Blacks, women and Hispanics are the three major minority groups in federal employment. Although their combined strength outnumbers the dominate white, male power structure (as it does in industry), they are still far behind in pay, rank and power in the bureacracy.
In the past the three groups often have been in competition for U.S. jobs, training, dollars, promotion and attention. (Women usually are not designated as a "minority" group by government label-makers, although they do qualify for special federal recognition in programs designed to boost minorities).
Now the "big three" minority blocs are watching to see if a new Carter administration reorganization will help them, or set them at each other's throats for more and better-paying jobs.
Under new power given via reorganization, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has additional responsibility to monitor and enforce antidiscrimination in government. Some critics of EEOC think it has tried harder for black males than any other minority group. EEOC says it takes cases as it gets them.
EEOC now has additional responsibility for enforcing laws against discrimination in federal employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or physical handicap. EEOC's caseload is expected to increase.
Significantly, some people feel, the transfer of new authority to the EEOC will not cover the Hispanic Employment Program, Federal Women's Program or upward mobility programs of government. The first two, obviously, deal with Hispanics and women, rather than racial groups. Upward mobility, in theory, is for anybody down who wants to move up.
The EEOC would love to have increased its duties and responsibilities to include those three programs. But the Office of Personnel Management (formerly the Civil Service Commission) has retained them. There was pressure from OPM and from the Senate, to keep its hold on the big -- in dollars and numbers -- programs. (EEOC recently lost a court case in which an EEOC employe, a Hispanic woman, alleged discrimination from the antidiscrimination agency).
Permitting the OPM to retain control over the Hispanic, women's and upward mobility programs should also make it easier to launch the months-in-the-making Sugarman plan. I twould encourage agencies to set aside a certain percentage of jobs in various occupational fields for minority candidates found to be "under-presented" in those fields. Chief advocate Jule Sugarman is vice chairman of the OPM. Much of the opposition to his program within the old Civil Service Commission has been reorganized into silence.
Federal agencies tend to protect their turf, and try to expand it whenever possible. Allowing the OPM continued authority over the Hispanic and women's programs, and upward mobility while transferring other antidiscrimination turf to the EEOC could create some interesting policy conflicts between the two.
Retirees Increasing: The number of retired federal workers is getting bigger each year. Experts believe the increase has been spurred by liberalization of retirement laws and rules, permitting people to quit earlier. Currently there are more than million civilian federal annuitants. That is a jump from fewer than 800,000 retirees just five years ago.
Benefits to retirees now exceed $8.5 billion a year. Survivors get another 1.4 billion.
Early Retirement: Effective with the new (January) civil service reform act, federal workers may retire early if their agencies are being reorganized.
The reorganization "early out" qualifications are the same as for employes in agencies undergoing major cutbacks, or RIFs.
To qualify for early retirement either because of RIF or reorganization, employes must have 25 years of service (federal, military or combination), or be at least age 50 with 20 years service. There is a 2 percent reduction in pension for each year under age 55.
The Office of Personnel Management must give its okay before your agency can authorize "early out" either for RIF or reorganization. But that should not be too hard to get. OPM has already approved it for one agency. The first use of early-out authority -- aimed at encouraging younger, but senior workers to take a walk -- runs from January to June. The agency that got the okay from the Office of Personnel Management? The Office of Personnel Management, that's who!