If the boss has been looking at you strangely the past few weeks he (or she) may be trying to decide if you are black, white, Hispanic or an Eskimo.
Many U.S. agencies are updating secret racial-ethnic check lists they keep on employes to determine how many minorities they think they have on the payroll.
The material will be used for both new and renewed "affirmative action" programs. The numbers, which officials say are not linked to names, now are used to monitor the promotion progress of minorities.
That data will become even more important this June when the Civil Service Commission launches the so-called Sugarman Plan. It will permit agencies to hire persons outside normal civil service merit channels if they come from racial or ethnic groups that are "underrepresented" in certain occupations in government.
Author of that plan. Civil Service Vice Chairmen Jule Sugarman, believes that agencies have not done enough to encourage some groups - women, and minorities - to enter some occupational fields. After mulling over the racial data, if CSC and agencies determine that a group is underrepresented in some occupational levels, agencies may reserve up to 30 percent of those job vacancies for members of the underrepresented group.
To make sure that their racial-ethnic material is correct and up-to-date, Defense, Commerce, Interior and some other agencies have told supervisors to make another check of their immediate staff to determine who is what.
The supervisory identification program, known in government parlance as "eyeballing," makes the supervisor the complete judge as to the race and ethnic background of each member of his or her staff.
Beginning this year, new employes in some federal jobs are being asked if they would like to designate their own race or ethnic background (Hispanic is the only one listed) for confidential material.
At one time the government tried to have all employes designate their own race or ethnic background. But thousands of State Department workers, either in fun or anger, listed themselves as American Indians and Eskimos. That is when the government shifted to supervisory identification, or eyeballing.
If you work for the government, odds are that you have been secretly coded from 0 to 7, depending on the race or ethnic group your supervisor put you in. Some agencies now are revising their headcounts because they think employes were mistyped before, according to the official government racial-ethnic breakdown you are either:
All employes in Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico and all foreign nationals.
1 Black (Negro).
2 Hispanic (Spanish-speaking).
3 American Indian.
4 Asian American/Oriental.
5 Aleut in Alaska.
6 Eskimo in Alaska.
7 None of the above (Nonminority/Caucasian).