Equal Opportunity

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Open Recommendations

Equal Employment Opportunity: Better Assistance and Data Use Could Improve Oversight of Veterans' Federal Contractor Employment

GAO-22-104599
May 26, 2022
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7 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs The Director of OFCCP should clarify how contractors should use the VEVRAA hiring benchmark, including providing examples of how contractors can use it as a tool to measure progress in hiring protected veterans. (Recommendation 1)
Open
DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation and did not comment on plans to address it. We will consider closing this recommendation when the agency takes steps to clarify how contractors should use the VEVRAA hiring benchmark.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs The Director of OFCCP should incorporate key practices, such as those identified by other agencies, for employing veterans into its public information on VEVRAA. (Recommendation 2)
Open
DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation and did not comment on plans to address it. We will consider closing this recommendation when the agency takes steps to implement it.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs The Director of OFCCP should provide information to contractors and workers that encourages self-identification for protected veterans. For example, OFCCP could make a video explaining the benefits of self-identification for protected veterans similar to one it has for individuals with disabilities. (Recommendation 3)
Open
DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation and did not comment on plans to address it. We will consider closing this recommendation when the agency takes steps to implement it.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs The Director of OFCCP should use available data to better approximate the size and characteristics of the veteran population protected under VEVRAA. For example, OFCCP could consider how to adjust the data it uses from the CPS Veterans Supplement to approximate the subset of veterans who are protected. (Recommendation 4)
Open
DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation and did not comment on plans to address it. We will consider closing this recommendation when the agency uses available data to better approximate the veteran population it is charged with protecting, so that the agency can better monitor contractors' progress in hiring and recruiting protected veterans.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs The Director of OFCCP should assess the feasibility of using existing data or collecting new data to incorporate into enforcement procedures that would allow OFCCP to assess systemic discrimination against protected veterans. (Recommendation 5)
Open
DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation and did not comment on plans to address it. We will consider closing this recommendation when the agency takes steps to implement it.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs The Director of OFCCP should assess the costs and benefits of adjusting the VEVRAA hiring benchmark to reflect protected veterans who may not be captured in the civilian workforce or who have relatively high unemployment rates, including protected veterans who have significant service-connected disabilities. (Recommendation 6)
Open
DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation and did not comment on plans to address it. We will consider closing this recommendation when the agency takes steps to implement it.

Sexual Assault and Harassment: NOAA Has Made Substantial Progress in Prevention and Response but Could Further Improve Its Processes

GAO-21-560
Sep 27, 2021
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6 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should ensure that future updates to the agency's sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention and response policy are consistent with all relevant legal requirements in the 2017 NDAA. (Recommendation 1)
Open
As of February 2022, , the agency stated that it is actively collaborating with stakeholders to modify its Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment (SASH) policy to incorporate all relevant legal requirements, including implementing a process that will ensure future updates are consistent with legal requirements. NOAA anticipates the updated policy will be finalized in the first half of 2022.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should implement a mechanism requiring oversight by senior agency leaders of all disciplinary actions involving misconduct related to sexual assault and sexual harassment before such actions are finalized. (Recommendation 2)
Open
As of February 2022, the agency stated that it is collaborating with stakeholders to modify its SASH policy to include oversight of disciplinary matters. It also stated it will conduct training for managers and decisionmakers on roles and responsibilities related to SASH. NOAA anticipates all actions to address this recommendation will be completed by December 2022.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should ensure that the agency provides specific and readily accessible information on its website, through frequently asked questions (FAQ) and in staff training. The information should describe and explain the differences among complaint systems and what to expect from each when reporting allegations of sexual harassment or assault. (Recommendation 3)
Open
As of February 2022, the agency stated that it is actively collaborating with stakeholders and affiliates on streamlining access to information and updating its websites to include FAQs, contact mechanisms, and cross-posting resources. In addition, the agency stated that each office that received SASH allegations will include information on their respective public facing sites and also include a link to the NOAA Workplace Violence Prevention and Response office. NOAA anticipated actions to address the recommendation will be completed in the first half of 2022.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should require that training for supervisors and managers include critical NOAA-specific information, such as how to report allegations up the chain of command, how to identify and minimize potential risk factors, explanations of NOAA's confidentiality rules, and the consequences for failing to fulfill this staff's supervisory responsibilities. (Recommendation 4)
Open
As of February 2022, the agency stated that it is actively collaborating with stakeholders on modifying its SASH policy to clarify managerial requirements relating to SASH incidents. They also stated that NOAA has hired a contractor that is creating evidence-based training that highlights existing programs and processes and provides tools to address risk factors and bystander intervention methods. NOAA will mandate that all supervisors and managers take this training, which it anticipated will be completed by the end of June 2022.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should ensure the agency provides more information to specific individuals and the larger NOAA workforce about how the agency is responding to allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, as appropriate, such as by regularly updating individuals on the status of their cases and by annually developing summary-level information for the workforce about the number, type, and resolution of cases. (Recommendation 5)
Open
As of February 2022, the agency stated that it holds a monthly SASH Council where stakeholders may share data and trends tied to SASH. In addition, the agency stated that it is training its volunteer assistance advocates on trauma-informed care and response, clarifying expectations on transparency and ongoing communication. NOAA also stated it will provide an annual report to the NOAA workforce that includes aggregate data, such as the total number of open and closed SASH cases and types of corrective actions implemented. According to agency officials, this report will not include specific details about cases or identifying information, and it will be available on the NOAA website. They anticipate issuing the annual report each February, beginning in 2022.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should ensure that the central tracking system being developed will collect consistent data and appropriately document the number and type of incidents of sexual assault and harassment across complaint systems. (Recommendation 6)
Open
As of February 2022, the agency stated that it is currently developing a database that will streamline case data for reporting to Congress, as well as provide consistent trend data to NOAA leadership and employees. The agency stated that this data will also allow NOAA to engage in meaningful prevention and response efforts. The agency stated that it anticipates the database will be operational by the end of June 2022.

Voters with Disabilities: State and Local Actions and Federal Resources to Address Accessibility of Early Voting

GAO-21-352
Jul 21, 2021
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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Election Assistance Commission The Executive Director of the EAC should develop and implement a mechanism or mechanisms for collecting and incorporating feedback from state and local election officials on the usefulness of the voting accessibility resources the agency provides and other resources that would be helpful to them. (Recommendation 1)
Open
The EAC stated that expanding its resources for accessibility and improving the feedback process is a priority for the agency and identified ongoing and planned steps to do so. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in implementing our recommendation.

Sexual Harassment: NNSA Could Improve Prevention and Response Efforts in Its Nuclear Security Forces

GAO-21-307
Apr 19, 2021
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5 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Nuclear Security Administration The Administrator of NNSA should conduct anonymous surveys on sexual harassment issues that adhere to leading practices for survey research to understand the extent to which sexual harassment may occur in OST and the nature of any such harassment. (Recommendation 1)
Open
In its written comments, NNSA concurred with this recommendation and said that it will conduct anonymous surveys of federal employees within the agency, including OST. NNSA also stated that its surveys will adhere to leading practices for survey research and estimated that the agency will roll out the surveys by October 31, 2021.
National Nuclear Security Administration The Administrator of NNSA should evaluate its contracting practices and determine whether protective force contractors should conduct anonymous surveys on sexual harassment issues that adhere to leading practices for survey research to understand the extent to which sexual harassment may occur in their organizations and the nature of any such harassment. (Recommendation 2)
Open
In its written comments, NNSA concurred with this recommendation. NNSA stated that its Office of Acquisition and Project Management will work with its Office of Civil Rights to evaluate contracting practices and determine whether to require contractors to conduct anonymous surveys of contractor employees, including protective force contractors, on sexual harassment issues. NNSA stated that the estimated completion date for this action is October 31, 2021.
National Nuclear Security Administration The Administrator of NNSA should develop a process to consider which EEOC Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment to implement based on the needs of its federal nuclear security workforce in OST, informed by sexual harassment survey results. (Recommendation 3)
Open
In its written comments, NNSA concurred with this recommendation. NNSA stated that it will develop a process to consider which EEOC Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment to implement, based on the needs of its federal workforce, including OST, informed by sexual harassment survey results. NNSA stated that the estimated completion date for this action is January 31, 2022.
National Nuclear Security Administration The Administrator of NNSA should evaluate its contracting practices and determine whether protective force contractors should further implement Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment relevant to the needs of its contracted protective forces, informed by sexual harassment survey results. (Recommendation 4)
Open
In its written comments, NNSA concurred with this recommendation. NNSA stated that its Office of Acquisition and Project Management will work with its Office of Civil Rights to evaluate contracting practices and determine whether to require contractors to implement additional EEOC Promising Practices For Preventing Harassment. In doing so, NNSA stated that it will consider the needs of NNSA's contractor workforce, including protective force contractors, as informed by sexual harassment survey results. NNSA stated that the estimated completion date for this action is January 31, 2022.
Department of Energy
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Energy should fully implement plans to address the department's EEO program deficiencies relevant to sexual harassment and work with NNSA to fully implement plans to address the agency's EEO program deficiencies relevant to sexual harassment. (Recommendation 5)
Open
DOE concurred with this recommendation. DOE stated that it has completed actions to address some of the issues identified by EEOC and has demonstrated progress to address remaining issues. DOE also stated that it will continue to work with NNSA to address issues and further strengthen practices. DOE estimated that it would demonstrate successful completion by September 30, 2022.
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