RIF at the Charleston, WV, Black Lung District Office and Factors Affecting the Charleston Office's Work Load

HRD-83-5: Published: Oct 13, 1982. Publicly Released: Nov 12, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on: (1) a reduction in force (RIF) that took place at the Department of Labor's Black Lung District Office in Charleston, West Virginia; (2) the hiring of employees to fill permanent positions in the Charleston office; and (3) the office's ability to review and process a large number of case files and other documents received from the national office.

The GAO review showed that some employees released during the RIF had appealed their separation to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and MSPB determined that Labor had misinterpreted the RIF rules and regulations which resulted in the improper release of four of the five Charleston employees who appealed to MSPB. However, Labor had properly filled permanent positions at the Charleston office. Regarding the office's ability to evaluate a large amount of black lung claims, GAO identified the following factors that contributed to the office's heavy work load: (1) the RIF; (2) the release of other employees whose terms of employment expired; (3) the need to determine which approved claims met certain requirements contained in the 1981 amendments to black lung legislation; and (4) the transfer of black lung case file information from the national office. GAO also found that the inventory of claims for which examiners were needed to make initial claim determinations had increased and that, for a short time, all mail was filed in individuals' case folders without being reviewed.

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