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house Bill H.R. 2788

Should the VA Have More than 40 Full-Time Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Counselors?

Argument in favor

The Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) doesn’t have enough equal employment opportunity (EEO) counseling and dispute resolution counselors to meet the needs of its 40,000-plus employees. Allowing the VA to hire more EEO counselors would expand the agency’s ability to address formal and informal discrimination complaints.

jimK's Opinion
···
05/18/2021
Wrong question. The questions should be how many EEO cases need to be counseled, how many people are in need and waiting for counseling, and how effective are counselors in helping people resolve their cases. Answer these questions first and look at trends. The answer regarding how many full time counselors there should be should be clear from the data and the trends. Hire a core of counselors and arrange for qualified, certified counselors to be called in on a contractual basis as needed to meet fluctuating needs. A fixed cap on the number of counselors needed is either wasteful or unable to adequately meet the needs of vets (I would suspect it is the latter based on history, but really do not know). Fixed numbers of people to deal with highly variable numbers of people in distress is profoundly unproductive and a pretty stupid approach. … … … Congress demands that most if not all executive branch agencies have separate funding sources for people and purchases - and I fairly certain that agencies cannot move funds between the employee accounts and the purchasing accounts. Adding qualified expert counselors under contract can be used to meet fluctuating needs - and funds for contracted help can be adjusted by the agency to meet priority purchasing needs while the number of government employees cannot.
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Leslie's Opinion
···
05/17/2021
The number of VA EEO Counselors should be determine by workload metrics not artificial caps but that seems to be the way the VA operates, on artificial caps. And the metrics should be industry standard not ones artificially created by the VA like the VA did with counselors & therapists where sessions were shortened and the number of sessions reduced to force counselors to see more patients even though the shortened sessions were ineffective. Seems to be an endemic problem at the VA either artificial caps, or unrealistic metrics based staffing. Our vets deserve better! https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1075781 https://federalnewsnetwork.com/veterans-affairs/2021/05/congress-wants-more-walk-and-less-talk-on-diversity-and-inclusion-efforts-at-va/ https://www.govexec.com/workforce/2021/05/va-seeks-125-increase-diversity-and-inclusion-counselors/173865/ https://www.cbo.gov/publication/57212#:~:text=Under%20current%20law%2C%20the%20Department,counseling%20and%20dispute%20resolution%20services.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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05/17/2021
Staff needs should be determined by workload.
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Argument opposed

Finding ways to maximize the VA’s 38 existing EEO counselors and to reduce the need for EEO counselors’ services should come before adding headcount to the agency’s EEO counselor workforce. Alternatively, the VA already has the authority to have two more EEO counselors without Congressional approval, so it should do that first before looking to Congress to expand its allowable number of EEO counselors.

B.R.'s Opinion
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05/17/2021
Staffing should not be based on an a artificial number, especially set by Congress. The VA should be required to justify staffing needs based on a quantitative need. Just purely looking at the numbers, it does not look like the representatives are over-worked, especially considering that their cases are limited in scope, ie: EEO counseling and dispute resolution. If you break the case load down (2800 per year), it equates to 6 cases per month, per rep (38 reps). Granted, all cases are different, therefore may vary in terms of time needed to resolve, but to only resolve half of the cases suggests there is somethng else at bay; possibly competency or lack thereof. While I always support the needs of our Vets, I would suggest gathering some data prior to approving this bill.
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Larry's Opinion
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05/17/2021
This would be micromanaging by outsiders. The organization management should handle running the organization and staffing requirements.
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Carina's Opinion
···
05/17/2021
Veterans Affairs should assess their capability to hire more counselors before relying on congress to legislate and expand debt. Instead of funding Iran, Palestine, and other countries—the money would be better used for our veterans.
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What is House Bill H.R. 2788?

This bill, the VA Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor Modernization Act, would eliminate the cap on the number of full-time employees at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) who provide equal employment opportunity (EEO) counseling and dispute resolution services. At present, the VA is prohibited from employing more than 40 counselors for this purpose.

Impact

The Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA); EEO counselors at the VA; and the cap on EEO counselors at the VA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2788

$26.00 Million
The CBO estimates that this bill would cost $26 million over the 2021-2026 period.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) introduced this bill to allow the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase the number of employees at the agency providing equal employment opportunity (EEO) counseling and dispute resolution services.

Currently, the VA has 38 EEO counselors for a workforce of over 40,000 employees. This number of counselors is overwhelmed by the number of formal and informal complaints that they receive each year: in 2020, VA employees filed over 2,800 formal equal employment opportunity complaints, and the department resolved just over half of them.


Of NoteBusinesses, government agencies, and other entities are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants or employees based on the person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

EEO counselors at VA are responsible for reviewing complaints that may be related to such discrimination. Counselors support aggrieved parties and facilitate dispute resolution between affected parties, generally before formal complaints are filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency charged with enforcing federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / LeoPatrizi)

AKA

VA Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor Modernization Act

Official Title

To amend title 38, United States Code, to eliminate the cap on full-time employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs who provide equal employment opportunity counseling.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Oversight and Investigations
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedApril 22nd, 2021
    Wrong question. The questions should be how many EEO cases need to be counseled, how many people are in need and waiting for counseling, and how effective are counselors in helping people resolve their cases. Answer these questions first and look at trends. The answer regarding how many full time counselors there should be should be clear from the data and the trends. Hire a core of counselors and arrange for qualified, certified counselors to be called in on a contractual basis as needed to meet fluctuating needs. A fixed cap on the number of counselors needed is either wasteful or unable to adequately meet the needs of vets (I would suspect it is the latter based on history, but really do not know). Fixed numbers of people to deal with highly variable numbers of people in distress is profoundly unproductive and a pretty stupid approach. … … … Congress demands that most if not all executive branch agencies have separate funding sources for people and purchases - and I fairly certain that agencies cannot move funds between the employee accounts and the purchasing accounts. Adding qualified expert counselors under contract can be used to meet fluctuating needs - and funds for contracted help can be adjusted by the agency to meet priority purchasing needs while the number of government employees cannot.
    Like (35)
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    Staffing should not be based on an a artificial number, especially set by Congress. The VA should be required to justify staffing needs based on a quantitative need. Just purely looking at the numbers, it does not look like the representatives are over-worked, especially considering that their cases are limited in scope, ie: EEO counseling and dispute resolution. If you break the case load down (2800 per year), it equates to 6 cases per month, per rep (38 reps). Granted, all cases are different, therefore may vary in terms of time needed to resolve, but to only resolve half of the cases suggests there is somethng else at bay; possibly competency or lack thereof. While I always support the needs of our Vets, I would suggest gathering some data prior to approving this bill.
    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
    The number of VA EEO Counselors should be determine by workload metrics not artificial caps but that seems to be the way the VA operates, on artificial caps. And the metrics should be industry standard not ones artificially created by the VA like the VA did with counselors & therapists where sessions were shortened and the number of sessions reduced to force counselors to see more patients even though the shortened sessions were ineffective. Seems to be an endemic problem at the VA either artificial caps, or unrealistic metrics based staffing. Our vets deserve better! https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1075781 https://federalnewsnetwork.com/veterans-affairs/2021/05/congress-wants-more-walk-and-less-talk-on-diversity-and-inclusion-efforts-at-va/ https://www.govexec.com/workforce/2021/05/va-seeks-125-increase-diversity-and-inclusion-counselors/173865/ https://www.cbo.gov/publication/57212#:~:text=Under%20current%20law%2C%20the%20Department,counseling%20and%20dispute%20resolution%20services.
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    Staff needs should be determined by workload.
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    The number of VA EEO Counselors should be determined by reasonable workloads, not politics or even budgetary constraints. We expect much of our service people. Providing needed support for veterans is only just.
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    I am a mother of an Iraq war veteran and they most definitely do need help! All the help they can get in every area of their lives! Especially those who have seen combat! They are in drastic need of more facilities, more housing assistance, mental health as well as physical health and substance abuse intervention aid!!! The more rural areas of the country are extremely lacking in local facilities and assistance!
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    This would be micromanaging by outsiders. The organization management should handle running the organization and staffing requirements.
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    I'm shocked that the VA needs more than 40 EEO counselors, but this is an important issue and the VA is one of the largest organizations in the country. If they need more EEO counselors to ensure fair hiring and equal employment protections at this huge organization, then they should have them. However, I do hope that the VA undergoes regular auditing to determine how it's spending its money, how it's staffing its programs, and how successful roles such as these are at helping the organization be equal, fair, diverse, and efficient.
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    The VA is a larger operation it should be proportional to the need!
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    Just looking at full staffing (40), these counselors may carry a caseload of 1,000 or more individuals. Trying to support employment opportunities, complaint and dispute resolution for a caseload that large is ridiculous. Unemployment and homelessness of our VA population is shameful. We must support our former warriors better than this. Increase the number of the full time counselors.
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    It’s common sense that staffing such important services should be provided based on need, and not a legislative cap.
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    Veterans Affairs should assess their capability to hire more counselors before relying on congress to legislate and expand debt. Instead of funding Iran, Palestine, and other countries—the money would be better used for our veterans.
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    The VA should have as many counselors as are needed.
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    As we’ve added more vets, we need to add more counselors. Since so many vets are not just white, it stands to reason that we would have equal representation.
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    The only reason to limit the number is to slow enforcement, which is bad. When it comes to budget, there is no real limit to the military budget, is there. Invest some more of it in actual people.
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    Why aren’t they deciding that? You base it on need, budget, etc. leave it to the people who actually supply the service
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    I need to view all the numbers to make an informed decision Not sure why they would want to increase unless they’ve checked the data and determined they need more to do the job properly If you need more ; hire them Let’s get something done in government
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    This should be a question that VA should reasonably be able to determine the answer. Why is this question even being posed on here? It isn’t an arbitrary number of employees that should or shouldn’t be on staff. The number should be determined by need. It doesn’t matter what anyone’s opinion is on this matter.
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    Definitely great and helpful bill!
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    I’m a Vet and the V.A has started outsourcing Vets to civilian counselors. I honestly feel that having more on staff (that are properly trained) as well as outsourcing would be in the best interest of the VETERANS
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