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GAO-11-312R: 

Uni ted States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

June 10, 2011: 

The Honorable Patty Murray:
Chairman:
The Honorable Richard Burr:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Veterans' Affairs:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Jeff Miller:
Chairman:
The Honorable Bob Filner:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Veterans' Affairs:
House of Representatives: 

Subject: Veterans' Reemployment Rights: Steps Needed to Ensure 
Reliability of DOL and Special Counsel Demonstration Project's 
Performance Information: 

In the wake of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, 
thousands of current and former military servicemembers are undergoing 
a transition between their military service and their civilian 
employment. Congress enacted the Uniformed Services Employment and 
Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA)[Footnote 1] to protect the 
employment and reemployment rights of federal and nonfederal employees 
when they leave their employment to perform military or other 
uniformed service.[Footnote 2] Among other rights, servicemembers who 
meet the statutory requirements are entitled to reinstatement to the 
positions they would have held if they had never left their employment 
or to positions of like seniority, status, and pay. USERRA applies to 
a wide range of employers, including federal, state, and local 
governments as well as private-sector firms.[Footnote 3] This report 
focuses on servicemembers who are employees of, prior employees of, 
and applicants to, federal executive agencies. 

Under USERRA, an employee who believes that his or her USERRA rights 
have been violated may file a claim with the Department of Labor's 
(DOL) Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS), which 
investigates and attempts to resolve the claim. If DOL's VETS cannot 
resolve the claim and the servicemember is a federal government 
employee or applicant to a federal agency, DOL is to inform the 
claimant of the right to have his or her claim referred to the Office 
of Special Counsel (OSC)[Footnote 4] for further review and possible 
OSC representation before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). 
[Footnote 5] 

Under a demonstration project established by the Veterans Benefits 
Improvement Act of 2004 (VBIA),[Footnote 6] from February 8, 2005, 
through December 31, 2007, OSC was authorized to receive and 
investigate certain USERRA claims, with DOL continuing its 
investigative role for others. In 2007, we evaluated the demonstration 
project and reported to Congress that while both DOL and OSC had 
policies and procedures for receiving, investigating, and resolving 
USERRA claims against federal executive employers since the start of 
the demonstration project, data for reporting outcomes were not 
sufficiently reliable at either agency. Specifically, we found that 
the data DOL used to track claims processing time and the data DOL and 
OSC used to track case outcomes were not reliable to monitor, track, 
and report on the agencies' performance. We recommended that the 
Secretary of Labor develop an internal review mechanism for all 
unresolved claims before they are closed and claimants are notified 
and establish internal controls to ensure the accuracy of data entered 
into DOL's database. DOL agreed with and implemented our 
recommendations.[Footnote 7] At the end of this demonstration project, 
DOL and OSC returned to the USERRA investigation and review procedures 
in place before the start of the demonstration project. 

Congress included language in the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010 (VBA) 
directing OSC and DOL to establish a second demonstration project (36- 
month duration) for receiving, investigating, and resolving USERRA 
claims against federal executive employers.[Footnote 8] Similar to 
procedures authorized for the first demonstration project, under the 
current demonstration project, VETS is authorized to investigate and 
seek corrective action for those claims filed against federal 
executive agencies if the servicemember's Social Security number (SSN) 
ends in an even number, and OSC is authorized to investigate and seek 
corrective action for USERRA claims against federal executive agencies 
if the servicemember's SSN ends in an odd number.[Footnote 9] 
Enclosure I describes in more detail how the agencies will implement 
the demonstration project. 

The legislation also directs the two agencies to submit a report to 
Congress and GAO describing the jointly established methods and 
procedures to be used in reviewing their relative performance during 
the demonstration project. Furthermore, VBA mandates that GAO report 
on the methods and procedures selected by the agencies and may provide 
any recommendations for improving the design of the demonstration 
project. The VBA directs the demonstration project to begin no later 
than 60 days after the GAO report is submitted to Congress and also 
directs GAO to conduct periodic evaluations of the demonstration 
project and submit to Congress a report on these evaluations. 

Objective, Scope, and Methodology: 

Our objective was to determine the extent to which the methods and 
procedures DOL and OSC selected for the demonstration project allow 
for a later assessment and comparison of the agencies' relative 
performance investigating and resolving USERRA claims. To address this 
objective, we reviewed the proposed project design that DOL and OSC 
developed and determined whether DOL and OSC selected meaningful 
performance measures and comparable methods for collecting data and 
reporting definitions of case outcomes.[Footnote 10] We also reviewed 
the steps agencies plan to take to ensure that their data are reliable 
and accurate. We reviewed agency documents including agencies' 
operations manuals for processing USERRA claims, and interviewed 
agency officials to aid in our determination of whether agencies 
established a comparable process. After receiving the report on March 
2 and analyzing it, we met with agency officials on March 17 to ask 
questions about the report, discuss our preliminary analysis, and 
share our preliminary observations. 

We conducted our work from December 2010 to June 2011 in accordance 
with all sections of GAO's Quality Assurance Framework that are 
relevant to our objectives. The framework requires that we plan and 
perform the engagement to obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence 
to meet our stated objectives and to discuss any limitations in our 
work. We believe that the information and data obtained, and the 
analysis conducted, provide a reasonable basis for any findings and 
conclusions in this product. 

On March 22, 2011, we briefed House committee staff and on March 31 we 
briefed Senate committee staff on our preliminary observations on the 
DOL and OSC demonstration project design as presented in their joint 
report. This report transmits the final results of our work and the 
briefing slides, which are printed in enclosure II. 

Summary of Findings: 

The joint report describing the demonstration project's design for 
investigating and resolving USERRA claims shows that DOL and OSC have 
identified and agreed upon a preliminary set of performance measures. 
These measures will facilitate the collection of baseline information 
and measurement of performance related to customer satisfaction, 
timeliness, and cost. However, the report lacked sufficient details 
about the methods agencies will use to collect the data needed to 
report on these measures. As such, we cannot yet determine whether the 
resulting performance information will be reliable and will permit a 
later comparison of the agencies' performance. For example, the joint 
report did not include sufficient information to determine whether the 
two agencies have established a comparable process for administering a 
standardized customer satisfaction survey, calculating the average 
cost of a claim, or reporting case outcomes, such as claim granted, 
claim settled, no merit, or withdrawn. Also, for the purpose of 
measuring the average processing time of a claim, the joint report 
described the deadlines to be adhered to when investigating claims and 
reviewing claims for representation. However, the report lacked 
sufficient detail on how OSC will conduct its investigative and legal 
review in stages comparable to DOL's process. Having DOL and OSC 
select comparable methods and procedures for collecting and reporting 
their data is a critical step in ensuring the integrity of the 
evaluation of the demonstration project. Significant differences in 
the way in which the two agencies collect and report data could 
compromise the validity and reliability of the evaluation of this 
demonstration project by limiting the ability to compare the agencies' 
relative performance processing claims. 

The joint report also did not identify the steps agencies will take to 
ensure the accuracy and reliability of data. If data errors are 
substantial, they will impede the ability to draw accurate conclusions 
based on those data. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To address these issues, we recommend that prior to the start of the 
demonstration project: 

(1) the Special Counsel, as the project administrator, and: 

(2) the Secretary of Labor, by directing the Assistant Secretary for 
Veterans' Employment and Training, take the following five actions: 

* To ensure that customer (i.e., servicemember) satisfaction data are 
collected in a way that is most likely to produce reliable 
information, DOL and OSC should establish and agree upon comparable 
methods for administering the customer satisfaction survey. For 
example, the demonstration project should include a survey plan, 
describing agreed-upon protocols for contacting and following up with 
respondents. The survey plan should also document what steps agencies 
will take to ensure adequate response rates. 

* To ensure that both agencies can document how long it takes to 
investigate a claim, and how long it takes to conduct a legal review, 
OSC should describe the actions and functions it plans to apply to 
each of those phases, and the agencies should agree that they have 
established a comparable two-step process. 

* To ensure that both agencies use comparable methods for tracking the 
amount of personnel time spent investigating and reviewing federal 
USERRA cases, and the costs of these activities including indirect 
costs such as administrative overhead, DOL and OSC should establish, 
document, and agree upon a time accounting process that distinguishes 
between the investigative and legal review phases and a method that 
assigns costs to claims processing activities. 

* Provide evidence that the agencies have identified, and agreed upon, 
a common set of potential case outcomes and a crosswalk of common or 
comparable codes assigned to each of those outcomes prior to the start 
of the demonstration project, such as claim granted, claim settled, no 
merit, or withdrawn. 

* Agree upon a controls plan and implementation strategy that will be 
used during the course of the demonstration project to help ensure 
data integrity, reliability, and accuracy. 

See enclosure II for a more detailed discussion of our analysis and 
recommendations. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We provided a draft of this report to the Associate Special Counsel 
and the Secretary of Labor for their review and comment. In written 
comments, which are included in enclosure III, the Chief of OSC's 
USERRA Unit generally concurred with our conclusions and 
recommendations. Specifically, OSC concurred with our recommendations 
related to collecting and reporting customer satisfaction, timeliness, 
and outcomes data. However, OSC disagreed with our recommendation 
related to measuring costs, and did not directly respond to our 
recommendation related to data reliability. OSC agreed with our 
recommendation for measuring timeliness and said that it will work to 
ensure that its 90-day investigative process is as comparable as 
possible to DOL's processes. OSC also said that DOL and OSC have 
agreed that the "trigger" event for the end of the 90-day 
investigative phase is the date upon which the claimant is notified of 
the results of the investigation and attempts to resolve the claim, as 
well as the claimant's right to have OSC consider his or her claim for 
possible legal presentation before the MSPB. In addition, OSC noted 
that it believes that GAO should evaluate overall claim processing 
time, believing that overall processing time is the most meaningful 
measure for the claimant. We intend to evaluate multiple aspects of 
timeliness, including overall claim processing time. We believe that 
measuring the time it takes DOL and OSC to complete the different 
phases of the claims process will provide useful information for 
comparison and may help identify possible inefficiencies. 

OSC disagreed with our recommendation to establish, document, and 
agree upon a time accounting process that distinguishes between 
personnel time spent during the investigative and legal review phases, 
and partly disagreed with our recommendation to establish, document, 
and agree upon a method for assigning costs to claims processing 
activities. OSC stated that its current structure--a stand-alone 
USERRA Unit--makes the distinction between the investigative and legal 
review phases unnecessary, and therefore does not believe it must 
establish a process that distinguishes the two activities for the 
purpose of measuring personnel time. However, as we describe in this 
report, OSC reported in the joint report on methods and procedures for 
the demonstration project that the agency intends to distinguish 
between the investigative and legal review phases for purposes of 
measuring the timeliness of claims processing. As such, we maintain 
that it is reasonable and appropriate for OSC to also make this 
distinction for the purpose of measuring personnel costs. Capturing 
the costs for each of the two phases separately would provide insights 
into the factors affecting the costs of processing claims. For 
example, one would be able to determine the extent to which total 
costs are affected by each of the phases. 

With respect to our recommendation to include indirect costs, such as 
administrative overhead, when calculating the costs of processing 
USERRA claims, OSC stated that indirect costs may be difficult to 
accurately and comparably measure, and measuring such costs may 
provide little, if any, insight into the relative costs of claims 
processing. Nevertheless, OSC says it will work with DOL to identify 
non-personnel-related costs that can be measured. Federal financial 
accounting standards recommend that full costs, including both direct 
and indirect costs, of programs and their outputs be measured when 
making decisions on program effectiveness.[Footnote 11] This is 
especially important when comparing the costs of similar services 
performed by different entities so that the cost effect of any 
differences in the way services are performed or structured can be 
considered. 

OSC did not respond directly to our recommendations related to data 
reliability. We recommend that DOL and OSC agree upon a controls plan 
and implementation strategy that will be used during the course of the 
demonstration project to help ensure data integrity, reliability, and 
accuracy. We also recommend that DOL and OSC develop and agree upon 
methods and procedures used to test data reliability, and determine 
whether these controls are being applied. OSC stated that GAO had 
previously found the agency's data to be reliable and that OSC plans 
to use the same methods and procedures during the demonstration 
project. OSC further stated that it has agreed to consult with GAO and 
DOL throughout the project to develop new or additional data quality 
assurance processes, if needed. However, this new demonstration 
project requires OSC to collect and report on data not previously used 
or assessed by GAO, such as customer satisfaction survey results and 
cost information. Also, claims and other data will be entered at 
multiple locations--DOL and OSC headquarters and DOL regional offices--
and data will be entered in multiple systems. Therefore, we believe it 
is critical that OSC describe the control activities the agency will 
employ to ensure the reliability of customer satisfaction survey 
results, claims processing times, cost data, and case outcomes prior 
to the start of the demonstration project. We can then review the 
agency's data reliability plan and make suggestions for improvements, 
if warranted. 

In written comments from DOL, which are included in enclosure IV, the 
Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training neither 
agreed nor disagreed with our recommendations, but discussed actions 
that DOL is taking to address the recommendations. 

In commenting on our recommendation to establish and agree upon 
comparable methods for administering a customer satisfaction survey, 
DOL said together with OSC it is presently working to develop a survey 
that will objectively measure overall public satisfaction with the 
quality of the service provided under the demonstration project. 
Regarding our recommendation that the agencies agree on a comparable 
two-step process, DOL said it understands that OSC is working to make 
its process as comparable as possible to DOL's to allow for timeliness 
comparisons. For its part, DOL said that it currently maintains 
documentation on the length of its USERRA investigations, as well as 
legal reviews conducted subsequent to claimants' requests for referral 
to OSC. 

In commenting on our recommendation to use comparable methods for 
tracking personnel time and assigning costs to processing claims 
activities, DOL said it recommends that the project focus on salary 
and benefits costs for personnel engaged in the demonstration project, 
and the costs of training and travel associated with the project. DOL 
further stated that these costs are currently tracked and validated 
through automated payroll record and travel voucher systems. DOL also 
said it intends to explore the potential for using a case and time 
tracking system similar to the Veterans Administration's Veterans 
Appeals Control and Locator System, or develop its own, and will work 
with OSC as it explores these options. As discussed above in our 
response to OSC's comments, we maintain that DOL and OSC should 
document and agree upon a method that assigns costs, including 
indirect costs, to USERRA claims processing activities, and further, 
is consistent with federal financial accounting standards. 

In commenting on our recommendation to develop a mutually agreed-upon 
crosswalk of case outcome codes, DOL said that it intends to work with 
OSC to develop a joint crosswalk for both case opening and closing 
issues. DOL further stated that it believes that outcome effectiveness 
measures must include quality issues, in addition to timeliness and 
cost. 

With respect to our recommendations related to data reliability, DOL 
stated that it and OSC have agreed to utilize an operations manual 
that was developed in an earlier demonstration project that includes a 
controls strategy to ensure data integrity, reliability, and accuracy. 
As part of our follow up, we contacted OSC to inquire about an 
agreement made with DOL to use a manual developed during a previous 
demonstration project. The Chief of OSC's USERRA Unit subsequently 
reviewed the documents provided to us by DOL and stated that, while 
some of the same case transfer/tracking procedures might be applicable 
during the upcoming demonstration project, it is not clear that the 
documents include a controls strategy to ensure data integrity, 
reliability, and accuracy. Therefore, we maintain that DOL and OSC 
need to agree upon a controls plan and need to develop and agree upon 
methods and procedures to test data reliability. 

We will send copies of this report to the Secretary of Labor and the 
Special Counsel, and other interested parties. This report will also 
be available at no charge on GAO's Web site at [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you have any questions on this report, please contact me at (202) 
512-2717 or jonesy@gao.gov. Contact points for our offices of 
Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last 
page of this report. Staff who made key contributions to this report 
are listed in enclosure V. 

Signed by: 

Yvonne D. Jones:
Director, Strategic Issues: 

Enclosures: 

I: Background: 

II: Findings and Recommendations: 

III: Comments from the Office of Special Counsel: 

IV: Comments from the Department of Labor: 

V: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

VI: Related GAO Products: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure I: Background: 

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 
(USERRA) was enacted as a means to encourage noncareer service in the 
uniformed services by reducing the disruption that servicemembers 
often face when returning to the civilian workforce and to prohibit 
discrimination against individuals based upon their uniformed service. 
Under USERRA, an employee or applicant for employment who believes 
that his or her USERRA rights have been violated may file a complaint 
with the Department of Laborís (DOL) Veteransí Employment and Training 
Service (VETS), which is the entity that investigates and attempts to 
resolve the complaint. If VETS cannot resolve the complaint, DOL is to 
inform the complainant of the right to request to have his or her 
complaint referred to the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Office of 
Special Counsel (OSC). A complaint is referred to DOJ if it involves 
state or private employers or to OSC if it involves a federal 
executive agency. If the servicemember elects to have the complaint 
referred, DOJ and OSC then determine whether to initiate legal action 
against the employer.[Footnote 12] In its fiscal year 2009 annual 
report to Congress, which is the most recent report available, VETS 
reported that it reviewed 1,431 new USERRA cases for the year and it 
referred 175 cases to DOJ and 41 cases to OSC.[Footnote 13] For fiscal 
year 2008, VETS reported that it reviewed 1,389 unique USERRA cases, 
and it referred 100 cases to DOJ and 15 cases to OSC.[Footnote 14] 

Earlier legislation required an OSC and DOL demonstration project 
similar to the one directed by the Veteransí Benefits Act of 2010 
(VBA). Under a demonstration project established by the Veterans 
Benefits Improvement Act of 2004 (VBIA),[Footnote 15] from February 8, 
2005, through December 31, 2007, OSC was authorized to receive and 
investigate certain USERRA claims, with DOL continuing its 
investigative role for others. VBIA also reinstated the requirement 
that the Secretary of Labor in consultation with the U.S. Attorney 
General and the Special Counsel prepare and transmit a USERRA annual 
report to Congress on, among other matters, the number of USERRA 
claims reviewed by DOL along with the number of claims referred to DOJ 
or OSC. Further, VBIA mandated that we conduct periodic evaluations of 
the demonstration project and submit a report to Congress. In 2007, we 
reported to Congress that while both DOL and OSC had policies and 
procedures for receiving, investigating, and resolving USERRA claims 
against federal executive employers since the start of the 
demonstration project, data for reporting outcomes were not 
sufficiently reliable at either agency. Specifically, we found that 
the data DOL used to track claims processing time and the data DOL and 
OSC used to track case outcomes were not reliable to monitor, track, 
and report on the agenciesí performance. We recommended that the 
Secretary of Labor develop an internal review mechanism for all 
unresolved claims before they are closed and claimants are notified 
and establish internal controls to ensure the accuracy of data entered 
into DOLís database. DOL agreed with and implemented our 
recommendations.[Footnote 16] 

Similar to procedures authorized for the first demonstration project, 
under the current demonstration project, VETS is authorized to 
investigate and seek corrective action for those claims filed against 
federal executive agencies if the servicememberís Social Security 
number (SSN) ends in an even number, and OSC is authorized to 
investigate and seek corrective action for USERRA claims against 
federal executive agencies if the servicememberís SSN ends in an odd 
number.[Footnote 17] Figure 1 depicts USERRA claimsí processing under 
the demonstration project. 

OSCís current responsibility under USERRA for conducting an 
independent review of certain claims after they are investigated by 
VETS remains unchanged during the demonstration project. For those 
claims that VETS investigates but cannot resolve, the claimant may 
request to have his or her USERRA claim referred to OSC. Before 
sending the referred claim to OSC, VETS prepares a memorandum of 
referral (MoR), which it sends with the investigative file to a VETS 
regional office for review. The regional office then conducts a 
supervisory review and sends the file to the DOLís Office of the 
Solicitor (SOL), which prepares a legal analysis of the claim and then 
refers the claim to OSC. OSC reviews the case file and, if necessary, 
conducts further research and analysis. If OSC determines that the 
claimant is entitled to relief under USERRA, OSC may offer to act as 
attorney for the claimant and begin negotiations with the claimantís 
federal executive employer. If efforts to resolve the claim are 
unsuccessful, OSC may represent the claimant before the Merit Systems 
Protection Board (MSPB). 

The required time frames to complete certain claims processing steps 
under USERRA remain in place during the demonstration project. Under 
USERRA, DOL is required to investigate and attempt to resolve USERRA 
claims within 90 days of receipt, unless the claimant agrees to an 
extension. Under the demonstration project, the same 90-day time limit 
also applies to OSC. If DOLís investigation does not resolve the case 
and the claimant requests to have the claim referred to OSC, DOL is 
required to refer the claim to OSC within 60 days of receiving the 
request, unless the claimant agrees to an extension. Once OSC receives 
that referred claim from DOL, it has 60 days to review the file and 
notify the claimant as to OSCís decision to offer representation 
before the MSPB, unless the claimant agrees to an extension. In 
instances where OSC finds that a claim does not have merit, it is to 
inform the servicemember of its decision not to represent him or her 
before the MSPB. 

Figure 1: USERRA Claims Processing under the Demonstration Project: 

[Refer to PDF for image: process illustration] 

Claimant submits claim (Form 1010) electronically or hard copy: 

DOL/VETS: 

1) Odd-numbered claim?[A] 
If yes, go to step 2; 
If no, go to step 3. 

2) Refer odd-numbered cases to OSC[A]; 
Go to step 10. 

3) Even-numbered claim investigated[A]. 

4) Claim resolved? 
If yes, go to step 5; 
If no, go to step 6. 

5) Claimant is notified of resolution. 

6) Claimant is notified that claim is unresolved and of right of 
referral to OSC. 

Steps 3 through 6: 90 days. 

7) If claimant requests referral to OSC, VETS investigator prepares 	
memorandum of referral (MOR). 

8) VETS regional office reviews MoR. 

9) DOL Solicitor conducts legal review, prepares analysis and 
representation recommendation. 

Steps 7 through 9: 60 days. 

OSC: 

10) Odd-numbered (or PPP[A]) claim investigated. 

11) Claim resolved? 
If yes, go to step 12; 
If no, go to step 13. 

12) Claimant notified of resolution. 

13) Claimant notified of investigation results and of right to have 
OSC consider claim for possible representation before MSPB.	 

Steps 10 through 13: 90 days. 

14) OSC reviews investigative file. 

15) OSC determines if claim has merit? 
If yes, go to step 16; 
If no, go to step 17. 

16) OSC attempts resolution, including offering representation before 
MSPB. 

17) Claimant informed of OSC decision and of option to file claim with 
MSPB without OSC representation. 

Investigative process under the demonstration project: 
Steps 1-6 and 10-13. 

Referral phase under USERRA: 
Steps 7-9 and 14-17. 

Source: GAO (data); Art Explosion (images). 

[A] If, during initial processing or investigation phase, VETS 
personnel identify a possible Prohibited Personnel Practice (PPP) 
case, VETS and OSC will jointly determine at what point, if at all, 
the case should be transferred to OSC for investigation. 

[End of figure] 

Enclosure II: Findings and Recommendations: 

Veteransí Reemployment Rights: 

Steps Needed to Ensure Reliability of DOL and Special Counsel 
Demonstration Projectís Performance Information: 

Objective: 

Determine the extent to which the methods and procedures selected by 
DOL and OSC for the demonstration project allow for a later assessment 
and comparison of the agenciesí relative performance investigating and 
resolving USERRA claims. 

Criteria: 

DOL and OSC must use comparable methods for collecting and reporting 
data to ensure that the resulting performance information will be 
reliable, and allow for a later assessment and comparison of the 
agenciesí relative performance. According to GAO guidance on designing 
program evaluations, a well-documented data-collection plan can help 
ensure that both agencies collect adequate, accurate, and timely 
performance information, which in turn can facilitate comparisons of 
customer satisfaction, the average time it takes to process a claim, 
and the average cost of processing a claim. At a minimum, data-
collection plans should detail the type and source of data necessary 
to evaluate various dimensions of the demonstration project, methods 
for data collection, and the timing and frequency of data collection. 

Methods for Collecting and Reporting Data: 

What GAO Recommends: 

To ensure that customer (i.e., servicemember) satisfaction data are 
collected in a way that is most likely to produce objective and 
reliable performance information, DOL and OSC should establish and 
agree upon comparable methods for administering the customer 
satisfaction survey. For example, the demonstration project should 
include a survey plan, describing agreed-upon protocols for contacting 
and following up with respondents. The survey plan should also 
document what steps the agencies will take to ensure adequate and 
comparable response rates. 

To ensure that both agencies can document how long it takes them to 
investigate a claim and how long it takes them to conduct a legal 
review, OSC should describe the actions and functions it plans to 
apply to each of those phases, and the agencies should agree that they 
have established a comparable two-step process before the start of the 
demonstration project. 

To ensure that both agencies use comparable methods for tracking the 
amount of personnel time spent investigating and reviewing federal 
USERRA cases, and the costs of these activities including indirect 
costs such as administrative overhead, DOL and OSC should establish, 
document, and agree upon a time-accounting process that distinguishes 
between the investigative and legal review phases and a method that 
assigns costs, including indirect costs, to claims processing 
activities. 

To facilitate a later assessment and comparison of the agenciesí 
relative performance across similar types of cases, DOL and OSC should 
provide evidence that the agencies have identified and agreed upon a 
common set of potential case outcomes and a crosswalk of common or 
comparable codes assigned to each of those outcomes prior to the start 
of the demonstration project, such as claim granted, claim settled, no 
merit, or withdrawn. 

Joint Report Lacked Sufficient Details on Approach for Assessment and 
Comparison of DOLís and OSCís Relative Performance: 

In the joint report to Congress describing the design of the 
demonstration project for investigating and resolving USERRA claims, 
DOL and OSC identified and agreed upon a preliminary set of 
performance measures. These measures cover key aspects of project 
performance and signal the agenciesí intention to collect and submit 
performance information related to customer satisfaction, timeliness, 
and cost. However, the joint report lacked sufficient details about 
the methods agencies will use to collect the data needed to report on 
these measures. As such, we cannot yet determine whether the resulting 
performance information will be reliable. 

Customer Satisfaction: 

The joint report stated that agencies will work together to design a 
customer satisfaction survey that they will administer to claimants, 
but did not provide sufficient details describing how the survey will 
be administered to collect an adequate and comparable number of 
responses. 

* The agencies reported that they intend to distribute a standardized 
survey to claimants 30 days after the case is closed. The survey is 
likely to incorporate the following elements: courtesy and 
professionalism of agency investigative personnel, responsiveness to 
claimant, thoroughness of investigation, and clarity of verbal and 
written communications. The agencies reported that they will design 
the survey in such a way that it will allow for a comparison of 
customer satisfaction rates for like cases, such as cases resolved 
with full relief as opposed to cases resolved with partial or no 
relief. 

* However, the agencies did not report sufficient details about how 
they will administer the survey, including how they will contact 
respondents, or determine and achieve an adequate survey response 
rate. According to GAO guidance on survey design, there is a high 
potential for error if surveys are not designed and administered 
properly. To that end, it is important that questions are clearly 
written and easy to understand and answer. Pretesting a survey is a 
critical step to ensure that the survey communicates what it was 
intended to communicate, that it will be uniformly interpreted by the 
target population, and that it will be free of design flaws that could 
lead to inaccurate answers. It is also important to identify what 
constitutes a reasonable response rate and anticipate how to encourage 
respondents to complete the survey because a high or disproportionate 
nonresponse rate can threaten the credibility or generalizability of 
the findings. 

* DOL and OSC officials responsible for implementing the demonstration 
project acknowledged that developing an objective survey will be a 
challenge for them because they have limited experience designing and 
administering surveys. However, they also said they can identify 
colleagues within their respective agencies who have relevant 
experience designing and administering surveys intended to measure 
customer satisfaction, and that they intend to consult with them and 
complete the design of the survey prior to the start of the 
demonstration project. 

Timeliness: 

For the purpose of measuring the average processing time of a claim, 
the joint report described the agenciesí agreement to establish a two-
step process and the deadlines to be adhered to when processing USERRA 
claims. However, it did not provide sufficient detail to ensure that 
the agencies will have a comparable two-step process that will allow 
for a comparison of their relative performance. 

* The agencies agreed to use and track the same completion dates such 
as the date a claim is successfully resolved and closed, and the date 
a claimant is notified of the right to have claim considered for 
possible representation. 

* However, in the joint report, OSC did not fully describe its 
investigative and legal review process. When DOLís VETS cannot resolve 
a claim within the required 90 days (unless it receives an extension), 
and the claimant requests to have the claim referred to OSC, DOLís 
VETS will transfer the investigative file to DOLís Office of the 
Solicitor. After receiving the request for referral, DOL has 60 days 
(unless it receives an extension) to review the investigative file and 
make a recommendation regarding representation before referring the 
claim to OSC. For the purpose of the demonstration project, OSC 
reported that it intends to develop a two-step process for 
investigating claims and conducting a legal review that mirrors DOLís 
two-step process. However, OSC has not yet described which actions and 
functions will take place during the investigation phase and which 
will take place during the legal review phase. In the joint report, 
OSC also did not describe what trigger event it would use to 
distinguish these phases. 

Cost: 

The joint report described the agenciesí intent to measure the average 
cost per claim, however it did not document in sufficient detail the 
methods and procedures each agency will use to calculate the total 
costs of processing USERRA claims. 

* To facilitate the comparison of similar functions, DOL reported that 
it intends to separately measure the costs associated with 
investigating claims and the costs associated with its legal review 
process. OSC reported that its unitary structure does not allow it to 
separate activities and costs associated with these two functions. 
However, OSC also reported that it plans to differentiate between 
these activities for the purposes of measuring the time it takes to 
process claims. 

* Officials from both agencies acknowledged that a key driver of 
claims processing costs is personnel time; however, the report did not 
describe in sufficient detail how either agency will track personnel 
time spent investigating and reviewing claims. DOLís VETS and DOLís 
Office of the Solicitor personnel process both federal and nonfederal 
USERRA claims, therefore DOL reported that it will develop and 
implement a time accounting process to document the proportion of time 
personnel spent investigating and reviewing federal claims as opposed 
to nonfederal claims. OSC reported that it will expand the current 
USERRA Unit, and that personnel in the unit will exclusively process 
federal USERRA claims. 

* The joint report also did not describe the methods and procedures 
agencies will use for assigning direct costs and allocating indirect 
costs?such as administrative overhead?to USERRA processing activities. 
DOL and OSC officials responsible for implementing the demonstration 
project said that they have not yet consulted with internal budget or 
financial management experts, who could help determine how to 
accurately calculate the indirect costs associated with processing a 
claim. However, they said they would meet with these experts from 
their respective agencies prior to the start of the demonstration 
project. 

Definitions of Case Outcomes: 

DOL and OSC reported that they will work to ensure that case outcomes 
are described in a consistent manner, but the agencies have not yet 
established or agreed to a crosswalk of common or comparable case 
outcome definitions. 

* Both DOL and OSC use case disposition codes in their respective case 
management systems to indicate the basis on which a case was closed, 
and whether a claimant received or was offered any of the relief 
requested. Some examples of case outcomes include claim granted, claim 
settled, no merit, or withdrawn. However, differences exist between 
the range of codes used by both agencies and their definitions. 

* The joint report states that agencies will share their case outcome 
code lists and descriptions, and will attempt to reconcile any 
discrepancies prior to the start of the demonstration project. The 
report also described agenciesí intent to prepare a crosswalk to 
facilitate a comparison of case outcomes. Such a crosswalk will enable 
Congress and others to compare average claim processing times and 
costs for cases with similar attributes such as cases with merit as 
opposed to those deemed to be without merit. 

[End of Methods for Collecting and Reporting Data] 

Data Reliability: 

Criteria: 

GAOís Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government 
requires that agencies establish a system to ensure the accuracy of 
data that they process. These standards state that such a system 
should employ a variety of control activities to ensure accuracy and 
completeness, such as using edit checks in controlling data entry and 
performing data validation and reviewing and testing to identify 
erroneous data, among other activities. Moreover, we found and 
reported in the past that the data DOL used to track claims processing 
time and the data DOL and OSC used to track case outcomes were not 
sufficiently reliable to monitor, track, and report on the agenciesí 
performance. 

What GAO Recommends: 

Prior to the start of the demonstration project, agencies need to 
agree upon a controls plan and implementation strategy that will be 
used throughout the demonstration project to help ensure data 
integrity, reliability, and accuracy. Also, DOL and OSC need to 
develop and agree upon methods and procedures used to test data 
reliability, and determine whether these controls are being applied. 

Joint Report Did Not Identify Steps to Ensure Data Reliability: 

The joint report stated that DOL and OSC intend to take steps to 
ensure the accuracy and consistency of data during the demonstration 
project, but it did not identify the control activities agencies will 
take to ensure the reliability of the various systems agencies will 
use to track federal USERRA claims and gather performance data. 

* In the report, both agencies noted that they will provide data from 
their respective claim tracking systems and access to claim files. The 
report also stated that both agencies will consult with GAO to develop 
and implement new or additional quality-assurance processes. However, 
the report did not describe the control activities agencies will 
employ to ensure the reliability of customer satisfaction survey 
results, claims processing times, cost data or case outcomes. 

* The joint report also did not address what methods and procedures 
will be used to ensure the consistency of either claims data or 
performance-related data gathered specifically for the demonstration 
project. Because claims and other data will be entered at multiple 
sites including DOL and OSC headquarters, and DOLís VETS regional 
offices, and data will be entered in multiple systems (DOL E-1010, DOLí
s VETS UIMS, and OSC2000), consistent data entry rules and controls 
should be developed and agreed upon by both agencies. Inconsistent 
interpretation of data entry rules can lead to data that, taken as a 
whole, are unreliable. 

[End of Data Reliability] 

[End of section] 

Enclosure III: Comments from the Office of Special Counsel: 

U.S. Office Of Special Counsel: 
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218: 
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505: 
202-254-3600: 

April 29, 2011: 

Yvonne D. Jones: 
Director, Strategic Issues: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G St., NW: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Re: Response to GAO Draft Report GAO-11-312R: 

Dear Ms. Jones: 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) Draft Report GAO-11-312R, Veterans' Reemployment Rights: 
Department of Labor and Office of Special Counsel Should Take Steps to 
Ensure the Reliability of Information Needed to Assess Agencies' 
Performance (GAO Draft Report). This report addresses the extent to 
which the methods and procedures selected by the Office of Special 
Counsel (OSC) and the Department of Labor (DOL) for the USERRA 
demonstration project will enable GAO to assess the relative 
performance of the two agencies in investigating and resolving federal 
USERRA claims.[Footnote 1] 

OSC generally concurs with the conclusions and recommendations 
contained in the report, with certain caveats. First, we agree that 
OSC and DOL should establish and agree upon comparable methods for 
administering the customer satisfaction survey required by the project.
We note, however, that OSC and DOI, have preliminarily agreed upon 
many aspects of administering the survey, including timing, elements 
to be measured, and correlation of survey results to case outcomes 
(i.e., whether the claimant was offered or received any of the relief 
he or she requested).[Footnote 2] During the exit conference with GAO 
on March 30, 2011, OSC and DOL also agreed to consider contacting non-
respondents to determine the extent to which their views are 
consistent with those who respond to the survey. 

In its draft report. GAO also makes other specific recommendations 
regarding the survey, including that DOL and OSC establish and agree 
upon a survey plan that describes protocols for contacting and 
following up with respondents and ensures adequate survey response 
rates.[Footnote 3] 

While OSC is committed to these goals, given our limited resources and 
expertise in this area, we are exploring the feasibility of having an 
outside entity develop and administer the survey, in consultation with 
DOL. 

Second, GAO recommends that OSC describe the actions and functions it 
plans to apply to the 90-day investigative period and 60-day legal 
review period for USERRA claims to ensure that the average processing 
time of claims is measured accurately and in a manner comparable to 
DOL.[Footnote 4] As stated in the Joint Report, the agencies plan to 
measure and report timeliness with regard to both the 90-day and 60-
day periods.[Footnote 5] OSC also believes that GAO should evaluate 
overall claim processing time, i.e., the total time from claim receipt 
to final disposition, which is the most meaningful measure for the 
claimant.[Footnote 6] Nevertheless, DOL and OSC agree that the 
"trigger" event for the end of the 90-day investigative phase is the 
date upon which the claimant is notified of the results of the 
investigation and attempts to resolve the claim, as well as their 
right to have OSC consider their claim for possible legal 
representation before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). 
[Footnote 7] OSC will work to ensure that its 90-day process is as 
comparable as possible to DOL's to allow for accurate comparisons 
between the two agencies. 

Third, to measure the time and costs associated with handling federal 
USERRA claims, GAO recommends that OSC and DOL agree to establish a 
time accounting process that distinguishes between the investigative 
and legal review periods for such claims.[Footnote 8] As we have 
previously explained, however, OSC's current structure makes such a 
distinction unnecessary. Because DOL transfers some USERRA claims from 
its investigative component, the Veterans Employment and Training 
Service (VETS), to its legal review component, the Solicitor's Offices 
(SOL), such a time accounting process may be necessary for DOL to 
accurately measure time and costs. In contrast, OSC has a stand-alone 
USERRA Unit, which will conduct both the investigative and legal 
review phases of federal USERRA claims received during the project. 
Therefore, OSC does not believe that it must establish a time 
accounting process that distinguishes between the two time periods. 

In its draft report, GAO also recommends that OSC and DOL allocate 
indirect costs, such as administrative overhead, to USERRA claims 
processing activities. As stated during the exit conference, OSC and 
DOI, agree that personnel costs make up the vast majority of the costs 
associated with handling USERRA claims and, therefore, should be 
tracked and measured for purposes of determining relative cost. 
[Footnote 9] However, as explained during the exit conference, 
indirect costs may be difficult (if not impossible) to accurately and 
comparably measure. Moreover, measuring such costs may provide little 
if any additional insight into the relative costs of USERRA claims 
processing at the two agencies. Nevertheless, OSC will work with DOL 
to identify any non-personnel related costs that can be accurately and 
comparably measured during the project. OSC also welcomes any specific 
guidance from GAO about the types of indirect costs it believes should 
be measured and how to accurately measure such costs. 

Fourth, as GAO recommends, OSC will work with DOL to identify and 
agree upon a common set of potential claim outcomes, and prepare a 
crosswalk of common or comparable data entry codes assigned to each 
outcome, prior to the start of the project.[Footnote 10] As explained 
in the Joint Report, we plan to ensure that claim outcomes are 
described in a consistent manner, including by adding or modifying 
data entry codes if necessary.[Footnote 11] 

Last, GAO recommends that prior to the start of the project, OSC and 
DOL agree upon a controls plan and implementation strategy to help 
ensure data integrity, reliability, and accuracy throughout the 
project. As we noted during the exit conference, GAO has previously 
found OSC's data to be reliable, and OSC plans to use the same or 
similar data entry, quality assurance, and collection methods and 
procedures during the project.[Footnote 12]	OSC has also agreed to 
consult with GAO and DOI, throughout the project to develop new or 
additional data quality assurance processes if existing processes are 
deemed insufficient or unreliable.[Footnote 13] Finally, prior to the 
start of the project, OSC plans to attend a data reliability seminar 
conducted by GAO's Division of Applied Research and Methods. 

In closing, we appreciate your efforts to ensure that the USERRA 
demonstration project satisfies Congress's goals and we thank you for 
the opportunity to comment on your draft report. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Patrick H. Boulay: 
Chief, USERRA Unit: 

Enclosure III Footnotes: 

[1] Section 105 of the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 11-
175 (VBA), establishes a 36-month demonstration project under which 
OSC, rather than DOL, will receive and investigate certain claims 
involving Federal executive agencies under the Uniformed Services 
Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Pursuant to the VBA, 
in March 2011, OSC and DOL, issued a report to GAO and Congress, Joint 
Report on Methods & Procedures for Demonstration Project for Referral 
of USERRA Claims against Federal Agencies to the U.S. Office of 
Special Counsel (Joint Report). 

[2] See Joint Report, pp. 8-9. 

[3] See GAO Draft Report, p.4. 

[4] Id. 

[5] See Joint Report, pp. 9-11. 

[6] For DOL, final disposition is closure, resolution, or referral to 
OSC: for OSC, final disposition is closure, resolution, or a 
representation decision. 

[7] Both agencies will also notify claimants of their right to take 
their claim directly to the MSPB. 

[8] See GAO Draft Report, p.5. 

[9] OSC estimates that approximately 90% of the costs associated with 
processing USERRA claims are personnel-related; DOL has made a similar 
estimate. 

[10] See GAO Draft Report, p. 5. 

[11] See Joint Report, p. 12. 

[12] See GAO Report Nos. 07-0907 and 11-55. 

[13] See Joint Report, p. 13. 

[End of section] 

Enclosure IV: Comments from the Department of Labor: 

U.S. Department of Labor: 
Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training:	
Washington, D.C. 20210: 

May 13, 2011: 

Ms. Yvonne D. Jones: 
Director, Strategic Issues: 
United States Government Accountability Office (GAO): 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

RE: GAO Draft Report 11-312R: 

Dear Ms. Jones: 

On behalf of the Secretary of Labor, thank you for the opportunity to 
review and comment on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) draft 
Report 11-312R on the USERRA Demonstration Project Mandate (Code 
450885). Pursuant to the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010, P.L. 111-275, 
Congress has directed that the Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. 
Office of Special Counsel (OSC) establish a three-year demonstration 
project designed to assess and compare the agencies' performance 
investigating and resolving claims against federal executive agencies 
under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 
1994 (USERRA), 38 U.S.C. ßß 4301-4335. Over the course of this 
project, DOL's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) will 
provide OSC with claims it receives that are filed against federal 
executive agencies that have Servicernembers' social sedulity numbers 
that end in an odd number, and OSC will undertake to investigate and 
resolve the issues raised in those claims. 

GAO met with DOL/VETS and OSC on March 30, 2011, to conduct an exit 
conference and share its recommendations for the project. I am pleased 
to offer DOL/VETS' comments to each of GAO's recommendations below. 

DOL and OSC should establish and agree upon comparable methods and
procedures for collecting customer (i.e., Servicemember) satisfaction, 
timeliness, and cost data. Specifically, 

* To ensure that customer satisfaction data is collected in a way that 
is most likely to produce reliable information, DOL and OSC should 
establish and agree upon comparable methods for administering the 
customer satisfaction survey. For example, the demonstration project 
should include a survey plan, describing agreed-upon protocols for 
contacting and following-up with respondents. The survey plan should 
also document what steps agencies will take to ensure adequate 
response rates. 

DOL/VETS and OSC are presently working on development of a customer 
satisfaction survey that will objectively measure overall public 
satisfaction with the quality of the service the agencies provide 
under the project. DOL/VETS anticipates seeking clearance for any 
survey instrument and obtaining Paperwork Reduction Act clearance for 
the survey through the Office of Management and Budget. 

* To ensure that both agencies can document how long it takes to
investigate a claim, and how long it takes to conduct a legal review,
OSC should describe the actions and functions it plans to apply to 
each of those phases, and the agencies should agree that they have 
established a comparable two-step process. 

DOL/VETS understand that OSC is working to make its process as 
comparable as possible to DOL's to allow for the necessary timeliness 
comparisons. For its part, DOL/VETS currently maintains documentation 
on the length of its USERRA investigations, as well as legal reviews 
conducted subsequent to claimants' requests for referral to OSC. 
Validation of the length of a DOL/VETS investigation, including a 
claimant's approval of an extended investigation; the request for a 
case to be referred to the OSC; and the amount of time that a case 
remains in a referral status are verified through VETS' Veterans 
Investigative Preference and Employment Rights System (VIPERS.) The 
VIPERS is an electronic data base used to administratively manage
USERRA and Veterans' Preference cases, including the opening, transfer 
and closing of the cases that are assigned to the OSC. 

* To ensure that both agencies use comparable methods for tracking the
amount of personnel time spent investigating and reviewing federal
USERRA cases, and calculating indirect costs, such as administrative 
overhead, the DOL and OSC should establish, document, and agree upon a 
time accounting process that distinguishes between the investigative 
and legal review phases and an allocation method that apportions 
indirect costs to claims processing activities. 

DOL/VETS recommends that the project focus on salary and benefits 
costs for personnel engaged in the project; and the costs of training 
and travel associated with the project investigations. These costs are 
currently tracked and validated through automated payroll record and 
travel voucher systems. DOLJVETS intends to explore the potential for 
use of a case and time tracking system similar to the Veterans 
Administration's Veterans Appeals Control and Locator System (VACOLS), 
or alternatively develop its own time tracking program, and will work 
with OSC as we explore these options. 

* Provide evidence that they have identified, and agreed upon a common 
set of potential case outcomes and a crosswalk of common or comparable 
codes assigned to each of those outcomes prior to the start of the 
demonstration project, such as claim granted, claim settled, no merit, 
or withdrawn. 

DOL/VETS intends to work with OSC to develop a joint crosswalk for 
both case opening and closing issues that will allow both agencies to 
compare and evaluate the case processing time and costs. In this 
regard, DOL/VETS believes that outcome effectiveness measures must 
include quality issues, in addition to timeliness and cost. DOL/VETS 
intends to measure and track the quality of its USERRA investigations 
during the project and believes that such measurements are critical in 
assessing each agency's overall effectiveness. 

DOL/VETS has developed its own quality assessment tool, based on the 
results of a recent contractor-led Lean Six Sigma study. DOL/VETS' 
management strongly believes that, in order to meet Congress' intended 
goals in establishing this demonstration project, the quality of each 
investigation must be objectively measured, and that any such 
evaluation contain measurable outcomes. 

* Agree upon a controls plan and implementation strategy that will be 
used during the course of the demonstration project to help ensure 
data integrity, reliability. and accuracy. 

DOL/VETS and OSC have agreed to utilize an operations manual developed 
in an earlier demonstration project that includes a controls strategy 
to be used during the course of the current demonstration project to 
ensure data integrity, reliability and accuracy. 

The Department of Labor appreciates the opportunity to provide its 
views on the subject GAO draft report, and looks forward to addressing 
GAO's recommendations in the manner detailed above. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

[Illegible] for: 

Raymond M. Jefferson: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure V: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Yvonne D. Jones, (202) 512-2717 or jonesy@gao.gov. 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact listed above, key contributors to this 
report were Trina V. Lewis, Assistant Director; Jessica Nierenberg, 
Analyst-in-Charge; Marcus Corbin; Laura Miller Craig; Elizabeth Curda; 
Karin Fangman; Mark Kehoe; Cynthia Saunders; Bernice Steinhardt; 
Tamara Stenzel; Jessica Thomsen; Kate Hudson Walker; Jack Warner; and
Greg Wilmoth. 

[End of section] 

Enclosure VI: Related GAO Products: 

Reports Related to Veterans' Reemployment Rights
Servicemember Reemployment: Agencies Are Generally Timely in 
Processing Redress Complaints, but Improvements Needed in Maintaining 
Data and Reporting. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-55]. Washington, D.C.: October 22, 
2010. 

Military Personnel: Improvements Needed to Increase Effectiveness of 
DOD's Programs to Promote Positive Working Relationships between 
Reservists and Their Employers. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-981R]. Washington, D.C.: August 15, 
2008. 

DOD Financial Management: Adjudication of Butterbaugh Claims for the 
Restoration of Annual Leave or Pay. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-948R]. Washington, D.C.: July 28, 
2008. 

Military Personnel: Federal Agencies Have Taken Actions to Address 
Servicemembers' Employment Rights, but a Single Entity Needs to 
Maintain Visibility to Improve Focus on Overall Program Results. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-254T]. Washington, 
D.C.: November 8, 2007. 

Military Personnel: Considerations Related to Extending Demonstration 
Project on Servicemembers' Employment Rights Claims. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-229T]. Washington, D.C.: October 
31, 2007. 

Military Personnel: Improved Quality Controls Needed over Servicemembers
Employment Rights Claims at DOL. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-907]. Washington, D.C.: July 20, 
2007. 

Office of Special Counsel Needs to Follow Structured Life Cycle 
Management Practices for Its Case Tracking System. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-318R]. Washington, D.C.: February 
16, 2007. 

Military Personnel: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of 
Reserve Employment Issues. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-259]. Washington, D.C.: February 8, 
2007. 

Military Personnel: Federal Management of Servicemember Employment 
Rights Can Be Further Improved. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-06-60]. Washington, D.C.: October 19, 
2005. 

U.S. Office of Special Counsel's Role in Enforcing Law to Protect 
Reemployment Rights of Veterans and Reservists in Federal Employment. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-74R]. Washington, D.C.: 
October 6, 2004. 

Selected Reports Related to Performance Management: 

Managing for Results: Opportunities to Strengthen Agencies' Customer 
Service Efforts. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-44]. 
Washington D.C.: October 27, 2010. 

Streamlining Government: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen OMB's 
Approach to Improving Efficiency. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-394]. Washington D.C.: May 7, 2010. 

Managing for Results: Enhancing Agency Use of Performance Information 
for Management Decision Making. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-927]. Washington D.C.: September 9, 
2005. 

Results-Oriented Government: GPRA Has Established a Solid Foundation for
Achieving Greater Results. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-38]. Washington, D.C.: March 10, 
2004. 

Tax Administration: IRS Needs to Further Refine Its Tax Filing Season 
Performance Measures. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-143]. Washington, D.C.: November 
22, 2002. 

Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government Performance 
and Results Act. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-96-118]. Washington, D.C.: June 
1996. 

Selected Reports Related to Applied Research and Methods Applied 
Research and Methods: Assessing the Reliability of Computer-Processed 
Data. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-680G]. 
Washington, D.C.: July 2009. 

Program Evaluation and Methodology Division: Developing and Using
Questionnaires. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/PEMD-10.1.7]. Washington, D.C.: 
October 1993. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] Pub. L. No. 103-353, 108 Stat. 3149 (Oct. 13, 1994) (codified at 
38 U.S.C. ßß 4301-4335). USERRA is the most recent in a series of laws 
protecting veterans' employment and reemployment rights going back to 
the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. Pub. L. No. 783, 54 
Stat. 885, 890 (Sept. 16, 1940). 

[2] In addition to those serving in the armed forces and the Army and 
Air National Guards (when engaged in active duty for training, 
inactive duty training, or full-time National Guard duty), USERRA 
covers the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and other 
persons designated by the President in time of war or national 
emergency. 

[3] We have previously reported on problems related to the length of 
time it takes agencies to investigate and review federal employee 
USERRA claims, and the reliability of the data agencies report to 
Congress. See enclosure VI for a list of related GAO products on this 
topic. 

[4] The OSC is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency 
with the primary mission of protecting the employment rights of 
federal employees and applicants for federal employment. 

[5] DOL is also to inform claimants that they may file a complaint 
directly with the MSPB. 

[6] Pub. L. No. 108-454, ß204, 118 Stat. 3598, 3606-08 (Dec. 10, 
2004). Under VBIA, the demonstration project was originally scheduled 
to end on September 30, 2007, but through a series of extensions ran 
through December 31, 2007. 

[7] GAO, Military Personnel: Improved Quality Controls Needed over 
Servicemembers' Employment Rights Claims at DOL, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-907] (Washington, D.C.: July 20, 
2007). 

[8] Pub. L. No. 111-275, ß 105, 124 Stat. 2864, 2868-70 (Oct. 13, 
2010). 

[9] If a claim does not contain an SSN, VETS will assign a claim 
number based on the date of the month the claim is received. For 
example, claims filed on an odd-numbered date will be assigned an odd 
case number and forwarded to OSC; claims filed on an even-numbered 
date will be assigned an even case number and be investigated by VETS. 
Also, under the demonstration project, OSC is authorized to handle any 
"mixed claims" in which a claimant files a USERRA claim against a 
federal executive employer and also brings a related prohibited 
personnel practice (PPP) claim. There are 12 prohibited personnel 
practices including discrimination, retaliation, or unauthorized 
preference or improper advantage. 5 U.S.C. ß 2302. 

[10] U.S. Office of Special Counsel and Department of Labor Veterans' 
Employment and Training Service, Joint Report on Methods & Procedures 
for Demonstration Project for Referral of USERRA Claims Against 
Federal Agencies to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (Washington, 
D.C.: January 2011). 

[11] Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards 4, Managerial 
Cost Accounting Standards and Concepts, establishes standards for 
managerial cost accounting information at federal agencies. 

[12] DOJ initiates legal action in federal district court and OSC 
initiates legal action before the Merit Systems Protection Board 
(MSPB). Servicemembers may also bring their claims directly to federal 
court or to the MSPB without using federal assistance. 

[13] Office of the Assistant Secretary for Veteransí Employment and 
Training, U.S. Department of Labor, Uniformed Services Employment and 
Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA): Fiscal Year 2009 Annual 
Report to Congress (Washington, D.C., October 2010). 

[14] Office of the Assistant Secretary for Veteransí Employment and 
Training, U.S. Department of Labor, Uniformed Services Employment and 
Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA): Fiscal Year 2008 Annual 
Report to Congress (Washington, D.C., October 2009). 

[15] Pub. L. No. 108-454, ß204, 118 Stat. 3598, 3606-08 (Dec. 10, 
2004). Under VBIA, the demonstration project was originally scheduled 
to end on September 30, 2007, but through a series of extensions ran 
through December 31, 2007. 

[16] GAO, Military Personnel: Improved Quality Controls Needed over 
Servicemembersí Employment Rights Claims at DOL, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-907] (Washington, D.C.: July 20, 
2007). 

[17] If a claim does not contain an SSN, VETS will assign a claim 
number based on the date of the month the claim is received. For 
example, claims filed on an odd-numbered date will be assigned an odd 
case number and forwarded to OSC; claims filed on an even-numbered 
date will be assigned an even case number and be investigated by VETS. 
Also, under the demonstration project, OSC is authorized to handle any ď
mixed claimsĒ in which a claimant files a USERRA claim against a 
federal executive employer and also brings a related prohibited 
personnel practice (PPP) claim. There are 12 prohibited personnel 
practices including discrimination, retaliation, or unauthorized 
preference or improper advantage. 5 U.S.C. ß 2302. 

[End of section] 

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