OCIE Senior Management Reneges on Agreement to Create Joint Labor-Management Awards Pilot Program; Problems with SEC Awards Program Continue


8/1/14:  Last month, senior management in the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) reneged on an agreement with the union to implement a modest joint labor-management pilot awards program at two regional offices of the agency. The proposed pilot, which was jointly developed by both union and management officials on the SEC’s national Labor Management Forum (LMF), was intended to address longstanding problems with the SEC’s special act awards process. To date, the union has been blocked by senior management from implementing any significant proposals recommended by the national LMF to rectify plummeting SEC employee morale and scores on the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS).

According to SEC employees’ recent FEVS responses, the SEC’s track record with respect to awards remains disturbingly bad. Indeed, as is demonstrated by these spreadsheets, in 2013 the SEC scored second to last place in the entire federal government on the question, “Awards in my work unit depend on how well employees perform their jobs,” with only 33% of SEC employees able to agree with that statement. The SEC also scored close to last place on the statement, “Arbitrary action, personal favoritism and coercion for partisan political purposes are not tolerated,” with only 45% of SEC employees able to agree. Click here to review a breakdown of the special act awards data for 2013.

It is because of rock bottom scores like these that the SEC continues to trail most of the rest of the federal government in both employee morale and the annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government Rankings. And it is precisely for that reason that representatives of the staff have long recommended specific proposals to fix readily identifiable problems that are reflected in the FEVS results. The joint labor-management awards pilot program recently rejected by OCIE senior management was just such a proposal.

NTEU has successfully negotiated joint labor-management awards programs in other federal agencies. The basic concept is to create panels in each office comprised of both management and labor representatives who assess awards recommendations and propose who should receive an award to a deciding management official. This simple program increases transparency and fairness in the awards process, which increases employee support for that process.

“It is important to understand that all we are proposing is an extremely small one-year pilot program in two small regional offices comprising approximately 5% of the agency's workforce, just to see if the program will work,” NTEU Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman noted this morning. “It is extremely frustrating that SEC management appears to be unwilling even to experiment with such a modest real world solution to a problem that is clearly reflected in the FEVS data,” he added. "We are disappointed that some in management do not have the foresight to make this small investment in a program that has been successful in other federal agencies."