The personnel management program at the Mining Enforcement and Safety Administration is riddled with deficiencies and violations of federal regulations in hiring promotions and incentive awards for employees.an Interior department investigation has found.
Personnel problems are so wide-spread that "it is virtually impossible to isolate program deficiencies from head quarters and field,"a department report says.
The Interior Department review "revealed many problems which were found to be systemic not only at the bureau headquarters level.but also in the field offices located in Denver and Pittsburgh,"it says.
The Interior Department review "revealed many problems which were found to be systemic not only at the bureau headquarters level.but also in the field offices located in denver and Pittsburgh,"it says.
The department's evaluation. made with the Civil service Commision , recommends that MESA Administrator RObert E Barrett"issue a strong policy statement to all exployees stating unequivocally his support for open and fair competition when filling all positions in the bureau and that pre-selection will not be tolerated."
Barrett could not be reached yesterday for comment.His superior.Joan Davenport, assistant secretary of the Interior for enegy and minerals, said Saturday that "there will be action taken"to correct problems in the personnel management program.
The Interior department -Civil service Commission report obtained by The Washington Post Cites "substantive violations"of the Civil service merit system. which is designed to assure that all qualified persons receive equal consideration for hiring. promotions, assignments and trainings.
Last November.the Civil service Commission reported that MESA's Denver office had serious personnel management problems, and it raised the issue of "official culpability."
In one instance, persons were hired part-time to work in the field office's automated data processing division."but in reality.people who were hire on part'time were working full time and overtime and then those that were working overtime were getting incentive awards for working overtime," according to Lawrence Bembry, acting chief of the interior Department's Division of Program Planning and Evaluation.
The November report also cited preselection in hiring and unjustified promotions. It said they occurred in a "series of paper manipulations of the technical personnel systems, i.e., misleading or false position descriptions to expedite specific management objectives for the placement or promotion of selected individuals."
MESA was established in 1973 by the Secretary of the Interior to provide more stringent mine safety and health enforcement. It has about 3,000 employees, 10 per cent of whom are located at MESA headquartes in Arlington.
Congress is expected to enact legislation this year transferring MESA from Interior to the Department of Labor. President Carter has endorsed the transfer; Interior Secretary Cecil D. Andrus opposes it.
The Interior Department's personnel management review said that MESA employees were promoted from clerical to technical or professional levels "without competition."
"Many of these actions were improper and reflect the lack of management responsibility for positions within their charge," it said.
It cited "lack of required documentation" to support promotions, and said MESA will have to "identify highly qualified employees whose opportunities were abridged by improper actions . . . and possibly require adverse action to remove employees improperly promoted or placed . . ."
The report said that there has been interference by MESA headquarters in the classification and selection of employees in the Denver and Pittsburgh field offices. On the other hand, in Pittsburgh, field offices. On the other hand, in Pittsburgh, personnel work has been seriously impaired by the absence of firm and positive policy guidance from the headquarters function."
Also in Pittsburgh, "We found a situation of nonaction, inertness, if you will, because of what has been unanimously interpreted as headquarters policy to avoid unpleasant and/or corrective actions," the report said. It said that so simple a personnel correction as reclassifying a clerk-stenographer job to clerk-typist was not done in two years.
At headquarters, "We found the MESA position management and classification program as being most inadequate," the report said. "The quality of overall position classification of the headquarters was such that of approximately 62 positions, roughly 50 per cent were found to be improperly graded . . . Evaluation statements are either nonexistent or actually highlight the impropriety of the grade assigned," it said.
"Position and organizational structures which reflect duplication of effort, layering of lines of supervision, costly fragmentation of responsibilities not only are allowed to continue, but flourish," it said.
The report said that at MESA headquarters "It is not uncommon . . . for an individual to recommend and approve an incentive award with the same stroke of a pen."
The department's review of some of the incentive awards "disclosed a need for stronger justification."