The National Labor Relations Board is looking to save money for the remainder of their budget year.
How do you do that in a government agency? You issue a memo outlining the cost cutting measures you expect your agency staff to follow.
The memo was written by Associate General Counsel Anne Purcell, was issued yesterday and is designed to achieve cost savings for the the remainder of fiscal year 2016. It’s interesting to examine some of the saving measured and consider the possible implications for anyone who currently has issues pending before the Board.
The most important section of the memo is the suggestion that staff at all Regional Office should immediately increase their efforts to reach settlement agreements on pending Unfair Labor Practice cases and election agreements.
The Field continues to enjoy remarkable success in securing settlements of merit unfair labor practice cases and election agreements to resolve pre-election disputes. The salutary effects of ULP settlements in resolving labor disputes and election agreements are obvious and must be pursued. In addition, and of special importance at this time of budget uncertainty, significant savings of Agency staff and budget resources result from high settlement and election agreement rates. It is also true that settlement early in the processing of a merit unfair labor practice case and the prompt negotiation of an election agreement will result in the greatest saving in resources. Accordingly, in all Regional Offices, and especially in those offices where performance in these areas is below the national experience, redoubled efforts should be made to resolve cases. [emphasis added]
While this is isn’t exactly the equivalent of a fire sale, the memo does suggest that the Board might be more slightly more amenable to a settlement effort than normal. It might be worth checking with your labor counsel to talk strategy.
The rest of the memo is less interesting, focusing largely on administrative and travel costs, but there are a few notable items.
Staff is expected to run shorter more efficient trials by various means, including avoiding travel where possible, reducing the staff assigned to a case, excusing witnesses as soon as possible, using oral argument at the end of hearings in lieu of filing post-trial briefs, encouraging administrative law judges to issue bench decisions. and encouraging the use of stipulations to reduce the time on the record and conserve resources.
Other measures to be considered include increased use of video testimony, pursuit of alternative investigative methods that reduce the need to travel, and prioritizing the use of internal translators over those of the current agency contractor. The memo concludes by suggesting that field offices take full advantage of “Time Targets” or agency deadlines by extending them.
Time Targets – Make full use of the “cushion” in reaching the Impact Analysis time targets. Understanding that understaffing is a reality in many of our regions, keep in mind that a certain percentage of cases can go overage under those time targets. This will allow for consolidation of travel and hopefully some relief to the staff in casehandling. [emphasis added]