April 19, 2007

Bair Responds to NTEU Letter On
Employee Concerns, Pay-For-Performance

NTEU received a response from FDIC Chair Sheila Bair to a letter President Kelley recently sent expressing employee concerns about staffing and pay-for-performance, and seeking improved labor-management relations.

NTEU Files Third Grievance Against FDIC Pay-for-Performance Increases

NTEU has filed a grievance alleging discrimination in the FDIC's 2007 pay-for-performance (PFP) program based on age, race, gender and grade level. The grievance asserts that the FDIC's distribution of increases was skewed against African-Americans, women, employees over 40 years old and those in Grades 12 and below.

This is another in a series of grievances NTEU has filed citing similar discrimination in FDIC’s pay increases. A grievance against the 2005 Corporate Success Awards (CSA) program is currently before an arbitrator, while the second grievance on the 2006 PFP increases is on hold pending the CSA decision.

NTEU sought to change the CSA program during negotiations for a new compensation agreement by pushing to have pay increases tied directly to evaluation scores using the job-based Performance-Management Program (PMP) criteria. Although management refused to rely solely on PMP scores, FDIC did agree to include them as part of the PFP evaluation. NTEU had hoped this would combat some of problems, but as the 2006 and 2007 distributions indicate, management persists in using subjective, ill-defined factors when distributing its raises.

Based on a recent exchange of letters between President Kelley and FDIC Chair Sheila Bair, NTEU is hopeful that the parties can soon begin discussions on improving the system to make it fair, transparent and credible.


In her letter, Bair indicated that the FDIC will be "taking steps in the near future to try to better understand the concerns of our workforce" and asked for NTEU’s support "to ensure that employees at all levels are involved in discussions on key morale and employee engagement issues." She expressed a desire for “open and regular communications” and for "a truly collaborative working relationship between the FDIC and NTEU."

On the issue of pay-for-performance, Bair said she is "sensitive" to employee concerns about the program and plans "to review the current system and determine whether improvements can be made to address those concerns." Kelley will inform Bair that NTEU is prepared to enter into immediate discussions to develop a pay system that meets the FDIC's needs while providing pay increases that are fair, transparent and credible.

Bair's letter addressed another NTEU concern—staffing shortages in the face of increasing workloads. She noted that a review of field office examiner staffing allocations is underway to determine whether adjustments are necessary to address the current examination and training workload. In addition, Bair cited a hiring initiative that over the past two years has added 300 new employees training to be risk management and compliance examiners, with another 200 expected by next year. Bair responded to the concerns raised by NTEU about the Corporate Employee Program by indicating that she has asked for a review to determine whether structural changes are needed to make it more effective.

Kelley plans to follow up with Bair on other issues addressed in the letters, including the mechanisms for regular communications and collaboration between the FDIC and NTEU, and a process for NTEU to provide regular input on improving FDIC business processes and programs.

Updates on Kelley's discussions with Bair will be provided in future e-mails.

NTEU Sets the Record
Straight on FDIC Programs

NTEU is speaking out on a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) measuring the effectiveness of FDIC’s “human capital and risk assessment programs.”

Corporate Employee Program

One aspect of the report important to NTEU and our members is the section on the Corporate Employee Program (CEP). Since its inception in June 2005, NTEU has been critical of the program, arguing that it ignores the serious consequences of FDIC going too far with downsizing efforts. In an effort to deal with decreased staffing and an increased workload, FDIC implemented the CEP to train employees in multiple functions, ignoring the reality that they cannot do all at the same time. FDIC’s strategy of having one employee perform the risk management and compliance functions, as well as resolutions, dilutes the expertise needed to develop these separate specialty areas.

This is the wrong direction for FDIC to take, particularly in light of the recent swell in bank closings and problems with mortgage loans, requiring closer supervision of institutions on the examinations side.

Professional Learning Accounts

Equally important as what is covered in the 71-page report is what is omitted. In discussing the Professional Learning Accounts training program, GAO fails to mention anything about the differences in funding allocations based on grade levels. While NTEU applauds the program for providing employees funding for outside training, the union opposed the FDIC’s funding model. The FDIC allots a greater per-employee allocation to higher graded employees (CG 13-15 and Corporate Managers) than to employees at Grades 12 journey level and below. NTEU believes that lower-graded employees typically have a greater need for external training than those at higher grades.

Conclusion: Inconclusive

While NTEU has voiced concerns over the effectiveness of the CEP and other FDIC training and development initiatives, what does GAO think of them? It cannot determine their effectiveness because the CEP lacks performance measures.

“Without these measures, FDIC will not know whether its programs are effective at achieving its mission and its human capital goals,” the report said. “Further, not having these measures could limit FDIC's ability to determine whether to modify or eliminate ineffective training programs." GAO added that FDIC should share its findings with employees.

"...to ensure that every federal employee is treated with dignity and respect."