Equal Employment:

Minority Representation at USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service

GGD-91-31BR: Published: Mar 18, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service's (NASS) equal employment opportunity (EEO) upward mobility program (UMP) and merit promotion process, focusing on: (1) NASS compliance with its merit plan promotion requirements; (2) the extent to which NASS employees filed discrimination complaints regarding UMP; (3) NASS efforts to address underrepresentation; and (4) representation of EEO groups in NASS.

GAO found that NASS: (1) evaluated and selected six UMP candidates from June 1988 through November 1990 according to almost all merit promotion procedures; (2) received few discrimination complaints and no formal complaints on UMP in almost 11 years; (3) received four informal complaints during 1989 and 1990 alleging discrimination in making UMP selections; (4) established hiring goals and streamlined the hiring process to improve its ability to hire minorities, especially for its agricultural and mathematical statistician job series; (5) met or exceeded its numerical hiring goals for some groups in fiscal year 1989 in its four largest occupations; and (6) did not always meet the goals set for some underrepresented groups and did not set goals for other groups, because of its inability to locate qualified minorities. GAO also found that: (1) overall, white men and women, black, Asian-American, and American-Indian women were fully represented, while black, Hispanic, Asian-American, and American-Indian men were not fully represented; (2) women were underrepresented in professional occupations and fully represented in clerical occupations; (3) white men held most higher graded positions; and (4) white women and black women were severely underrepresented in the agricultural statistician job series.

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