Limitations in DOD's Evaluation Plan for EEO Complaint Pilot Program Hinder Determination of Pilot Results

GAO-08-387R Published: Feb 22, 2008. Publicly Released: Feb 22, 2008.
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In August 2004, pursuant to Section 1111 of the fiscal year 2001 Department of Defense authorization act, the Secretary of Defense authorized components of the United States Air Force (USAF), the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) to implement an equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint pilot program to reengineer the EEO complaint process to, among other things, reduce complaint processing time and reinforce management accountability. The program was exempt from the procedural requirements of 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 and other regulations, directives, or regulatory restrictions prescribed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As required by the legislation, in May 2006, GAO reported on the implementation of the pilot programs and found that two of the three pilot initiatives operated consistent with existing EEOC requirements, with a specific emphasis on alternative dispute resolution (ADR). USAF's pilot operated outside of EEOC regulations, as authorized under the legislation. We identified limitations in the Department of Defense's (DOD) evaluation plan for the pilot program that, if not addressed, would limit the likelihood that the evaluation would yield sound results. For example, the plan did not have well-defined or clear objectives or set criteria for determining if the pilots had met objectives. Accordingly, we made recommendations to DOD on ways to develop a sound evaluation plan that would more accurately and reliably assess the pilot programs' results and thereby support effective program and policy decisions. DOD made some changes to the evaluation plan based on our recommendations. USAF and DeCA's pilot programs ended on September 30, 2007; DLA ended its pilot on September 30, 2006. As required by the legislation, GAO evaluated the pilots at the conclusion of the program. Our objectives were to (1) describe the key aspects of the EEO process that were tested by the pilot program, (2) present data DOD reported from the pilot program, (3) evaluate improvements DOD made to its evaluation plan, (4) describe ADR processes used in the pilot programs compared to other ADR processes reported by federal agencies, and (5) provide lessons learned from the pilot program that can inform future EEO complaint process reform initiatives.

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