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New diversity plan for the Interior Department

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

The Interior Department is implementing new workplace rules for diversity and inclusion amid years of reports that it hasn't done a good job hiring and promoting minorities.

A study conducted by the department's black employees last year found that Interior was the only Cabinet-level agency falling below "relevant civilian labor force" representation for African Americans and was experiencing more departures of black employees than new hires.

The poor numbers prompted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to call for changes and he announced a series of changes last month, including a decision to link performance evaluations and awards for senior executives to their progress on hiring diversity. He also ordered managers to file monthly diversity reports.

On Monday Salazar tapped John Burden -- a veteran of diversity offices at Interior and the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- to serve as the department's first chief diversity officer. Managers across the department also will have to draft their own diversity plans by Sept. 30.

“This Inclusive Workplace Statement is a first for us," Salazar said in a message sent to employees. "It means establishing a department that ensures no one is shut out or left behind. We are the Department of America. We represent the people of this country from Yosemite National Park and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Samoa and Guam, and the Virgin Islands. And as the Department of America, our ranks should reflect the face of the American public we serve."

Interior certainly is one of the most diverse and varied departments -- responsible for everything from last weekend's deadly off-road racing crash to cleaning up the Gulf Coast and managing national parks. But will monthly diversity reports, a new diversity chief and strategic hiring diversity plans help recruit and promote more minorities? Or are Salazar's plans just window dressing that require much more?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Air Force 'Don't ask, don't tell' discharge avoided, for now: Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach reached an agreement on Monday with the Justice Department and Air Force that keeps the Pentagon from discharging him for violating the military's gay ban until a U.S. District Court in Idaho holds a hearing on his motion for a preliminary injunction. Fehrenbach, as The Eye reported last week, is the first active duty service member to use a legal line of reasoning that puts the burden of proof on the federal government to prove a person's homosexuality is negatively impacting morale and good order.

Cabinet and Staff News: Ali Zaidi, formerly with the Office of Management and Budget, starts this week as special assistant to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Is Robert Gates retiring? Nah. But if he does, it would derail Pentagon reform efforts.

GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE:
GPO opens redesigned federal bookstore: It sells only federal documents and was renovated entirely by federal employees.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT:
U.S. to tighten reviews for new offshore drilling plans: It's ending a practice in which government regulators essentially rubber-stamped potentially hazardous deepwater projects.

Fishermen greet start of gulf shrimp harvest with suspicion: In some places, the start of shrimping was greeted with suspicion instead of joy.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:
Justice Dept. cuts losses with DeLay: It's the latest sign that the investigation into disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff is drawing to a close.

SEC:
Judge rejects Citigroup's settlement with SEC: She asked why company shareholders must ultimately bear the price of the sanction, and why the agency charged only two executives with wrongdoing when more senior executives were involved.

STATE DEPARTMENT:
U.S. said to plan easing rules for travel to Cuba: The changes would loosen restrictions on academic, religious and cultural groups that were adopted under President George W. Bush, and return to the “people to people” policies of the Clinton era.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | August 17, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Comments

yes i would like to see a limit on jews to 2% of any given department,advisory position,or dog catchers.the diversity angle is nothing but a reverse double wammy around similar to the immagration and amnesty bills that flooded ameklika with peoplecompeting for jobs illegally at a time when job werebecoming scarce and are now acrce.i undwerstand the jews were behind the bills and legilation ,their agenda being to get rid of cockasians,render them nuetral as in nutered.same with abortuion agenda and manyu others cute little festiovities to take over by knocking white cockasians off the top as they perceive them.

Posted by: xtiml | August 17, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

A little early to be hitting the sauce, dont you think xtiml?

Posted by: capsfan55 | August 17, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

skin color, not merit, is what is most important in hiring. To say otherwise is racist treason.

Posted by: jiji1 | August 17, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

“A study conducted by the department's black employees last year found that Interior was the only Cabinet-level agency falling below "relevant civilian labor force (CLF) representation for African Americans.”

If we are only talking numbers of Black federal employees, then there needs to be some “enlightenment” on this issue. Bottom line is that the federal government, overall, has (based on numbers)too many blacks employed at the expense of both Hispanic and White workers. The Department of the Interior can make a push to hire more Blacks when other departments and separate agencies reduce their numbers.

Let’s look at federal employment of blacks as a whole using numbers from OPM (2008 but this is the last set of numbers OPM haws provided (I wonder why?)

1. Minorities make up 29.2% of the Civilian Labor Force and 33.4% of the Federal Labor Force.
- Blacks
- 17.9 % (313,899) of the FW in 2008 - - 7.7% Black Males (4.8% of the CLF)
- 10.3% Black Female (5.6% of the CLF)

This implies that there were about 140,000 of blacks in FW force in 2008 excess which denied federal jobs to both Hispanics and Whites.

2. Blacks equaled or exceeded their relevant civilian labor force representation in 17 of 18 executive departments

Comparison Of Permanent Federal And Total Civilian Employment By Occupation, Nationwide, September 30, 2008 (Blacks)

FWF%/CLF %
Housing & Urban Dev 38.1/7.8
Education 36.5/8.8
State 30.9 /9.8
Treasury 24.7/9.5
Veterans Affairs 24.4/9.7
Labor 22.3 /8.2
Defense 20.3/9.4
H & H Services 19.8/10.0
Justice 17.3 /9.7
The Army 16.8/9.5
Commerce 16.4 /8.9
Homeland Security 14.4/8.8
Energy 11.6/7.7
The Air Force 11.6/9.6
Transportation 11.4/8.9
Agriculture 11.0/9.0
Interior 5.7/9.2
Govt-wide 19.8
CLF 9.8

3. Blacks equaled or exceeded their relevant civilian labor force representation in all 24 independent agencies

Comparison Of Permanent Federal And Total Civilian Employment By Occupation, Nationwide, September 30, 2008 (Blacks)

FWF%/CLF %
Court Services & OSA 82.1/8.8
GPO 54.9/9.2
EEO Commission 42.8/8.4
Pension Benefit Guaranty 42.7/8.0
Smithsonian Inst. 40.1/8.7
Railroad Retirement Board 33.6 /7.9
National Science Found. 32.5/7.8
FCC 32.1/8.3
Corp For Natl And Com. Svc 30.5/8.4
GSA 26.8/8.4
AID 28.7/8.4
SSA 28.6 /9.4
OPM 23.6/9.3

You get the picture. Interior is highly rated by its employees as a great, professional place to work. Now, let’s figure out why Blacks are leaving which is the real issue.

Posted by: highexpectations | August 17, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

xtimi and others who think immigrants are taking American's jobs, check this out:
http://www.takeourjobs.org

and to high expectations with all your statistics: how can the Civilian Labor force employ those from the Army, Air Force, or any military since those are inherently Federal? How many civilian agencies or state have their own soldiers? So that is at best, a flawed argument...

Posted by: ojibwelw | August 17, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I have had three Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) appeals concerning hiring practices by the Department of the Interior. All were handled fraudulently by the MSPB, and the appeals were eventually dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. They involve about 100 individual selections, some, however, duplicates for fill one vacancy. Because I served in the Vietnam War, I will never be hired. Eliminating veterans' preference is now a civil service priority, which is one of the reasons multiple selections are held to fill one position. To qualify for such a position at a university or private research institution, minimum qualifications include a doctoral degree, successful research and supervision of research, and many many publications in refereed journals and books. I had the highest score on more than 30 of the applications, most before receiving any preference points. My applications were rejected for at least 30 other jobs before the examination was scored to avoid having a veteran with preference rights on the list. Of those for which the Department of the Interior provided defenses, fewer than 50% of those hired had even earned a Master's degree, very few had earned a PhD, and most had no record of scientific publication. They all personally knew at least one of the persons involved in the selection. I believe that all were white except for a resident of Puerto Rico, who was given a job there without degrees or publications. The agency involved in all selections, the U.S. Geological Survey, claimed to have hired two veterans, but one was definitely not a preference-eligible veteran, and the agency refused to release the records of the other, who seemed to have served in the National Guard during the Vietnam War and was also not a bona fide veteran. The U.S. Geological Survey was the agency that first detected the 9.2 point earthquake but gave no warning, resulting in more than 200,000 people drowning when the tidal wave hit. Apparently, the agency "scientists" were not competent enough to use a telephone.
The Department of the Interior has been criticized by many organizations and groups of scientists, but it continues to practice criminal negligence. During my appeals, several senior officials committed perjury in statements to investigators, obstruction of justice in doctoring the documents it submitted, and fraud in the selections by altering examination answers to some lower applicants' scores and raise others.
It is not surprising that criticism is made of that Department, and it surprises me that there is so little. The Secretary of the Interior during much of the time my applications were being fraudulently eliminated from competitions, Gale Norton, has been facing indictment for corruption. Has she been charged yet? I spent more than two years in combat in Vietnam, hold a doctorate, and have written 8 books and more than 65 other publications. My military service disqualifies me for the civil service.

Posted by: cwheckman | August 17, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

highexpectations has some interesting numbers. Interior doesn't need quotas, they just need to transfer some people out of those slum-Departments Housing & Urban Dev, Education, State, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Labor, Defense, H & H Services, Justice, The Army, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Energy.

Make it like bussing for the bureaucracy.

Posted by: jiji1 | August 18, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Diversity in the work place at the Department of Interior (DOI) is a step in the right direction, but it is not nearly enough to ensure equal access to the benefits of the National Park Service (NPS) and other DOI resources.

A diverse and growing alliance is working to diversify access to and support for National Parks to help distribute the economic benefits of DOI and NPS. A diverse work force is important to get Americans back to work in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. DOI and NPS can learn important lessons from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of the most successful New Deal programs.

The CCC created 8,000 new parks including state parks, planted 2 billion trees - more than half of all trees planted in U.S. up until that time -- and created 3 million new jobs for young men -- mostly men, and mostly white. CCC programs were generally off limits to most people of color and women. DOI can do better than that today in its own workforce.

Secretary Ken Salazar must do more than diversify his own work force through CCC type programs. DOI must also ensure that recipients of federal funds like the California Department of Parks and Recreation comply with civil rights and environmental laws by keeping endangered state parks open for all. DOI's own National Trust for Historic Preservation includes state parks on the list of eleven most endangered historic places in the United States.

Yet DOI has failed to investigate an Administrative Complaint filed over a year ago that would provide a plan to distribute the benefits and burdens of state park resources fairly for all. We have personally briefed federal officials but they have failed to investigate, including Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and Will Shafroth, head of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Campaign.

Diverse allies continue to seek equal justice to save state parks for all. These allies include California LULAC (League of Latin American Citizens), The City Project, Coastwalk California, Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles (one of the first black environmental organizations in the country), CPEHN (California Pan Ethnic Health Network), SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center), and Robert Bracamontes of the Acjachemen nation.

Learn more about our struggle to persuade DOI and EPA to enforce the law to save state parks for all here: http://www.cityprojectca.org/blog/archives/6059

Robert Garcia, Executive Director and Counsel
The City Project

Posted by: RobertGarciaTCP | August 20, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

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