U.S. Department of Commerce - Office of the Secretary U.S. Department of commerce seal


   
 
Commerce Employees banner

Home > Commerce Employees

Minutes - Forum Meeting July 2014

Printable View

Labor-Management Forum

July 16, 2014

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4830

Washington, DC 20230

Meeting called by:

Labor-Management Forum

Type of meeting:

Quarterly Meeting

Program Manager:

Mr. Frank Milman

Note Taker:

Ms. Mary O’Connor

Attendees:

On the Phone: Brian DiGiacomo (OGC), Cindy Luttrell (AFGE), and Rick Costello (OOSH)

See sign-in sheet for participants around the room

Documents:

Minutes from the April meeting of the Forum, Forum Letter to OPM re FEVS, OPM Draft Final Rule – Phased Retirement, Survey Responses, ECOMP HR Bulletin Draft, Handout on Workers’ Compensation Claims

Minutes

Agenda

Item:

Introductions/Approval of April Minutes

Presenter:

Mr. Fred Stephens

Discussion:

Introductions were done around the room and on the phone. A motion was made to adopt minutes taken on April 16, 2014 and minutes were approved without any amendments.

Agenda item:

Efforts to Reach Goal of Department Being #1 Best Place to Work

Presenter:

Mr. Kevin Mahoney

Discussion:

The Employee Viewpoint Survey had a 57% participation rate from the Department of Commerce (Department), which is the same as the previous year. The Government-wide rate of participation is approximately 47%. Results should come out in the fall.

Agenda item:

Status of FY15 Budget

Presenter:

Mr. Kevin Mahoney

Discussion:

Congress has not passed a budget, and there is a short window of opportunity before elections. There is a high degree of interest on Senate side to put a bill together and get it passed.

Agenda item:

Discussion of Ideas Dealing with Gender Gap

Presenter:

Ms. Valerie Smith

Discussion:

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) wanted Federal agencies to review policies to see if there was anything specific leading to having pay inequality. The Department reported that there are no policies with barriers to equal pay for women. The Department also posted all salary tables on one website so that they would be easier to find, per the guidance of OPM.

The Department pulled data and ran reports to look at the workforce and found that men occupied 55% of positions, and women occupied 45%; however, as the percentage of men and women occupying positions stayed the same, the percentage of promotions increased for men and decreased for women. There is much more to look at and analyze; including qualifications, positions, full performance level, etc. As of right now we are just looking at the data, even though there hasn’t been additional guidance from OPM.

The HR Director proposed that the next steps in conducting a gender gap study would be for HR to provide the data and suggested that Mr. Sobien could provide issues to take a closer look at; Mr. Sobien is to also provide the names of members who were interested in participating in a group to Valerie Smith.

Action items

Person responsible

Deadline

ü Dan Sobien to provide names to Valerie Smith for gender gap study working group

Dan Sobien

TBD

Agenda item:

Discussion of Department Telework Policy

Presenter:

Mr. Frank Milman

Discussion:

A group is to get together before the end of July to discuss telework policy. .

Action items

Person responsible

Deadline

ü Meet before the end of July

Kevin Mahoney

July 31, 2014

Agenda item:

New Department policy for Electronic Filing of Workers’ Compensation claims (ECOMP)

Presenter:

Mr. Mike Smith (OOSH)

Discussion:

The Department of Labor (DOL) developed the Employees’ Compensation Operations & Management Portal (ECOMP), an electronic filing system for Workers Compensation claims. ECOMP is built and managed by DOL for Federal agency use. ECOMP was developed to increase the timeliness of the process, and decrease the amount of delays that are currently being experienced. DOL pays for the system, and there is no cost for Federal agencies to use it. The Department has a MOU with DOL to start using the ECOMP system as of December 2012. It is projected that the Department will start using this system beginning in October, and implement it several months after that. The Department is currently modifying the system for each bureau.

The ECOMP system has training modules for employees, agency reviewers, etc. These modules are linked within the Commerce Learning Center (CLC), and after the ECOMP program is implemented, the modules will be accessible for training. Workers compensation coordinators can also help with training; there will be various ways to train using the new system. If an employee is already on workers compensation, they will not need to take training as ECOMP covers new injury and claims; people already on the rolls are less impacted.

The President set POWER (Protecting Workers’ and Ensuring Reemployment) performance goals, and each agency that has used ECOMP has increased their performance levels. Employees at these agencies enjoy the ECOMP program as they find it easy to use, being able to access it at home, among other things.

Action items

Person responsible

Deadline

ü Conduct National Consultation with appropriate unions.

Frank Milman

TBD

Agenda item:

Status of the Department Workplace Violence Policy

Presenter:

Mr. Frank Milman

Discussion:

The workplace violence policy has been updated to the website, and the Department broadcast email has gone out.

Agenda item:

Status of Letter to OPM from Forum Co-Chairs with Suggestions on Improving FEVS

Presenter:

Mr. Kevin Mahoney

Discussion:

The HR Director personally delivered the letter to OPM, and it has been assigned to Mr. John Foley, Director, Planning and Policy Analysis. OPM was impressed that the LMF came together as a group to think about it and offer suggestions, especially given the survey experience within the group. It was asked if OPM/OMB shared with the National Council, and the HR Director is to follow up on this.

Action items

Person responsible

Deadline

ü Find out if letter went to National Council

Kevin Mahoney

TBD

Agenda item:

Status of OPM Final Regulations on Part-time Retirement

Presenter:

Ms. Valerie Smith

Discussion:

OPM sent out draft policy guidance in the middle of June, which is waiting to be finalized, on phased retirement guidance. This will allow employees to work part-time (20 hours/week, mentoring 20% of the time), and retire part-time. The first decision to be made is if the Department is going to implement the policy, which will take working with the policy partnership workgroup to draft and incorporate the Department’s needs. An Agency may implement this 90 days after OPM’s policy is published. After the National Finance Center (NFC) has necessary changes in place, the policy will be written and will incorporate flexibilities needed within the Department.

A member had concerns about providing comments in regards to sick leave computation. The HR Director said to provide concerns to him. Another member was wondering if there was any reason the Department wouldn’t want to implement a part-time retirement policy; management assured that the Department is interested, but needs to consider the budgeting impact of this, rather than the policy alone.

Agenda item:

Presidential Memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies “Enhancing Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs”

Presenter:

Mr. Kevin Mahoney

Discussion:

A member observed that the workplace flexibilities addressed in the President’s memorandum encompass many of the issues currently being discussed amongst the group: best place to work, gender gap, work-life programs, flexibilities, bringing in a younger workforce, and having a better place to work. It was also noted that one of the most productive/best places to work for FEVS is the most flexible, and it was suggested that the Department needs to make it both easy for the employees and productive for the Agency. It was suggested that one of the primary objectives of the memorandum was to address the lack of maternity leave in federal government; however, it was also noted that this may not be addressed immediately, but provides an opportunity to look at barriers within the Department.

A member brought up the idea of splitting the work schedule, and longer flexible schedule hours, to provide opportunities for working families. It was noted that the USPTO allows employees to split shifts. A member mentioned that a more flexible schedule feeds into telework discussions, and that both topics may be the two biggest components of a positive workplace dynamic, and can increase the Department’s overall flexibilities, making it the best place to work. There was a discussion as to whether splitting up work schedules and having more flexible hours decreases ability to carry out duties, in particular across time zones; however, employees currently practicing this stated they have not experienced much difficulty.

It was decided that everyone in the group will provide one idea that will make the workplace more flexible to Mr. Frank Milman by August 15, 2014.

Action items

Person responsible

Deadline

ü Everyone to send an idea to Mr. Milman on how to make the workplace more flexible at the Department

LMF Members

August 15, 2014

Agenda item:

Updating Time and Attendance Training

Presenter:

Mr. Kevin Mahoney

Discussion:

The Department is currently creating training for the CLC website to address some concerns over how time and attendance is being recoded, and how to account for projects being worked on. The training will address why the Department does time and attendance, why it is important that it is done correctly, and why it is important to indicate time when teleworking; it should take less than an hour for managers/employee to complete. Census will not have to take the training as they completed a similar one this year.

Additionally, the Department is working on acquiring a new version of WebTA, issued by Kronos.

Agenda item:

Shared Services

Presenter:

Mr. Kevin Mahoney

Discussion:

The Department is beginning to look at some of its administrative functions to see where we can take advantage of bringing components together as a shared service to improve the customer service aspect of what we do (HR, Acquisitions, IT). For example, payroll is done using NFC, but there are currently 5 different groups doing payroll. The idea is to collect common practices on how we do things in order to improve customer service and make things more efficient and effective; this is a current interest of the White House and OMB at this time. There have been no formal actions; it is just something that is being thought about by management.

A member was concerned that consolidating services may cause more harm than help; however, the HR Director assured that the idea is to look at efficiencies of how we approach things across the Department, not necessarily consolidation. A discussion of how this could save the Department money occurred; however, the HR Director noted that the idea is to improve the quality of service to the customers. Any thoughts or suggestions should go to Mr. Mahoney, and there will be an update on the subject at the next meeting.

Action items

Person responsible

Deadline

ü Mr. Mahoney will update the Forum on the topic at the next meeting

Kevin Mahoney

October 15, 2015

Agenda item:

Efforts to Reach Goal of Department being #1 Best Place to Work (continued)

Presenter:

Mr. Howard Friedman

Discussion:

Mr. Howard Friedman gave an update from the previous meeting. He stated that the group decided a good way to move forward would be to touch base with the highest level of leadership at various agencies. A couple weeks prior to the Forum, there was a presentation given to all Senior Executive Service (SES) members throughout the Department during an all-day retreat at USPTO. Discussing employee engagement, performance, and labor management relations with the highest level of management within the Department and its bureaus is important. It was asked what the next steps should be to get to the next level of action to begin to help all of the bureaus. There is a scheduled talk with NOAA for August.

There are three components to addressing the next steps:

    1. How does everyone take advantage of what USPTO has learned by “helping people in trenches,”

    2. What needs to be done to engage all the unions throughout the Department and bureaus,

    3. Timing wise, what can be done through the Secretary’s office to get a letter providing support.

The importance of support from the Secretary and the Secretary’s office was stressed. The HR Director asked how to take the presentation given by USPTO and disseminate to a broader group within the Department; and made a commitment to work with the Secretary’s office on moving forward. It was stated that the Secretary set a tone at the SES meeting, followed by Mr. Friedman, which set a tone to have everyone on the same page. USPTO was praised for their strategic plan, personnel strategic plan, and the ability for an employee to clearly identify how their work supports both USPTO and the Department. Another member emphasized the importance of having support coming from the top down because people will want to do what they perceive leadership wants.

It was added that the previous USPTO Director, Mr. David Kappos, got together with union representatives and management when he first started and established a level of trust between them and created a taskforce, which was a new approach for USPTO. This made both unions and management bond and feel like they were “in it together” and became stronger because of their coming together. It was noted that the leadership involvement allowed USPTO to have “one face,” and establish more trust and change together.

Agenda item:

Other Business

   

Discussion:

Mr. Milman will update the contact list of all union members. The next meeting will be October 15, 2014.




A - Z Library for Commerce Employees