Cost Benefit and Ethics in Government Essay

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EEOC Review

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is far and away the most prolific and omni-present agency that exists in the United States, at least at the federal level, that regulates employers and protects employees from discrimination and other unlawful and/or unethical employment practices including inequity in who is hired, who is fired, who is promoted and why, who is given raises and why and so forth. While budgetary constraints and some of the EEOC's recent decisions certainly deserve attention and scrutiny, the EEOC's status as the ultimate arbiter of employee rights in the United States is not going to change anytime soon.

The mission statement of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is to "stop and remedy unlawful employment discrimination" (EEOC, 2014). The vision statement of the EEOC is "justice and equality in the workplace." The EEOC states quite clearly on their website that they know full well, or at least acknowledge the grumblings of others, that eliminating all employment discrimination is not possible as there will always be someone somewhere violating the law even with the most diligent and expansive work by the agency. However, the EEOC has certainly tried including looking not only at explicit and provable results but also at broader issues like disparate impact whereby minorities and other protected classes are impacted even when the discrimination is not explicitly and/or easy to see, such as with felons or when minorities more commonly do not meet the required expectations of hiring managers than with non-minorities when comparing "apples to apples."

This tangent leads to the next topic, and that is overall ethical considerations when budgeting for and spending money from the agency. Indeed, the EEOC has tackled some fairly controversial topics as of late including discrimination based on felon status with prospective or current employees (Knafo, 2013). Certainly, being a felon is entirely different than being black or female as the latter is something bestowed at birth and is not changeable whereas the other (felon status) is based on at least one bad choice made earlier in life. Business and legal advocates of many stripes argue that requiring the hiring of felons (or at least not discriminating against them) is a double-edged sword because the businesses can be held civilly liable if a criminal reoffends and an employee is injured (ISO, 2014). However, the other side of that coin is that felons should get the chance to rebuild their lives and expunging of records/diversions is not always possible or practical. Thus, the record tends to follow them a long time if not the rest of their life. Indeed, some people hold that criminals of any stripe are of a bad character while others hold that redemption should be made possible when a pattern of good behavior and compliance takes hold (Khimm, 2013).

This is but one example of where the EEOC has to be a bit careful from a spending and overall ethical standpoint because of situations where discrimination is being stamped out but sometimes at the expense of law-abiding people who are not trying to be racist but yet seem to be accused of being racist or at least perpetuating the bad outcomes faced by minorities and other protected classes. The problem is that the EEOC is very much driven and controlled by who holds power at the federal level, the office of the President in particular, and this can be said of many other agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and others. Some harken back to Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover wielding such agencies in very vindictive and selfish ways, or at least politically motivated ways, and much the same thing is said of agencies like the EEOC in the modern era (, 2014)(FoxNews, com, 2014)(Lengell, 2014).

As far as technological considerations, there are two major ones that relate to the EEOC. The first is the advent of the ability to track and follow people online and the security of the information collected from prying eyes both within and outside of the relevant organizations or applicable regulatory bodies. The general attitude and attention paid towards information technology security is often at a fever pitch when things go wrong in public or private agencies and the last few months and years are a good example of that fever pitching being easy to notice and observe. Private and public agencies/businesses alike are being compromised left and right in some manner or form with some recent examples including Target, Michael's, and so on (Forbes, 2014). However, information leaks and general vindictiveness (as noted before) seems to be at foot in federal agencies like the IRS and others.

The other aspect of technology that the EEOC takes seriously is the ability of people to report and collect data on abuses of power/hiring such as email message, phone message and the overall ability to report the same. However, some reports of abuses are completely or at least partially fictitious as employees can be vindictive as well and employers are often condemned for being too aggressive and pressing in monitoring activities. These accusations can hold weight with the employer even if employee equipment/technology is being used during the communication in question. Privacy advocates argue that people should have privacy relating to personal/private matters even if company equipment is being used but employers (and their advocates) argue that anything/everything that happens on their equipment is subject to review and that the people involved should understand that if/when they use company equipment for private matters. Obviously, the EEOC weighs the totality of the facts in any given case but there are obviously areas that are gray and motives alone are often not enough to condemn or redeem someone in the eyes of the EEOC. Given that, it is quite easy to see why ethical considerations and how they dovetail with technological matters in general would be a bit dicey to handle and manage.

Speaking of dove-tailing, the above talk of technology can easily segue into or otherwise blend with talk about legal statutes and regulations and how easy it can be to run afoul of such regulations even when intentions are good and employee privacy is not directly violated through access to their personal social media accounts or cellular phones, just to name a few. However, there is a line that many draw between acceptable company surveillance up to and including that which relates to detecting illegal behavior including employment discrimination and going too far. Generally speaking, the EEOC will require proof of a transgression but if/when evidence is found, the employee is generally given the benefit of the doubt unless clear-cut proof exists. However, the EEOC has their own standard to meet and they should keep themselves operating ethically in a technological and ethical sense. This is because they cannot enforce legal and ethical guidelines with employers if they themselves are ignoring them in whole or in part.

As for the overall budgetary process, that is obviously controlled by the federal government with Congress and the President being the easy people to point out. The budget situation right now is fairly stable as current figures are basically locked in through the rest of Obama's administration, which runs through early 2017. However, there was a time where no budget at all was passed and the funding levels were extended only through stop-gap measures to avoid the debt ceiling being reached and/or the government in general being shut down because the funding levels were not extended beyond a certain date. However, while the EEOC has been controversial in some of their decisions and opinions, their funding has never really been in doubt as much of the talk of spending cuts has related to things like military spending and entitlement spending, the latter including programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and so forth. Even so, government spending and the deficit is a very high-end concern in the eyes of many so this could very well change in the coming months and years. However, things are probably going to be fine for at least the next two years or so.

However, the status quo for the EEOC was apparently not all that great. It was noted by the Chairman of the EEOC in the FY 2014 report that the capability and reach of the EEOC was severely affected and they are only now getting back up to the level of preparedness necessary to address the fact that the number of EEOC complaints has edged up quite a bit over the last 20 years. The chair also notes that they have made significant investments in upgrading systems and the overall structure of how the agency is run so as to better serve the public and the victims of discrimination. The Great Recession and its aftermath caused a significant spike in complains as there was a ten percent jump from 2010 to 2011 alone (EEOC, 2014).

One major sliver of the EEOC's funding that is deemed to be…[continue]

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