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United States Department of the Interior

Washington, D.C. 20240

October 28, 1999
To: Bureau Equal Opportunity Officers
From: /s/ E. Melodee Stith, Director
Equal Opportunity Program
Subject: Equal Employment Opportunity Counselors


This Directive revises the current departmental practice of allowing aggrieved individuals to
contact an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Counselor from any Bureau/Office to conduct
an informal inquiry into matters giving rise to a potential complaint.

Because of the reduction of Equal Opportunity staff over the past several years and limited resources, the Office for Equal Opportunity encouraged Bureaus and Offices to make their trained EEO Counselors available to conduct informal inquiries and attempt to resolve complaints for any aggrieved individuals by whom they were contacted, regardless of whether or not such individuals were employed by or within that Bureau.  However, because of the tremendous workload that Counselors are experiencing and the current emphasis on utilizing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in order to resolve complaints at the earliest stage in the process and at the lowest level, the decision has now been made to restrict counseling activities to only those employees or applicants for employment within your respective Bureaus and/or Offices.  Bureau employees are the most familiar with Bureau practices and policies and are in a better position to know who to contact in order to resolve complaints.  In those instances where it would pose a "conflict of interest" for an employee or applicant to be counseled within their own organization, it will be the responsibility of the appropriate Bureau/Office EEO Manager to make arrangements with another organization to provide the needed counseling.

Please be mindful of the fact that in those instances in which aggrieved individuals are counseled by persons outside of a particular Bureau, the appropriate Bureau EEO Manager is to be notified of such activities; and, a Bureau point of contact should be designated to respond to questions and provide guidance during the conduct of the informal inquiry.  In many instances, policies and procedures vary from Bureau to Bureau, so it is necessary for individuals from outside of that organizational unit to be made aware of what the appropriate practices/policies are within that Bureau.

Effective upon issuance of this Directive, any telephonic or written request for an EEO
Counselor received in this office will be referred to the appropriate Bureau for assistance.

Please ensure that this information is distributed to your employees and EEO Counselors.

DISTRIBUTION:  Bureau and Office Equal Opportunity Officers

INQUIRIES: Carolyn M. Burrell, Assistant Director, Complaints Processing and
  Adjudication, 202-208-3442

EXPIRES: When Superseded

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