Changes to Current Addresses and Geographic Jurisdictions, 46349-46368 [2018-19929]

Download as PDF 46349 Rules and Regulations Federal Register Vol. 83, No. 178 Thursday, September 13, 2018 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510. The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY 5 CFR Chapter XIV Changes to Current Addresses and Geographic Jurisdictions Federal Labor Relations Authority. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This document amends regulations listing the current addresses and describing the geographic jurisdictions of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, General Counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and the Federal Service Impasses Panel. These changes reflect the closing of the Dallas Regional Office and changes to the geographical jurisdictions of the Atlanta, Chicago, and Denver Regional Directors. DATES: Effective September 21, 2018. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Tosick, Executive Director, Federal Labor Relations Authority, 1400 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20424, (202) 218–7791, wtosick@flra.gov. SUMMARY: Effective January 28, 1980, the Authority and the General Counsel published, at 45 FR 3482, January 17, 1980, final rules and regulations to govern the processing of cases by the Authority and the General Counsel under chapter 71 of title 5 of the United States Code. These rules and regulations are required by title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and are set forth in 5 CFR chapter XIV (2018). After an examination of budgets, caseloads, rental costs, operating costs, and staffing, the Authority is closing its Dallas Regional Office and reassigning its jurisdiction to the Denver and Atlanta Regional Directors, effective September 21, 2018. It is also reassigning jurisdiction for the state of South Dakota from the Denver Regional Director to the Chicago Regional Director. The Authority expects no adverse effect on the quality or efficiency of casehandling as a result of the Dallas Regional Office closure. This amendment updates paragraphs (d) and (f) of Appendix A to 5 CFR chapter XIV to reflect the new organizational structure by removing the Dallas Regional Office from the list of current addresses, telephone numbers, and fax numbers of the Authority’s Regional Offices and by revising the geographical jurisdictions of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. As this rule pertains to agency organization, procedure, or practice, it is exempt from prior notice and public comment SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A). For this same reason, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Authority finds that good cause exists for not providing a more delayed effective date. This type of action is also exempt from review under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993), 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011), and 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017). For additional information regarding case handling procedures following the Dallas Regional Office closure, please go to www.flra.gov. List of Subjects in 5 CFR Chapter XIV Administrative practice and procedure. Chapter XIV—Federal Labor Relations Authority For the reasons set forth in the preamble and under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 7134, the authority amends 5 CFR chapter XIV as follows: 1. Appendix A to 5 CFR chapter XIV is amended by removing paragraph (d)(5), redesignating paragraphs (d)(6) and (7) as (d)(5) and (6), and revising paragraph (f) to read as follows: ■ Appendix A to 5 CFR Chapter XIV— Current Addresses and Geographic Jurisdictions * * * * daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES State or other locality Regional office Alabama ....................................................................................................................................................................................... Alaska ........................................................................................................................................................................................... Arizona ......................................................................................................................................................................................... Arkansas ...................................................................................................................................................................................... California ...................................................................................................................................................................................... Colorado ....................................................................................................................................................................................... Connecticut .................................................................................................................................................................................. Delaware ...................................................................................................................................................................................... District of Columbia ...................................................................................................................................................................... Florida .......................................................................................................................................................................................... Georgia ......................................................................................................................................................................................... Hawaii and all land and water areas west of the continents of North and South America (except coastal islands) to long. 90 degrees East. Idaho ............................................................................................................................................................................................ Illinois ........................................................................................................................................................................................... Indiana .......................................................................................................................................................................................... Iowa .............................................................................................................................................................................................. Kansas ......................................................................................................................................................................................... Kentucky ....................................................................................................................................................................................... Louisiana ...................................................................................................................................................................................... Maine ............................................................................................................................................................................................ Maryland ....................................................................................................................................................................................... Massachusetts ............................................................................................................................................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4700 * (f) The geographic jurisdictions of the Regional Directors of the Federal Labor Relations Authority are as follows: Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 Atlanta. San Francisco. Denver. Atlanta. San Francisco. Denver. Boston. Boston. Washington, DC. Atlanta. Atlanta. San Francisco. San Francisco. Chicago. Chicago. Chicago. Denver. Chicago. Atlanta. Boston. Washington, DC. Boston. 46350 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations State or other locality Regional office Michigan ....................................................................................................................................................................................... Minnesota ..................................................................................................................................................................................... Mississippi .................................................................................................................................................................................... Missouri ........................................................................................................................................................................................ Montana ....................................................................................................................................................................................... Nebraska ...................................................................................................................................................................................... Nevada ......................................................................................................................................................................................... New Hampshire ............................................................................................................................................................................ New Jersey .................................................................................................................................................................................. New Mexico .................................................................................................................................................................................. New York ...................................................................................................................................................................................... North Carolina .............................................................................................................................................................................. North Dakota ................................................................................................................................................................................ Ohio .............................................................................................................................................................................................. Oklahoma ..................................................................................................................................................................................... Oregon ......................................................................................................................................................................................... Pennsylvania ................................................................................................................................................................................ Puerto Rico and coastal islands .................................................................................................................................................. Rhode Island ................................................................................................................................................................................ South Carolina ............................................................................................................................................................................. South Dakota ............................................................................................................................................................................... Tennessee .................................................................................................................................................................................... Texas ............................................................................................................................................................................................ Utah .............................................................................................................................................................................................. Vermont ........................................................................................................................................................................................ Virginia ......................................................................................................................................................................................... Washington .................................................................................................................................................................................. West Virginia ................................................................................................................................................................................ Wisconsin ..................................................................................................................................................................................... Wyoming ...................................................................................................................................................................................... Virgin Islands ................................................................................................................................................................................ Panama/limited FLRA jurisdiction ................................................................................................................................................ All land and water areas east of the continents of North and South America to long. 90 degrees East, except the Virgin Islands, Panama (limited FLRA jurisdiction), Puerto Rico and coastal islands. Authority: 5 U.S.C. 7134. Dated: September 10, 2018. For the Federal Labor Relations Authority. William Tosick, Executive Director. Note: The following appendix will not appear in the Code of Federal Regulations: Appendix A—Opinions of the Authority’s Majority and Dissent With Respect to the Closure of the Federal Labor Relations Authority’s Boston and Dallas Regional Offices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES I. Authority’s Opinion The Authority voted in January 2018 to close the Boston and Dallas Regional VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 Offices. At that time, the Authority considered arguments echoing those of Member DuBester. We concluded, however, that consolidating the FLRA’s Regional Office structure would husband the FLRA’s budgetary and operational resources and best serve the labor-management relations community. In the end, Member DuBester raises nothing new. We have reprinted Chairman Kiko’s March 26, 2018 letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, Committee on Appropriations (attachments omitted), explaining why we undertook this Regional Office consolidation. We have PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Chicago. Chicago. Atlanta. Chicago. Denver. Denver. San Francisco. Boston. Boston. Denver. Boston. Atlanta. Chicago. Chicago. Denver. San Francisco. Boston. Boston. Boston. Atlanta. Chicago. Chicago. Denver. Denver. Boston. Washington, DC. San Francisco. Washington, DC. Chicago. Denver. Atlanta. Atlanta. Washington, DC. also included Chairman Kiko’s May 21, 2018 response to the letter from a group of Senators that Member DuBester references, which reiterates the rationale for the consolidation and offers Chairman Kiko’s additional personal reflections on the need for reform. In our opinion, these two letters thoroughly refute Member DuBester’s dissent. Colleen Duffy Kiko, Chairman. James T. Abbott, Member. BILLING CODE 6727–01–P E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations 46351 lJNITBD STATES OF AMERICA FJI!D~~L L4BQ]l Jn;~TIQN$ AUTHQRlTY WASBIN<n'Ol\(,.D.C•.20424 (Z02~218-7~ W'ftW·FLRAtlft OFFICE OF THE CHAIRMAN 'nte Honorable Sheij.eyMO<.lre Capit() The llonorable Cbris Coons Ranking :Member Subeommittee.onFinancial Services and Oene:tal Oovetnntent · Committee on Appropriati011S United States Senate SH-125 Hart Senate Office Building Washington. D.C. 20510 Chainnan. Sul;lcpmmittee on F:immcial $erv.i.Cl;Js and Genetal Govelttlt1ent Committee. on AppropdatiOllS United States Senate· SD-133DirksenSenate Office Building Washington. D.C. 2Q)l0 Dear Chairman CapitoandRankingM.emberCOOllS: In accordance with Division E. Title VI. Section WS:ofthe COllSOlidated 1\ppropliation.s ~ 2018. H.R. 1625. llsth Cong, (2018).(e.naeted). I respeetfn]1y advilile you: that the FederalLabot Relations AlllhPtity (FLRA)ptoposesto reorganize by romolidating the regicmal-Offiee sttueture of its offi.ce. of the Geneml Colll1Sel (OGC) .component. Consistent with EXecutive Otder 13781. Cb1fll!NheMiVB Plan forRenantztg fhe.&ecu#ye Brqnch (M:arch 13. 2011), and QtliceofManagementan~ Budget (OMB) Memorand1lm M-17-22, Comrtrehmstve Plan &r.Refgrmint ihe Federtil Gtwenunent and Reluctnr the Fet:lfralCwfltt:tn Woiifome (Aprll12, 20 17). theFLRA assembled a cross-component worldng group on :Maroh 27. 2017, to develop agency refonn.prop0$$ls an~ a long..tenn. wodd'orce plan fo~ on.inlprov:ing the agency~s efJiciency•. effectiveness•• and accountability. This·providedthe agency witlra real opportllllityto take a close look aUts stmcture and operati011S, and to develop andimplement.solutions for streamlining and reducing costs across the FLRA- while continuing to carry out the agency's important miSsion. The agency sought intemal and external stakeholder feedback for improving the efficie:ncy and effectiveness ofthe FLRA i:rt May 2017. .Among the intemal suggestions were recommendations to increase the use of electronic case :Iiles, reduce the agency's physical footprint, utilize hoteling. and reduce the .tegicmal-office structure from the current seven to only three or four regional offices. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.003</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES As.outlined in the FLRNs FY 2019 COIJ&Ie8sional Bqet JUStification. the FLRA has already implemented a nmnber of cost-sa.v:i.ng measures, including reducing its travel and training budgets and increasing its use of technology (e.g.,. videocon.ferencing .and electronic-case-file developments). But, like most small agencies, only a small portion of the FLRA's budget is discretionary~ with approximately 80% devoted to 46352 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations employee compensation and benefits, and another approximately 10% committed to rent costs. Consistent with Government-wide mandates and the agency's own ongoing efforts to reduce or eliminate rental costs since 2010, the agency's physical footprint and its regional-office structure were logical places to look for additional cost savings. As noted in the President's budget, "[a]ll work throughout the agency is undertaken to support a single program"- to promote stable, constructive labormanagement relations through the resolution and prevention of labor disputes in a manner that determines the respective rights of employees, agencies, and labor organizations in their relations with one another. The regional offices, on behalf of the FLRA General Coimsel. investigate and resolve unfair-labor-practice (ULP) charges, prosecute ULP complaints, investigate and resolve representation cases, and conduct secret-ballot elections. There are currently seven regional offices in: Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and Washington, D.C. (co-located withFLRAheadquarters). It has been over twenty years since the FLRA has reorganized its regional-office structure. After reviewing potential costs and efficiencies, the FLRA reorganized its regional-office structure in the 1990s -consolidating 9 regional offices into 7- by closing regional offices in New York, New York and Los Angeles, California. The current proposal is to consolidate from 7 regional offices into S, resuhing in the closure of the FLRA's Boston and Dallas regional offices. This would directly affect 16 employees - 9 ·in Boston and 7 in Dallas. AU affected employees will be offered reassignment within the agency to positions in another regional office or headquarters. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.004</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES As an initial matter, it is important to note that technology has changed significantly since the agency opened its doors in 1979, providing the ability to easily transact business virtually through electronic means. As sucl4 it is no longer as crucial or cost-effective as it was in 1979 for the FLRA to have regional.offices and employees in as many geographic locations. In addition, consolidating the regional-office structure will not resuh in substantial increases in travel costs for the FLRA or its customers. Generally, the only time that a customer may be required to travel is to participate in a ULP hearing before an FLRA Administrative Law Judge (AU) or a representation hearing before an.FLRA hearing officer. But the ALJ typically travels (at FLRA expense) from Washington, D.C. to where the parties and witnesses are located, and the FLRA pays the travel expenses for FLRA counsel and all FLRA witnesses, the majority of whom are union representatives. Moreover, the number ofULP hearings is quite small -for example, there were only 14 hearings in FY 2017, and an average of only 16 hearings per year for the last four years. As to representation cases, the OGC relies heavily on telephonic meetings. These can take place before a petition is filed to educate party representatives, or after a petition is filed to investigate, narrow, and resolve issues. To the extent that the parties have to participate in representation hearings, the FLRA hearing officers generally travel, at FLRA expense, to the parties' or witnesses' location. Moreover, the number of representation hearings is small- the OGC conducted only 10 representation hearings in FY 2017. And the OGC is increasingly using videoconfetencing to conduct all or parts of those hearings. Finally, the OGC Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations 46353 increasingly uses electronic voting and mail-ballot elections to conduct secret-ballot elections, minimizing the need for FLRA staff to utilize paid travel. Against this backdrop, factors considered by agency leadership in making the current consolidation recommendation include: (1) five-year average case intake for each regional office; (2) annual rent costs for each regional office outside of D.C.; (3) the number of employees in each region; and (4) proximity to another regional office. Based on 5-year case-intake averages (from FY 2012- FY 2016), Boston and Dallas have the lowest overall average case intake. AB to ULP cases, Boston and Dallas have average annual intake of 532 and 507 cases, respectively, or a total of 1,039 cases. By comparison, the remaining five regional offices have averages of 771 (Atlanta), 676 (Chicago), 564 (Denver), 750 (San Francisco), and 696 (Washington, D.C.). Turning to representation cases, Boston and Dallas have five-year average annual intake of25 and 22 cases, respectively, or a total of 47 cases. By comparison, the remaining five regional offices have averages of37 (Atlanta), 29 (Chicago), 24 (Denver), 45 (San Francisco), and 67 (Washington, D.C.). It is important to note that the agency specifically used a fiveyear average of case-intake data to avoid penalizing a regional office that had had "'an off year," as case intake can fluctuate from year to year. However, if we were to include FY 2017 data in the averages, the disparity between the Boston and Dallas regional offices' intake compared to the other regional offices is even more significant In addition to case intake, other considerations included rent costs, the number of affected employees, and proximity to other regional offices. AB to rent, at $48 per square foot in 2017 and $45 per square foot in 2018, rent for the Boston regional office is significantly greater per square foot than all of the FLRA's other regional offices outside of Washington, D.C. By comparison, the average rent per square foot for those offices is $25.87 per square foot. Closing the Boston and Dallas regional offices will save the agency in future ftscal years approximately $300,000 annually in lease payments, $1,500,000 over five years, and $3,000,000 over ten years. With respect to the impact on FLRA employees, the Dallas regional office has the fewest number of employees (7 employees), so closure of that office will result in disruption to, and relocation payments for, the fewest employees. Moreover, the Boston and Dallas regional offices are in close proximity to other regional offices, and the agency will continue to have a regional presence both on the East Coast and in the South/Southwest. In accordance with M-17-22, the agency submitted all of its reform proposals, including the recommendation to consolidate the regional-office structure and close the Boston and Dallas regional offices, to OMB on September 11, 2017. OMB approved the consolidation as part of the annual development of the FY 2019 President's Budget, contingent on a vote of the Authority Members- the FLRA's three-Member decisional body, which includes the FLRA Chairman, who is the agency's chief executive and administrative officer. 1 On December ll. 2017. the FLRA experienced a transition in its leadership. I was sworn in as an FLRA Member and designated by the President to serve VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.005</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 1 Under 5 U.S.C. §71 04Cb). "The President shall designate one member to serve as Chairman of the Authority. The Chairman is the chief executive and administrative officer of the Authority.» 46354 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations as Chairman; Member Ernest DuBester was sworn in for his third term as an Authority Member; and Member James T. Abbott was sworn in for his IlfSt term as an Authority Member. Consistent with FLRA regulations, 2 a majority of the Authority voted on January 11, 2018, to reduce its physical footprint and to consolidate its existing seven regional offices to five regional offices located in: Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, lllinois; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and Washington, D.C. (co-located at FLRA headquarters). Based on comprehensive analysis and planning. the FLRA has taken or will take the following implementation actions to consolidate the regional-office structure and realign the casework and the workforce of its regional offices. These include: • On February 12,2018, I personally shared the details ofthe consolidation with employees in a series ofthree meetings: (1) a meeting with the Regional Directors of all seven regional offices; (2) a meeting of all employees in the Boston and Dallas regional offices, including the employees' representative; and (3) an all-employee meeting. Following the all-employee meeting. a handout was distributed to all employees, which is enclosed here as Attachment l. • The agency will close its Boston, Massachusetts and Dallas, Texas regional offices no later than September 30, 2018, by providing no less than the required 4 months' notice to the General Services Administration that it intends to terminate the leases and vacate the offices scheduled for closure. • The agency will adjust the geographicjurisdiction and caseloads for each of the remaining regional offices. Specifically, the workload Qfthe Boston and Dallas regional offices- an average of 1,039 ULP cases annually (or 23% of the total OGC average annual intake of 4.496 ULP cases) and 47 representation cases annually (or 190/0 of the total OGC average annual intake of249 representation cases)- will be redistributed to the other regional offices through a published regulatory change 3 to the geographic jurisdiction of each regional office. The regulatory change will be.published no later than July 30, 2018. and the specific changes regarding the .geographic areas covered by eaeh regional office before and after the Q<>nsolidation. .are outlined in 4etail in Attachments 2 and 3. OOC management will meet to determine the best waytQ acoomplish the caseloadtransitiQn, which will dictate how soon the regulation will be published and how soon the Boston and Dallas regional offices will cease to accept new oases. OGC management will alsQ develop a detailed plan fortransfet:ring cases that ate already pending in the Boston. and Dallas regional offices at the time ofthe regulatory change. Appendix :S to SC.P.R. Chapter XI'\{ provide!!!~ thllt "the el!lta'bljshment. ~fer. or elimination qf any Regional ~e or non-Regional Office dtlty location may be, aceomplished only with the approval of the 2 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.006</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES ll.utbPrity." 3 A& with the most reeent realignment of the OOCs geograpme jurisdiction. m. 2014, the Agency will·issue the change as a final r.ule. witlio\Jt notice and comment .See 19Fed. Reg. 3::t&49. 3).850 (June 13;, 2914). Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations • The 16 employees cummtlyworkingin the Boston and Dallas regional offices - 2 Senior Executive Service (SES) regional directors; 2 GS-15 supervisory attorneys; 10 GS-12 to GS-14 attorneys/agents; 1 GS-11 administrative officer; and 1 GS-8 legal assistant -will be reassigned and relocated, at agency expense, to existing regional office or headquarters offices, without the agency leasing any additional space. No reduction-in-force actions will be initiated because there are adeqUa.te positions to retain all of the directly affected employees, without a loss to their SES status or grade level. • The agency has already requested and received Voluntary Early Retirement A1Jthority (VERA) from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and it offered VERA to all employees agency-wide on February 12,2018, to maximize relocation opportunities for the directly affected employees. That is, potential vacancies in other locations may provide additional relocation options for the Boston and Dallas employees. The agency has already provided retirement estimates to all seven VERA-eligible or optionalretirement-eligible employees in Boston and Dallas•. as well as individual retirement counseling sessions to them upon request. Anyone who accepts VERA will be expected to retire by September 30, 2018. • The agency has notified employees that it will notrequest Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP) authority from OMB and. OPM, because it is not attempting to reduce its workforce through this reorganization. • I have established a dedicated email address for employees to submit questions about the consolidation, and I am personally committed to ensuring that every question is answered - either by direct reply or in a list of questions and answers that are reglJlarly updated and posted on the agency's intranet site. • Meetings are currently underway with the employees' representative organization to discuss the consolidation. h is anticipated that all directed reassignment letters will issue no later than May 1, 2018. But some employee relocations will likely spill over into FY 2019 depending on funding. • Internal work groups, led by the agency's Executive Director, have been assembled to develop and coordinate the logistics of the consolidation. 46355 Due to the already deep cost-cutting measures taken through the Agency Refonn Plan, the agency will fund as many of the employee relocations resulting from the consolidation as possible from its baseline FY 2018 budget, with no loss ofservice to the agency's mission. 4 Relocation costs not covered by the agency's baseline FY 2018 budget (up to approximately $900,000) will be absorbed from the FY .2019 budget, again with no loss of mission service. The ftrSt realization of cost savings will not occur until FY 2020. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.007</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 4 46356 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations Ifyou or your staff need additional information or have any questions~ please contact me or Gina. Orippando, Counsel for Regulatory and Public Affairs (at202-2187116 or ggjgp@tlra.gax). An identical letter is being sent to Chairman Tom Graves and Ranking Member Mike QUigley. House SUbcommittee on Financial Services and General Govemmen~ Committee on Appropriations. Sincerely, Colleen DDftY Kik:o Chairman Cc (with enclosures): The Honorable Thad Cochran, Chairman Committee on Appropriations United States Senate VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.008</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, Vice Chairman Committee on Appropriations United States Senate Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations 46357 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY 1400 K STREET N.W. • WASHINGTON, D .C. 20424 www.FLRA.gov May 21,2018 OFFICE OF THE CHAIRMAN The Honorable Edward J . Markey United States Senator 255 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Susan M . Collins United States Senator 413 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse United States Senator 530 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen United States Senator 506 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Bernard Sanders United States Senator 332 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C . 20510 The Honorable Richard Blumenthal United States Senator 706 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Elizabeth Warren United States Senator 317 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Robert P. Casey, Jr. United States Senator 393 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20.510 The Honorable Angus S. King, Jr. United States Senator 133 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Thomas R . Carper United States Senator 513 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Christopher A. Coons United States Senator 127 A Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Christopher S. Murphy United States Senator 136 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 The Honorable Jack Reed United States Senator 728 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 Thank you for your letter of May 1, 20 18, expressing concern for federal employees currently served by the Boston Regional Office of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). I am VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.009</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Dear Senators: 46358 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations encouraged by your support for our mission and our shared belief that the Civil Service Reform Act is vital for safeguarding the rights of federal employees, federal agencies, and federal employees' ooions. When the FLRA first opened its doors in 1979,.I worked as a career employee in its Washington. D.C. regional office, and later in the Authority headquarters, until1982 when I left to attend law school I eventually returned to the agency to serve as its General Cooosel from 2005 to 2008, overseeing all seven of the current regional offices. I know first-hand what the work of the FLRA's regional offices entails - at all levels - as well as how the work has changed dramatically over the past four decades. In 1979, there were nine FLRA regional offices. In the 1990s, the FLRA consolidated those nine regional offices into seven. Recently, as required by our internal regulations, the Authority voted to approve a plan that will consolidate those seven regional offices into five. While the plan physically closes the Boston and Dallas offices, it does so without any job losses to current FLRA employees and without any reduction to the high-quality services that the FLRA provides to our stakeholders. Although the consolidation plan was developed before I became the FLRA's Chairman, I wholly endorse it because the analysis underlying it was thorough, data-driven, and fully consistent with recent presidential and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandates - Executive Order 13781, Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch (March 13, 2017), and OMB Memorandum M-17-22, Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce (April 12, 2017). In other words, I am convinced that this plan will enhance and improve the FLRA's ability to carry out its mission and to do so in a more efficient manner. It also is consistent with the following three realities. First, there is the reality of declining caseloads. Since 2000, according to FLRA Congressional Budget Justification submissions, our highest total annual intake of unfair labor practice (UlP) charges -across all seven regions -was 6,167 in 2001. In 2017, our annual intake of ULP charges was 3,655. Our highest total annual intake of representation (REP) petitions was 435 in 2000. In 2017, our annual intake ofREP petitions was 208. 6500 450 6000 400 5500 350 5000 300 4500 4000 250 3500 200 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00010 111111~~~~ Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.010</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES IIIII~;~ III VerDate Sep<11>2014 REP Petitions FDed Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations 46359 In the face of this indisputable data, it is hard to justifY maintaining regional oft1ces in seven cities when, as I explain below with. regard to technology, the FLRA's work can be canied out just as eft1ciently in fewer locations. In fact, to address declining caseloads in particular regions, the Oft1ce of the General Counsel has been routinely transfetring cases among the seven regions for at least a decade to ensure parity in case loads. In light of that fact, there is not - and there has not been for many years - a guarantee that a case filed in Boston would be investigated by a Boston agent. Just as Congress said that the law we administer must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the requirement of an effective and eft1cient Govemment, 5 U.S.C. § 710 l(b ), the FLRA, too, must ensure that it is managing its operations in a way that is most effective and eft1cient for the American taxpayer. I an1 convinced that this plan enhances our ability to carry out our mission even more effectively. Second, we and the federal labor-management-relations community are beneficiaries of technological advancements that enable us to perfonn our mission much differently than in tl1e past. Witl1 the introduction oftechnologicalmodemization, the majority of the FLRA's customers - and all of the FLRA's staff - enjoy constant access to intemet, email, cell phones, and even video teleconferencing. As such, there is much less of a need for FLRA agents to conduct on-site investigations. These technological advancements facilitate communication and allow agents to build trust with our parties in ways that were impossible 40 - or even 20 - years ago. They also facilitate the investigation of cases that are routinely transferTed among the seven regions as described above. Moreover, for more than a decade, the FLRA has also used technology to provide to our customers training materials that are current and easily accessible on the FLRA's website. Our staff has therefore demonstrated that geographic distance does not hinder their ability to provide top-notch customer service to your constituents. These technological initiatives are in keeping with Congress ' and the past several Administrations ' intent to leverage technology to the maximum extent feasible. Third, there is a fiscal reality. When 80 percent of the FLRA budget is personnel costs, and 10 percent is rent, tl1ere is little room for cost-cutting witl10ut looking at the staff reductions that we would like to avoid. By planning ahead and reducing rental costs now without a reductionin-force, we are proactively managing resources and preserving our experienced staff. Our employees are our greatest resource. It seems that some confusing and inaccurate information has been conveyed about what om· plan VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.011</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES does and does not do. I would like to set the record straight on a few key points and facts. Our plan will result in a net reduction of only two Oft1ce of the General Counsel positions (from 62 to 60) - both of which are managerial, Senior Executive Service (SES) positions. These two SES employees are being reassigned to two vacant SES positions in the Office oftl1e General Counsel and Authority headquarters. The number of agents available to perform investigative work will actually increase, as one current GS-15 manager will begin perfonning investigative work full-time, thereby enhancing our ability to address workplace llllfair labor practices. Through this process, we will have reduced our manager-to-employee ratio. 46360 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations Moreover, while it closes two physical offices, the plan directly reassigns every employee- a total of 16 (4 managers, 10 attorneys, 1 administrative officer, and 1 legal assistant) -to positions in the other five regions or at headquarters. No one loses their job. No one loses their grade or step. And, through an agreement negotiated with our employee representative organization on the impact and implementation of this move, we have ensured that employees were given their preference of reassignment locations. Thus, all16 employees- attorneys, administrative staff, and managers -who currently work in the Boston and Dallas offices have been offered their preferred positions in one of the other regions or headquarters with paid relocation. Continuity on specific cases in Boston and Dallas will not be lost Further, by working hard to retain our current employees and by continuing to have them provide training to the same customers, relationships with parties that have been developed over the years in those regions will remain intact In the end, these changes will enable us to continue to effectively serve our customers, but to do so more efficiently and without a reduction in service. With regard to your citation to Division E, Title VI, Section 740 of Public Law 115-141, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, we respectfully disagree that this section applies to our consolidation. Section 740 concerns attempts to use funds to "increase, eliminate, or reduce funding for a program, project, or activity." However, the consolidation plan does not increase, eliminate, or reduce funding for any program, project, or activity because the Boston Regional Office is not a program, project, or activity of the FLRA Consistent with the Government Accountability Office's definition of"program, project, or activity," the FLRA's three activities are the Authority, the Office of the General Counsel, and the Federal Service Impasses Panel. See A Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process, httos://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05734sp.pdfand the FLRA's FY 2019 Congressional Budget Justification, httos://www.flra.gov/about/public-affairs. The Boston Regional Office is a location where those activities are conducted. The amount that the FLRA is using for these activities remains the same as what we explained in our FY 2019 Congressional Budget Justification; all that has changed is the location ofthose activities. Therefore, Section 740 does not apply. Just as importantly, the reorganization is not cutting any staff or reducing mission-related funding in any way. The same people will be doing the same work in different locations. Thus, the FLRA will be equally well positioned after the reorganization -with substantial annual cost savings on rent and two. SES salaries -to promote stable, constructive labor-management relations through the resolution and prevention of labor disputes in a manner that determines the respective rights of employees, agencies, and labor organizations in their relations with one another. As for working with our Appropriations Committees, I have personally briefed the Majority and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.012</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Minority Appropriations staff in both the Senate and the House on this plan. We also provided formal notification of the plan to the leadership of those committees, consistent with P.L. 115-141, Division E, Title VI, Section 608 guidelines, by letter dated March 26, 2018. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 6727–01–C II. Dissenting View of Member Ernie DuBester I strongly disagree with the decision to close the FLRA’s Dallas Regional Office at the end of this fiscal year and the Boston Regional Office in November 2018. My opposition to these regional office closures is based in significant part on the perspective gained during my extensive experience in government. In that respect, I have served over nine years as a Member of the FLRA. For most of 2013, the first year of sequestration, I served as the FLRA’s Chairman. I also had the privilege of serving for eight years as the Chairman (and Member) of another federal labor-management relations agency—the National Mediation Board. In these 17 years of service, I have always been mindful of the need for efficiencies that could improve government performance. Similarly, I have always tried to exercise leadership in a fiscally responsible manner. With those thoughts in mind, the decision to close the Dallas and Boston Offices is unjustified, unwarranted, and will undermine the FLRA’s ability to perform its mission. Beyond my grave concerns about this decision’s substantive impact, I also take serious issue with the circumstances surrounding the process by which this decision was made and implemented. The FLRA administers the labormanagement relations program for over two million non-Postal, federal employees worldwide, including civilians in the Armed Forces. Until this decision, within its Office of the General Counsel (OGC), the FLRA had seven Regional Offices around the country, including one at its Washington, DC headquarters. These seven offices served the entire country, and overseas locations where federal employees work. Ostensibly, the decision to close the Dallas and Boston Offices is responsive to Executive Order No. 13781, Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch (March VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 13, 2017), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M–17–22 (April 12, 2017). These directives ask federal agencies to consider organizational changes that could be made to effect operational savings. But it is evident that the purpose is not simply to show a cost savings without regard to an agency’s mission and its delivery of services to stakeholders. To the contrary, agencies are to implement changes that will ‘‘dramatically improve effectiveness and efficiency of government.’’ The decision to close the Dallas and Boston Offices fails this test. It was made without thoughtful consideration of the FLRA’s mission or the nature of its work to perform that mission. And significantly, it ignores the considerable sacrifices made by the FLRA and its employees in recent years which have already saved the government tens of millions of dollars. Concerning mission effectiveness, as the attached letter to FLRA Chairman Kiko (May 1, 2018) from 13 U.S. Senators representing a quarter of a million federal employees currently served by the Boston Office indicates, its closure will ‘‘place FLRA Staff farther away from those who rely on their services.’’ Indeed, federal agencies and federal employees in the Northeast, all the way to the tip of Maine, will have to come to Washington, DC to address their rights and responsibilities. And, as the Senators’ letter indicates, the decision is being made without Congressional oversight. Is this really the direction that we want to go? Analogous concerns apply to the Dallas Office closure. With that closure, the FLRA is closing the Regional Office located in the state which has the second largest number of federal employees outside of the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. Considered in this context alone, the decision defies logic. This is especially true given that the decision was made without any apparent outreach to stakeholders. Any serious consideration of the FLRA’s mission and its delivery of services to the parties demands PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 46361 that there be some kind of outreach BEFORE such a decision was made. Also ignored, as indicated, is that, for the last 20 years, the FLRA has practiced fiscal responsibility, saving the government tens of millions of dollars. As the attached letter from eight retired FLRA Regional Directors (RDs) to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs states (March 9, 2018), the FLRA has gone ‘‘far beyond most agencies in reducing operational costs and expenses.’’ [A comparable letter was sent to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee]. There are many illustrations. For example, from a recent high of 215 employees (FTEs) in fiscal year (FY) 2000, the FLRA reduced its workforce by over 45%, to 114 FTEs, by FY 2009. Since that time, the FLRA has implemented many additional cost-saving measures and efficiencies. This includes reducing the size of its headquarters by about 12,000 square feet in FY 2014, eliminating an entire floor. And, the FLRA similarly reduced its space in five Regional Offices (Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, as well as Dallas and Boston). In the last year, moreover, the FLRA has eliminated at least 12 more FTEs, about 10% of its already small workforce. Elimination of the Dallas and Boston Offices will result in a further reduction of FTEs. This means that, since FY 2000, the FLRA will have eliminated over 55% of its employees. As the attached retired-RDs letter suggests, after these repeated sacrifices, the severity of this additional action to close Dallas and Boston, without good reason, is demoralizing and impairs the FLRA’s ability to perform its mission. It should be remembered that, in FY 2009, after the 45% reduction in employees, the FLRA was ranked dead last (32nd of 32 similarly-sized agencies) in the Partnership for Public Services ‘‘Best Places to Work’’ rankings. But in recent years, at least until last year, though implementing many cost- E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.013</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations 46362 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES saving measures and innovative practices to promote efficiencies, the FLRA has climbed to a #1 ranking in most categories of the Best Places to Work Rankings, and has ranked in the top five overall for several years. With elimination of the Dallas and Boston Offices, it is questionable whether this will continue. What a shame. Nobody knows better than OMB (and Congress) the recent record of the FLRA in saving the government significant dollars. Sometimes, after such repeated sacrifices, a small agency like the FLRA, with a relatively modest budget, has become ‘‘right-sized.’’ Before elimination of the Dallas and Boston Offices, the FLRA was already the optimal size to perform its mission effectively and efficiently. In addition to disregarding the FLRA’s repeated fiscal sacrifices, the decision to close Dallas and Boston fails to consider thoughtfully the substantial mission-related value of Regional Offices being located where FLRA staff is more readily accessible to the parties. Again, as the retired-RDs letter suggests, this value has been ‘‘demonstrated again and again over the years.’’ Certainly, a value is provided through ‘‘[r]egularly scheduled regional training presentations’’ which have become ‘‘an established resource to both labor and management representatives, many of whom could not travel to Washington DC or other distant cities.’’ In the last 10 years, the FLRA has provided training to thousands of FLRA VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 stakeholders at Regional Office sites. And, by facilitating opportunities for the parties to meet and interact with Regional Office Staff, the FLRA’s credibility and effectiveness is enhanced. This is particularly true, and important, regarding access to our RDs, who are FLRA decision-makers. Access to, and interaction with, RDs by the federal sector labormanagement community, not only builds trust in the FLRA’s operations, but also promotes early settlements which produce real cost savings. Apparently, the FLRA Members supporting the closures do not believe that this value still exists. Rather, it is suggested that technology has changed the nature of Regional Office work. In other words, it does not matter where you are. As long as you have a computer, a fax, and a telephone, you can be on top of a mountain anywhere in the U.S.A. This suggestion is little more than a fabrication. The FLRA is in the business of labor-management relations. As is often said, the often overlooked word in that phrase is ‘‘relations.’’ Constructive relationships require direct human interaction. And, notwithstanding rapid advances in technology, direct human interaction will continue to be a vital element in building constructive labor-management relationships for the foreseeable future. PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 And, finally, in a related sense, now is the worst time to downsize further a disputeresolution agency like the FLRA. While the FLRA is a small agency, accomplishing its mission, including timely, quality, and impartial resolution of labor-management disputes, is critical to promoting effective and efficient performance at EVERY federal agency under its jurisdiction. In other words, the FLRA’s successful mission performance has a positive rippling effect governmentwide. Given the current effort to streamline federal government agencies, there is very likely to be an increase in the number of grievances and labor-management disputes. Viewed against this background, it is the wrong time to cut further the size and resources of a small dispute-resolution agency like the FLRA—particularly given its many sacrifices and practice of fiscal responsibility in recent years. Indeed, considering the adverse impact on the FLRA’s ability to perform its mission, the significant loss of quality employees, and the number of silent people who know better, the decision to close the Dallas and Boston Regional Offices is not just a shame—it is a crying shame. The Mind reels. Ernie DuBester, Member. BILLING CODE 6727–01–P E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations 46363 tinittd ~tat£s ~mat£ WASHINGTON, DC 20510 May I. 2018 Chairman Colleen Duffy Kiko Federal Labor Relations Authority 1400 K. Street, NW Washington. DC 20424 Dear Chairman Kiko: As Senators representing the roughly 250.000 federal employees served by the Boston Regional Office of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), we are writing to express our coneetn over the announcement that the FLRA intends to close its regional offices in Dallas and Boston. The FLRA is critical to safeguarding the rights offederal employees and ensures that they receive due process under the Civil Service Reform Act. Through its adjudicatory and prosecutorial roles, the FLRA resolves disputes over bargaining units, unfair labor practices, and other matters important to federal employees. The Authority also trains union officers and agency officials to ensure that they know their rights and responsibilities under the law. Critical to this mission is the regional office structure of the FLRA, so that agency staff can build relationships with panics ac.ross the country to fulfil the agency's core mission. Closing regional offices would place FLRA staff farther away from those who rely on their $CI'Vices. Additional harm to the ri:gbts of federal employees would likely be compounded by agency efforts to reduce funding for staff travel in order to conduct elections, representational hearings, OD$ite Urtfair Labor Practice (ULP) investigations, and other essential work. In the FLRA's Congressional Budget Justification for the President's budget request for Fiscal Year 2019, the FLRA prQpO$Cd closing the Boston Regic:mal Office. However, under the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act (the "Omm"bus."), that action is prohibited unless approved by Congress following detailed reprogramming reporting by the agency. Speeifically. we call your attention to Section 740 ofPublic Law tlS... I41, which states: None of the funds made available in this or any other appropriations Act may be used to increase, eliminate, or reduce funding for a program, project, or activity as proposed in the President's budget request for a fiscal year until such proposed change is subsequently enacted in an appropriation Act, or unless such change is made ptll'Suant to the reprogramming or transfer provisions of this or any other appropriations Act. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.014</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Congress demonstrated support for the current FLRA structure by appropriating level funding to the agency for Fiscal Year 2018. With a two-year budget agreement now in place, federal agencies should focus on delivering the most ·effective services for their constituencies rather than harmful cuts that will reduce responsiveness. 46364 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations Therefore, we urge you to immediately cease all planning and execution of the announced office closures and instead allow the Appropriations Committees to review and approve any plans for reorganization. ensuring that such actions are the best use of taxpayer funds. We ask that you immediately inform us ofany decision to submit a reprogramming request pursuantto Public LawllS-141. Thank you for your attention to tbis maUer. We look forward to working with you to protect to the rights of federal employees in our states and across the country. Sincerely• ~~·~ .J,.,.,-.:}It. w,.,•.., Edward J. Marke United States Senator Susan M. Collins United States Senator · ~~ eShabeen United StatesSenator United States Senator Bernard Sanders United States Senator United States Senator t:lJtrt... ~ .~. Robert P. Casey. Jr. United States Senator ef'~- VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.015</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES United States Senator Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations -~a._, Christopher A. Coons United States Senator 46365 1/1; ---Christopher S. Murphy United States Senator VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.016</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES cc: Member James T. Abbott Member Ernest DuBester 46366 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations March 9, 2018 The Honorable Ronald H. Johnson Chairman, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental The Honorable Claire C. McCaskill Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental SD-340, Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 SH-503, Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Affairs Affairs Dear Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member McCaskill: By way of introduction, all of the individuals named below are former career members of the United States Senior Executive Service, who retired after more than 200 combined years of civilian service with the Federal Government. We each have served for extended periods as Regional Directors of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), under both Democratic and Republican administrations, and now join together to bring to your attention what we deem to be a matter of the greatest importance to the federal sector labor-management relations community. It has come to our attention that the FLRA senior management has recommended the closure of two (2) of its Regional Offices (Boston and Dallas) in its recent FY 2019 budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). For the reasons set forth below, we believe this decision, if accepted, will adversely affect not only the efficient performance of that agency's mission, but will also negatively impact the very significant progress which has been made in recent years to reduce reliance on confrontational labor relations in the federal sector, while also encouraging alternative methods of dispute resolution. The FLRA was created by act of Congress in 1978 and charged with the enforcement of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute {Statute) as applied to Federal Government Agencies and more than two million civilian federal employees, with specified statutory exemptions. This represented the first statutory recognition of collective bargaining in the federal sector, which had formerly been governed by Executive Orders beginning with President John F. Kennedy. Disputes arising under the Executive Orders had been investigated and processed by the Department of Labor (DOL), Labor-Management Services Administration. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.017</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES At the outset, the FLRA regional structure was streamlined from that of its DOL predecessor, by not absorbing or quickly closing regional locations in Buffalo, Newark and Seattle. This left a new field structure consisting of nine (9) Regional Offices in Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Kansas City (later moved to Denver), Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco (and two (2} sub-offices in Cleveland and Philadelphia) charged with investigating several thousand pending cases transferred from DOL to FLRA at the transition, as well as all new cases being filed under the Statute. In 1981, FLRA, along with other Federal Agencies, experienced a mandated Reduction in Force, which while reducing Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations 46367 staff, left the regional office structure unchanged. However, in 1990, the number of Regional Offices was reduced from nine (9) to seven (7), initially reducing both the Los Angeles and New York Regions to sub-office status, and, in later years, eliminating both of those offices in addition to the Cleveland and Philadelphia sub-offices. All of the noted staff and organizational reductions were carried out in furtherance of various budgetary and fiscal cutbacks. The value of Regional Offices in locations where FLRA staff was accessible to the parties was demonstrated again and again over the years. Regularly scheduled regional training presentations became an established resource to both labor and management representatives, many of whom could not travel to Washington or other distant sites. Feedback surveys prepared by attendees immediately after each regional training program clearly demonstrated that the parties valued these opportunities to meet and interact with regional staff and gain a clearer understanding of the investigative process. Moreover, having regional offices located closer to the actual work sites allowed FLRA agents to develop working relationships with the labor and management community, facilitating communication and trust during the investigative process. Despite having to limit field travel at various times due to repeated travel budget constraints, there is no doubt that regular, onsite investigations had been the norm and was viewed as the best practice for achieving more accurate and complete results. This is especially true for rank and file employees, with very limited knowledge of the Statute and legal process, who would be understandably reluctant to speak openly with FLRA personnel who were simply an unseen voice on the telephone. When used, this alternate process was not in furtherance of efficient and effective government, but was strictly a consequence of resource limitations. To eliminate two of the Regional Offices as now proposed, would further reduce the credibility and effectiveness of the FLRA. Essentially, FLRA went far beyond most agencies in reducing operational costs and expenses. In FY 2000, FLRA had 215 FTE's; by FY 2009, the number of FTE's was 114, a 45% reduction. In FY 2017, FLRA reduced staffing by another 12 positions, 10% of its staffing level at that time. Further, in FY 2014, FLRA reduced space in several regional offices and surrendered 12,000 square feet (1 entire floor) in its headquarters office. Despite these repeated sacrifices, the staff of the FLRA continued its total commitment to carrying out the agency's mission. Employee feedback made clear that they believed strongly in their work to improve the collective bargaining climate in federal sector. But there were impacts. In the FY 2009, Partnership For Public Service "Best Places to Work" survey, FLRA ranked last (32 of 32) among similar-sized agencies. In no small part due to genuine internal policy shifts and pro-active outreach to both labor and management, the survey results for the past three (3) fiscal years now showed FLRA ranking first in many categories and in the top five of similar-sized agencies. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.018</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES There has been no FLRA General Counsel since January of2017. While the Deputy General Counsel was initially able to carry on some functions in an acting capacity, even that ended in November of2017 pursuant to requirements of the Vacancies Act. In the absence of a General Counsel, no Complaints may issue despite administrative determinations by Regional Directors that violations are present. Parties are well aware of this inability, now entering its 46368 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / Rules and Regulations [FR Doc. 2018–19929 Filed 9–12–18; 8:45 am] VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Sep 12, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\13SER1.SGM 13SER1 ER13SE18.019</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 6727–01–C

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 178 (Thursday, September 13, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 46349-46368]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-19929]



========================================================================
Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents 
having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed 
to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published 
under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510.

The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. 

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 178 / Thursday, September 13, 2018 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 46349]]



FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY

5 CFR Chapter XIV


Changes to Current Addresses and Geographic Jurisdictions

AGENCY: Federal Labor Relations Authority.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This document amends regulations listing the current addresses 
and describing the geographic jurisdictions of the Federal Labor 
Relations Authority, General Counsel of the Federal Labor Relations 
Authority, and the Federal Service Impasses Panel. These changes 
reflect the closing of the Dallas Regional Office and changes to the 
geographical jurisdictions of the Atlanta, Chicago, and Denver Regional 
Directors.

DATES: Effective September 21, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Tosick, Executive Director, 
Federal Labor Relations Authority, 1400 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20424, 
(202) 218-7791, [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Effective January 28, 1980, the Authority 
and the General Counsel published, at 45 FR 3482, January 17, 1980, 
final rules and regulations to govern the processing of cases by the 
Authority and the General Counsel under chapter 71 of title 5 of the 
United States Code. These rules and regulations are required by title 
VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and are set forth in 5 CFR 
chapter XIV (2018).
    After an examination of budgets, caseloads, rental costs, operating 
costs, and staffing, the Authority is closing its Dallas Regional 
Office and reassigning its jurisdiction to the Denver and Atlanta 
Regional Directors, effective September 21, 2018. It is also 
reassigning jurisdiction for the state of South Dakota from the Denver 
Regional Director to the Chicago Regional Director. The Authority 
expects no adverse effect on the quality or efficiency of casehandling 
as a result of the Dallas Regional Office closure.
    This amendment updates paragraphs (d) and (f) of Appendix A to 5 
CFR chapter XIV to reflect the new organizational structure by removing 
the Dallas Regional Office from the list of current addresses, 
telephone numbers, and fax numbers of the Authority's Regional Offices 
and by revising the geographical jurisdictions of the Federal Labor 
Relations Authority. As this rule pertains to agency organization, 
procedure, or practice, it is exempt from prior notice and public 
comment pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A). For this same reason, pursuant 
to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Authority finds that good cause exists for 
not providing a more delayed effective date. This type of action is 
also exempt from review under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, 
October 4, 1993), 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011), and 13771 (82 
FR 9339, February 3, 2017).
    For additional information regarding case handling procedures 
following the Dallas Regional Office closure, please go to 
www.flra.gov.

List of Subjects in 5 CFR Chapter XIV

    Administrative practice and procedure.

Chapter XIV--Federal Labor Relations Authority

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble and under the authority 
of 5 U.S.C. 7134, the authority amends 5 CFR chapter XIV as follows:

0
1. Appendix A to 5 CFR chapter XIV is amended by removing paragraph 
(d)(5), redesignating paragraphs (d)(6) and (7) as (d)(5) and (6), and 
revising paragraph (f) to read as follows:

Appendix A to 5 CFR Chapter XIV--Current Addresses and Geographic 
Jurisdictions

* * * * *
    (f) The geographic jurisdictions of the Regional Directors of 
the Federal Labor Relations Authority are as follows:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
        State or other locality                  Regional office
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alabama................................  Atlanta.
Alaska.................................  San Francisco.
Arizona................................  Denver.
Arkansas...............................  Atlanta.
California.............................  San Francisco.
Colorado...............................  Denver.
Connecticut............................  Boston.
Delaware...............................  Boston.
District of Columbia...................  Washington, DC.
Florida................................  Atlanta.
Georgia................................  Atlanta.
Hawaii and all land and water areas      San Francisco.
 west of the continents of North and
 South America (except coastal islands)
 to long. 90 degrees East.
Idaho..................................  San Francisco.
Illinois...............................  Chicago.
Indiana................................  Chicago.
Iowa...................................  Chicago.
Kansas.................................  Denver.
Kentucky...............................  Chicago.
Louisiana..............................  Atlanta.
Maine..................................  Boston.
Maryland...............................  Washington, DC.
Massachusetts..........................  Boston.

[[Page 46350]]

 
Michigan...............................  Chicago.
Minnesota..............................  Chicago.
Mississippi............................  Atlanta.
Missouri...............................  Chicago.
Montana................................  Denver.
Nebraska...............................  Denver.
Nevada.................................  San Francisco.
New Hampshire..........................  Boston.
New Jersey.............................  Boston.
New Mexico.............................  Denver.
New York...............................  Boston.
North Carolina.........................  Atlanta.
North Dakota...........................  Chicago.
Ohio...................................  Chicago.
Oklahoma...............................  Denver.
Oregon.................................  San Francisco.
Pennsylvania...........................  Boston.
Puerto Rico and coastal islands........  Boston.
Rhode Island...........................  Boston.
South Carolina.........................  Atlanta.
South Dakota...........................  Chicago.
Tennessee..............................  Chicago.
Texas..................................  Denver.
Utah...................................  Denver.
Vermont................................  Boston.
Virginia...............................  Washington, DC.
Washington.............................  San Francisco.
West Virginia..........................  Washington, DC.
Wisconsin..............................  Chicago.
Wyoming................................  Denver.
Virgin Islands.........................  Atlanta.
Panama/limited FLRA jurisdiction.......  Atlanta.
All land and water areas east of the     Washington, DC.
 continents of North and South America
 to long. 90 degrees East, except the
 Virgin Islands, Panama (limited FLRA
 jurisdiction), Puerto Rico and coastal
 islands.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 7134.

    Dated: September 10, 2018.

    For the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
William Tosick,
Executive Director.

    Note: The following appendix will not appear in the Code of 
Federal Regulations:

Appendix A--Opinions of the Authority's Majority and Dissent With 
Respect to the Closure of the Federal Labor Relations Authority's 
Boston and Dallas Regional Offices

I. Authority's Opinion

    The Authority voted in January 2018 to close the Boston and Dallas 
Regional Offices. At that time, the Authority considered arguments 
echoing those of Member DuBester. We concluded, however, that 
consolidating the FLRA's Regional Office structure would husband the 
FLRA's budgetary and operational resources and best serve the labor-
management relations community.
    In the end, Member DuBester raises nothing new. We have reprinted 
Chairman Kiko's March 26, 2018 letter to the Senate Subcommittee on 
Financial Services and General Government, Committee on Appropriations 
(attachments omitted), explaining why we undertook this Regional Office 
consolidation. We have also included Chairman Kiko's May 21, 2018 
response to the letter from a group of Senators that Member DuBester 
references, which reiterates the rationale for the consolidation and 
offers Chairman Kiko's additional personal reflections on the need for 
reform. In our opinion, these two letters thoroughly refute Member 
DuBester's dissent.

Colleen Duffy Kiko,

Chairman.

James T. Abbott,

Member.
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II. Dissenting View of Member Ernie DuBester

    I strongly disagree with the decision to close the FLRA's Dallas 
Regional Office at the end of this fiscal year and the Boston 
Regional Office in November 2018. My opposition to these regional 
office closures is based in significant part on the perspective 
gained during my extensive experience in government.
    In that respect, I have served over nine years as a Member of 
the FLRA. For most of 2013, the first year of sequestration, I 
served as the FLRA's Chairman. I also had the privilege of serving 
for eight years as the Chairman (and Member) of another federal 
labor-management relations agency--the National Mediation Board. In 
these 17 years of service, I have always been mindful of the need 
for efficiencies that could improve government performance. 
Similarly, I have always tried to exercise leadership in a fiscally 
responsible manner.
    With those thoughts in mind, the decision to close the Dallas 
and Boston Offices is unjustified, unwarranted, and will undermine 
the FLRA's ability to perform its mission. Beyond my grave concerns 
about this decision's substantive impact, I also take serious issue 
with the circumstances surrounding the process by which this 
decision was made and implemented.
    The FLRA administers the labor-management relations program for 
over two million non-Postal, federal employees worldwide, including 
civilians in the Armed Forces. Until this decision, within its 
Office of the General Counsel (OGC), the FLRA had seven Regional 
Offices around the country, including one at its Washington, DC 
headquarters. These seven offices served the entire country, and 
overseas locations where federal employees work.
    Ostensibly, the decision to close the Dallas and Boston Offices 
is responsive to Executive Order No. 13781, Comprehensive Plan for 
Reorganizing the Executive Branch (March 13, 2017), and the Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-17-22 (April 12, 2017). 
These directives ask federal agencies to consider organizational 
changes that could be made to effect operational savings. But it is 
evident that the purpose is not simply to show a cost savings 
without regard to an agency's mission and its delivery of services 
to stakeholders. To the contrary, agencies are to implement changes 
that will ``dramatically improve effectiveness and efficiency of 
government.''
    The decision to close the Dallas and Boston Offices fails this 
test. It was made without thoughtful consideration of the FLRA's 
mission or the nature of its work to perform that mission. And 
significantly, it ignores the considerable sacrifices made by the 
FLRA and its employees in recent years which have already saved the 
government tens of millions of dollars.
    Concerning mission effectiveness, as the attached letter to FLRA 
Chairman Kiko (May 1, 2018) from 13 U.S. Senators representing a 
quarter of a million federal employees currently served by the 
Boston Office indicates, its closure will ``place FLRA Staff farther 
away from those who rely on their services.'' Indeed, federal 
agencies and federal employees in the Northeast, all the way to the 
tip of Maine, will have to come to Washington, DC to address their 
rights and responsibilities. And, as the Senators' letter indicates, 
the decision is being made without Congressional oversight. Is this 
really the direction that we want to go?
    Analogous concerns apply to the Dallas Office closure. With that 
closure, the FLRA is closing the Regional Office located in the 
state which has the second largest number of federal employees 
outside of the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. Considered in this 
context alone, the decision defies logic.
    This is especially true given that the decision was made without 
any apparent outreach to stakeholders. Any serious consideration of 
the FLRA's mission and its delivery of services to the parties 
demands that there be some kind of outreach BEFORE such a decision 
was made.
    Also ignored, as indicated, is that, for the last 20 years, the 
FLRA has practiced fiscal responsibility, saving the government tens 
of millions of dollars. As the attached letter from eight retired 
FLRA Regional Directors (RDs) to the Chairman and Ranking Member of 
the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs 
states (March 9, 2018), the FLRA has gone ``far beyond most agencies 
in reducing operational costs and expenses.'' [A comparable letter 
was sent to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Oversight 
Committee].
    There are many illustrations. For example, from a recent high of 
215 employees (FTEs) in fiscal year (FY) 2000, the FLRA reduced its 
workforce by over 45%, to 114 FTEs, by FY 2009.
    Since that time, the FLRA has implemented many additional cost-
saving measures and efficiencies. This includes reducing the size of 
its headquarters by about 12,000 square feet in FY 2014, eliminating 
an entire floor. And, the FLRA similarly reduced its space in five 
Regional Offices (Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, as well as Dallas 
and Boston).
    In the last year, moreover, the FLRA has eliminated at least 12 
more FTEs, about 10% of its already small workforce. Elimination of 
the Dallas and Boston Offices will result in a further reduction of 
FTEs. This means that, since FY 2000, the FLRA will have eliminated 
over 55% of its employees.
    As the attached retired-RDs letter suggests, after these 
repeated sacrifices, the severity of this additional action to close 
Dallas and Boston, without good reason, is demoralizing and impairs 
the FLRA's ability to perform its mission. It should be remembered 
that, in FY 2009, after the 45% reduction in employees, the FLRA was 
ranked dead last (32nd of 32 similarly-sized agencies) in the 
Partnership for Public Services ``Best Places to Work'' rankings. 
But in recent years, at least until last year, though implementing 
many cost-

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saving measures and innovative practices to promote efficiencies, 
the FLRA has climbed to a #1 ranking in most categories of the Best 
Places to Work Rankings, and has ranked in the top five overall for 
several years. With elimination of the Dallas and Boston Offices, it 
is questionable whether this will continue.
    What a shame. Nobody knows better than OMB (and Congress) the 
recent record of the FLRA in saving the government significant 
dollars. Sometimes, after such repeated sacrifices, a small agency 
like the FLRA, with a relatively modest budget, has become ``right-
sized.'' Before elimination of the Dallas and Boston Offices, the 
FLRA was already the optimal size to perform its mission effectively 
and efficiently.
    In addition to disregarding the FLRA's repeated fiscal 
sacrifices, the decision to close Dallas and Boston fails to 
consider thoughtfully the substantial mission-related value of 
Regional Offices being located where FLRA staff is more readily 
accessible to the parties. Again, as the retired-RDs letter 
suggests, this value has been ``demonstrated again and again over 
the years.''
    Certainly, a value is provided through ``[r]egularly scheduled 
regional training presentations'' which have become ``an established 
resource to both labor and management representatives, many of whom 
could not travel to Washington DC or other distant cities.'' In the 
last 10 years, the FLRA has provided training to thousands of FLRA 
stakeholders at Regional Office sites. And, by facilitating 
opportunities for the parties to meet and interact with Regional 
Office Staff, the FLRA's credibility and effectiveness is enhanced.
    This is particularly true, and important, regarding access to 
our RDs, who are FLRA decision-makers. Access to, and interaction 
with, RDs by the federal sector labor-management community, not only 
builds trust in the FLRA's operations, but also promotes early 
settlements which produce real cost savings.
    Apparently, the FLRA Members supporting the closures do not 
believe that this value still exists. Rather, it is suggested that 
technology has changed the nature of Regional Office work. In other 
words, it does not matter where you are. As long as you have a 
computer, a fax, and a telephone, you can be on top of a mountain 
anywhere in the U.S.A.
    This suggestion is little more than a fabrication. The FLRA is 
in the business of labor-management relations. As is often said, the 
often overlooked word in that phrase is ``relations.'' Constructive 
relationships require direct human interaction. And, notwithstanding 
rapid advances in technology, direct human interaction will continue 
to be a vital element in building constructive labor-management 
relationships for the foreseeable future.
    And, finally, in a related sense, now is the worst time to 
downsize further a dispute-resolution agency like the FLRA. While 
the FLRA is a small agency, accomplishing its mission, including 
timely, quality, and impartial resolution of labor-management 
disputes, is critical to promoting effective and efficient 
performance at EVERY federal agency under its jurisdiction. In other 
words, the FLRA's successful mission performance has a positive 
rippling effect government-wide.
    Given the current effort to streamline federal government 
agencies, there is very likely to be an increase in the number of 
grievances and labor-management disputes. Viewed against this 
background, it is the wrong time to cut further the size and 
resources of a small dispute-resolution agency like the FLRA--
particularly given its many sacrifices and practice of fiscal 
responsibility in recent years.
    Indeed, considering the adverse impact on the FLRA's ability to 
perform its mission, the significant loss of quality employees, and 
the number of silent people who know better, the decision to close 
the Dallas and Boston Regional Offices is not just a shame--it is a 
crying shame.
    The Mind reels.

Ernie DuBester,

Member.
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[FR Doc. 2018-19929 Filed 9-12-18; 8:45 am]
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