Monday, March 28, 2022: EEOC Seeks Significant Increase in FY2023 Budget Despite Lower Workload Counts Also Released Today in New Performance Report
It was one of those “Say What?” whipsaws. reporting days for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC” or “Commission”).
Alongside the Commission “FY2023 Congressional Budget Rationale” (i.e. the “budget request”), the Commission published its “Annual Performance Report” (“APR”), including for the first time a report of its filings for fiscal year 2021.
These indictment filings were of particular interest as they report the first full year of post-George Floyd charge counts since a Minneapolis police officer killed Mr. Floyd on May 25, 2020. The APR confirmed the steady decline and continuing EEOC indictment filings that have the stairs have much diminished in number since the final years of the Obama administration, continuing through the Trump administration and now into the first year of the Biden administration. The new indictment number for fiscal year 2021 is only 61,331 (down 6,117, or ~9%) from the indictment number of 67,448 for fiscal year 2020 and down 33% since fiscal 2016, six years earlier. According to the EEOC’s website, the Commission’s fee admission numbers look like this for each of the past six years:
- FISCAL YEAR 2016 – 91,503
- FISCAL YEAR 2017 – 84,254
- FISCAL YEAR 2018 – 76,418
- FISCAL YEAR 2019 – 72,675
- FISCAL YEAR 2020 – 67,448
- FISCAL YEAR 2021 – 61,331
But as soon as I had discovered these dramatically declining indictment numbers, representing indictments in the six statutes that the EEOC is responsible for enforcing, I then came across the passage below from “ President’s Report” by EEOC Chairman Burrow under the title “Strengthening the Agency.” President Burrow’s report was grouped with and preceded the EEOC website version of the Commission’s ‘exercise 2023’. I almost broke my neck stopping my quick reading of his Message to come back and re-read the following sentences more carefully, wondering if there had been a misprint :
“In fiscal year 2020, the EEOC’s full-time workforce had fallen to its lowest level in four decades, falling from more than 3,390 employees in 1980 to less than 2,000 employees in the fiscal year. 2020. During the same period, even though the agency’s resources have dwindled, its workload has increased due to the growing U.S. population and the passing of significant new legislation that created new civil rights protections, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008.” (emphasis ours)
wow! This sentence I underlined misled me and is terribly misleading. In fact, US population growth, three laws in effect for 32 years and 12 years, respectively, or even the reported increase in sunspots have nothing to do with projected increases in the workload of the United States. agency for 2023. While the Commission has several major tasks to perform each year, its primary mission and greatest workload demand is to process and resolve incoming charges alleging unlawful discrimination in employment. And, when it comes to filing charges, that workload HAS DECLINED. Highligths. Again. For the sixth consecutive year. My goodness, the EEOC charge filing inventory is dropping for the sixth year in a row, affecting three different administrations and three different EEOC presidents.
When I helped run a federal agency, I was always taught (and asked) to build my annual agency budget in my market and not just expand it because we wanted to or could. I was also taught and asked to reduce the budget from the previous year, if possible, by having my staff work smarter and more efficiently for the taxpayers and by investing in training and data systems to reduce the number of ‘future (expensive) employees, where possible, provide better customer service and increase excellence among staff.
The EEOC’s budget justification yields four other numbers of interest to the question of employee headcount.
First, the EEOC increased its headcount last year (in 2021) by 207 employees even as its load workload declined by about 9% to near historic low volumes.
Second, the nearly half a billion dollars budget for fiscal year 2023 that the Commission is seeking ($464,650,000) hopes for a further staff increase of 75 employees at a cost of more than $40 million.
Third, the Commission’s salary costs consume approximately 75% of the EEOC’s budget each year (~77% proposed for FY2023 since just over $31 million of the proposed FY2023 budget would be paid). to states and tribal labor rights organizations).
Fourth, aside from the significant annual staircase reductions occurring in EEOC charge filing requests, over 3,000 of the EEOC charge filing requests for fiscal year 2021 (last year) were one-time COVID-19 claims (largely) ADA unlikely to repeat in fiscal year 2023 (next year and even though COVID-19 infections hit new highs dating back to the first month the virus broke more than two years ago). If COVID-19-related charges continue, they likely won’t occur at nearly the same volume.
On these facts, prudent managers cut its budget proposal of at least $40 million in additional salary costs proposed to support 75 new employees and would not replace attrition from now on to save unnecessary taxpayer budget. Most managers would allow attrition to run and not be replaced until the Commission had downsized and reached a new, lower staffing level commensurate with market demand for its services. (Commissioners can always quibble whether it’s 1,700 employees or 1,600 employees or some other number. But when your main workload has dropped by a third in the last six years, and continues to decline, and as technology increases efficiency, which previous budget requests have promised, the Commission needs an aggressive weight loss program). By the way, I’ve never been enthusiastic about force reduction, although that would come to mind for most managers in the private sector given the Commission’s budget and workload. Instead, I’d just let attrition “size up” the board to its necessary new hire complement, suited to its declining market.
At the same time, I had planned all week to blog about the EEOC’s annual performance report. I had it all mapped out in my head, actually, as I prepared to use Saturday to write. But on Friday, a blog by an author I had never read crossed my desktop and I accidentally clicked on it to open it. I was stunned. This was the blog I had mapped out in my head and intended to write. So, fearing that if I wrote my Blog now after seeing this other Blog once, I thought that the author and others would think that I had copied it (which is why I usually don’t read other Blogs before writing mine). Also, his was better written than I would have written mine, and his contained many histograms that I could never have composed. (I suffered from a terrible case of “Chart envy”). So, I decided to step down, knowing that I had been beaten and beaten.
The blog is called “2021 EEOC fees show decline in most categories” written by an accomplished young Buffalo lawyer named Scott Horton. Read it. It’s good. And the drop in charge filings that Mr. Horton documents in the annual EEOC Performance Report will serve as food for thought on whether the EEOC’s budget should increase at all, and how far it likely should go.
New idea for Washington DC: Perhaps the EEOC needs to shrink to the size of its new market in the best interests of taxpayers. The Commission seems to get along very well with its employees and the accused persons it serves. See the record recoveries of arrears in recent years, beginning at the end of the Obama administration (Jenny Yang, President) and continuing each year of the Trump administration (Janet Dhillon, President), even amid the decline Load inventory. Sometimes less is all you need.