Labor Management Council and Veterans Affairs presentation on Executive Order 13522

Uploaded by USOPM on 28.09.2011

Welcome! I'm Tim Curry,
the Co-Chair of the National Council Metrics Subcommittee.
It's my pleasure to introduce
the Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary.
On April 2, 2009,
W. Scott Gould was confirmed
as Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs,
where he functions as Chief Operating Officer.
He also serves as an active member of
the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations,
which is the organization sponsoring today's training.
Prior to this appointment, Mr. Gould was Vice President
for Public Sector Strategy at IBM Global Business Services.
He served previously as a Chief Executive Officer
of The O'Gara Company,
and Chief Operating Officer of Exolve,
a technology services company.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Scott Gould.
Thank you, Mr. Curry.
I'm happy to be here presenting on this important topic.
I would also like to introduce my co-presenter,
Ms. Mary-Jean Burke,
from the American Federation of Government Employees or AFGE.
Ms. Burke is the first Executive Vice President of the AFGE
National Veterans Affairs Council or NVAC.
MJ, as she likes to be known,
started her labor career with AFGE Local 609 in Indianapolis.
MJ was reelected as the first
Executive Vice President of AFGE in November of 2010,
and serves as an NVAC member on the Budget and Safety Committee,
as well as the VA National Partnership Council.
Today the Deputy Secretary and I will provide examples
of how the Department has jointly implemented
this Executive Order.
First, I'd like to clarify a few terms
you're going to hear throughout today's presentation.
The National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations
or just the National Council is the directing body
for the government-wide effort.
This body reports directly to the President
and is comprised of Agency Chief Operating Officers,
COOs, like myself, Union Presidents,
and Management Association Presidents.
The Executive Order also calls for the establishment of
Labor-Management Forums.
Within the VA, the terms Council
and Forum are used interchangeably,
because VA did not require existing bodies
to change their name when the current Executive Order
was issued in 2009.
A Forum or Council is comprised of local labor
and management representatives who work together.
You will also hear terms that are unique
to the Department of Veterans Affairs,
such as the National Partnership Council or NPC,
which is our internal governing body
for the implementation of the Executive Order.
Now let's review the agenda for today.
First, we will discuss
how to establish Labor-Management Forums,
and then describe how the activities of these Forums
lead to measurable results
linked to larger organizational goals.
We will also describe the critical role
that you as Agency leaders
have in ensuring the success of Labor-Management Forums.
Throughout today's presentation I will provide examples of
how VA is successfully implementing
this Executive Order,
and we'll also provide guidance
on how you can help your agencies
succeed in developing this collaborative approach
to Labor-Management Relations.
Now, MJ and I will review the objectives
for today's presentation.
Today we're going to discuss topics
that will reinforce your ability
to explain the value of successful
Labor-Management Forums,
define a list of items needed to establish a Forum charter,
and understand how the activities of Forums
lead to measurable outcomes for your organization.
Furthermore, we will discuss topics
that reinforce your ability
to define a list of steps to develop Forum metrics,
identify the vital connection between Forum metrics
and sources of information in your respective Agencies
and describe the critical role Agency leaders
must play to inform, persuade
and direct management participation.
Let's begin with a general overview
of Executive Order 13522.
This is an Executive Order for all Federal Agencies
under the Executive Branch.
It establishes the requirements for
what executive Branch Managers and Agencies must do.
It also provides opportunities to develop
a lasting relationship between Agency management
and the unions that represent Agency employees.
It is important to recognize that
this Executive Order does not undermine
management's responsibility to manage the workplace,
nor does it replace labor's rights
to bargain under a contract.
The Executive Order does require new skills
and attitudes as labor and management
move toward a more collaborative relationship.
The Executive Order directs us to improve government outcomes
for taxpayers by bringing labor
and management together to solve problems better and earlier.
This will happen necessarily in the context of decades
of Federal Labor-Management Relations;
some very positive, others less so.
Some old habits will need to go and new processes,
new procedures, and new expectations
will have to take their place.
To help create new habits,
the Executive Order requires management
to establish Labor-Management Forums.
These are places where labor and management can meet
to solve workplace problems
that make government more efficient and effective.
Labor-Management Forums are not the same thing as Partnership,
as it was defined in the 1990s.
Forums are required to be accountable for how they act
and what they accomplish together.
Forums must also establish metrics
for measuring their success and their effectiveness.
The second distinction between this Executive Order
and those of past administrations
is the emphasis on Pre-Decisional Involvement or PDI.
The Clinton Executive Order introduced,
but did not require PDI.
This Executive Order, by contrast,
requires managers to use PDI to involve union participation
from the earliest time possible in the development of ideas
and solutions affecting workplace matters,
to the extent practical.
In a 2011 Memorandum, National Council Co-Chairs,
John Berry and Jeff Zients,
provided guidance on Pre-Decisional Involvement.
As the term implies,
Pre-Decisional Involvement requires managers
to involve employees' union representatives
in discussions early in the decision making process.
The purpose of PDI is to allow employees,
through their elected union representatives,
meaningful input into management decisions
in order to achieve a number of things;
better quality decision making
and more support for decisions
and more timely implementation.
Bringing PDI issues to the table sooner rather than later
will allow the Forum to develop options earlier
and avoid wasted efforts
after a decision to implement
a specific course of action has been made.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has taken steps
to implement this kind of collaborative approach
to Labor-Management Relations.
Ms. Burke will discuss these examples a bit further.
VA, along with five of the Departments' National Unions,
have successfully established
and maintained a National Partnership Council,
referred to as the NPC.
I am one of the AFGE Representatives
on the Partnership Council.
The purpose of the NPC is to advise the Secretary
on VA initiatives which impact employees
and to promote cooperative Labor-Management Relations
that will result in improved services to Veterans
and a positive workplace environment for employees.
Second, VA established the Secretary's
Labor-Management Award Program.
This program recognizes Forums
whose activities are advancing productivity at VA
and exceeding expectation
in delivery of services to our Veterans.
We want to define examples of strong partnerships
that are achieving results for our Veterans.
The third example is VA supportive training
for the Forums.
The VA is supporting the development
and rollout of a formal joint training program,
designed to help managers,
supervisors, and the departments' union partners
advance the effectiveness of their Forums.
Early versions of this training have already reached
over 20,000 VA employees to date.
Thank you MJ for those examples.
The Labor-Management Forum is designed
to create a consistent time,
place and manner for employees' union representatives
and managers to meet, share information,
and discuss how to improve Agency performance
to better serve the American people.
The time spent in the Forums will ensure that management
and union interests have been identified
and understood early in the decision making process,
and as a result collective bargaining participants
will be better informed
if traditional bargaining is necessary.
In addition, management and union participants
can gain a more sophisticated understanding of the issues,
and as a result of the parties being better informed,
more efficient and productive
problem-solving will result during negotiations.
The Executive Order further requires agencies
to conduct a baseline assessment
of the current state of their Labor-Management Relations,
and submit plans for their Forums
to the National Council for review and certification.
The primary focus of this presentation
is to help you develop metrics.
However, you cannot start measuring progress
and results until you have established your Forum.
There are several items to consider
when developing a Forum.
At the beginning of this process,
it is critical for Forums
to identify the framework for how they will operate.
First, Forums must identify their purpose
and objectives along with examples
of the issues they will address.
Forums should establish criteria for membership;
this will allow the two parties
to identify who they will place on the Forum.
Forums also need to define, jointly,
the range of authority of the Forum.
In some instances, the Forum will provide advice,
in other areas it will make recommendations
or it may hold decision making authority.
Establishing ground rules is important
because it ensures that
everyone has a clear understanding of
exactly what's going to happen.
Examples include how the meetings are conducted,
when they are going to be conducted,
and who is going to be there.
Once Forums establish ground rules,
they can begin identifying the specific topics
they want to discuss in the Forum.
For example, they need to determine what issues
they want to handle with Pre-Decisional Involvement.
Once the Forum identifies the topics
and issues for discussion,
they need to evaluate their readiness
to address these issues.
Training may be necessary to identify
how to accomplish the required task.
How often the parties meet will in large part depend on the role
and function of the Forum.
The level of responsibilities and the breadth of the Charter
will drive the frequency of the meeting.
This simple structure and the definition of roles
provide the basis for sound collaboration going forward.
And finally, many Forums, as they start,
use neutral facilitators to assist them.
Having a neutral facilitator
can be very helpful in establishing a Forum,
since this is a brand new approach
for conducting Labor-Management Relations.
So once your Forum is operating, there are other resources
that can take the Forum to the next level
and help them mature.
The Department of Veterans Affairs
took several additional steps
to help implement this Executive Order.
We focused on a variety of educational programs,
including web-based training for all VA employees,
a one-day intervention targeted
at the Forums that needed help establishing trust,
and a one-day formal training course
that provided Forum participants the ability
to practice the skills required for success.
Other VA specific resources included an online toolkit
with support information,
evaluations to assess training success
and improvement in Forum productivity,
the Civility, Respect
and Engagement in the Workforce program,
which we know as CREW,
which offers tools to help Forums
build long-term relationships
and continue their success using PDI.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution
or ADR programs that help prevent,
minimize and resolve disputes between
or among the Department and its employees and other parties.
And finally, VA's Talent Management System,
which makes training and resources easily accessible.
Remember that perfection is not expected.
The goal is to get started and learn from your experiences.
We can all share lessons learned to improve these programs
and provide the resources needed over time.
Now that we have discussed items to consider
when establishing your Labor-Management Forum,
let's discuss the requirement for metrics
and the level of accountability delegated
to Forums in this Executive Order.
Section 3(a)(iii) in the Executive Order
requires us to measure
and document specific areas impacted by the Forums.
The Executive Order directs management to establish,
in consultation with their union partners,
metrics to track changes
in organizational performance and outcomes,
employee satisfaction and Labor-Management Relations
linked to the actions of the Forum.
By signing the Executive Order,
it's clear that the President wants management
to take notice of the Labor-Management Forums
and to establish a more collaborative approach
to Labor-Management Relations in the Federal sector.
The requirement to measure Forum's success
adds a level of accountability to this endeavor.
It will give you an impact analysis
of your Forum's effectiveness.
Now, metrics need to be smart.
In other words, they need to be specific, measurable,
actionable, relevant, and timely.
This allows agencies to use this information
to drive performance improvement
and increase accountability of Labor-Management Forums.
MJ will now discuss the impact of these metrics.
When Forums have metrics, they intend to make a difference,
not just engage in a process.
They link outcomes to their actions
and demonstrate that it's not a passing concern
by the substantive issue that needs improvement.
Metrics indicate that Forums want to hold people
accountable for improvements.
And finally, they ensure that the organizations
pay attention to specific performance areas.
Metrics are a means to assist the parties
in defining their joint expectation
and a means to hold each other accountable for those results.
Metrics are also a means to for Forums to do a gut check
on whether they are doing things the right way
and moving toward a new relationship,
or slipping into doing business as usual with confrontation
and third-party intervention.
Thank you, MJ.
Now that we have defined metrics,
let's take a deeper look at the Categories of Metrics
that we want to focus on.
I'd like you to take a close look
at the slide on your screen.
Let your eye travel to the lower left side of the screen
where you will see the first
and most important metric for measuring success.
It's about Mission Performance.
It's about results for people that we serve in government,
and I will bet it's the reason that everyone
listening to this presentation today
joined government in the first place,
to serve a mission that matters and to make a difference.
This is a view I strongly believe
is common to both management and union members.
The second category is Employee Satisfaction.
This is all about work life and morale,
and in my view it has a proven link to Mission Performance.
When we create greater Employee Satisfaction,
we create stronger organizations
and that produces in turn better Mission Performance.
And then finally, on the far right side,
Labor-Management Relations.
This is a measure of the climate created by two parties
who are focused on Mission Performance.
So there really is a hierarchy addressed here
with Mission Performance on the far left side
as the most important element of our work together.
So now that we have a better understanding
of the types of measures used to monitor progress,
let's look at the three steps
required by the National Council
for creating or selecting
and implementing specific metrics.
First, begin by determining an area
or areas on which the Forum will focus their efforts.
Second, identify the actions
or steps to be taken to make these improvements.
And third, monitor the progress and assess
the impact of implementing the Forum suggested actions.
Agencies should report annually on these metrics
to the National Council.
Agencies reported on their baseline measures
on March 31, 2011.
The first full Agency report
will be sent to the National Council by December 31, 2011.
Now let me offer some practical advice for selecting metrics.
Forums should choose areas of opportunity
and associated metrics
that support your Agency's Strategic Plan
and choose problems that the team is equipped to handle.
Your Agency's Strategic Plan contains goals
that depict the top priorities
on which the Agency is focused.
Forums can use this information to select the areas to focus on
and measure in the Forum.
Agencies that leverage the current Government Performance
and Results Act Legislation known as GPRA and OMB rules,
for example the Performance and Accountability Report,
have a rich source of prioritized initiatives
and potential metrics for Labor-Management Forum's use.
You do not need to start from scratch.
You can link your selection of metrics to your current strategy
and the Agency's supporting management processes.
For example, budget formulation and execution,
IT investment, HR planning,
and periodic performance reviews.
While Forums are determining
what items to measure within each area,
they can refer to several existing resources
to help prioritize these measures;
for example, Employee and Supervisory Surveys
that might contain specific questions
that measure employee
and management satisfaction and morale.
The results of these surveys can help determine
how the Agency is doing in these areas
without having to implement a new survey
or measurement tool.
Labor-Management Relations reports
are also a source for determining
what to measure for
the Labor-Management Relations metric.
So let's take a close look at this chart
on your screen right now.
When we ask the question,
where can we find metrics for an organization
in each of the three categories that MJ and I
have reviewed over the last few minutes,
I have to say you're working in a target rich environment,
because for the last 15 years
there has been a requirement for us
to set out a number of Strategic Plans,
clear Budget Justifications and Performance Reviews
that provide a rich source of information
for you to work from.
Let your eye travel to the right hand side of the chart,
beginning with the Strategic Plan
that we're all required to produce each year.
You see how that plan establishes a broad vision
for where the Agency is going and
that then influences our annual Budget Submission to Congress.
Most agencies have a Performance Plan in place
and certainly have a Budget Justification
that they write and send to Congress each year.
Many will then translate that Financial Plan
into an Operating Plan that answers the question,
who will do what by date certain.
There are monthly performance reviews
and those monthly performance reviews
are aggregated into a Performance
and Accountability Report submitted each year to OMB.
So you can see that there are a number of documents
that you can consult
to find relevant metrics to help your Forums
meet the requirement that they've been given.
When selecting metrics,
Forums should also consider the mission of the organization,
the complexity of the issues chosen,
and the capabilities of the joint team.
The complexity of the issue being addressed
will determine whether the Forum is equipped
to undertake this issue.
Forums need to make sure they take the necessary steps
to increase their knowledge
and skill base to address certain issues.
For example, if they are addressing a budget issue,
all Forum members need to learn the budget process
by carefully selecting issues to address.
In preparing the Forum to focus on these issues,
you're setting your Forum up for success.
Now that you have established your Forum metrics,
selected areas of joint endeavor,
and specifics on how you will measure success,
let's talk a bit about incentives and motivation.
Both labor and management
are committed to better mission outcomes,
but it's also important to recognize
those who make achievements happen.
That's correct, Scott.
As I mentioned before, the Department established
the Secretary's Labor-Management Award Program in 2002
to recognize outstanding
and innovative Labor-Management Forums
throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This award was established to recognize success
in such areas as saving money, increasing productivity,
improving service to Veterans and their families,
and improving working conditions for VA's valued employees.
Recognizing the success of Labor-Management relationships
helps employees understand
the significance of their achievements
and promotes the adoption of the approach
in other parts of the Department.
At VA, the Secretary's Labor-Management Award Program
has recognized three organizations in 2011
that are exceeding expectations in delivery
of services to our Veterans.
First, in regards to the Mission Performance metric,
the Secretary's Labor-Management Award Program
recognized the Veterans Benefits Administration
Appeals Management Center or AMC
and the AFGE Local 25
for creating a functioning Labor-Management relationship,
increase productivity, and better service to our Veterans.
So you can understand the value of their accomplishments.
Let me summarize the process for an appeal's claim
at the Veterans Benefits Administration or VBA.
Any decision that is made by VA is subject to appeal rights.
Veterans have one year from the date of notification
of the decision to enter a notice of disagreement.
At that point, VBA is required to render another decision,
taking the new information into consideration.
VBA and AFGE Local 25 achieved a 250% increase
in the number of completed appeals cases
between 2008 and 2010,
as well as a sustained increase in productivity.
The key to this success was the early partnership
that was formed
between the management and union representatives.
Between both parties there is now open
and honest communication,
a culture of trust and respect,
and the mutual desire
to ensure that the Veterans VA Services receive timely,
quality service.
So let's take a close look at these charts.
On the left-hand side we see
the number of appeals processed per year
and along the horizontal axis, on the bottom,
the years 2008, 2009, and 2010,
measured in roughly the same month.
You can see that production goes up sharply.
On the right hand side of the chart
we see the average number of days
to process an appeal also dropping sharply,
from about 380 to approximately 240 days.
The team accomplished an increase in productivity
by temporarily adjusting duties
and team assignments for approximately three months,
to focus on cases that were in the final stage of processing.
Personnel then returned to their normal duties
following that three month effort,
yet increased productivity continued.
The team accomplished a decrease in the average number of days
pending by instilling better workload management skills,
which brought improvement to this
important performance management.
Again, the collaborative relationship
between the parties led to the ability
of this organization to make these expedited changes.
The second example of a VA organization
that received the Secretary's Labor-Management Award
in 2011 is the Veterans Integrated Services Network 4
or VISN 4 as we refer to it
and their Labor-Management Forum.
VISN 4 is one of VA's 21 major healthcare networks.
They are the largest direct healthcare system in America.
Each one of those 21 networks is about a one-and-a-half
to two-and-half billion dollar business.
The VISN 4 Forum is comprised of executive leadership
and members of four labor partners;
and SEIU.
The VISN 4 Forum decided to establish
a Tobacco Cessation Program,
means quitting smoking,
for all VISN 4 Employees and Veteran patients.
This program measures success in both Mission Performance
and Employee Satisfaction.
Through this program employees are offered
nicotine replacement therapy in the form of lozenges
or patches at no cost to the employee.
To enroll, employees report to Employee Health,
provide some basic background information,
and are contacted by a support vendor.
This program saw a 25% increase in participation
and a 40% smoking cessation rate.
VISN 4 used our all Employee Survey
to help measure how this positive relationship
and engagement of the union impacted employee satisfaction.
The response rate on this voluntary survey was 74.2%.
VISN 4 performed very well
in many of the individual survey factors.
Quality of Work was the highest rated element
in the Job Satisfaction Index,
with a score of 4.42 out of 5.
They also performed well in the Work Family Balance score,
with a score of 3.86.
The bar charts in the slide on your screen show before
and after quit rates.
Superimposed on top of this mission measurement
is an Employee Satisfaction measurement,
that shows this going up as Mission Performance also rises.
The success of this program can be attributed
to the excellent relationship VISN 4
has with its union partners
and its very successful working Forum.
MJ, perhaps you can discuss
why you think this was so successful.
All of the VISN 4 Union Presidents sit on the Forum
and are also working groups
and VISN committees as the needs arise.
A perpetuated cooperative environment, open communication,
and trust among the network.
Now let's turn to the third example
which addresses Labor-Management Relations.
This is a measure of satisfaction
and the relationship
between organized labor and management.
The National Partnership Council
comprise of three administrations
and all five of the Department's national unions
work collaboratively to address the challenge
in implementing successful
Labor-Management Forums throughout VA.
We began by defining four stages of development
to describe the maturity of the Forum,
ranging from Level 1, the lowest,
to Level 4, highest,
which I will describe in more detail in a moment.
This performance standard was used to assess
the current environment of
Labor-Management Forums across VA and
to calibrate Executive Order implementation
to match the appropriate level
of the need for the individual Forums.
Together the VA National Partnership Council's management
and union representatives developed and are deploying
an Executive Order instructor- led training course.
The overall goal of the educational program
is to elevate Level 1 and Level 2 Forums to a Level 3.
Using a collaborative approach,
the National Partnership Council
ascertained each Forum's level of performance
and designed the training program
to address the gaps between the two lower levels
and the Level 3 and 4.
The three components Labor Management Forums need are:
a Charter they agree upon, use and understanding of PDI,
and define metrics.
The definitions of the Forum levels can be summarized
by looking at these three components.
Level 1 and 2 do not have these items in place.
The distinguishing factor between these two levels
is the nature of the relationships.
Level 1 Forums have a need
for more than just educational training.
They need relationship and trust development as well.
Level 3 Forums have these components,
but have not achieved measurable outcomes.
Level 4 Forums have all of these components
and have measurable outcomes.
Thanks MJ for providing that description of
how we're using metrics to help us do what we do better.
Right now we're engaged in an effort to prove a theory,
that stronger Labor-Management Relations
and greater labor involvement in management decision making
will improve Mission Performance,
Employee Satisfaction and Labor-Management Relations.
The value of working together now
is to build the business case
that the benefits of strong Labor-Management Relations
far exceed the cost.
The results will be reported to
the President of the United States,
the National Council, and the public in less than a year.
The resources shown on this slide provide guidance and
best practices for implementing Labor-Management Forums.
As you can see there are a rich set of places
you can go to find information about best practices.
There are also Networks that exists, like Baldrige
and the LMR teams across Agencies that can help.
The Labor-Management Council Website itself
has a rich set of information
that it can share with your team.
The National Center for Organization Development
also has team assessments
and CREW interventions that can help,
as well as training.
And finally, there are Training Resources at FLAA and FMCS
that are especially valuable.
In general, Labor-Management Forums
have to be funded to make an impact.
That means a counting for official time,
training costs and conference costs.
A shared responsibility is to determine
whether the benefits of making
these investments outweigh the cost.
Let's not short-change them.
Leadership support is the key to success
when implementing any change initiative,
especially the Labor-Management Forum implementation.
It is critical that there is leadership commitment,
clear direction, established expectations,
opportunities for success
and adequate resources, including training
and education and human resources.
Implementation needs to be integrated with
established management systems.
The point is that leadership cannot stop
once implementation is complete.
There needs to be an ongoing commitment
to leadership attention.
I want to show you a few examples of
what leadership support looks like at VA.
The following images depict VA Labor-Management Forums at work.
These photographs show our Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Labor-Management Relations
leading a National Partnership Council team meeting.
The leaders that take part in this Council
continually provide clear direction
and established expectations for
Labor-Management Relations across the VA.
In this photo, you can see the National Partnership Council
collaborating at a weeklong meeting in the field,
where they toured the Seattle VA Medical Center
and the Seattle VBA Regional Office.
The Council meets regularly
and visits VA facilities across the country
to continue to expand their knowledge of
all of the efforts taking place at the Agency.
This type of interaction allows this Council
to understand the diverse needs of our workforce
and the services they are providing to our Veterans.
This video clip shows the
Director of the Office of Personnel Management,
Mr. John Berry, engaging a joint
Labor-Management audience of over 2,000
at a senior management conference.
On this occasion, our labor partners,
as part of the Planning Committee for this event,
invited Director Berry to be the keynote speaker.
Labor-Management, another high priority of the President,
something, again, you're on the front edge of,
you're on the crest of the wave,
you never disbanded your Labor-Management Councils.
Over the past ten years you're one of the few agencies
in government that actually kept it going,
which is great.
Well, the best ideas often don't come from the top;
they come from the people who are working on the front lines.
If you want to know how to speed up
and improve the quality of care,
your nurse, who is in the room in the hospital,
will have ten better ideas probably
than the administrator in Washington,
and we need to be able to listen
with a respectful dialogue to that creativity
and those incredibly powerful ideas
that can come from all of those people in the frontline
and be united with our managers
so that we can get those ideas into play faster.
That's what Labor-Management discussions are about;
respectful dialogue, focused on better results for the taxpayer,
it's pretty simple.
And guess what,
the side benefit we'll get is better morale along the way,
because you know it, if somebody ask what's your opinion
and then actually does something with the information,
you feel pretty good.
You feel like you're respected, that you're part of the team.
That's exactly what we're trying to do
with the Labor-Management Program.
So first, thank you for keeping it alive
over the past ten years.
You are one of, I think,
only two Agencies across the entire government that did.
So you know, again, hats off, but second,
take advantage of that opportunity again,
because we can deliver better results
and we can enhance morale,
we can produce great things for the taxpayer with that,
by just sitting down and having that open dialogue
with all of our folks.
Finally, this is a video of the most recent
Carey Performance Excellent Award ceremony at the VA
that acknowledges quality outcomes for VA.
The positive relationships that have been created
are evident in a joint participation
and success stories that have come out of this Award Program.
We are committed as an organization
to sound business-based principles
rooted in quantifiable results,
and fortunately we have a rich tradition,
particularly in VHA and NCA,
of performance measurement,
from tracking daily operations
to overall organizational performance.
We mean business and we will hold ourselves
and our private sector partners accountable for cost,
schedule and tactical performance throughout.
Today's Carey Award winners also mean business.
They hold themselves to the highest standards
and stay there by constantly measuring
and analyzing their procedures
in order to stay ahead of the quality curve.
Now, we've discussed several aspects of Executive Order 13522
and how to implement this initiative at your Agencies.
What this order provides is an opportunity
for labor and management to collaborate
and provide enhanced solutions that align with our missions.
Through metrics, accountability is also provided.
To summarize, the Executive Order
provides two powerful opportunities.
First, Labor-Management Forums allow us to bring together
the front line perspective
and management or supervisor resources.
The front line perspective provides the knowledge of
time and place and the opportunities,
needs of our workforce and our Veterans.
The manager or supervisor levels apply their knowledge of systems
and allocated resources like the people,
budget and things needed to implement programs
to meet employees' needs and mission requirements.
Additionally, Labor-Management Forums help ensure personal,
professional and organizational growth.
Unions can better represent the union and its employees
and managers can improve the skills needed to collaborate
and problem solve with labor partners.
This in turn leads to better leadership development
and improved mission outcomes.
Plus, we learn to work more directly towards the same goal.
At the end of the day we want you to leave
with the following thoughts.
First that structured collaboration informs with
well-defined roles and responsibilities
can make a measurable difference
in Agency mission, morale,
and Labor-Management Relations.
Second that metrics are essential for accountability
and it should be drawn from the existing
performance management system at your Agency.
Third that dedicated leadership
and resources are required to change labor
and management behavior.
And finally, that there are many resources available
to help your Agency make it happen.
Thank you for listening.
Now let's see what questions the audience has for us.
Deputy Secretary Gould, at any point during this process,
did VA ever doubt whether this would succeed?
Thanks for that question.
No, I really believe that our confidence
has been high throughout.
We're drawing on a 15-year history
of strong Labor-Management Relations at VA.
At the end of the day,
you need folks who are wiling to work together,
you need a mission that matters and you need commitment
and resources to make it all happen.
We think we have those key ingredients at VA.
Ms. Burke, how content is labor with their involvement
in this process?
Thanks for the question.
I would say at the national level at VA,
the relationship between
the union leaders at the national level
and our national counterparts is good.
I think at the local level
is always where you encounter problems,
because that's where the work is done
and that's where, you know, your family is basically.
So consequently, I think the approach there
is that we need a lot more trust building education
and more evidence and
publicize in market our successes I would say.
Deputy Secretary Gould, isn't it true that
some management employees do not want to do this?
How do you deal with that challenge?
Sure, they sure are.
In any large organization you're going to find folks
that don't want to step up
and take on a new way of managing,
so we make it very clear;
first that this isn't optional.
Secretary Shinseki and I are committed
this is going to happen in our organization.
The second thing we do is stay focused on the opportunities;
the broad number,
the broad percentage of managers at VA want to do this.
So we're focused on the opportunity,
providing them the training, the resources
and the tools that they need to get the job done.
But now coming back to that special few
that just don't want to do it that way,
we are driving this into a performance evaluation.
We want our managers to know that
they will be held accountable
for doing the right thing with respect to the Executive Order.
Ms. Burke, how do you create buy-in with this concept
of partnership with those union representatives
who are used to more
confrontational environment?
Well, I think, first of all,
I think you have to cultivate an atmosphere of trust,
and I also think that it is more important
that you work the Executive Order to your benefit
to actually shine what you're good at,
and this is a great opportunity for us
to present value of unions in the Federal workplace.
Deputy Secretary Gould, to what extent did the VA involve
Performance Improvement Officers?
Well, it's a great question.
When we first received the Executive Order
that told us we needed to have
that critical link with metrics to make this all work,
we went right to our Performance Improvement Officers
and asked them what advice they could give to us
about the metrics we could use.
The end result is that, that office was intimately involved
with our development of metrics
and the reports that we ultimately sent
to the Labor-Management Council.
Ms. Burke, has requiring PDI changed
the Labor-Management environment?
I think we're starting to see some evidence,
especially on the national level,
where PDI has made a difference
in the labor environment per se.
VISN 4 was one of those examples
where we have a sit down structure
and they discuss budget,
they discuss what's on their minds,
and that tends to open up communication a lot,
and I think that only brings value
to the parties in the room,
and I don't understand why people wouldn't do PDI.
Deputy Gould, what do you say to agencies that say
they do not have enough resources
to implement the components of the Executive Order?
Well, it's an argument that I have heard
and in this budget environment
it's quite natural to make it.
Look, this is something new we're being asked to do
and if we don't have the additional cash
to make that happen, how can we possibly make it happen?
My view is that you can't possibly afford not to.
The simple facts are that in this process,
where neither management nor labor
has surrendered their rights to collective bargaining,
what we don't work out at the beginning
of the problem solving process,
we will work out at the end in a long,
time-consuming and costly process.
The argument I am advancing here is a simple business argument.
It says, let's lower those costs
by moving our collaborative decision-making process earlier,
and I think, and we are seeing in VA
the results of that early intervention
with positive business outcomes for our Agency.
Ms. Burke, some union presidents have filed ULPs
to get management to the table to do PDI
and implement the Forums.
Do you agree with this approach?
No, I don't agree with this approach, but I do think ULPs,
especially in this circumstance,
are more of a symptom of a relationship problem,
and what I would advise those locals that want to do
that is to first strategize
and avail themselves to all different
educational opportunities, reach out,
really sit in those rooms
and work on the relationship,
because that's really what it's about.
Deputy Secretary Gould,
the Executive Order is set to expire in December,
why should we bother implementing
Labor-Management Forums?
Well, I hope the case we've made today is that
there's a strong business reason,
focused on mission, employee morale,
and better Labor-Management Relations
that make what we're doing here
just good business sense to make happen.
I am also confident that the Executive Order
will be extended over time
and that we are engaged in a process
that once it's started across government can't be stopped.
Now, for our viewing audience here today,
understand that MJ and I,
if we seemed a little bit scripted today,
we're really just trying to make sure
that we can help you be successful in your Agency.
And I want you to recognize that MJ
and I have a strong partnership,
but we're working our way
through challenging issues together,
and I wanted to ask in this presentation
to see if MJ had any insights
that she wanted to offer to us about
what we can do better together and what we need to work on.
Well, I think what I hear from the local level
is mostly regarding the Executive Order
is that it needs to be moved out quicker.
We wish that there was more accountability in the process.
That's, you know, the main thing.
But I also see where those relationships
have issues of trust.
We have a plan in place,
a future plan to work on those issues,
and that's the most promising thing.
We can always, you know, look in the past,
but it's really the future
that we have to be concerned with for all of us,
in all relationships really.
So that's what I would have to say about it.
MJ, management perspective is exactly same.
Stephen Covey talks about moving at the speed of trust,
that's really the regulating factor here.
I see it growing in our organization,
and the success that we've had in VA together, and
that we've tried to share with our listening audience today,
I think, is an example of that.
Thank you all for these questions,
and if you have any further questions
or comments regarding this presentation,
please contact the Department of Veterans Affairs,
Office of Labor-Management Relations.