleworking at lower levels of management;
♦ Employees must provide their own computers.
o Bill Fleming identified next steps:
♦ Appoint the Telework Managing Officer in the Chief Human Capital Officer’s office;
♦ Begin policy revisions to the current Department Telework Program.
• New Business
o Anne Rung, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, will oversee the working groups to help keep them on track.
o Anne Rung asked that we identify a new Co-chair for the Communications Working Group to replace her given her new role overseeing all the working groups.
o The Forum agreed that it should coordinate with the Performance Advisory Committee.
o A request was made to prepare the meeting minutes sooner
• Creation of a Child/Elder Care subgroup within the Innovations Working Group (Adopted)
o Authorization for the Innovations Working Group to create a subgroup and to build momentum for improving employee satisfaction with the level of child and elder care offered to Commerce employees (which project). The subgroup will post information it obtains on the DOC Labor-Management Forum website.
• The Audiovisual Team will report back to the Innovations Working Group
• The Metrics Working Group will obtain information from the National Council on Metrics.
• The Communications Working Group will:
o Develop a Department-wide communications strategy to improve the response rate of Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (spell out). There is a need to identify what has been done in the past to promote responsiveness and judge its effectiveness.
o Promote the URL for the Forum webpage http://hr.commerce.gov/Employees/LaborManagementForum/index.htm
o Obtain an email address for the Forum to provide two-way communications for the Forum and employees of the Department. (DONE – the address is LMForum@doc.gov and Frank Milman is the temporary owner until the Forum decides who will have access to the inbox.)
o Bring a draft communications policy for review at the Forum’s next meeting.
o Develop better ways to promote awareness of ongoing projects, issuances, etc.
• Telework – The Forum agreed to create a new four person Committee (represented by two labor and two management representatives) to provide recommendations on implementation of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.
• Obtain a description of all the B1 Pilot Projects submitted to the National Council (DONE).
Scott Quehl/Date Dan Sobien/Date
Management Co-Chair Labor Co-Chair