DOE Weapons Laboratories:

Actions Needed to Strengthen EEO Oversight

GAO-02-391: Published: Apr 22, 2002. Publicly Released: May 21, 2002.

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Allegations of racial profiling at the Department of Energy's (DOE) weapons laboratories raised questions about the equitable treatment of minorities and women in personnel actions at these laboratories. The former secretary of energy reiterated a policy of zero tolerance of discrimination of any kind and said that he expected and required full compliance with both the spirit and letter of all civil rights laws, regulations, and policies. The current secretary has reaffirmed this commitment. In 2000, the percentage of minority employees at each of the laboratories ranged from 19 percent at Lawrence Livermore to 34 percent at Los Alamos. The minority population at the laboratories increased from 1995 to 2000 but not for each minority group at each laboratory. For fiscal years 1998 through 2000, GAO found statistically significant differences in some personnel actions, but not in others, when minority men and women and white women in managerial and professional job categories were compared with white men in these categories. Comparing men and women of same race or ethnicity, GAO found that white, Asian, and Hispanic women earned less than did their male counterparts. GAO found that management promotions for minority men and women and white women generally met 80 percent of the promotion rate for white men. Because of data limitations, GAO could not determine whether minority men and women and white women were as likely as white men to be hired by the laboratories. Minority and female laboratory staff raised concerns in four areas--recruiting, pay, promotion, and laboratory work environment. These data are from recent laboratory surveys and studies, a DOE 2000 Task Force Against Racial Profiling, and formal complaints investigated by OFCCP from 1990 through 2001. DOE and OFCCP must work together to ensure that the laboratories meet EEOC requirements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Acting on the recommendation in our reports, the Congress included specific provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, enacted in August 2005, to increase DOE's oversight of the laboratories' EEO compliance and collaboration between DOE and OFCCP. Section 992 of the act requires DOE to submit a report to the Congress by August 2006, and biennially thereafter, that includes a (1) thorough review of each national laboratory's EEO policies, (2) statistical report on complaints and their disposition, (3) description of how EEO practices at the national labs are treated in the contract, (4) summary of disciplinary actions and their disposition, (5) summary of outreach efforts to attract women and minorities to the laboratories, (6) summary of efforts to retain women and minorities, and (7) summary of collaboration efforts with OFCCP. DOE submitted its first report on EEO practices at the DOE national laboratories in August 2007. This report establishes baselines for the laboratories and will enable DOE to perform a more analytical review of the laboratories' EEO practices in the future.

    Recommendation: To understand the implications of the statistical differences and to evaluate their practical significance, the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the director of OFCCP, should determine their causes and take the necessary corrective steps, if appropriate, to address any equal employment opportunity (EEO) problems identified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Acting on the recommendation in our reports, the Congress included specific provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, enacted in August 2005, to increase DOE's oversight of the laboratories' EEO compliance and collaboration between DOE and OFCCP. Section 992 of the act requires DOE to submit a report to the Congress by August 2006, and biennially thereafter, that includes a (1) thorough review of each national laboratory's EEO policies, (2) statistical report on complaints and their disposition, (3) description of how EEO practices at the national labs are treated in the contract, (4) summary of disciplinary actions and their disposition, (5) summary of outreach efforts to attract women and minorities to the laboratories, (6) summary of efforts to retain women and minorities, and (7) summary of collaboration efforts with OFCCP. DOE submitted its first report on EEO practices at the DOE national laboratories in August 2007. This report establishes baselines for the laboratories and will enable DOE to perform a more analytical review of the laboratories' EEO practices in the future.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE and OFCCP work more collaboratively toward their common goal of EEO compliance at the laboratories, the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Labor should explore the costs and benefits of various options for developing and implementing (1) a more formal collaborative relationship to facilitate the sharing of information and expertise and (2) an effective means for monitoring and assessing this collaborative relationship.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Acting on the recommendation in our reports, the Congress included specific provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, enacted in August 2005, to increase DOE's oversight of the laboratories' EEO compliance and collaboration between DOE and OFCCP. Section 992 of the act requires DOE to submit a report to the Congress by August 2006, and biennially thereafter, that includes a (1) thorough review of each national laboratory's EEO policies, (2) statistical report on complaints and their disposition, (3) description of how EEO practices at the national labs are treated in the contract, (4) summary of disciplinary actions and their disposition, (5) summary of outreach efforts to attract women and minorities to the laboratories, (6) summary of efforts to retain women and minorities, and (7) summary of collaboration efforts with OFCCP. DOE submitted its first report on EEO practices at the DOE national laboratories in August 2007. This report establishes baselines for the laboratories and will enable DOE to perform a more analytical review of the laboratories' EEO practices in the future.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE and OFCCP work more collaboratively toward their common goal of EEO compliance at the laboratories, the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Labor should explore the costs and benefits of various options for developing and implementing (1) a more formal collaborative relationship to facilitate the sharing of information and expertise and (2) an effective means for monitoring and assessing this collaborative relationship.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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