Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Annual Performance Report
Fiscal Year (FY) 2001
The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 requires Federal agencies to submit a progam performance report to the President and Congress not later than March 31, 2002 for FY 2001. The Review Commission's Annual Program Performance Report (APPR) for FY 2001 was prepared in accordance with guidance contained in OMB Circular No. A-11, which explains the requirements of the GPRA. We submit this report in compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.
In September 1997, the Review Commission developed a Strategic Plan which built upon its progress since 1994. The agency's Strategic Plan provided details of our specific goals and objectives for fiscal years 1997 through 2002. In September 2000, the Review Commission revised its Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2000-2005, consistent with GPRA and OMB requirements. The agency's FY 2001 Annual Performance Plan (APP) incorporated the goals and objectives included in the 1997 Strategic Plan. In FY 2001 the Review Commission revised some of the Public Service goals, objectives and indicators in its FY 2001 Performance Plan to make them more consistent with the revised Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2000-2005. This APPR reports on a combination of the goals and objectives included in the 1997 and 2000 strategic plans, the APP for FY 2001 and Revised Final APP for FY 2001.
Revisions to our FY 2001 APP were also made based on performance data for fiscal years 1999 and 2000. We revised several targets for our quantitative performance measures, and refined and discontinued some of our performance goals. The Revised Final APP for FY 2001 reflects a change in the measurement of our Public Service Goals (P1, P2, P4, P5, P6, P7). We changed our performance indicators from "reducing cycle time" to "increasing the percent of cases" adjudicated by our administrative law judges and Commissioners. We also put the adjudication of older and/or more complex cases on separate time frames from the new or less complex cases. These changes were necessary because the profile of our cases and the adjudication mix between the more complex cases and the less complex cases at the trial and appellate levels were not conducive to a progressive reduction of cycle time, contrary to what the Review Commission had predicted in 1997. Moreover, because of the lack of a quorum and/or third member at the Commission level during fiscal year 1998 and part of fiscal 1999, the age of pending cases continued to grow. This created a disincentive to resolve such old cases in order to meet the cycle time goal. The revised final performance plan goals more appropriately facilitate the Review Commission's ability to carry out its statutory mandate and reflect its objective of disposing of all cases in a timely manner. (1)
During FY 2001, the Review Commission met 89% percent of the FY 2001 goals set forth in its FY 2001 APP. The agency performed well in the areas of case adjudication for cases that proceeded to hearing at the trial level or were directed for review by the Commissioners, case settlement disposition within six months, external communications, information technology enhancements, human resource management programs, and quality business processing improvements. We missed, by a slight margin, our goal of reducing the percent of settlements at the trial level that exceed the one year cycle time and placing our scanned decisions dating back to 1980 on our website. While we did not meet all our FY 2001 APP goals, there was overall significant improvement in performance compared to fiscal years 1999 and 2000. In fact, the agency met 89% percent of its goals in FY 2001, compared to 80 percent of its FY 2000 goals and 68 percent of its FY 1999 goals.
There continue to be a variety of factors that affect our ability to meet our cycle time goals. These include: (1) continued presence of a quorum and/or third member at the Commission level; (2) the magnitude and nature of the cases received at the Review Commission; (3) the success of the parties' settlement negotiations and the agency's settlement process initiatives (Settlement Part) in reducing the number of hearings needed; and (4) the number, location, length and complexity of trials held. Although these factors are largely outside the Review Commission's control, the Strategic Plan and the APP acknowledge that the Review Commission is committed to working within such constraints to improve its service to the public.
A summary comparing the FY 2001 target level of performance for each performance indicator with the actual level of performance follows this report overview. The numbering of the performance objectives has been changed from that identified in the FY 2001 APP and Revised Final FY 2001 APP to make it easier to account for each objective and measurement for which activity occurred in fiscal year 2001. Consistent with GPRA requirements, we have also summarized the program evaluations completed during this fiscal year. The performance report section is organized by strategic goal. An introductory section under each goal summarizes the FY 2001 performance for that goal.
A complete copy of the Review Commission's 1997 Strategic Plan and Revised Strategic Plan may be obtained at our website, www.oshrc.gov.
FISCAL YEAR 2001 REPORT SUMMARY
Background on the Review Commission
The Review Commission is an independent, adjudicatory agency created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act
of 1970. Its sole statutory mandate is to serve as an administrative court providing just and expeditious resolution of disputes involving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers charged with violations of
Federal safety and health standards, and employees and/or their representatives. The Review Commission was created by Congress as an agency completely independent of the Department of Labor to ensure that OSHA's
enforcement actions are carried out in accordance with the law and that all parties are treated consistent with due process should a dispute arise.
Employers contesting citations are entitled to a hearing before the Review Commission's administrative law judges. The Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Review Commission's Rules of Procedure provide two levels of adjudication when an employer timely contests an OSHA citation for alleged violations of the Act or failure to abate such alleged violations. The first is a trial level before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This level affords an opportunity for a hearing before a Review Commission ALJ for employers who have filed a timely notice of contest. The judge's decision becomes final unless the Commission reviews the decision. The second level is a discretionary appellate review of the judge's decision by the Commission's members. The Review Commission has three members, appointed by the President and subject to Senate confirmation, who serve six year terms. Both before its judges and the Commissioners, the Review Commission seeks to provide fair, impartial, and timely adjudication of cases concerning the safety and health of employees' working conditions in the United States.
The principal (national) office of the Review Commission is located in Washington, D.C. There are also regional offices in Atlanta and Denver where some of the Review Commission's Administrative Law Judges and staff are assigned.
2000 Mission Statement
The mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission is to provide an impartial forum for the just
and prompt adjudication of workplace safety and health disputes involving the Department of Labor, employers, and employees, and/or their representatives under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
2000 Vision Statement
The Review Commission continues to strive to be:
a quasi judicial body that is -- and is recognized for being -- objective, fair, prompt, and professional;
an agency that creates a body of law through its decisions that defines and explains the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970;
a model Federal agency with highly effective processes, a highly motivated, qualified and diverse workforce, and modern information management, communications, and administrative systems; and
an agency that values team work, develops its employees, and strives to improve its performance, service, and value to the American people.
Fiscal Year 2000 Strategic Plan Goals
In 1997, the Review Commission established goals to effectively accomplish its mission. We defined two broad
external goals to improve the agency's service to and its communication with its stakeholders and the public and three operational goals -- Information Technology, Human Resource, Quality Management -- critical to the overall
mission performance of the agency. When the Review Commission issued its Revised Strategic Plan for 2000-2005, we modified and realigned our performance goals. We continued our two broad external goals to improve the agency's
service to and communications with its stakeholders and the public. However, we combined the three operational goals into one operational goal to align more closely with the overall mission of the agency.
Public Service Goal:To assure fair, just, and expeditious adjudication of disputes brought before the Commission and its judges, and achieve a high level of quality in all legal decisions
External Communications Goal: To enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of communications between the Commission and the public it serves
Organizational Goal: To further develop and invest in a highly effective, motivated, and diverse workforce equipped with modern information, technology, and communications systems to facilitate the accomplishment of its goals, meet program needs and increase organizational effectiveness and efficiency
Performance Data Verification
For each strategic goal and its related objectives, the Review Commission formulated performance measures and annual targets, numerical whenever possible. A few measures are necessarily qualitative in nature. Case processing and adjudication measurements are used for several objectives contained in our Public Service Goal. Most of the data related to the Public Service Goal resides in the Review Commission's case management/tracking system. In order to assure the quality of the data, we review the information in the case management/tracking system periodically. In FY 2001 more than 2,300new cases were filed with the agency and each case was entered and progress was tracked throughout the life of the case. We conduct test runs of the data to ensure that information is input and updated ona timely basis. Quarterly and semi-annual reviews are conducted by the appropriate managers to ensure accuracy of the data and to monitor performance goals and progress. The appropriate management officials analyze the data and ensure the accuracy of test runs and the reports produced. At the end of the year, this data is used by the offices to measure performance related to the goal.
The Review Commission contracted for independent evaluations to be completed in FY 2001 for the following areas: (1) E-Z Trial program, (2) financial audit of FY 2000 financial statements, and (3) computer security. We are using the recommendation from each of these reviews to develop management initiatives and annual goals.
The E-Z Trial program evaluation focused on issues of implementation, program goals, and participant satisfaction. (2) The sources of data for each area of the evaluation were derived from the interviews of internal stakeholders, surveys of the external and internal participants in E-Z Trial, or archival data. There were three categories of survey participants: employers and their representatives, Department of Labor attorneys, and Review Commission judges. A control group of cases that proceeded through conventional Review Commission processes was compared to E-Z Trial cases. The evaluation also compared the results of the E-Z Trial program to the Simplified Proceeding. (3) In addition to presenting a number of recommendations, the overall evaluation yielded the following results:
We received a financial audit of the Review Commission's financial status as of September 30, 2000. The auditors found that our financial statements were free of material misstatement, there were no instances of noncompliance with laws and regulations that were required to be reported under Government Auditing Standards and OMB guidance, and no instances were disclosed in which the agency's financial management systems did not substantially comply with the Government Auditing Standards, the Federal Management Improvement Act and OMB guidance.
Our last evaluation conducted in FY 2001 was of our computer information systems, consistent with the FY 2001 Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398), including Title X, subtitle G, Government Information Security Reform Act. This independent evaluation revealed that there were no material weaknesses in policy, procedures or practices present. However, a series of recommendations for improvement were made.
Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Report
Public Service Goal
To assure fair, just, and expeditious adjudication of disputes brought before the Commission and its judges, and achieve a high level of quality in all legal decisions
1. Increase the percent of non-complex cases disposed of with hearing that are disposed of within 325 days.
FY 2001 Indicator/Target: Complete 70 percent of non-complex cases disposed of with hearing within 325 days from the date of assignment to a judge. TARGET MET.
2. Increase the percent of complex cases disposed of with hearing that are disposed of within 18 months.
FY 2001 Indicator/Target: Complete 70 percent of complex cases (4) disposed of with hearing within 540 days from the date of assignment to a judge. TARGET MET.
3. Increase the percent of cases that are disposed of without a hearing that are disposed of within six months.
4. Increase the percent of cases that are disposed of without a hearing that are disposed of in one year.
5. Increase percent of Commission-level dispositions issued within 325 days.
6. Reduce by a percent the number of cases pending Commission-level disposition for more than two years
External Communications Goal
To enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of communications between the Commission and the public it serves
7. The extent to which Commission decisions and other publications and case information are made available electronically through the agency's world wide website. (6)
FY 2001 Target: Continue to maintain the website and produce a more complete listing and copies of earlier decisions and enhance search engine so that Review Commission decisions, rules, press releases, guides, and other information are readily available electronically to the public. TARGET NOT MET. We performed a significant amount of work on this goal. We enhanced our search engine with greater searching capabilities for older decisions, including the ability to search PDF files. We scanned many of our oldest decisions (1971-1992) and edited the electronically converted documents for 1989-1992 for website placement, but we were not able to place the decisions onto the website because of delays in contractor performance.
8. Improve the frequency of publication of CD-ROMs for use by litigants, libraries, and other interested parties.
FY 2001 Target: Publish CD-ROM to include the most recent Review Commission decisions for use by litigants, libraries and other interested parties. TARGET MET.
9. Improve and strengthen mechanisms for communications between the Review Commission and entities that have an interest in its activities
FY 2001 Target: Conduct a stakeholder satisfaction survey to review key business processes - judicial case handling. TARGET MET.
To further develop and invest in a highly effective, motivated, and diverse workforce equipped with modern information, technology, and communications systems to facilitate the accomplishment of its goals, meet program needs and increase organizational effectiveness and efficiency
10. Develop enhancement to case management/tracking system.
FY 2001 Target: Develop enhancements to the case management/tracking system (50%) based on new performance measures contained in the revised performance and strategic plans. TARGET MET. We set up a team of users to revisit standard naming conventions for event fields to streamline tracking and reporting functions and assist in more easily reporting on performance measurements. Additional elements are being captured to more easily identify case type (e.g., Settlement Part, Complex, E-Z Trial).
11. Complete a wide area network and improve communications with regional offices.
FY 2001 Target: Upgrade and migrate to a client/server environment to strengthen data transfer communications. A portion of this effort will be completed in FY 2001. TARGET MET. We started the migration process by increasing the bandwidth and communications security in the regional offices. We also increased the speed of communication for employees for on-line training, and allowed for regional office employee access to National Office server for real time access to locally supported e-mail.
12. Enhance Review Commission research capabilities by providing necessary research tools to all employees.
FY 2001 Target: Complete a needs assessment for research equipment, material, and training and complete the acquisition or installation of the majority of the material or equipment (50%). TARGET MET. A technology team was created to assist in the assessment and research of equipment, material and training. We also established a knowledge management team to discuss sharing information and collaboration techniques for research materials for attorneys in the Office of the General Counsel.
13. Level of completion of integrated financial management information system.
FY 2001 Target: Maintain the existing system. TARGET MET. We have maintained the existing system to record electronic purchase requests. When we developed the FY 2001 APP, our intention was to remain with our current financial services provider. However, due to projected increases in the cost of services from our current service provider, we decided to obtain a new provider for our financial and administrative services. The new provider offers, as part of its services, an integrated procurement and financial system which will replace the Review Commission's financial management information system.
14. Develop Intranet Communications
FY 2001 Target: Develop the communication vehicle and install it in the National Office in FY 2001 (50%), with full deployment in the regional offices in FY 2002 (50%). TARGET MET. The Review Commission's intranet has been installed as a shared drive for National Office employees. Internal policies, memoranda and Administrative Law Judge and Commission decisions are maintained on the network.
15. Delivery of needed training measured in hours.
FY 2001 Target: Provide an average of 40 hours of training per employee.TARGET MET. Review Commission employees received an average of 48 hours of training. Forty-eight employees (70%) received more than 40 hours of training.
16. Recruit and maintain a diverse, and highly motivated staff
FY 2001 Target: Prepare succession plans, knowledge management strategies and develop competencies for mainstream occupations (50%). TARGET MET. We developed workforce succession plans, and competencies for ALJs and attorneys. We also established a knowledge management team to discuss sharing information and collaboration techniques for research materials for attorneys in the Office of the General Counsel.
17. Identify, define, and enhance agency values and an agency culture that incorporates our values.
FY 2001 Target: Run a baseline study to determine the current culture (25%) and determine what the key aspects of the Review Commission's target culture should be (25%). TARGET MET. We conducted informal interviews and a formal survey of the Review Commission employees which assessed the current and target culture. We also evaluated the findings.
Percentage of staff provided quality management and quality team leader training.
FY 2001 Target: Provide quality management and team leader training to those employees who had not received the appropriate training. TARGET MET.
19. Number of teams appointed for key business processes to be evaluated and reengineered to achieve improved performance.
FY 2001 Target: Establish two process improvement teams to make useful suggestions for improving processes that affect regional operations and one other process. TARGET MET. Three key business process teams were appointed to review our business processes to improve quality and performance - the case management/tracking team, the technology team and the financial service provider search team.
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Fiscal Year 2001
Annual Performance Plan
The Review Commission is revising some of the fiscal year 2001 performance goals and measures identified in our public service strategic goal. We are revising our performance goals and indicators based on performance information identified in our FY 1999 Performance Report, preliminary performance information obtained in fiscal year 2000 and the profile of cases in our inventory.
The Government Performance Results Act allows an agency to revise its final AnnualPerformance Plan based on actual performance data contained in the program performance report for the previous fiscal year. Circular A-11 specifies:
"As agencies collect and report program performance information for the prior fiscal year, this actual information may show a need to modify performance goals for a fiscal year."
The current performance measures are based on reducing cycle times for cases adjudicated before our Administrative Law Judges and Commissioners. Since that measure was developed in fiscal year 1997, the cases have increased in complexity. Moreover, the Commission membership has experienced frequent changes. The combined impact of these factors, which are beyond the control of the Review Commission, was identified in our FY 1999 Performance Report, and continues to adversely effect our ability to meet our goals. Therefore, we are changing our performance measurements from a reduction in cycle time to an increase in the percent of cases that are resolved by the Review Commission, taking into account the complexity of cases and the need to retire our older cases.
At the Administrative Law Judge level, the increase in large and complex cases have affected our ability to meet our goals. The number of complex cases continues to increase. The current indicator assumes that 10 percent of complex cases at the trial level are complex cases. However, the Review Commission realized a 23 percent increase in large or complex cases between fiscal years 1998 and 1999. The complexity of cases results from the existence of a combination of factors which include number of parties, number of expert witnesses, volume of documents, and number of alleged violations.
At the Commission level, at the beginning of FY 2000, more than 26 cases were older than two years, many more than four years old. This is due in part to the lack of a quorum and/or a full three-member Commission for most of the past three years. The inability to resolve cases has resulted in an increased inventory of cases. As the cases that have been on the docket for several years are resolved, the average cycle time inevitably increases. This creates a dilemma, and possibly an incentive to resolve last-in cases first, in order to meet the cycle time goal. Over time, as more and more older cases are retired, this dilemma will be resolved. But in the meantime, an aggressive retirement of old cases results in cycle times that far exceed our goals.
Since the submission of the Final FY 2001 Annual Performance Plan, we have carefully reviewed program performance information and made the following changes. The table below displays the changes from the FY 2001 Annual Performance Plan to the FY 2001 Final Revised Annual Performance Plan.
2. The E-Z Trial Program was implemented in 1995 as an alternative to the traditional hearing process and is an ongoing program. It is a streamlined process for contesting federal occupational safety and health cases, with total proposed penalties of $20,000 or less, before the Review Commission Administrative Law Judges. See The Review Commission E-Z Trial Rules of Procedure Subpart M section 220.202.
3. The Simplified Proceedings process was the predecessor to E-Z Trial, but had not been widely used by the Review Commission. The rules for Simplified Proceedings more closely resemble rules for E-Z Trial than do conventional hearing rules. The E-Z Trial program superseded the Simplified Proceedings. Comparisons of the two processes were made through limited archival information.
4. Complex cases have one or more of the following characteristics: intricacies of the law; number of parties; volume of documents, including transcripts; large number of witnesses (including expert witnesses in such fields as engineering, architecture, construction, soil, physics, epidemiology, pathology, neurology and infectious diseases); length of the trial; the large amounts of money involved; number of alleged violations, items (including distinct and separate items), and affirmative defenses; technical, novel, difficult or new standards raised; type of cases, such as those involving air pollution, asbestos, lead poisoning, tuberculosis, and ergonomics; or extensive pre-trial discovery, including large numbers of interrogatories, conferences, and motions.
5. Many cases have been pending before the Review Commission for more than three years. Between October of 2000 and September 2001the Commission issued 13 cases with a cumulative age at the Commission level of 58 years. This is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that the Commission only had a full composition of three members for about two months in the fiscal year and lacked a quorum for about one month. These older cases tend to be larger and more complex, with numerous citation items. As a result, it is difficult to resolve all the issues in such cases without a full complement of Commissioners.
6. This effort had been defined in three distinct phases: (1) establishment of the website and availability of recent
decisions and procedural guides and publications (50%); (2) addition to the listing and copies of earlier decisions (20%); and (3) availability of docket information on open cases (30%). We eliminated #3 in FY 1999 because of a lack
of interest by our customers. In FY 2000, based on stakeholder interest, we substituted the docket information listing goal with the goal of enhancing the appearance and usefulness of the website. In FY 2000, we completed this effort by
updating the decision listing and adding recent Review Commission decisions and decisions dating back to 1993.
Last Updated: May 15, 2003