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Every ten years, the Census Bureau, a bureau of the Department, conducts the Decennial Census, an enumeration of the entire U.S. population. This is the largest peacetime operation undertaken by the federal government.
The Census Bureau hires several hundred thousand temporary employees to conduct and support Decennial Census operations. For the 1990 and 2000 Decennials, the Department's OCR, in partnership with the Census Bureau EEO Office and Field Division, and the Department's OGC, designed EEO complaint processing programs to meet the unique needs of the Decennial workforce.
The Census Bureau modifies its procedures with each Decennial Census. Therefore, the approach to processing Decennial EEO complaints must be tailored to the specific operations of each Decennial. However, some basic components of prior Decennial programs can be incorporated into future Decennial programs.
Planning for the Decennial Census
Planning for the Decennial Complaint Processing Program should begin at least three fiscal years before the Decennial year e.g., planning for the 2010 Decennial should begin no later than the start of Fiscal Year 2007).
Key participants. The key participants in the Decennial Census Complaint Processing Program are OCR, the Department's OGC, the Census Bureau EEO Office, the Census Bureau Field Division and the Census Bureau Human Resources Division. It is critical that these participants reach consensus on their respective roles and responsibilities early in the process.
The Decennial Program Manager and complaints processing staff. A Decennial Program Manager, reporting to the Director of OCR, should be appointed to provide leadership and to serve as a central point of contact for the key participants. The Decennial Program Manager and his/her staff serve on temporary appointments. The Decennial Program Manager and staff have traditionally been stationed at Census Bureau Headquarters for the duration of the Decennial operation.
Initial planning meetings. Initial planning meetings should include:
Follow-up meetings. At follow-up meetings, participants should define their roles and responsibilities, review the schedule of census operations, and establish projected staffing and funding levels. Once the basic infrastructure of the program is established, the parties can begin developing specific program initiatives.
Record-keeping. At the conclusion of each Decennial, all planning materials and administrative records should be archived to serve as source materials for planning the next Decennial.
Processing Decennial Complaints
Duration of program. The Decennial Complaint Processing Program typically runs for four fiscal years, e.g., 2007 to 2011. The Decennial Complaint Processing Program should be in place and ready to process complaints before the Census Bureau launches its Dress Rehearsal Operation. Dress Rehearsal and other early operations are prime opportunities to test procedures and make adjustments to the program.
When the workload no longer justifies the need for the program, the Decennial Complaint Processing Program Office will be closed, temporary staff will be released, and all records will be turned over to OCR. OCR will complete the processing of the remaining Decennial complaints.
Expedited processing. Due to the fast pace and temporary nature of Decennial operations, witnesses and documents are often dispersed by the time a complaint reaches hearing. The dialogue with the EEOC should be opened as soon as the Decennial Program Manager is on board. Historically, so few Decennial employees have come within the jurisdiction of the MSPB that a similar discussion with the MSPB has not been necessary. However, planners should consider the types of appointments the Census Bureau will use and any other proposed personnel procedures that might create a significant number of mixed case complaints and/or MSPB appeals.
Employees and applicants who can use the Decennial complaint process. The Decennial Complaint Processing Program should be limited to temporary employees hired for Decennial operations and applicants who apply for these positions. EEO complaints filed by permanent Census Bureau employees should be processed through OCR's regular complaint process.
Minimal disruptions to Census operations. To be successful, a Decennial Complaint Processing Program must minimize disruptions to Census operations. It is strongly recommended that the Decennial Complaint Processing Program provide a mechanism for customer feedback, especially from the Census Bureau's Field Division and its Regional Directors.
Streamlined process. Because of the temporary nature of the operation, the entire Decennial EEO complaint process should be streamlined so that the key participants should complete each step of the complaint process in less time than permitted by the EEOC regulations. Compressing the processing time increases the likelihood that witnesses and documents will be available at the time of investigation.
Other features of the program. Other features of the Decennial Complaint Processing Program may include:
Some Special Considerations for Processing Decennial Complaints
Because of the unique features of the work environment:
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it includes areas most often overlooked in approaching Decennial Census complaints processing.
For more information
For more information on complaints processing procedures for a particular Decennial Census, contact OCR, the Census Bureau's EEO Office or the Decennial Complaints Manager.
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