DFAS and AFGE Council 171
July 24, 2003
In attendance: Bob McNamara, Darryl Roberts, Pablo Rodriguez, Marsha Hawkins, Linda Ferguson, Mark Collins, Pete Heins, Teresa Briley, Frank Rock, Maria Durante, Charles Coates, Evelyn Mendoza, Mark McDonald (MM), Robin Smith, Jimmie Wattley, Victor Davis, Ron Coe, Jim Pitt, Jackie Riley (Mgmt Recorder).
Recorder: Angela Beltowski
Session started @ 8:00
Union Caucus 8-9
Larry Schmalfeldt is here to give briefing on Placement Assistance List.
MM: For the Record: Management has agreed that this is only a briefing and does not open the PAL for negotiation.
Bob: For the Record: Management agrees with Marks summary that this is only a briefing.
Larry: Very familiar to the PPP process. Placed approx 500 employees with this program. This is not a new concept. This is one of the elements of the Workforce Transition Plan. In my opinion it is the most important part of the plan. PAL is just the term we used in Indianapolis. The people on the list are excess and need to be placed. Mgmt identifies position as excess. Reverse SC date would be used if more than one person in job. This is the pre-RIF process to try and help the employees. Register the employee as widely as possible. Match that against jobs in the area. The PAL is a management tool, it is not required by statute. We could just run a RIF. The review process for exceptions is at a high level. Trying to get it high enough that itís not a parochial decision. Exceptions are granted. Probably 9 out of 10 matches will be placed. The manager has the option of who they pick on the list of people who are qualified. Exempted from the merit promotion plan. There are positions waiting now for this decision. If nothing is decided here than the positions will be lost. I have had a lot of employee concerns most of which can be addressed. Weíve missed probably 30-40 opportunities to place people. However we look at this, there is a downside to everything. Weíll have a record of how many jobs have been filled and who was qualified.
MM: The Union is appreciative of the information.
Darryl: What was the Unionís concern when filing the ULP?
MM: Implementation before bargaining. The Agency has the option to contact the Council President to solve the ULP.
Darryl: Letís get her on the phone then.
Pablo: What happens to the employees waiting if this doesnít happen?
Larry: We miss another opportunity to place the employees.
Pete: What did we fail to bargain? In our view we fully bargained in January.
MM: The Union has stated our position on it.
Larry: What would be the Unions position if we go back and use the current process without bargaining to place the employees? I donít have an interest in elevating the problem but I canít tell my managers that they canít fill positions.
Bob: We propose that we contact Kelley with a suggestion to settle the ULP we will have a meeting of a small negotiation group, in KC, in the next week or so. In the mean time we will continue to place employees using the PAL. We will be proposing this to Kelley.
Larry: If there are any issues we can answer for you, you can contact us. We will try to resolve the problems. I am interested that we support all our transition efforts.
Larry left the group.
Bob: We will have that conversation with Kelley as soon as we can.
MM: We want to go ahead and explore the issues on ELES and see where we get. We had a positive dialog going on yesterday and would like to continue it.
Pablo: Letís capture the issues and then address them one at a time.
MM: I donít have a problem with that. Maybe we can get to where we all want to be.
Bob: Pete will do the butcher-block notes.
From Board, Issues:
Victor: An issue is that the CLCís are now gone. Employees now do not have a place to go that is private to view and print. There are employees that donít even have access to a PC. A surrogate even does their E-Biz. Need to have a replacement, maybe a stand-alone PC for this purpose.
MM: A kiosk or something like it. There are some people who are very concerned about the privacy of their financial information.
Victor: What surveys have you have done? A survey of some form would help find what is thought of ELES. Marketing the positives, here is why we want you to do this, so jobs are not lost.
Bob: A survey would not be viewed as harassment?
Victor: Not if itís voluntary. When there were such a low number of waivers approved it tarnished the perception that waivers were a real option.
Ron: Most of our employees are disenchanted with the Agency. I donít know who can find anything in the E-portal. Would a survey be of those not using the eLES? On the common user kiosk it could be used as a marketing tool. Directing people to do it brings out the Ďbig brotherí syndrome. There will always be a percentage of people who will not want something mandatory. For marketing it will look better for the Agency if it is a voluntary process.
Bob: Maybe the harassment was more of a lack of information.
Jimmie: Every supervisor had a list of who was receiving a hardcopy and who wasnít. Do I want you to come back to my desk week after week to tell me I still havenít turned it off?
Darryl: This 1,885 is the group that we have a problem with the electronic version. Iím expecting that we will have an issue with the new employees coming on board. Can we focus on either some mechanism to bring the 1,885 into the fold? Maybe survey them to see why they donít want to. Also survey the oneís using to show the benefits.
MM: I canít agree that the 14,000 like the program. People are going in and printing the LES every payday, which is not using the system the way DFAS intended. Has anyone done a true cost analysis on the printing? The printing, use of printers etc are a hidden cost right now of using the system.
Linda: One of the advantages is getting it electronic is that they get it sooner. There are benefits to using the system, and they are saving the cost of postage and contractor to sort and mail them. Using the electronic version does not take away the ability to get a hardcopy by printing it.
MM: For some people having a print is not the same as having a real hardcopy. It has the official look, with watermarks etc, it looks like a government document.
Linda: We have a company that can validate the pay for use with mortgage company, bank etc.
Darryl: You would have the ability to do the waiver process to get a hardcopy for one or two pay periods for this purpose. The self-certification process is for the supervisorís records so no harassment takes place.
Pete: Perhaps we have the chance to clarify self certify.
Frank: conversation on prior waiver process.
Pete: Who the approving official is no longer applies in the self-certification process.
Robin: I would have to have a guarantee on the self-certification.
Pete: Your going to get that.
Charles: Some clarity to the self-certification.
Pete: Your going to get that.
Ron: A point paper that tells the benefits of having it.
Frank: What has been done with the cost savings for the Agency? Is it being reinvested into the Agency or is it being given back to DoD?
Victor: I have an altered version. You not only want to get the oneís that are not on but you want to keep the oneís on electronic to stay on. I would like to do a walk through of the self-certification process. It could be a major break through.
Ron: What can the Agency live with on this? We have a new understanding of the self-certification, but what does the Agency want?
Pete: Ron has asked what the Agency wants. Letís explore this.
Bob: The Agency wants the maximum usage of the eLES because we want to save money.
Darryl: We have to remember that DFAS has the ability to become the payroll service of the government, which would mean more jobs instead of less.
MM: There is an issue with getting Pins reset. People feel it is cumbersome to go through the process of getting it or resetting it.
Evelyn: We also have problems with printing the LES.
Jim: On the Pins, we recognize that the process for a Pin has not been easy. The original process was not working so we went to mailing them out to the employee upon request. We are in the process with SmartDocs to be able to get a Pin emailed or mailed to you. We understand the Pin process was very cumbersome. On the printing, there are instructions out there to fix the margins so that it prints correctly.
Frank: E-Portal has hyperlinks to the myPay site. Has anybody confirmed that the hyperlinks are working for everyone?
Jim: I donít have any control over E-Portal. I can take any concerns back to the people working on the E-Portal to try to get them fixed.
Jimmie: Nothing with instructions within DFAS is written so that it is in basic terms. Write them for a GS-5 rather than an SES.
Pete: Is there anything else that needs mentioned?
Robin: We have many more problems now with the new E-Portal than we were before. Employees are changing to hardcopy because of how hard it is to move around in E-Portal.
MM: Reinvestment in the workforce. Why not use some of the money that is being saved to reinvest to the employees.
Linda: Day care centers can only be funded by NAF. Working capital funds cannot be used for quality of life.
MM: There are things that can be done. I work in a cave; why not invest money in better lighting.
Linda: There are budget issues that would need to be addressed. We have to recognize that the budget every year is going to be reduced. Why not save the 5% each year on improvements in processes instead of from labor. Electronic commerce is a way to reduce cost with out loss of labor. Other wise we lose jobs. If you are going to sell some of the benefits of the program, you can also use the view of saving jobs.
Frank: There is also frustration in the workplace because the employees see the Agency do things that waste money. Reinvest in some of these things that the employees can see.
Agree to break for lunch and come back and work on this.
Victor: Need a clear understanding of self-certifying. restrictions, and temporary vs. permanent waiver.
Bob: The waiver exists as long as the reason for the waiver exists. The supervisor would approve the waiver, in that saying the condition does exist.
Darryl: This is what we had in mind. The first line supervisor would best know if the condition exists. Itís like when an employee calls in for sick leave, they take the employees word for it. Approval process is supposed to be simplistic.
Robin: The biggest problem we had before was with the first line supervisor.
MM: We either trust our employeeís judgment or we donít. The harassment was for the most part done by the first line supervisor.
Teresa: Your thought is that only the employeeís that meet the criteria would opt for the hardcopy LES?
Bob: Without any approval by a supervisor?
Victor: In submitting to the first line, there would still be a review that the criteria are met. Employee checks the box and tells how they meet the criteria it goes through. By going to an approval process you go back to last year when the waivers were disapproved.
Darryl: What if there is no approval. The supervisor just keeps it for the records. What happens when/if the supervisor would discover that the employee was not honest? The employee would be disciplined.
Teresa: Letís look at a person who is not able to use the system due to a handicap. The supervisor would just maintain a copy of the self-certification. There is no approval. What if we say to the workforce that you will receive an electronic LES unless you meet a set of criteria and then you can go in and elect a hardcopy?
MM: If there is no approval/disapproval how can there be any discipline?
Teresa: It wouldnít be a case of the approval/disapproval but possibly of an employee not being honest on the waiver.
Darryl: There is not intent to discipline an employee over a waiver. What makes it any different than an employee being dishonest in anything else?
Frank: What about if an employee certifies that they donít have a computer at home and you find out that they do? Are we saying that a majority of DFAS employees lie?
MC: We do have rules and regulations that deal with employees who falsify a government document.
Pablo: If you look at the criteria, most employees have access to a computer at work. Unless you are a WG employee or working in the mail room you should have access to a computer.
Jimmie: I have employees that donít have access and none of them were granted a waiver.
Linda: What is it that we are trying to accomplish here? Do we agree that helping to reduce cost and providing increased flexibility then we should be trying to encourage maximum participation. Then we shouldnít put in the criteria of I just donít want to do it. We should stick to the employeeís who have legitimate reasons for not getting an electronic LES.
MM: Absolutely, the union supports helping to use taxpayer money better. We are all in favor of encouraging participation and saving jobs. An employee that does not keep a copy or loses them and needs more than the last five pay periods, perhaps for two or more years.
Jim: Currently in DCPS there is no way to get an LES other than current plus two. There is an upgrade that will hopefully be available next year that will keep up to one year.
Pete: Are you in agreement that you want employees to be able to self certify?
MM: If there is built in that the employees can decide if they want it or not.
Frank: I donít think thereís agreement on what self certify means.
Pete: So what does it mean? Employee selects from among a set of criteria of why they need a waiver. Give it to the supervisor for filing.
MM: I donít agree with it going to the supervisor. We canít assume that every Supervisor is going to use good judgment. We have had this happen. We are going to get embroiled in that if the Supervisor can say the employee is not being honest.
Teresa: The supervisor is only filing. It is not an approval or disapproval.
MM: Based on that reasoning the Union believes that no employee will ever be disciplined.
Teresa: We arenít looking for an opportunity to discipline employees.
MM: Management team brought up if employees are not honest. We are going to have to deal with it.
Teresa: When an employee says they have no computer at work or at home than the intent is that we will believe them.
MM: But it has and does happen that supervisors do use poor judgement.
Pete: Can Management team live with the self-certification does not go to the supervisor?
Pablo: If the numbers start going down and Iím asked why they went down, I donít have an answer if it is not filed somewhere.
Frank: Information is good for both sides. Pinpointing problems with the process is what is needed.
Pete: So if we see a decline will the system tell why and at what sites it has went down?
Jim: Currently the system does not do this.
Linda: If I know the reasons why an employee needed the waiver I can go about to correct the problem.
MM: Mandate a change to myPay requires the employee to select of the the criteria or an other choice with say up to 1024 character field to specify why they want the waiver. After the selection the employee could then click off the hardcopy. This could be done using radio buttons and perhaps a PHP script run on the server to collect the information. This could be done without requiring any modification of DCPS keeping the information in a separate database. It would be in the system, let the computer collect and keep the information which would allow management to analyze why employees are opting out of the system.
Linda: MyPay was not made to store data. Can it be stored in a separate database that can be queried?
Victor: Why not do a two fold effort of asking why employees are or are not being used and market the program all at the same time?
Darryl: I think we can take a doable approach to that. I think one of the ways to fix the downward slope we can separate the numbers into three categories. Make it a condition of employment for new employees unless they meet the waiver criteria and then deal with the other categories.
Frank: Are you aware that they are not briefing at the sites when new employees come in? I keep hearing you say the new employees are a problem and thereís a fix to that.
Teresa: How about in the employeeís welcome packet have a letter telling about the program and giving them their temporary pin?
MM: That would be a great way to put it out but have we asked the new hires why they arenít using the system?
Bob: Do we really care why they donít want it? If we have a waiver process then recognize the legitimate reasons for not using.
MM: If Dell had that same theory, how many laptops would they sell if they didnít fix the problems with the laptops? Your not fixing the problems telling people itís mandatory to use the system. You have to work like a business if you want to sell your services to other Agencies.
Darryl: While it may not be perfect, the system works. Our competition right now is the Dept of Interior. They are getting ready to roll this out to all of their customers. If we want to stay competitive, we need to get all of DoD on this system. Either we become the big dog on the porch or someone else takes over the porch. We canít afford to slow down and stall. They made it mandatory but they gave us all of these valid reasons to get a waiver.
Bob: We appreciate the discussion on this issue. I think we understand better the ramifications of the eLES. Propose we continue with the voluntary use of the eLES and get back to the communication of the program. Set a goal in six months to be at 90% or better. If failing to get that, coming back and looking at how we can improve participation.
Ron: For the Record: The Agency is withdrawing their last best offer?
Frank: In working together, I would think we need to do a better job of promoting the program.
Consolidation of Systems Support
Withdrawn by Management. Not ready to present.
MM: It is in the agreement that we can I&I as issues arise. The Union has some issues with this.
Frank: I think we all know the history of Resumix. The Agency views this as a move forward in technology. We are not bringing everyone along in the Agency. Making sure everyone understands how to use the system, how it works etc. There isnít a standardization of Resumix across the Agency. The goal to get the most qualified person in the job is not happening with Resumix. The training has not taken place for all employees. Not everyone is familiar with the use of the system so we wonít always get the most qualified person. This can be addressed in the training of employees. We did a survey of the sites for who received the training and who didnít. There are around 1/3 of the employees who have not been trained.
Darryl: I donít doubt that there wasnít a push on training. I think the list of grades and series was just how it was being implemented and not how the training would be done.
Frank: A lot of the concerns were addressed in the Nov01 session. We compare Resumix with other Services and Agencies programs and ours is not as good as some of their programs. Some systems have automatic referrals. When self-nominating yourself, you have to go out and pull in the announcement number to complete the process. We donít have a central skills bank that other systems have. We have fewer people to look at to find the most qualified.
Darryl: So you are in favor of the automatic nomination?
MM: We have had a lot of feedback from employees on that and they would like that.
Bob: Joyce Short sent me a message from a customer. The email stated that Resumix is a user-friendly system.
Darryl: The process being used is being considered one of the best. We service outside Agencies and are picking up more.
MM: I think it would be good to go back to a central skills bank. How can the Agency know what type of skills need from the employees or may have to purchase from contractors if they donít know what skills the current employees have? Resumix could be used to give a list of the number of employees who have qualifications for a skill set on demand.
Victor: There was a statement made that there are skill set packages. Are there skill set packages and can employees receive it?
Darryl: You are wanting to find out if employees can receive their skill sets and if that is being made known to employees?
Victor: It would help an employee to fix their Resumix if they have errors in it.
Pete: The way Resumix works, when a job is announced the supervisor lists the required skills and the desired skills needed for the job. Each job announcement would give the employee only the skill set for that job which may not help for another vacancy announcement. If they employee is looking for a volume of skills matched it may not be a valid indicator.
Employees need to understand how to write their resume with an active voice. Employees at Indy are going to the CSU to find out what they were missing on their resume for a specific vacancy announcement.
Victor: An employee can have all of the skills to get a job but write a resume so poorly that they are not shown on Resumix when they are qualified for the job. It would give an employee the ability to correct their resume so that they can be considered.
Pete: Have you been able to use the tutorial that is on Resumix?
Frank: It helps with people who have already had some training on the system but not for people who havenít had training.
On to rating and ranking. The referral list is no longer ranked by who is best qualified. A rating and ranking panel is used at some sites to then rank the list of referred employees. We suggest that the rating and ranking panels be used at the sites.
Darryl: When the HR office gets resumes, the packets are looked at to see if an applicant met the minimum qualifications. They would be put into separate piles based on if highly qualified. No ranking was done. Some supervisors after receiving the list of candidates, want the list to be ranked by a selection panel, but it is the supervisors choice of whom they choose for the job.
MM: What is built into the system that ensures the fairness of the process? Can it be manipulated to pull only a specific person by narrowing the skill set?
Darryl: With Resumix there is no human side to it. You are either qualified or you arenít. The human factor of whether it happens or not isnít there. The only human side to getting the list is the HR review to ensure that the minimum qualifications are met.
Frank: The rating and ranking panel at each site reviews the information that is given by HR is in accordance with Article 26.
Teresa: In Resumix, there is not a rating and ranking process.
Pete: The selecting official has the option of making the selection off the referral list or they can use the panel procedure. The panel would interview all, none or some of the applicants. The panel would then make a selection.
The panel process is a management right.
Darryl: Resumix takes care of Article 26 section 9.
Teresa: It matches the skills identified by the supervisor to see who is qualified for the job. The process in Article 26 was used before Resumix to see who would be referred for a job.
Linda: A manager can look at what a panel recommends for a position and either use their selection or make their own selection.
Pete: Once a referral list is issued and a panel is used that section 9 should be used? Look at Section 12 Selection Process. If we follow section 9 then it goes against section 12.
Pete: You have to remember that fundamentally once a referral list has been issued, the competition has ended. Management can select any of the people on the referral list. The list can be further broke down in the selection process but anyone on the list can be chosen because they are all highly qualified for the position.
Jimmie: The problem is the after effects of Resumix. The matrix that is being done after the list is received is the same process that was done before Resumix of ranking employees. You are still rating and ranking employees after Resumix has done it.
Teresa: The further rating and ranking is done to further break down the list.
Darryl: Is the concern that the rating and ranking (panel procedure) is a farce?
Evelyn: Did I understand that the rating and ranking panel in Section 9 us obsolete?
Pete: Resumix is doing the rating and ranking.
Jimmie was saying that when you explore a selection and ask to see the information generated, the information given by management doesnít follow the selection.
Jimmie: manipulating the list to get what the manager wants.
Pete: What do you mean by manipulate?
Jimmie: The managers are further rating and ranking putting a number on people on the list. The person with no. 1 should be the one chosen if that is what the process is for.
Darryl: is it your concern that there is a perception that there is a problem in the panel selection process?
Darryl: What can be done to fix this? Bob could address it to the management council when he briefs them on the negotiations.
Robin: When the selecting official goes to the individual they want to get the job and help them complete the resume. Giving them the criteria that are being used to pull the referral list. That person then is on the list and can be chosen for the position.
Darryl: We can communicate that to management but we cannot make the managers put a union official on a selection panel. What we can do is look at the process and see how it can be improved. It sounds like this is not a Resumix issue but a process issue after Resumix has completed its part. There are fairness issues, legal issues, and/or perception issues that we canít address until we have all of them.
Linda: Iíve always been told that the purpose of a selection panel is to reduce the impression of unfairness. You are always going to have people who try to manipulate the system. Do we have the right managers and employees in the right positions and doing their jobs?
MM: I want to, in my mind, eliminate that the system can not be manipulated. When you have a 501 vacancy, and you go to personnel to ask for a list, who gives the basic criteria? It appears that the staffer enters the basic career series criteria as well as the managers criteria. What prevents manipulation?
Pete: The criteria are built each time. The Manager tells the staffer what skills are needed. There are required skills and desired skills.
Darryl: There are certain skills that are needed for any government employee to have. Then there are desired skills. The candidates who have the most skills are referred.
Linda: The minimum qualifications must be met. The minimum qualifications are not decided by the manager and must be there.
The manager never touches them. They only have an option after that.
Frank: That was said in the briefing back in 2001. Is it envisioned that it will in the future be able to interface with other Agencies?
Darryl: DoD is running Resumix and the interface/all one program has been looked at but is a long way away.
Frank: Resumix also took away the crediting plan as we know it. There is nothing wrong with the skill set but why not include the criteria when it gets to the selection panel?
Linda: As a manager I find that performance appraisals are subjective unless all candidates have been reviewed by the same supervisor.
Frank: The last thing is the handicapped and disabled individual. How are they being taken care of since the CLCís are no longer there? We have some other questions that need answers.
Darryl: Can you give them to me electronically so that I can send them to the Resumix person to answer?
Frank: We can provide them to you. Session ended 5:06