You are here

Bi-State Development Agency (METRO)

Location: St. Louis, MO
Date of Final Report: February, 2012

Bi-State Development Agency (METRO)  Transmittal Letter

December 4, 2008

Mr. Frank J. Wilson
President & Chief Executive Officer
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County
1900 Main Street
Houston, Texas 02116

Dear Mr. Wilson:

Thank you for your response to the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) letter and preliminary report of findings of the Equal Employment Opportunity Program (EEO) compliance review conducted at the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) in November 2007. Enclosed is the final report that incorporates METRO’s official response. As of the date of this letter the final report became a public document and is subject to dissemination under the Freedom of Information Act of 1974.

We have also enclosed a progress table listing FTA’s understanding of the corrective actions either planned or taken by METRO in response to the preliminary findings contained in the draft report. If you feel that our summarization of corrective actions is inconsistent with your response, please inform us in writing as soon as possible.

Please use the enclosed table as the format to report progress to FTA on the corrective actions METRO has completed or intends to implement as a result of our findings. Please identify each response by item number. The requested documentation, along with updates on the status of implementation of proposed corrective actions, should be provided in quarterly reports to FTA. Each report should include the planned and actual completion date of the corrective action; the current status and contact person information for each corrective action; and specific reporting requests cited in this letter and on the enclosed table. The first report will be due on March 1, 2009, and should include data for the months of December 2008, January and February 2009, and any actions completed prior to that date that have not already been addressed. Additional reports will be due on June 1, 2009; September 1, 2009; December 1, 2009, and each calendar quarter thereafter until FTA releases METRO from this reporting requirement.

We request that your first progress report more fully respond to the following findings, which are also addressed in the progress table.

Compliance Findings: METRO’S Equal Employment Opportunity Program

Item 3. Dissemination (Advisory Comment):

Requirement: Formal communication mechanisms should be established to publicize and disseminate the recipient’s EEO policy, as well as appropriate elements of the program, to its employees, applicants and the general public.

Advisory Comment: While METRO provides some external dissemination, METRO needs to enhance the communication of its EEO Policy/Program, as described in FTA C. 4704.1, Chapter, 2b (2), by including the statement in its collective bargaining agreement, and by distributing the policy to local minority and women’s organizations, community agencies, community leaders, secondary schools and colleges, verbally and in writing. 

METRO accepts this advisory comments and intends to disseminate the policy externally as described in FTA C. 4704.1 

Item 4: Designation of Personnel Responsibility: 

Requirement - The importance of an EEO program is indicated by the individual the agency has named to manage the program and the authority this individual possesses. An executive should be appointed as Manager/Director of EEO who reports and is directly responsible to the agency’s CEO. 

Finding –METRO’s Vice President of Human Resources and Diversity (VP of HRD) was designated as the METRO EEO Officer and reports directly to the President and CEO regarding EEO matters. This reporting relationship satisfied part of the Circular requirement for this section. However, the VP of HRD was also the Human Resources Director and responsible for all personnel and labor relations activities. The EEO responsibility was a collateral duty assignment and there would be potential conflicts of interest. METRO had no comprehensive written process for addressing collateral duty conflicts of the EEO Officer.

FTA Guidance for Urbanized Area Transit recipients, in the 2008 Triennial Review Guide states:

The EEO Officer should be an executive and should report directly to the CEO. Care should be taken to avoid conflicts when assigning responsibility for administering the EEO program as a collateral duty assignment, e.g., a personnel officer may have a conflict of interest.

Corrective Action: Within 120 days, METRO must submit to the FTA Office of Civil Rights its designation of personnel responsibility that conforms completely to the requirements of Circular 4704.1, Chapter III, 2c.

METRO Comment: Following a review of the Draft Report, METRO submitted a document to FTA describing a Collateral Duty Process for EEO Complaints. This process stated that the legal department with the involvement of internal or external legal counsel would handle complaints involving HRD staff, members of the Executive Management Team and/or the President and CEO.

METRO’s proposed corrective action has not been accepted for the following reasons:

The Office of General Counsel is responsible for defending METRO against legal action. It would be a conflict for this office to represent complainants or litigants against METRO. The same holds true for an external legal counselor hired by METRO.

The proposed process for making a case-by-case determination on who will investigate the complaint could appear to be arbitrary.

All EEO complaints that challenge the hiring, promotion, salary/pay equity, termination, and/or discipline decisions of METRO involve the HRD staff, since this staff must approve and/or process the actions of the hiring manager or supervisor involved. Therefore, virtually all EEO complaints would have to be handled through this alternative process, which appears to be time consuming and costly. 

For these reasons, and given the size and complexity of the METRO organization, METRO is strongly encouraged to separate the EEO and HR functions and establish another independent direct reporting relationship to the CEO/General Manager on EEO matters.

Metro must report on its progress in this area on the first quarterly progress report and thereafter until FTA closes the deficiency.

Item 5: Utilization Analysis:

Requirement: The purpose of the utilization analysis is to identify those job categories where there is an underutilization and/or concentration of minorities and women in relation to their availability in the relevant labor market.

Finding: METRO developed a workforce utilization analysis using an “80 Percent” factor” for determining whether a particular job category was underutilized.

Corrective Action: Within 120 days, METRO must submit to the FTA Office of Civil Rights a workforce utilization analysis without applying the “80 Percent” factor, and in accordance with FTA Circular 4704.1, Chapter III 2.d.

METRO Response: This corrective action and the agreed upon schedule to satisfy this deficiency has been accepted by Metro.

Metro must report on its progress in this area on the first quarterly progress report and thereafter until FTA closes the deficiency.

Item 6. Goals and Timetables:

Requirement: Specific and detailed percentage and numerical goals with timetables must be set to correct any underutilization of specific affected classes of persons identified in the utilization analysis.

Finding: METRO developed a workforce utilization analysis using an “80 Percent” factor” for determining whether a particular job category was underutilized.

METRO Response: This corrective action and the agreed upon schedule to satisfy this deficiency has been accepted by Metro.

METRO must report on its progress in this area on the first quarterly progress report and thereafter until FTA closes the deficiency.

Item 8: Monitoring and Reporting System:

Requirement: The reporting system should provide documentation to support actions that affect minority and women job applicants or employees. Management should be kept informed of program effectiveness.

Finding: METRO did not monitor its outside contractors for compliance with EEO requirements.

METRO Response: This corrective action and the agreed upon schedule to satisfy this deficiency has been accepted by Metro.

Metro must report on its progress in this area on the first quarterly progress report and thereafter until FTA closes the deficiency.

We recognize the efforts METRO has already made to correct the deficiencies identified in the draft report, and we anticipate its continued endeavors to take further corrective actions as noted in this letter. We appreciate the cooperation and assistance that you and your staff have provided us during this review. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Anita Heard at (202) 493-0318 or William Jones, Regional Civil Rights Officer, at (817) 978-0558 or at the following address:

Anita Heard William Jones
FTA Office of Civil Rights FTA Civil Rights Officer
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE 819 Taylor Street
E54-427 Room 8A36
Washington, DC, 20590 Fort Worth, TX 76102
anita.heard@dot.gov william.jones@dot.gov

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation as we undertake this process together. We look forward to a meaningful and successful completion of this compliance review.

Sincerely,

Cheryl L. Hershey
Director, Office of Civil Rights

Enclosures

cc: Robert C. Patrick, FTA Region VI Administrator
William Jones, FTA Region VI Civil Rights Officer
Maxine Marshall, The DMP Group
Gail Lyssy, FTA Region VI Director of Oversight & Program Management


VII. summary of findings

  1. Requirements of FTA Circular 4704.1: Program Submission
    Site Review Finding: ND
  2. Requirements of FTA Circular 4704.1: Statement of Policy
    Site Review Finding: D
    Description of Deficiencies: Policy Statement lacked two required elements of the Circular: no identification of person or position responsible for the implementation of the EEO program and no notice of right to file complaints.
    Corrective Action(s): Following the site visit, METRO provided a revised Policy Statement that contains all the required elements of FTA Circular.
    Response Days/Date: Deficiency Closed
  3. Requirements of FTA Circular 4704.1: Dissemination
    Site Review Finding: AC
    Description of Deficiencies: METRO internal dissemination is in conformance with Circular.
    For external dissemination, Policy/Program needs to be sent to recruitment sources.
  4. Requirements of FTA Circular 4704.1: Designation of Personnel Responsibility
    Site Review Finding: D
    Description of Deficiencies: METRO had no comprehensive written process for addressing collateral duty conflicts of the EEO Officer.
    Corrective Action(s): METRO must submit to the FTA Office of Civil Rights its designation of personnel responsibility that conforms completely to the requirements of Circular 4704.1.
    Response Days/Date: 05/13/2009
  5. Requirements of FTA Circular 4704.1: Utilization Analysis
    Site Review Finding: D
    Description of Deficiencies: METRO developed a workforce utilization analysis using an “80 Percent” factor” for determining whether a particular job category was underutilized.
    Corrective Action(s): METRO must submit to the FTA Office of Civil Rights a workforce utilization analysis without applying the “80 Percent” factor.
    Response Days/Date: 05/13/2009
  6. Requirements of FTA Circular 4704.1: Goals and Timetables
    Site Review Finding: D
    Description of Deficiencies: METRO developed its Goals and Timetables using a “less than one person” factor.
    Corrective Action(s): METRO must submit to the FTA Office of Civil Rights goals and timetables analysis without applying the “less than one person “ factor. 
    Response Days/Date: 05/13/2009
  7. Requirements of FTA Circular 4704.1: Assessment of Employment Practices
    Site Review Finding: ND
  8. Requirements of FTA Circular 4704.1: Monitoring and Reporting System
    Site Review Finding: D
    Description of Deficiencies: METRO did not monitor its outside contractors.
    Corrective Action(s): METRO must submit to the FTA Office of Civil Rights procedures to monitor its contractors in conformance with FTA Circular 4704.1.
    Response Days/Date: 05/13/2009
  9. Requirements of FTA Circular 4704.1: Title I of the ADA
    Site Review Finding: D
    Description of Deficiencies: METRO did not have a written policy regarding ADA reasonable accommodation.
    Corrective Action(s): Following the site visit, METRO provided a written Policy that met the requirements for ADA.
    Response Days/Date: Deficiency Closed

ND = No Deficiency; D = Deficiency; NA = Not Applicable; NR = Not Reviewed; AC=Advisory Comments

DOT is committed to ensuring that information is available in appropriate alternative formats to meet the requirements of persons who have a disability. If you require an alternative version of files provided on this page, please contact FTAWebAccessibility@dot.gov
Submit Feedback >