Equal Opportunity:

Implementation of Affirmative Action Planning

FPCD-81-25: Published: Dec 30, 1980. Publicly Released: Jan 12, 1981.

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GAO responded to the question of whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission should develop more objective standards by which to measure the progress of Federal departments and agencies in enhancing equal employment opportunity. GAO: (1) reviewed the status of the Commission's implementation of its instructions for preparing Federal affirmative actions; (2) contacted selected agencies and obtained views on the instructions from officials responsible for preparing affirmative action plans; and (3) obtained information on the Commission's plans for monitoring Federal agencies' compliance.

GAO found that, while most Federal agencies submitted affirmative action plans to the Commission during fiscal year 1980, few met the required reporting date. As of October 9, 1980, 11 agencies and 5 major operating components had not submitted affirmative action plans. In discussing the Commission's instructions for developing affirmative action plans, agency officials noted the following problems: (1) the lead time allowed by the Commission for developing and submitting an affirmative action plan was not adequate; (2) the organizational level for which plans should be developed did not necessarily correspond to agency lines of authority; (3) more training on preparing and implementing affirmative action plans was needed; (4) the hiring goals that resulted from the Commission's required methodolgy for computing goals were not realistic; and (5) the detail required for the plan was too extensive. The Commission is currently addressing some of the problems surfaced by agency officials through an interagency taskforce established to develop instructions for multiyear affirmative action plans. The Commission has not implemented an onsite compliance review program. GAO believes an effective affirmative action program will require the commitment and cooperation of all agencies. The steps being taken by the Commission to address some of the problems that agencies encountered in developing affirmative action plans during fiscal year 1980 are beneficial in that agencies will be aware that the issues they raised are being considered.

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