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    Subject Term: "Working conditions"

    2 publications with a total of 12 open recommendations
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better report the occupations filled by H-2B workers who have been approved by DHS, the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should implement during its transformation process to an electronic petition form, an occupation classification system that conforms to a national standard.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, USCIS indicated that it was revising its Transformation Roadmap (schedule). The conversion to electronic nonimmigrant petitions is expected to be completed during the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. USCIS also noted that it is exploring the adoption of a single set of occupation codes across multiple form types, but has not yet made a final decision whether to implement this. USCIS estimates this recommendation will be completed by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To help potential H-2A and H-2B workers and their advocates better assess employment offers and reduce their vulnerability to abuse, the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should, during its transformation to an electronic petition form, ensure that petition job information is collected in an electronic manner and made available to the public as soon as possible following a final adjudication decision. Such job information should include number of positions, wage, and any staffing, placement or recruitment agency the employer plans to use.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, USCIS indicated that it was revising its Transformation Roadmap (schedule). The conversion to electronic nonimmigrant petitions is expected to be completed during the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. Therefore, USCIS estimates this recommendation will be completed by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To help protect workers from being hired by employers who have been debarred from program participation, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, to use all employer-related information it collects on debarred employers to screen new applications.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, the agency noted that it continues to screen for debarred employers in two ways: 1) by adding debarred employers to its iCERT System, which matches incoming employer applications using the federal Employer Identification Number; and 2) by conducting additional reviews during analyst case adjudications using a more expansive set of employer-related information. While the Employment and Training Administration explored enhancing its iCERT system in 2015 to flag more information on debarred employers, the agency said this enhancement was not pursued due to technical difficulties in matching open text fields (e.g., physical employer addresses). In January 2017, DOL signed a data sharing memorandum of agreement with the Department of Homeland Security. DOL officials said this MOA will allow DOL access to DHS data, including information from the DHS system that collects information on all employers, and that DOL will be able to use this information to better screen labor condition applications. Once the agreement has been in place for several months, we plan to evaluate DOL's use of this new information and its impact on screening new employer applications for debarred employers.
    Recommendation: To ensure that H-2B workers are adequately protected and that DOL's investigative resources are appropriately focused, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, to review its enforcement efforts and conduct a national investigations-based evaluation of H-2B employers.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOL's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) indicated that it is coordinating closely with the department's Chief Evaluation Office on evaluations and special projects involving data analytics. As a result of that coordination, it is shifting away from large-scale compliance surveys and toward leveraging internal enforcement data and external survey data to assess compliance levels in priority industries. In June 2017, WHD indicated it did not believe an investigation-based evaluation of H-2B employers was appropriate given budget and litigation complications related to the H-2B regulations. WHD said it would consider moving forward once the regulations stabilize. In the meantime, WHD said it has taken several steps to improve H-2B enforcement. For example, in 2016, it held an advanced training for managers and field staff who handle H-2B investigations. In addition, it issued a memorandum that provided guidance under the 2015 Interim Final Rule on the appropriate enforcement action to take on the findings of H-2B investigations. WHD also indicated it has been sharing data with the Office of Foreign Labor Certification to identify employers with H-2B workers.
    Recommendation: To determine to what extent, if any, the 2-year statute of limitations on debarment limits its use as a remedy for employers who violate program requirements: (1) the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, and the Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, to collect data on the nature of the cases where debarment would have been recommended but was not because the 2-year statute of limitations had expired, and based on that data determine whether to pursue a legislative proposal to extend the statute of limitations; and (2) the Department of Labor Inspector General should direct the Assistant Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations to provide the Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, and the Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, data on the number of referrals for debarment that the Inspector General's Office sent to the department after the 2-year statute of limitations had expired.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOL indicated that it was considering the utility of collecting these data in light of the fact that the new H-2B regulations that were issued in April 2015 eliminated the 2-year statute of limitations for the H-2B program. We continue to believe, however, that this data collection would be valuable given that the H-2A program is still subject to the 2-year statute of limitations. The department indicated it was undertaking a modernization of its data systems--by implementing a data governance structure that would manage its data as a business asset--and our recommendation for the collection of these data would be vetted through this process. In June 2017, however, DOL indicated that WHD had concluded that business process improvements, rather than software changes, were more appropriate to ensure timely analysis of potential debarments. As it makes business process improvements, DOL indicated it would continue to evaluate whether data collection meets program needs.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to update crew ratios for RPA units to help ensure that the Air Force establishes a more-accurate understanding of the required number of RPA pilots needed in its units.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2015, Air Force officials stated that, in February 2015, the Air Force completed the first phase of a three-phase personnel requirements study designed to update the UAS unit crew ratio, which is a measure the Air Force uses to determine the personnel needs for Air Force aviation units. The Air Force expects to report results of this study by spring 2016, but Air Force officials stated that the preliminary results of the study indicate that the Air Force may be able to update UAS unit crew ratios and increase the required number of pilots in UAS units. Air Force officials stated that Air Force leadership is reviewing the results of the first phase of the study, but that they expect the Air Force to update the UAS unit crew ratio by summer 2015.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to establish a minimum crew ratio in Air Force policy below which RPA units cannot operate without running unacceptable levels of risk to accomplishing the mission and ensuring safety.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2014, the Air Force reported that the three-phase personnel requirements study would also address our recommendation to establish a minimum crew ratio for UAS units. The Air Force discusses the components of a minimum crew ratio in the Air Combat Command's (ACC) Steady State Concept of Operations, which the Air Force published prior to our 2014 review. However, this minimum crew ratio is not in Air Force policy and Air Force officials stated that the Air Force is not enforcing this minimum crew ratio due to shortages of Air Force UAS pilots. In a December 2014 memo to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the ACC?s commanding general also made this point when he stated that Air Force units are staffed below the minimum crew ratio. As of May 2015, the Air Force had not established a minimum crew ratio in Air Force policy since our review.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop a recruiting and retention strategy that is a tailored to the specific needs and challenges of RPA pilots to help ensure that the Air Force can meet and retain required staffing levels to meet its mission.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Previously, Air Force cadets who were preparing to join the Air Force and applying for undergraduate flying training volunteered for any of the four careers, including the manned-aircraft pilot career, the UAS pilot career, or two other aviation-related careers. According to Air Force officials, nearly all of the cadets applied for the manned-aircraft pilot career and few applied for any of the other careers. In fiscal year 2014, the Air Force began requiring these cadets to volunteer to serve in any of the four careers. This new process allows the Air Force to assign these cadets to any of the four careers based on a number of factors including the cadet?s performance and Air Force needs. An Air Force headquarters official confirmed that in fiscal year 2014, the Air Force met 123 of their 129 UAS pilot accessions goal, or the Air Force?s goal for the number of cadets who graduate from Air Force officer schools and agree to serve as UAS pilots. Regarding retention of UAS pilots, in January 2015, the Air Force increased the Assignment Incentive Pay for UAS pilots who are reaching the end of their 6 year service commitment to $1500/month. An Air Force official stated that this increase currently applies to 4 pilots. However, the Air Force does not have a recruiting and retention strategy that is tailored to UAS pilots. Air Force senior leadership and headquarters officials stated that the Air Force is in the process of developing other strategies to recruit and retain UAS pilots.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to evaluate the viability of using alternative personnel populations including enlisted or civilian personnel as RPA pilots to identify whether such populations could help the Air Force meet and sustain required RPA pilot staffing levels.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2014, we reported that Headquarters Air Force officials stated that they have, at times, considered the use of enlisted or civilian personnel but have not initiated formal efforts to evaluate whether using such populations would negatively affect the ability of the Air Force to carry out its missions. Air Force officials stated that in fall 2014, the Air Force Chief of Staff requested that headquarters staff evaluate the potential of using enlisted personnel as UAS pilots. As of March 2015, Air Force officials were not able to provide any details about the assessment they were conducting but confirmed plans to report to the Air Force Chief of Staff by spring 2015.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to incorporate feedback from RPA pilots by using existing mechanisms or by collecting direct feedback from RPA pilots.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to a DODIG request for information about this recommendation, the Air Force reported that it uses standardized feedback mechanisms across all units through the Air Force Unit Climate Assessment and other similar surveys. It also reported that "consideration should be given to assess whether this is appropriate to collect feedback from RPA pilots and at the appropriate levels desired and, if so, the Air Force will analyze and incorporate feedback from a validated survey and feedback process." However, as of July 2015, the Air Force has not incorporated feedback from RPA pilots by using existing mechanisms or by collecting direct feedback from RPA pilots.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to analyze the effects of being deployed-on-station to determine whether there are resulting negative effects on the quality of life of RPA pilots and take responsive actions as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to a DODIG request for information about this recommendation, the Air Force reported that it has ample data showing the effects of RPA pilots being deployed-on-station over the last nine years. It went on to report that it had identified the stressors related to being deployed-on-stations and that these stressors likely could be addressed with personnel solutions to increase the number of personnel in RPA units. DODIG considers this recommendation to be closed. However, as of July 2015, the Air Force has not fully analyzed whether being deployed-on-station has negative effects on quality of life that are not attributable to the stressors that are related to low unit-staffing levels that we discussed above such as rotating shifts and long assignments.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to include the career field effect of being an RPA pilot into the Air Force Personnel Center's (AFPC) analysis to determine whether and how being an RPA pilot is related to promotions and determine whether the factors AFPC identified in its analysis of Line of the Air Force officers are also related to RPA pilot promotions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to a DODIG request for information about this recommendation, the Air Force reported that it continued to track and analyze the promotion rates of RPA pilots and that the RPA career field is a subsection of the Line of the Air Force. The Air Force stated that, therefore, factors related to promotions identified in analysis is of the Line of the Air Force are directly related to RPA pilot promotions. Unfortunately, as of July 2015, AFPC has not included the career field effect of being an RPA pilot into its analysis of the factors that are related to promotions to determine whether and how being an RPA pilot is related to promotions. In addition, the Air Force may not take further action because DODIG closed this recommendation according to a DODIG recommendation follow up report dated July 2015.