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Minutes for 3/16/11 Forum Meeting

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On March 16, 2011, the Department of Commerce Labor-Management Forum met in the Room 6029, 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 December 15, 2010, meeting of the Forum.

I. Update on Budget Status

Scott Quehl opened with a brief summary of the status of the FY 11 budget. In his remarks, he stated that:

    • The House just passed the three week Continuing Resolution (CR), which will keep the Government open through April 8;

    • The CR is expected to pass the Senate this week;

    • This CR eliminated the Emergency Steel Loan Guarantee Program and the Public Telecommunications Facilities and Construction Program at Commerce. We have requested this elimination in both the FY 2011 and FY 2012 President’s Budgets.

    • The CR rescinds the balance of $1.7 billion left from the FY 2010 Census.

    • The CR also eliminates the earmarked funding in NOAA, NIST, and MBDA.

    • The House and Senate will try to find a workable compromise to put a long term budget for the Government in place.

    • HR 1 funds the operations of the Department at about $7.0 billion and the Senate alternative funds the Department at about $7.6 billion.

II. Brainstorming Session on Approaches to Savings, Efficiencies, and Effectiveness

Anne Rung, Senior Director of Administration introduced Christine Heflin, who served as facilitator for the brainstorming session. Anne stated that Christine is Director of Performance Excellence in the Office of the Secretary and has extensive experience as a professional facilitator both in the private and public sectors.

Christine Heflin began the discussion by asking Jay Reich, Deputy Chief of Staff, to frame the brainstorming session with brief remarks. Mr. Reich stresses the urgency and importance of such an effort before cutting into critical programs to meet any proposed budget reductions.

Christine Heflin then facilitated the meeting by providing members with an overview of the purpose of the Forum with regard to the issue of the budget. She pointed out that the function of the Forum is to give broad parameters to the committees and councils that enable them to think “outside the envelope” in addressing possible solutions.

After Christine Heflin’s opening remarks, Secretary Locke stopped by the Forum meeting to briefly address the labor and management members. He recognized the Forum for being one of the first Departments or Agencies to adopt a Labor Management Charter and for their many other successes, including the launching of a travel pilot project to drive down costs. He stated that the Forum is an important venue to address and resolve a number of significant issues for labor and management. He urged the Forum to stay the course even after he has left the Department and that he knows this effort is now embedded in the DNA of our Department. The Secretary also observed that the Forum needs to tap into the knowledge and skills of employees who have a better understanding of the why and how the Department operates. The improvements demonstrated in the operations of the Department result from the efforts of both management and labor.

As the brainstorming session resumed, the members offered the following ideas for how to develop an approach to drive savings, efficiencies, and effectiveness in the Department.

    • Poll employees on most efficient processes (in DOC and bureaus);

    • Labor and Management need to jointly address staff on situations, need for innovation, and how savings means jobs

    • The role of leadership is to set the discussion – goal to empower employees – leadership need to speak to its constituencies;

    • Vision summits to engage a core group of employees in finding savings;

    • Survey the employee for additional potential in the area of teleworking, contracts that can be brought in house, etc.;

    • Presentation on best practices – with information on how they work and benefits already achieved (to open minds to different ideas such as teleworking);

    • Take a “bottoms up” approach to the work and communications processes; allow ideas to “filter up;”

    • Recognize that local knowledge, knowledge gained in one organization, may be useful in many different locations;

    • Need a process to ensure constant sharing;

    • Benchmark IRS idea sharing process – shared savings program;

    • Duplicate Census program particularly re management involvement (high level of messaging and messenger);

    • More employee representation on councils and greater collaboration on existing teams;

    • Bridge the gap between leadership and employees;

    • Tackle large scale projects through the Department Forum;

    • Award best ideas;

    • Reinforce sense of urgency;

    • Assign a clearinghouse for ideas (could be PEC or all councils)

    • Create Skunkworks;

    • Formalize process of outreach – give more structure to employee teams;

    • Communicate accomplishments to stakeholders;

    • Identify employees with process improvement or small group facilitation skills to help orchestrate efforts at different levels;

    • Online webinar on how to generate innovative ideas and assess them;

    • Post ideas that keep coming up and actions under was so ideas are not repeated;

    • Post all team projects so others can make comments and suggestions;

    • Labor and employee summits on innovation

    • Use sub-committees of forum to pull together ideas- make orchestration their job;

    • Regular interaction between management and labor throughout the Department.

    • Rely on staff experience to provide viewpoints from those who have the first hand knowledge of the problem;

    • Establish an employee blog on the Commerce Website. This will help bilateral communication;

    • Increase the pace in indentifying costs savings; and

    • Link back to budget priorities;

    • Poll the employees to identify those processes that cannot work and eliminate them;

    • The Co-chairs’ leadership tone and vision have been a major contribution to the success of the Forum;

    • Improving communications between management and labor; and

    • Communications between operating units must be strengthened.

    • Ways of Getting Ideas from all levels

    o Lean training on line and ask each division to do a two hour analysis on a process “Lean Week;”

    o “Talk to Me” – Leadership makes themselves available to blog. All SESers assigned an idea group to work and develop ideas;

    o Employee Town Halls where union and management facilitate discussion of savings ideas. This could pilot a few approaches;

    o Each council screens ideas in their areas; and

    o Management posts problems to solve and employees suggest and refine solution on line.

    • Reports from the Working Groups

    o Innovations

      ² Develop Websites at the Department and agency level; and

      ² The council and committees need to look for best practices.

    o Metrics

      ² Will circulate the Department’s draft report to the National Council on the Use of Metrics to everyone for review and comment. [Note – no comments were received and the Department submitted its report to OPM on March 28, the first agency to do so.]

      ² Unions need to encourage greater participation by employees

    o Communications

      ² Howard Friedman, Co-Chair of the Communications Working Group, stated that the working group is focused on three initiatives:

      ü Communications of Accomplishments: He suggested the Secretary send out a Department notice highlighting the one year anniversary of Forum. A draft had been circulated prior to the meeting.

      ü Increase participation in Employee Viewpoint Survey: The working group proposed several ways to increase participation, including:

        § Designated hour/day to respond;

        § Note from Secretary with new Department employee participation goal and highlights of real actions taken in response to last year’s survey;

        § Recurring emails stating our progress towards goal; and

        § Posters/other promotional materials to highlight effort

    ² Email Address

      o Howard stated that the Forum launched a new email address in February on the Labor Management Forum website as a test pilot. (LMForum@doc.gov) Very few people have utilized this email address so they are considering ways to promote the address or place it in a more visible location.

Printed Name

Organization

Phone Number

Email Address

Budens, Robert

POPA

571-272-0847

Robert.budens@uspto.gov

Culpepper, mike

NIST

301-975-3005

Michael.culpepper@nist.gov

Cunningham, John D.

Census

301-763-2388

John.d.cunningham@census.gov

Davis Jr., Russell B.

AFGE/Census

301-763-1641

Russell.b.davis.jr@census.gov

DiGiacomo, Brian

OGC

202-482-5393

bdigiaco@doc.gov.

Dornell, Izella

OCIO

202-482-1888

idarnella@doc.gov

Faulkner, Jim

NOAA

301-713-6349

James.p.faulkner@noaa.gov

Fleming, Bill

OHRM

202-482-4807

bfleming@doc.gov

Friedman, Howard

NTEU/USPTO

571-272-9319

Howard.friedman@uspto.gov

Hopkins, William

NWESO/NOAA

202-420-1045

execvice@nwseo.org

Markley, Jonathan

AFGE/EDA

512-381-8156

jmarkley@eda.doc.gov

Matera, Marguerite

NWESO/NOAA

978-281-9231

Marguerite.matera@noaa.gov

Milman, Frank

OHRM

202-482-3321

fmilman@doc.eda

Myers, Randy

POPA/USPTO

571-272-7526

Randy.myers@uspto.gov

Pleffner, Mary

OAS

202-482-1200

mpleffner@doc.gov

Quehl, Scott

CFO/ASA

 

squehl@doc.gov

Reich, Jay

O/S

202-482-4246

jreich@doc.gov

Robinson, David

NIST

301-975-5000

David.robinson@nist.gov

Rung, Anne

CFO/ASA

202-482-4471

arung@doc.gov

Sobien, Dan

NWSEO

202-72-1043

president@nweso.org

Stephens, Fred

OS

 

fstephens@doc.gov

Sterngast, Moses

AFGE/Census

CALLED IN

Moses.sterngast@census.gov

Turner, Fred

USPTO

751-272-6148

Fred.turner@uspto.gov

Winer, Andy

NOAA

202-482-4640

Andrew.winer@noaa.gov




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