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April 19, 2017

Table of contents

Approval of January 15, 2017 minutes – Ellen Herbst

Ongoing Matters 

  • Resolve Enterprise Services Link issues with NWS -- Renee Desrosiers 
  • Report from Forum Metric Working Group -- Fred Steckler 
  • Enterprise Services -- Ken Kukovich/Glenn Davidson 
  • Report on Phased Retirement -- Valerie Smith

New Business 

  • Hiring Freeze – Kevin Mahoney/Ellen Herbst

Other Business


  • January 25
  • April 19
  • July 19
  • October 18

CALL IN NUMBER 866-453-8771; PASS CODE 2785164

*Report of Action Items will be emailed to members.

Meeting Minutes

Minutes from April 19, 2017 Forum Meeting

1401 Constitution Avenue, Room 48019

1:00 – 3:00 PM April 19, 2017 Washington, DC 20230

Meeting Called by: Labor-Management Forum

Type of Meeting: Quarterly Meeting of the Forum

Program Manager: Mr. Frank Milman

Secretary: Ms. Mary O’Connor

Handouts: Labor-Management Forum FY 2017 Metrics; Labor-Management Forum FY 2017 Metrics Template; DOC Enterprise Services LMF Briefing-Management Forum FY 2017 Metrics; Labor-Management Forum FY 2017 Metrics Template; DOC Enterprise Services LMF Briefing

Attendees: On the phone (Lavern Byrd, Vonda Bell, David Reip, Shannon Fitzgerald). See the Sign In sheet for those who were in attendance.

Agenda Item: Adoption of January 25, 2017 Minutes

Presenter: Ms. Ellen Herbst

Discussion: A motion was made to adopt the minutes. The motion was passed, and the minutes were adopted.

Agenda Item: Opening Remarks

Presenter: Mr. Howard Friedman


  • Labor is very supportive of the Management Co-Chair for the position of Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary and stands ready assist in any way possible. The Management Co-chair acknowledged Labor’s comments, but indicated that matter of a Deputy Secretary was for the Secretary/White House.
  • Labor wants to utilize the past successes of the Labor Management Forum (LMF), and would like to continue to work together with management to improve morale, labor relations, and engagement. 
  • Labor wants a working group to work on reduction in force (RIF), staffing, and similar matters
  • Labor wants an active role in participating in reorganizations, staffing, etc.

The management representative reported that the problem with the Enterprise Link at NOAA has been fixed. It was an internal NOAA problem.

Agenda Item: Report from Forum Metric Working Group

Presenter: Mr. Fred Steckler


  • Mr. Steckler reported that the FY17 metrics will be the same as FY16. These metrics capture collaboration activity, and have gradations of success with how well collaboration is working (information sharing, launching of working groups, and collaboration from the beginning of an idea or concept through the issuance of joint policy/procedure).
  • In addition to collecting metrics at DOC forum level, the working group wants to collect metrics using the template from the bureaus, in order to “roll up” to the LMF, and have them report back by the end of FY17. 
  • A management member encouraged the LMF to go out to individual groups with the template and find out what else is meaningful, or what else should be collected. The Management Co-Chair suggested that collecting what people may plan on adding to the template before the end of the year could be useful. 
  • The submission to the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations covers activity through the end of the fiscal year, but the LMF has until the end of the calendar year to submit. 
  • The Labor Co-Chair congratulated the group, and stated that this effort captures the essence of the LMF. 
  • It was suggested that the template be distributed from the LMF, signed by both chairs, and to go to the heads of each council, the Departmental Management Council, with a coversheet signed by both Co-Chairs, including examples of the accomplishments of the LMF. 
  • The importance of LMF collaboration was highlighted as it serves as a platform to improve morale, labor relations, and employee engagement. It was also suggested as something the reduces litigation, and increases productivity. 
  • It was recommended that the metrics on collaboration is something that should be shared with the entire Government, through the National Council, by getting the word out of what labor and management can do together. 
  • The Labor Co-Chair and Mr. Steckler are to collaborate after the meeting of the LMF, and the Labor Co-Chair will draft a cover letter. The letter and templates will be shared with the LMF by May 5th. 
  • Mr. Milman to send out metrics group documents after the meeting of the LMF.* 

Agenda Item: Enterprise Services

Presenter: Mr. Ken Kukovich/Mr. Glenn Davidson


  • Mr. Davidson reviewed the DOC Enterprise Services LMF Briefing PowerPoint he brought with the LMF, beginning with key milestones. He reported that other agencies outside of Commerce have shown an interest in what we are doing, and are replicating it. He highlighted that Enterprise Services became its own organization after receiving Congressional approval in November 2016. He discussed difficulties of filling positions given the recent hiring freeze. 
  • Mr. Davidson discussed the HR function of Enterprise Services, noting that before the organization became official, Accenture Federal Services helped NOAA with the recruiting and hiring process. He also stated that it was a unanimous decision from the bureaus to go the route of outside help, in order to address what needs to be done. He also highlighted that all bureaus migrated to HR Connect in December. 
  • Mr. Davidson covered building a single case management system. The goal is to have a “single source of truth,” and to have a contact center be able to answer questions on the first call. He also discussed the service level agreement in place, of which performance will be held against. 
  • When discussing the location, Mr. Davidson stated that Chesapeake, VA proved to provide a large candidate pool of high quality and former federal talent, including minority, veterans, and military spouses. 
  • Mr. Kukovich thanked Mr. Davidson for the presentation, but had concerns over the lack of a business case. He expressed that Labor’s focus is on full-time employees and civil servants, and without knowing a baseline, he questions how to determine what we’re doing better. He expressed that Labor would like to see a measurement of cost and/or effectiveness. He also stated that Labor is focused on hiring and retaining talent at the Department, but without a business case, it can be difficult to know if this is the objective of Enterprise Services. 
  • Mr. Davidson responded stating that the case for change exists, and is available to everyone; however, it was highlight qualitative. The Management Co-Chair expressed that this was shared, and that it can be reissued. A member suggested that there are quantitative things that could be measured. The Management Co-Chair mentioned OMB’s benchmarking efforts (which she will share) in areas of acquisition, financial management, HR, IT, and grants, noting that Commerce sits by itself as lowest cost and lowest quality for HR. She also reminded the LMF that this did not start off as a cost-saving project, but rather focused on fixing quality. The Management Co-Chair informed the LMF that there is no business case she has signed off on yet, but is working on it. 
  • Mr. Davidson contributed that part of the reason a business case is difficult to sign off on is the difficulty in collecting reliable information, including full picture costs such as overhead. Part of the agreement with Accenture Federal Services is to not pay more for services than we do already. He noted that almost all positions within the Enterprise Services organization will be higher grade-level federal positions. 
  • The Labor Co-Chair stated his appreciation for the efforts and understanding that it is not an easy job. He thanked Mr. Kukovich for his efforts on the matter as well, stating that Labor was fortunate to have him. The Labor Co-Chair also reminded the group that if things need to be done, work can occur between meetings of the LMF. 
  • A concern of NWS hiring was expressed. Mr. Davidson to provide statistics on Enterprise Services support to NOAA to Mr. Hopkins. Mr. Hopkins stated that budget seemed to be a root of some staffing issues as well, and Ms. Desrosiers agreed that a budget brief will be set up for NWS. 

Agenda Item: Report on Phased Retirement

Presenter: Ms. Valerie Smith


  • Ms. Smith reported that since the policy was issued in March 2016, the Department has processed 18 retirees, excluding PTO, and 22 retirees, including PTOs numbers. 
  • It was asked why more phased retirements were not being processed, and if there was an issue with shift workers. Ms. Desrosiers stated that NOAA management is open to working with unions on shift work issues. Ms. Desrosiers to follow up. 
  • A member who is a participant of phased retirement stated she is enjoying it. 
  • One issue that was brought up was having enough slots for SES positions. 
  • It was stated that everyone who applied at PTO was approved for phased retirement. There was a lot of initial interest, but then interest tapered off at a certain point. Hope for a Government wide study was expressed. It was pointed out that in the fall of 2016, there were less than 100 participants in phased retirement Government-wide. 
  • The communication of the mentoring requirement was articulated by a member. A concern that those applying do not realize that it doesn’t have to be mentoring one person, and that the mentoring requirement is to pass on knowledge overall. 
  • It was suggested to re-publicize the policy, which also falls in line with the interest of reform practices, while sharing case studies and communicating knowledge transfer aspect. 
  • A member suggested that eligibility could be a factor in the program as well as a participant must have 20 years of service. Management suggested that phased retirement changes could be suggested as part of a call on recommendations for Government change.

Agenda Item: Hiring Freeze

Presenter: Mr. Kevin Mahoney/Ms. Ellen Herbst


  • The Management Co-Chair stated that per OMB Memo 17-22, the hiring freeze has been lifted. Additionally, the memo covers the intent to reduce the size of the federal workforce through reform. There is another initiative on reorganization. 
  • Every agency needs to submit agency reform plan in September, and a high level draft must be submitted by June 30th. The Management Co-Chair welcomes having work group on this. Also by June 30th, the Department must develop a plan to maximize employee performance. 
    • There is a desire to put a call out to the entire Department for assistance in the identification of redundancies, and how to be more effective and efficient. 
    • In regards to employee performance and the employee workforce, we are being invited to come forward with requests for what would we need to improve employee performance. Examples of this could be hiring authority discretion, length of term appointments, changes to the VERA/VSIP approval process. This could potentially include issues that require legislative changes (whether on mission or mission support side). 
  • The President’s proposed budget for Commerce reduces current funding from 9.2 billion to 7.8 billion, with PTO and NTIS not impacted (since they are fee funded); however, no appropriation changes are in effect until Congress passes a law.
  • The Management Co-Chair asked how do we as a group want to participate in these efforts. She expressed she will need staff, particularly a program manager, and that Mr. Mahoney may have other needs as he is tasked with addressing the performance piece. 
  • As time for the meeting concluded, the group decided to convene a separate phone call within the week.