NTEU National:
Update on the A-76 Clerical Study


TO: HHS/FDA Chapter Presidents

RE: Update on A-76 Clerical Study

SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced how it intends to implement the Most Efficient Organization (MEO) for the clerical function, which underwent an A-76 study in fiscal years 2004 and 2005.

On April 20, 2005, the FDA notified NTEU of its plans to implement the MEO for the clerical function, and I wanted to share that information with you. I am pleased to announce that the FDA has decided on an implementation plan that will have minimal impact on employees. NTEU has been assured that no impacted employee will be downgraded, reassigned, or subjected to a Reduction-In-Force. Reporting structures, supervisors, and posts of duty will remain the same. The work that impacted employees are performing now will also remain the same as a result of the MEO implementation. Additionally, there will be no change to career ladders, duties, or position descriptions (PDs).

According to FDA, there will be two minimal changes, neither of which seems terribly burdensome given the alternative. First, PD numbers (but not duties) will change. This change will allow the agency to track PDs that are in the MEO. Second, the agency will require impacted employees to record time spent on MEO activities in the EASE system. The agency must ensure compliance with the Performance Work Statement and other requirements, which means that it needs a way to track MEO work being performed. Because impacted employees will continue to perform the work that they do currently, which includes both MEO and non-MEO work, the agency needs a way to account for MEO activities. The agency will soon begin development of the system in EASE that will record MEO work. The agency anticipates that employees will begin this time tracking when the agency implements the MEO in February 2006. When the FDA has more definitive information about this time tracking change, it will send notice to NTEU and bargain accordingly.

There were several other items that I wanted to highlight. The agency may offer another round of VERA/VSIP, for reasons unrelated to MEO implementation, but the agency has not yet decided whether to seek such authorization from the Office of Personnel Management. The agency also plans to lift the freeze on the 301, 303, and 343 series within the next week or so.

The current freeze on the series affected by the A-76 study (305, 306, and 318) will eventually be lifted once the implementation plan is finalized. Although the agency will eventually lift this freeze, there is likely to be limited promotion potential within the affected series. Should employees who perform MEO work leave the organization, the FDA will fill those positions at a lower grade level, but, again, no current employee will be downgraded. Finally, NTEU was assured that the clericals (even a different clerical function than was studied these past two years) will not be studied again this fall. On that note, the FDA still does not know which function will be studied for FY’06, but will make a decision by June.

The FDA has agreed to provide a more detailed briefing on the MEO implementation on April 27, 2005. I will share with you any additional information that NTEU learns during that briefing. If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, please forward those to Barbara Sheehy at barbara.sheehy@nteu.org.

Colleen M. Kelley
National President