of the Future
National Advisory Committee On
Meat and Poultry Inspection|
May 2000 Public Meeting
At its May 1999 meeting, the NACMPI considered the qualifications of the
FSIS workforce of the future, in particular the disciplines and academic
backgrounds that would be most beneficial when considering applicants for
the Consumer Safety Officer position.
The purpose of this briefing is to update the Committee on a number of
activities in the area of workforce planning, including the development and
progress of the FSIS Steering Committee on the Workforce of the Future.
Updates on Issues discussed at May 1999 NACMPI meeting.
- Consumer Safety Officer initiative. In FY 99, the Agency advertised
for approximately 30 CSO positions in six metropolitan areas. The
qualifications for this position reflect the recommendations of the NACMPI
for enhanced scientific background among employees. More than 100 current
employees applied for the position, and approximately 50 were found to be
qualified. In early FY 2000, the Agency cancelled the vacancy announcements
consistent with a provision of the FY 2000 appropriations bill. In that
provision, Congress expressed concern about the cost, particularly
relocation costs, associated with the introduction of the Consumer Safety
Officer occupation into the FSIS workforce. Congress also asked for a
report by February 15, 2000. In that report and in subsequent briefings for
congressional staff, FSIS has described our plan to minimize cost by
advertising vacancies only in local commuting areas where there are an
adequate number of qualified candidates for the CSO position (avoiding the
need to relocate current employees). The Agency also would need to engage
in impact bargaining with the food inspectors' union before filling any CSO
positions. FSIS hopes to hire 50-75 Consumer Safety Officers before the
close of FY 2000.
The February 15, 2000, report to Congress also provides the Agency's
vision of the workforce of the future to support the food safety system of
the future. FSIS believes that we will retain a mix of technical,
professional and administrative employees. However, within that mix we must
increase the proportion of scientific professionals in frontline
occupations. We believe the Consumer Safety Officer, a scientific
generalist, will be the journeyman FSIS employee of tomorrow. We have no
plans to reduce current employment levels, but we do seek to limit
workforce growth in a rational manner. An excerpt from the report to
Congress, describing our vision, is Attachment
1 to this report.
Additional Workforce of the Future Information
- Steering Committee formation. In July 1999, the Administrator
formed the Workforce of the Future Steering Committee (WOFSC) to coordinate
several key program and policy initiatives with workforce planning
implications. The executive team had identified a need for centralized
oversight and integration of the initiatives which, while effective, were
operating relatively independently of one another. Yvonne Davis, an Office
of Management employee, chairs the Steering Committee.
Steering Committee responsibilities. The Steering Committee has
chosen a puzzle as its logo because it symbolizes the Committee's role of
integrating the initiatives so they complement one another -- particularly
as they affect current and future FSIS employees. A detailed charter of the
WOFSC's responsibilities is Attachment
2 to this briefing paper. The Committee's mission statement is a quote
from Alvin Toffler: Our moral responsibility is not to stop the future,
but to shape it…to channel our destiny in humane directions and to ease
the trauma of transition.
It would be difficult to overstate the complexities of the workforce
planning issues before FSIS. All at the same time, we are seeking to
recruit inspectors and veterinarians for chronic shortage areas; introduce
new occupations such as the CSO, retain seasoned inspection employees,
develop a career ladder that provides healthy opportunities for both
long-term employees and external hires; develop a workforce succession
plan; and remodel our training and education program -- all in a climate of
limited resources. Nonetheless, we regard this as a challenge we can and
- The Steering Committee includes representatives of all program areas,
the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, the National
Association of Federal Veterinarians, and the Association of Technical and
Supervisory Professionals. The Committee includes both field and
headquarters employees, and representatives of the FSIS major occupations.
The WOFSC has held two full meetings (October 1999 and March 2000). The
Committee does most of its work by e-mail, teleconference and fax.
- Initiatives with workforce implications. To date, the Steering
Committee is monitoring the activities of 17 initiatives, projects or
functions with workforce planning implications. These include initiatives
the Committee may be very familiar with (the HACCP-Based Inspection Models
Project) as well as newer initiatives such as the Training and Education
Committee for 2001 (TEC-2001). These are all initiatives that will help
determine the future roles and responsibilities of key FSIS occupations
farm to table. The initiatives currently being monitored are shown on Attachment
3. As you can see, WOFSCE has divided them into five subgroups.
One of those initiatives I'd like to pay special attention to is
-Recruitment. The Agency has an extensive recruitment effort
underway. Our recruitment efforts are much more innovative -- and
structured -- than in the past. For example, we are developing specific
recruitment plans for each district and are identifying locations where
special recruitment activity is needed in addition to formal plans. (For
example, veterinary positions are listed on the state job bank websites for
both Kansas and Iowa.) We are recruiting at additional sites, directed at
increasing our proportions of under-represented minorities. (For FSIS,
under-representation of Hispanic Americans is now a bigger problem than
under-representation of either Asian Americans or African Americans.) As of
May 1, these efforts have been moderately successful; we are in the process
of hiring 265 new full-time inspectors and 105 new full-time veterinarians.
We are also hiring more intermittent employees, as this increases our
flexibility for the future. Above all, we are tracking employment activity
much more closely than in the past, so that we can almost instantly
identify problem areas.
-Retention. Retaining good employees is a government-wide problem.
At FSIS, it is a special concern because we have a large number of highly
seasoned employees who are close to retirement age. We have made one gain
in the retention effort; the Office of Personnel Management just last week
approved our request to waive the civilian retirement reduction. We are now
compiling names of recent retirees who may be interested in working for us
in our shortage locations.
Agency guiding principles for the workforce of the future. One of
the first activities of the Steering Committee was to discuss and draft
Agency guiding principles for moving to the workforce of the future. (See
Attachment 4.) These 11 principles, which are intended to ensure
consistency in Agency decision-making, procedures, communication and
employee support for the transition to the workforce of the future, flesh
out four basic themes:
- Many FSIS employees will be offered a job in the workforce of the
- FSIS will help prepare current employees to serve in the workforce of
- FSIS will exercise fairness and consistency in policies and resource
- FSIS will minimize disruption to employees during the transition of its
workforce. Two-way communication is a critical mechanism for minimizing
disruption and enabling employees to make their own choices.
- Identify and surface emerging issues or potential conflicts. For
example, we know that technology is needed to support a science-based
workforce. One tool may be the Internet. The Steering Committee is
developing a paper of pros and cons and their costs to help Agency
executives determine if and how we can provide Internet access to a greater
proportion of our employees to enhance their ability to do their jobs.
- Facilitate interaction among initiative leaders. The initiative
leaders are busily focused on their goals and objectives; we help keep them
aware of other initiatives and opportunities for collaboration or problem
prevention. This approach has already helped us identify some inexpensive
approaches to identifying potential applicant pools for CSO positions.
- Communicate with and support of FSIS employees. The Committee's
approach is straightforward and direct. We are addressing the questions
that are on employees' minds, and our membership is letting us know that.
We have answered hundreds of employee inquiries and are developing a
database of frequently asked questions. We have published articles in eight
issues of the Office of Management's Beacon monthly employee
newsletter, and updates in a weekly memo to managers and supervisors.
Attachment 5 to this paper, for example, is a Beacon article
focusing on how employees can take charge of their own futures. We
developed this article, bylined by Deputy Administrator Mark Mina, after
learning how many current employees appeared to feel powerless about the
We are attending district meetings, multi-district meetings, union
council meetings, and trade association meetings to discuss our activities
and seek input.
- Integrated chronology. One of the most important tools we have
drafted and will continue to update is a chronology of key events and
decision points involved with the various initiatives we are monitoring.
This allows us to see how initiatives interrelate with one another.
Developing the flow chart has also drawn many FSIS employees into the kind
of cross-cutting analytical work they may not have done before, helping
prepare them for a future in which analysis and synthesis of complex
information may be a more routine part of the job.
- FSIS Future Frontline Functions Flow Chart. Another tool we are
constantly revising is a chart of future and possible FSIS functions
reflecting the changes in the system. For example, future FSIS employees
may be more involved working with animal producers, Extension agents and
state agency representatives on education to reduce microbial contamination
before animals reach the slaughter plant. Again, involvement in development
of this flow chart is engaging our steering committee members in
visualizing the Agency's future and their own futures.
- Benchmark other organizations in change. The Steering Committee
knows we have much to learn from the successes -- and mistakes -- of other
organizations managing change. We are therefore seeking this information
out-- through direct contacts with other agencies and through the
literature. We plan to borrow -- and adapt -- good ideas that work.
- Yvonne Davis, Chair, Workforce of the Future Steering Committee
1 - Excerpt on vision from Report to Congress on the Consumer Safety
Officer Initiative (February 15, 2000)
- Charter, Workforce of the Future Steering Committee
3 - Initiatives with Workforce Implications
- Agency Guiding Principles
Attachment 5 - Focus on Choosing Your Own Future, Mark Mina, in Office of
Management Beacon, October 1999; Volume 3, Number 5