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There is now widespread agreement that the Federal Government has created a massive paperwork burden for itself, the private sector, and other levels of government in the process of EEO monitoring, implementation and enforcement.
The time and money spent by taxpayers and businesses are known to be enormous, although difficult to quantify with precision. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has a backlog of some 125,000 complaints, each requiring an average of two years to process. Regrettably, less than 10 percent of those who register complaints are helped by the agency, due in part to cumbersome, uncoordinated, and inadequate administrative machinery.1
The Commission on Federal Paperwork, after receiving many complaints about burdensome EEO procedures and red tape, undertook this study. Many of the complaints came from employers who contend that the Federal Government collects vast quantities of information but puts it to little use. In some instances, we found this to be true. Consequently, the Commission staff was directed to address five key questions in this study:
• What are the EEO reporting and recordkeeping requirements placed on employers?
• What is the burden of these requirements?
• How, and by whom, is EEO information used?
• What steps can be taken to make effective use of the data which is now gathered?
The answers to these questions indicate that administrative reforms, while important, are by themselves inadequate; major improvements will be possible only if there is an extensive reorganization of EEO responsibilities.
Evolution of Public Policy on EEO
Equal employment opportunity is the right of all persons to work and to advance on the basis of ability without regard to race, sex, religion, age, national origin or color.
1GAO Report HRD-76-147 - The Equal Opportunity Commission Has Made Limited Progress in Eliminating Employment Discrimination, September 28, 1976
For many years this right has been restricted by discriminatory employment practices operating against various groups in our society.
Efforts by the Federal Government to eliminate these practices have been intermittent, piecemeal and designed to solve problems on an issue-by-issue basis. Early efforts-especially those in the post-Civil War yearssough to remove barriers to employment on account of race and religion. Subsequent efforts, spread over 100 years, continued to address racial discrimination and added age, sex and various handicaps as criteria which employers were to disregard in recruiting, hiring, promoting and termination.
The Federal Government expanded not only the number of grounds on which discrimination was forbidden, but also the kind of employers who were enjoined from these practices. Discriminatory employment practices were first banned in the Federal Government. Commercial firms doing business under contract with the government were the next class of employers covered by EEO requirements. State and local governments, educational institutions and all other employers were the last group compelled to give up discriminatory methods and procedures.
As the number and types of employers covered by EEO requirements grew, two items of significance emerged. First, Federal EEO policy in the last fifteen years shifted its emphasis. Prior to the early 1960's, public policy sought simply to prohibit a succession of discriminatory practices. Beginning with President Kennedy's Executive Order 10925 (1961) selected employers-those receiving Federal contract or grant funds-had to demonstrate a positive commitment and "affirmative action" toward the goal of equal employment opportunity.
Second, and simultaneously, the Federal Government spread responsibility for its EEO policy formulation among advisory, enforcement and supervisory agencies. The result was a patchwork of overlapping authorities, inconsistent and occasionally contradictory rules and regulations, inadequate and fleeting attempts at coordination, and proliferating reporting and recordkeeping requirements placed on employers.
Tracing major EEO policy initiatives over the last century is instructive. Laws, conciliation and mediation programs were either deficient or ignored. Increased paperwork/red tape has become the focal point in Federal efforts to meet the Nation's promise to all its citizens. At times, emphasis seems to be placed on reports rather than results, with no
distinction made between those who have made efforts and those who have not.
Federal actions concerning discrimination in employment fall into three time-frames, each characterized by a distinctive focus and approach. The first begins immediately after the Civil War and extends to 1932. Attention was restricted to employment practices within the Federal Government, and the approach was largely legislative.
• The Civil Rights Act of 18662 and 18713 provided for nondiscrimination in employment and public accommodations during the Reconstruction period and for the next 100 years. Although widely ignored in practice and diluted by Court decisions, these laws served as the basic legislative expression of EEO concerns.
An act of 18704 permitted executive department heads, "... in their discretion," to pay women salaries equal to those of men.
• The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act (1883) established the principle of "merit employment" for Federal government employees. The newly created Civil Service Commission published Rule VIII, which outlawed religious discrimination in Federal employment.
The Classification Act of 19236 required that salaries for each civilian job in the Federal government be determined only on the basis of duties and responsibilities.
The second stage in the development of a national policy on EEO begins with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and ends with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Within this 32-year period, the onset of World War II marks a shift in focus, approach and tempo. Prior to the war, three laws contained equal employment opportunity provisions:
2 Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27.
3 Civil Rights Act of April 20, 1871, 17 Stat. 13.
4 Bureau of Management Services, U.S. Civil Service Commission, Study of Employment of Women in the Federal Government 1968 (June 1969).
5 Civil Service Act of 1883, 22 Stat. 403.
• The Unemployment Relief Act' (1933) was the first
The Social Security Act (1935, as amended)
• The Ramspeck Act (1940) restated the "equal
The years 1940-1963 were the age of executive orders in
'Unemployment Relief Act, 48 Stat. 22 (1933).
10 Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 241. Title VI provided for no
Significance of Action Taken
• Provided for nondiscrimination in employment and public accommodations during the reconstruction period and for the next 100 years.
• Permitted executive department heads, "in their discretion", to pay women equal salaries. • Established the principle of "merit employment" for Federal government employees, and vested responsibility for promulgating requirements for promotions with the Civil Service Commission. • Outlawed religious discrimination in Federal employment.
Provided that salaries for each civilian job in the Federal Government were to be determined only on the basis of duties and responsibilities.
• Attacked employment outside the Federal Government, and established that in employing citizens for the purpose of the Act, no discrimination should exist on account of race, color, or creed. • Required that State employers who administered programs funded under the Act be selected, promoted and compensated according to a federally approved, State-administered merit program.
• Forbade racial discrimination in Federal employment and promotion.