OPM and FEMA step up for management pilots

A deadline is nearing for federal labor managers. November first is when they are supposed to be up and running with Labor-Management Council Forums. Carol Bona...

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

Federal agencies have their marching orders from the Chief Executive: work together with employees and unions to improve the delivery of high quality services to the American people.

Executive Order 13522, signed by the President on December 9th, 2009, calls for Federal agencies to have Labor-Management Council Forums up and running.

Council member and president of the Senior Executives AssociationSenior Executives Association Carol Bonosaro told Federal News Radio she sees an additional goal to make the labor-management more productive and less contentious.

To that end, the Council is taking a look at what can be done then testing out ideas using pilot projects.

One big problem noted by Bonosaro is the scope and number of the projects.

“My concern specifically is that we have as many projects as possible that will take on the full range of issues, because I think that’s the only fair test. Unfortunately we only have two agencies that are going to do that. One is OPM and the other is FEMA.”

Bonosaro said there are eight pilot projects underway in specific parts of agencies.

“For example the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendelton has a pilot project. The VA has a pilot project with regard to their Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors. So they’re relatively narrow, and all I’m suggesting is that you don’t really get a picture with narrow ones of what it would be like for an agency to bargain on the full spectrum.”

While the pilot projects are underway, the Council will face the additional challenge of how to evaluate what the forums and pilot projects accomplish.

“In that regard,” said Bonosaro, “there are kind of three areas that we’re looking at: improving the agency’s ability to accomplish the missing and deliver high quality products and services to the public. The second is improving the quality of employee worklife. And the third is improving the labor-management relations climate.”

Even tougher will be to figure out how to make recommendations to the President while the input is still coming in.

“I think the big issue ahead,” said Bonosaro, “is the change that this is going to represent for managers because these forums will be having what’s called pre-decisional involvement. Namely, before management makes a decision, talk it out, get some input and see if you can improve what you’re planning to do or at least make it more understandable or acceptable, but to give input to the unions.”

According to the Executive Order, pilot projects are supposed to be underway before the end of November, with a “report to the President evaluating the results of the pilots and recommending appropriate next steps” due 18 months after that.

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