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January 20, 2016

Table of contents

Approval of October 21, 2015 minutes (5 minutes) – Ellen Herbst

Ongoing Matters (35 minutes) 

  • Shared Services
    • Ellen Herbst [5 minutes]
    • Ken Kukovich [10 minutes] 
  • Phased Retirement Rollout – Kevin Mahoney  [5 minutes]
  • Meeting with OPM on FEVS – Laurie Schwede [10 minutes]
  • Action Items from October 2015 Forum meeting – Frank Milman [5 min]

New Business [20 minutes]

  • Metric for Forum for FY16 – Frank Milman/Howard Friedman [10 minutes]
  • “Share Your Story” - Howard Friedman [5 minutes]
  • OPM’s “Washington, DC, Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures (December 2015)” – Frank Milman (5 minutes)
    • OPM is not recommending changes to the Procedures or the operating status announcements; and
    • OPM is stressing the principle that the Federal Government’s vital business must continue without compromising the safety of our employees and the public.

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

Meeting Minutes

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 48019, Washington, DC 20230
Meeting called by: Labor-Management Forum
Type of meeting: Quarterly Meeting of the Forum
Program Manager: Mr. Frank Milman
Note Taker: Ms. Mary O’Connor
Attendees: Vonda Bell (Census), Mary Saunders (NIST), Laurie Schwede, and Tim Shorrock, (AFGE national contract analyst) participated by phone. See sign-in sheet for participants in attendance.
Documents: Minutes from the October Meeting of the Forum, Action Items from the October Meeting, DOC Fact Sheet on SORN, Phased Retirement Bulletin & Application Agreement, Broadcast Message on OPM Announcements

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

A motion was made to adopt minutes taken on October 21, 2015, and minutes were approved. It was also noted that Pamela Schwartz is the new POPA President. 

Agenda item: Shared Services
Presenter: Ms. Ellen Herbst and Mr. Ken Kukovich

It was announced that Glenn Davidson is the Director for Shared Services, a position that reports to the Deputy Secretary. As part of the established governance, Shared Services is not to report to the CFO, CIO, Secretary, or any bureau head. Rather, it is to have its own leadership, and own focused management attention. Mr. Davidson was unable to attend the meeting. Ms. Herbst announced that she is on a Government-wide board for shared services.

Mr. Kukovich addressed the three themes he’s previously noted when looking at shared services: employees, efficiency, and effectiveness. Employees: With respect to the career civil service employees, labor has inquired: How does shared services help DOC recruit and retain career employees? What career path and opportunities do shared services afford a career employee? What future positions may be eliminated and taken out of the career path as a result of shared services? Conversely, what future opportunities can be identified now under shared services? Efficiency: In general, if shared services is a better way to provide supporting services, what are the efficiency and effectiveness benefits? In terms of a more efficient method, what dollar savings and efficiencies will result? What examples exist of such dollar savings from shared services? Effectiveness: If greater effectiveness is the expected outcome of shared services, what concrete measures are there that the customer has a better outcome under shared services? Such information should be as quantifiable as possible, and not rely solely upon customer surveys about experiences. The comparisons should be judged against a baseline of outcomes before and after implementation of shared services.

Mr. Kukovich reported on recent developments in shared services government-wide. OMB stated in its Shared Services Overview that there are to be measurable standards and benchmarks for shared services (http://www.performance.gov/node/3398/view?view=public#overview). Significantly, OMB’s 2016 Milestones was to have available by December 31, 2015, under Financial Management Line of Business a milestone that “Released a methodology for capturing anticipated benefits with financial management shared services,” (http://www.performance.gov/node/3398/view?view=public#progress-update) which is precisely what labor has been requesting at DOC LMF.

Importantly, for the entire Federal Government, the locus for shared services has moved from Treasury to GSA in a new organization called the United Shared Services Management (USSM). However, GSA has not yet made any information public on USSM so he is looking for USSM’s organizational chart, or any other documents that describe things such as a methodology for capturing anticipated benefits of shared services. 

Likewise, at the Department of Commerce level, there is nothing publically available that explains the DOC Shared Service Project Team.

Mr. Kukovich would also would like to see the connection between the working groups (financial management, acquisitions, IT, and HR) and the shared services project team; asking that an organizational chart of shared service should go on their website. Mr. Kukovich indicated that Mr. Davidson is participating in speaking engagements, and Ken would like to see talking points beforehand. Additionally, Mr. Kukovich emphasized the importance of understanding the baseline to compare to the future state of shared services; adding that Labor is not resisting change, rather it wants to be able to distinguish and increase efficiency in the baseline. 

Ms. Herbst’s added that Mr. Davidson may be able to update the Forum prior to the next Quarterly Meeting. She also clarified that the USSM stemmed from the FIT (Financial Innovation Transformation) program within the Treasury, which was tasked by OMB with looking at how the Government uses financial systems. She added that over past year, there has been a general unhappiness voiced with Human Resources Government-wide, and OMB decided to look at this as well. OMB is starting to expand its view on what could be shared services across Government, and exploring what governance and guidance needed. 

Ms. Herbst’s added that Mr. Davidson may be able to update the Forum prior to the next Quarterly Meeting. She also clarified that the USSM stemmed from the FIT (Financial Innovation Transformation) program within the Treasury, which was tasked by OMB with looking at how the Government uses financial systems. She added that over past year, there has been a general unhappiness voiced with Human Resources Government-wide, and OMB decided to look at this as well. OMB is starting to expand its view on what could be shared services across Government, and exploring what governance and guidance needed.

Agenda item: Phased Retirement
Presenter: Mr. Kevin Mahoney

Mr. Mahoney presented that the working group’s policy bulletin was reviewed by the Department Management Council (DMC). After that review, it went to the Principal Human Resources Managers (PHRMs) for review, OGC, and then to the DMC for final review. Mr. Mahoney explained to the Forum that the DMC had concerns with the four year term and was more comfortable with a two year period. What was distributed at the meeting is the final draft which will go to NOAA and POPA, who have consultation rights, for a last review. 

The Labor Co-Chair emphasized that once this is in place, it will give the Department of Commerce (Department) an opportunity to increase phased retirement numbers Government-wide (currently 31 participants). It was also suggested as an opportunity to demonstrate the Department’s success to OPM, and to offer help to other agencies. 

Agenda item: Meeting with OPM on FEVS
Presenter: Laurie Schwede

Ms. Schwede acknowledged Census committee members for their efforts, and Mr. Mahoney for setting up the call with OPM. John Foley, Director of Planning and Policy Analysis at OPM, stated that OPM would be interested in working on two areas addressed in the Forum’s letter to OPM, Question Development and Testing. OPM is also on verge of sending out a Federal Register notice, inviting anyone who wants to comment on any items in FEVS. Some areas of concern were confidentiality, non-response, and whether the characteristics of those who respond are the same as those that do respond. OPM is open to Census helping in areas of confidentiality and non-response. Mr. Mahoney thanked Ms. Schwede and her colleagues for her efforts and expertise on this. 

The Labor Co-Chair pointed out to OPM that this Forum can be put to good use. A Labor member stated this may be something to point out to National Council. It was also said that this may be the time for press attention of examples of LMF success (FEVS, Phased Retirement) for the communications subgroup to consider. The Forum responded in support of getting publicity for accomplishments of group. The Management Co-Chair stated the success of the Forum will not only impact the Department, but could have impact across Government.

Agenda item: Action Items from October 2015 Forum Meeting
Presenter: Mr. Frank Milman

Every action item from the last meeting was put into chart, and the last item to be completed was reporting on Phased Retirement. 

The SORN information was consolidated to four pages. The Labor Co-Chair asked the privacy group to take a look at and said he will circulate and ask for comments. The goal is to create a document that the average person could read and understand what a SORN is. Management would like labor’s perspective as to whether this meets the intended needs. If needs further work, Office of Privacy and Open Government could take the lead on a re-write.

Mr. Mitch McDonald was stated as the lead on charter review, which is still in process. Comments are done, and it should be able to be an agenda item for next LMF. The Management Co-Chair mentioned exploring named positions. 

Agenda item: Metric for Forum for FY16
Presenter: Mr. Frank Milman and Mr. Howard Friedman

One suggestion from Labor was to put together a working group to look at bureaus for a goal that has an interest, and is achievable, in order capture the abilities of what the Forum can do. The Management Co-Chair added that another benefit of this would be able to drive what the Forum does over the year. 

Mr. Milman commented he was impressed by the work of Census and PTO, and suggested working group (both labor and management). Management was in agreement on this, and union representatives are to email the Co-Chairs on interest of being part of taskforce. It was requested to set date of first week in February for first call/meeting of the taskforce.  

Agenda item: “Share Your Story”
Presenter: Mr. Howard Friedman

This topic regards the Broadcast emails titled “Share Your Story: DOC Talks.” As stated in the emails, the requests was for stories that exemplify the contributions Commerce makes to the people and businesses that drive our nation’s economy.

The Labor Co-Chair equated the concept as with the Ted Talks of the Department. The Labor Co-Chair noted that it would have been a topic to share with Forum before it went to employees. The Management Co-Chair stated that there needs to be a way to ensure this consideration (going through LMF) is part of clearance process, and that the clearance process should be revised. 

Agenda item: OPM’s “Washington DC. Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures (December 2015”
Presenter: Mr. Frank Milman
OPM is urging agencies to ensure employees know procedures exist, and apply only within the Beltway. The Forum to provide input to Mr. Milman on proposed broadcast in order to help get the point across, and highlight flexibilities (by 11am on 1/21/16). Suggestions were highlighting discussions with supervisors, and defining “Plan A” and “Plan B,” along with existing policies. 

Mr. Steckler offered to send PTO’s broadcast message to Mr. Mahoney in order to compare template.

It was suggested that since the Department houses the National Weather Service, employees may be able to receive more information.  

Agenda item: Other Business
It was expressed that the more this Forum and Labor knows about the Department’s vision, the more helpful it can be in providing helpful guidance. It was suggested that periodic briefings on what Department leadership is considering, especially when focusing on large number of bureaus, would be beneficial. The Management Co-Chair asked if the strategic plan, or objectives of leadership committing to before the end of the Administration, would be of interest. The Forum agreed on these topics.

It was suggested that now may be the time to have Secretary, or Deputy Secretary stop by the Forum. It was stated that logistically more likely to get the Deputy Secretary in for a meeting due to the Secretary’s travel schedule. A photo with the Secretary was also proposed. 

Transition planning for the next Administration was discussed; noting a historical lack of material in transitions, and that it may be good for the Forum to prepare materials. 

It was also noted that having a durable charter agreed on would leave a legacy for the next Administration. 

It was also suggested that Gender Pay Gap/Pay Parity be revisited. Management agreed that this topic is something of interest on many different levels. Mr. Mahoney to follow up on this topic with Ms. Byrd; it was also suggested that a development program may be the right venue to explore this further. It was noted that one development team completed work on an employee engagement toolkit for managers that ties to question on FEVS; this will be shared with the Forum.

Action Item Responsible Due Date Completion Status
Update on Shared Services Ken Kukovich As needed On going
Appointment of management members to SORN working group Kevin Mahoney  1/20/2016 Completed 1/20/2016
Highlight the Department’s Communication success to OPM WG   1/30/16 No action thus far the by WG, 3/2/16
Publicizing LMF Success Stories   3/30/16 No action thus far by the WG, 3/22/16 
Distribute and Collect Comments document by HF Howard Friedman 3/15/16 No action thus far on SORN, 3/33/16
Identify taskforce members and have first meeting for Forum’s Metric for FY16 Howard Friedman 3/1/16  No members identified as yet
Provide comments on broadcast on upcoming snow storm Forum  1/21/16 Completed 1/21/16
Send PTO Template to Kevin Fred Steckler  TBD Ongoing
Agreeing to a durable charter Union comments recvd 4/2/16; Charter revised and sent back to HF 4/4 for Labor review. LMR 3/30/16 In progress
Revisit Gender Pay Gap/ Pay Parity to follow up with Laverne Byrd. Kevin Mahoney TBD Ongoing