Equal Opportunity:

EEO Progress in the Federal Government in the Seventies

Published: Jun 1, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 1, 1980.

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This article appeared in the GAO Review, Vol. 15, Issue 2, Spring 1980. GAO has devoted considerable time to reviews of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) activities and programs. These included studies of discrimination in providing services under Federal financial assistance programs, assessment of school desegregation efforts, Federal agency EEO programs, employment discrimination in skilled craft unions, and the methodology for determining EEO status. Recent GAO reports have addressed such topics as upward mobility discrimination complaint systems, the effect of veterans' preference on women and minorities, Federal testing and selection practices, problems of the handicapped, and the effectiveness of EEO programs in specific agencies. The Government has made progress in removing barriers to Federal employment; nevertheless, much progress needs to be made. In 19 departments and agencies studied, GAO found that 10 did not have significant upward mobility programs and that the remaining 9 had poorly structured programs. Recommendations have been made to the Civil Service Commission aimed at enforcing regulations, providing better EEO training to agencies, and monitoring agency programs. GAO reported to Congress on the confusion, lack of goals, lack of evaluation criteria and standardized enforcement, and lack of statistical data on Federal EEO programs. GAO studied and made recommendations about barriers to employment, such as veterans' preference and Federal employment examinations. Recent legislation has reorganized the EEO policymaking and enforcement functions. GAO is monitoring these new programs and will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of Federal EEO programs. EEO and good personnel management are interrelated and interdependent, and while the responsibility and accountability for affirmative action should reside in the personnel office, EEO should be fully integrated into the day-to-day operations of Federal agencies.

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