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April 20, 2016

Table of contents

Approval of January 20, 2016 minutes (5 minutes) – Ellen Herbst

Ongoing Matters (50 minutes) 

  • Status of Action Items from January 2016 Forum meeting – Frank Milman [5 minutes]
  • Shared Services
    • Ken Kukovich [10 minutes] 
    • Glenn Davidson [10 minutes]
  • Phased Retirement Policy – Kevin Mahoney  [5 minutes]
  • Metric for Forum for FY16 – Howard Friedman/Kevin Mahoney [5 minutes]
  • Status Results from meeting with OPM on FEVS – Kevin Mahoney/Laurie Schwede

[5 minutes]

  • Working Group developments on SORN – Frank Milman [5 minutes]
  • Gender Pay Gap/Pay Parity – Kevin Mahoney [5 minutes]

New Business [60 minutes]

  • Demonstration of the electronic travel system that is being implemented in the Department – Gay Shrum [30 minutes]
  • HR Bulletin on Administrative Leave – Kevin Mahoney [5 minutes]
  • Status of Revised Department Administrative Orders (DAO) – Valerie Smith [20minutes]
    • DAO 202-300, Employment
    • DAO 202-301, Overseas Employment
    • DAO 202-302, Employment in the Excepted Service
    • DAO 202-351, Probationary and Trial Periods
  • Communication of Forum Achievements – Howard Friedman [10 minutes]

Other Business (5 minutes)
CALL IN NUMBER 866-453-8771; PASS CODE 2785164

Meeting Minutes

April 20, 2016, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 48019, Washington, DC 20230

Meeting called by: Labor-Management Forum
Program Manager: Mr. Frank Milman
Attendees: Stacy Chalmers, Ken Kukovich, and Mary Saunders participated by phone. See sign-in sheet for participants in attendance.
Documents: Minutes and Action Items from the January Meeting of the Forum
Type of meeting: Quarterly Meeting of the Forum
Note Taker: Ms. Mary O’Connor


Agenda item: Visit by Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Bruce Andrews


The Deputy Secretary thanked the Labor Management Forum (Forum) for its efforts, specifically for work on items such as telework and the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). He noted that Public Service Recognition week was coming up, and he wanted to thank everyone for their work and celebrate this week throughout the Department. When asked if there were questions, a member stated that getting vacancies filled has been a struggle. The Deputy Secretary agreed, noting that this is a topic discussed frequently, and integrated into the shared services initiative. The Management Co-Chair stated that an analysis of funded vacancies across the Department shows the need for more investment into HR to assist the solution. A member shared a story of employees who could not take time off due to issues getting vacancies filled. The Deputy Secretary agreed that everyone recognizes the seriousness of the issue. 

The Labor Co-Chair appreciated the Deputy Secretary’s presence at the forum. He noted customer concerns with PTO’s involvement and the distribution of money regarding shared services. The Deputy Secretary noted the goal of shared services is to result in a higher level of service across the Department, and stated he would not feel as strongly about PTO being part of it if he felt that it would lower the level of services and quality of PTO. The Management Co-Chair highlighted the business case of shared services, noting the majority of savings comes from leveraging buying power, which PTO benefits from. She also stated that while leveraging more resources into HR, there are front-end savings coming from smarter acquisition. 

The Deputy Secretary took a photo with Forum members.

Agenda item: Introductions/Approval of January Minutes
Presenter: Ms. Ellen Herbst

A motion was made to adopt minutes taken on January 20, 2016, and minutes were approved.

Agenda item: Status of Action Items from January 2016 Forum Meeting
Presenter: Mr. Frank Milman

Open items included the following, which shaped the agenda for this meeting of the Forum: 

  • highlighting Forum achievements;
  • coordinating a meeting on SORN (labor will provide list of concerns and availability, and meeting will be scheduled at this point); 
  • the new metric for the Forum for FY16 (volunteers include Ms. Desrosiers and Mr. Milman); 
  • and updates on the Forum charter (comments passed back and sent around).

Agenda item: Shared Services
Presenter: Mr. Ken Kukovich, Mr. Glenn Davidson


Mr. Kukovich commented that he did not find GSA’s Unified Shared Services Management’s (USSM) organizational chart on their website. The Management Co-Chair shared that she is on the Government-wide shared services governance board, and that Mr. Glenn Davidson sits on the USSM board at their request. Since the announcement of the two groups, nothing has been officially released from either board. 

Mr. Davidson, Executive Director of Shared Services, introduced himself, and the objective of the shared services program. He stated that the goal is to take some of the burdensome transactional activities outside of employee’s duties, which could result in better service. He noted that shared services are the best of both centralization and decentralization. Mr. Davidson commented that shared services will be a different way of things being done, but believes it is a dramatic way to improve services. He noted that the commercial organizations have been leveraging shared services for 20 years and typically show cost savings of 20 to 40 per cent by year three. He hopes this will change the way we treat each other as customers and colleagues by working together, and treating each other with respect. The shared services site is https://enterpriseservices.commerce.gov/, where a 22-page reference guide can be found. Mr. Davidson is asking for volunteers from the bureaus to help with communications, training, and implementation, inviting those with concerns to volunteer. 

A member asked if there would be comparisons to show where we are now, and what the future state will look like. Mr. Davidson responded that they are close to having a business case that they are comfortable sharing with Departmental Management Committee (DMC) members next month. He stated that most people have no idea how much it costs to deliver a service, but that the business case demonstrates that there are savings. He is happy to share when they get to point after DMC acceptance, but that it may take time. 

In explaining how the organizations will be different, Mr. Davidson identified that it will be a matter of process reengineering. People will be trained to do better quality work, while leveraging technology. He stated that employees will have multiple avenues to start transactions, and can track actions similar to the FedEx package tracking system. He explained that there would be a “home” for everyone, but that it may be a different home than they may currently have; however, it will hopefully be a better job. 

A member claimed that they were optimistic about shared services, but there was still concern over filling vacancies. Mr. Davidson stated that we will need to recruit candidates in a different way while still abiding by the appropriate the laws, regulations, and policies. The Management Co-Chair commented that difficulties in recruiting and retaining make mission enabling functions unsustainable.

A member asked about a backup plan if the shared services initiate is not successful. Confidence was expressed in the shared services initiative. Eighty day hiring was brought up, and it was suggested after the shared services initiative was in place, the Department would get back on track. There will be service level agreements between shared services and hiring managers. A member asked if there would be a fee for services. Mr. Davidson explained that there will be, but not at first. It was expressed that there already is a fee for services, but that the human resources organizations are paying for them already. 

The Labor Co-Chair expressed a willingness for PTO to share best practices, stating that the Department can work together to leverage best practices it has. He also suggested reading the shared services RFP, stating it was a great description of the work, and addresses the pain points.

Agenda item: Demonstration of the electronic travel system that is being implemented in the Department
Presenter: Ms. Lindsay Rump and Mr. Jon Alexander

The Office of Financial Management gave a demonstration of the new electronic travel system, E2. It has dashboard functionality, with an online booking engine, similar to Kayak. A member asked about the use of personal cards, and it was stated that any confirmation or documentation could be attached in the system.

An issue was expressed about flight cancellations and emergency travel procedures. Members of the Forum should address their concerns to Gay Shrum, gshrum@doc.gov. A new email address has been established for all others to submit their concerns, ETS2Project@doc.gov. Examples should be specific with dates, time, location, names, and any other pertinent information.

A member expressed concern about the employee being responsible for the travel authorization process; however, it was explained that E2 is simply automating a process, not intended to change a process.

Training for E2 will be high level, mostly via webinar, with some hands on training as well. Both the NOAA and NIST help desk have worked closely with the E2 team, and are experts on the system.

A member provided praise for the efforts, and stated it looked better than Kayak, and that it was great to be able to do all travel bookings at once.

Agenda item: Phased Retirement Policy
Presenter: Ms. Valerie Smith

The policy is signed and DOC-wide implementation is anticipated in early May. Each Servicing Human Resources Office (SHRO) is working on their own implementation plan within their serviced organization. A broadcast will be distributed soon. 

The Labor Co-Chair suggested that the announcement come from the Forum, with the picture of the Deputy Secretary, to highlight coordination efforts. Ms. Valerie Smith will distribute broadcast to phased retirement team for comment. It was also suggested that subcommittee members be recognized in the broadcast. The Labor Co-Chair suggested sending to the National Labor Council, and thanked the team for their efforts, particularly Ms. Smith and Ms. Laurie Schwede. 

Agenda item: Gender Pay Gap/Pay Parity
Presenter: Ms. Tyra Dent Smith

Ms. Tyra Dent Smith stated this topic has been discussed with directors in the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), and is still centered on identifying what the scope would be, and identifying resource allocations to pursue that. 

The Labor Co-Chair said that a working group should be set up if it is needed; the issue appears to go on without any action around it. The Management Co-Chair echoed that this is a huge project, and that understanding the scope is very important, and she wants to give it the seriousness it deserves.

A member stated that there are some Census economists who might be able to do data analysis, but the issue is who will pay for it. If Census were to do the work, the intentions would most likely be to publish the results. 

The Management Co-Chair asked that there be an action item to be a write up of the scope of this project, including funding. A member stated that she thought they determined they wanted to look at special qualifications and how that affects men and women, along bonuses. The topic of work-life balance was also brought up. A management member suggested looking for existing research on the topic. The Management Co-Chair shared that there is some information that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has, and that OCR can share what they have on the topic if requested. 

Agenda item: Status Results from Meeting with Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on FEVS
Presenter: Ms. Laurie Schwede


OPM expressed they would be interested in having Census work with them in two areas, constructs and definitions of survey items, and confidentiality and survey nonresponse. They would like to help with this, but there has been no new contact. Ms. Schwede asked the willingness of Forum for some people to go to OPM to work out the nature of what the collaboration will be. She stated that if this lasted longer than a few months, leadership would like to see that OPM contributes. The Management Co-Chair stated that a meeting to scope out expectations with OPM is logical next step, and thinks Census leadership needs to have a voice in that. She agreed that should the commitment of Census resources to continue for a lengthy period, funding should be reviewed. She also stated that the Office of the Secretary would not be giving a budget towards this, so OPM has to determine what they are able to do. It was suggested that the Communications Working Group contact Mike Causey and Joe Davidson to provide them with news that the Department has implemented its phased retirement policy and developed it through pre-decisional involvement.

Agenda item: Other Business

The rest of the agenda items will be covered in phone call with the Management and Labor Co-Chairs, Mr. Kevin Mahoney, Ms. Smith, and Mr. Frank Milman. Ms. Dent Smith was asked to take the lead on organizing this call.

Action Items

Item Responsible Party Status Deadline
Establish email address for travel concerns Lisa Casias DONE April 27, 2016
Forum members can send any comments on the new travel system to Howard Friedman within the next couple of weeks Forum   May 11, 2016
Find out from the PHRMs when their serviced bureaus will be ready to implement phased retirement Valerie Smith DONE April 29, 2016
Draft broadcast message announcing phased retirement and send to Forum team members for review and comment Valerie Smith DONE May 2, 2016
Prepare a written scope of the study of the gender gap/pay parity including funding Laverne Byrd, Shannon Fitzgerald Ongoing TBD
Schedule a meeting within the next few weeks to cover the agenda items that were not covered in this meeting Kevin Mahoney, Howard Friedman, Frank Milman Ongoing May 12, 2016
Communications Working Group to notify Mike Causey (Fed News Radio) and Joe Davidson (Washington Post) that the Department has implemented Phased Retirement Policy through pre-decisional involvement. Communications Working Group Ongoing TBD