OAS Letterhead
December 18, 1996

SUBJECT: Civilian Personnel Regionalization Guidance Memorandum 97-1

The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify the roles and interrelationships between the labor relations specialists at the Civilian Personnel Advisory and Civilian Personnel Operations Center (CPACs and CPOCs), the Major Commands (MACOMs) and Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA). There should be no charge in the service provided by the local labor counselors, so their role in the labor relations program will not be detailed in this document. CPAC labor relations specialists and local labor counselors should continue to work as a tea, in advising commanders and other management officials on labor relations issues.

Activity Commanders and Civilian Personnel Advisory Centers:

Labor relations responsibility rests with the local commanders. The CPAC serves as advisory to the commanders and other management officials. It is through the commanders' delegation of responsibility that the CPAC is the primary labor relations point of contact.

The CPAC, acting on behalf of the commanders, retains the labor relations responsibilities and functions that the CPO had prior to regionalizing. Local unions continue to deal directly with the installation labor relations specialist (or other local management official). Installation and activity representatives should be the only ones dealing with local union officials. It is at the installation/CPAC level that grievances, ULPs, requests for information, questions of representation, etc., should be handled. Where an action may impact on the operations of the CPOC, the CPAC should discuss the matter with the CPOC. Likewise, where there may be command-wide implications, consultation with the MACOM is appropriate.

For example, if a local union requests information under 5 USC section 7114 (b) (4) and that information is maintained by the CPOC, the request must still be submitted to, and processed by, the installation/CPAC where the union has exclusive recognition. Should the union submit the request directly to the CPOC, the request should be returned to the union with a recommendation that the union submit the request to the command with which the union has a bargaining relationship.

The decision as to what information is releasable will be made by the CPAC. If guidance is needed to help determine what and how much information should be released, the CPAC should coordinate through its chain of command. In rendering its decision, the CPAC should consider the administrative burden it may be placing on the CPOC and discuss the release with the CPOC before agreeing to such a request. Where the CPOC and CPAC agree a valid request is burdensome, the CPAC should work with the union in limiting the release, while still providing the union with the information necessary to meet its representational responsibilities. In cases where a CPAC determines that information maintained by the CPOC should be furnished to a union, the CPAC will request the information from the CPOC. The CPOC would send the information to the CPAC which would then provide it to the union. If the CPAC can obtain the requested information through electronic access to the data base, it would be responsible for gathering this information. When a CPAC authorizes the release of an extensive amount of data maintained by the CPOC, the CPOC and CPAC are encouraged to work out any logistic problems associated with compiling the data.

Regionalization of the civilian personnel program did not extend the scope of information unions are entitled to under the Statute. Generally, unions are entitled to information that affects their bargaining units. This normally would preclude releasing region-wide data, but decisions on the releasability of information have to be made on a case-by-case basis. MACOMs and HQDA can provide specific guidance on this issue.

Where an individual or a union requests information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the request should be directed to the custodian of the records. Thus, if a CPOC receives a union FOIA request for information maintained by the CPOC (e.g., information maintained in an OPF), it should process the request in accordance with AR 25-55, Department of the Army Freedom of Information Act Program, and applicable guidance, with a reply going directly to the union. The CPOC should notify the CPAC that it received the FOIA request and provide it a copy along with a description of the information provided. If a CPAC receives a FOIA request for information maintained by the CPOC, the request should be referred to the CPOC for action.

With regard to collective bargaining, the CPAC needs to communicate with the CPOC whenever a proposal (union proposal or draft agency proposal) impacts on CPOC operations. If local management and the CPOC share concerns about a union proposal, CPOC officials may assist in the development of management's negotiation strategy or participate in negotiations as technical experts or resource personnel. The CPOC officials should not assume the role of negotiator at these sessions. Ultimately, as with all other labor relations matters, the responsibility for developing management's position and negotiating the agreements rests with management at the installation. As such, if the CPOC and the installation of activity management cannot reach agreement on bargaining strategy or positions, final decision authority rests with the installation. Of course, disagreements can be raised through the installation's chain of command.

Requests for guidance on labor relations matters should be directed through the CPAC's chain of command. The CPOCs are not authorized to provide general labor relations guidance to the CPACs in their region. A CPOC's involvement is limited to labor relations issues that directly impact on the CPOC's operations.

Civilian Personnel Operations Centers:

Labor relations specialists in the Operations Centers are the "labor relations consultants" for the CPOC directors and their staffs. The CPOCs labor relations specialists are responsible for addressing individual and region-wide labor issues to the extent they impact the CPOCs' operations. This could include the development of strategies for achieving more standardized region-wide CPOC operations.

When a CPOC seeks to implement region-wide processes, it must first coordinate with HQDA, MACOMs and installation commanders. If requested by the CPOCs, HQDA will staff these plans with the MACOMs and proponents of the policies. It would never be "too early" to involve HQDA in these planned region-wide processes.

If a CPOC wants to develop a region-wide process, with direct CPAC and local union participation, requests for joint meetings should initially be referred to the installation commanders for their coordination and support. A copy of the letter should simultaneously be furnished to the CPACs. The CPOC officials should convince the local commanders of the benefits of uniform procedures (better customer service), invite them to send the CPAC labor relations specialist or another command representative to a region-wide meeting, and encourage commanders to also invite their union representatives. Union officials should attend at the invitation of local commanders with whom they have a bargaining relationship. The CPOCs may find it beneficial to first meet with the management representatives of the CPAC to work up a strategy for union involvement. Where a process is accomplished without CPOC involvement or where standardization would achieve no real efficiency, it should not be addressed in the region-wide meetings with the unions.

Once the CPOC and the commanders agree to a region-wide labor/management meeting, the parties-CPOC, installation representatives (probably CPAC labor relations specialists) and local union officials-would then meet to discuss the personnel plans as they affect the CPOC's operations. The CPOC would first explain to all the need for uniformity, explaining how it benefits not only the CPOC and installation, but the unit employees as well (e.g., faster selections for promotion). The CPOC would then detail what is needed for it to function efficiently under the region-wide program. For example, if a region was going to implement RESUMIX, the CPOC would discuss the processes needed to make RESUMIX work most efficiently for its customers (employees and managers). The local parties-installation management and the unions would then return to the installation to negotiate the implementation of these programs. Again, during these region-wide meetings, the parties should only discuss processes that affect the CPOC's operations.

This process is consistent with the above delineation of responsibilities. The parties-the CPOC, the installation and the local union-meet and discuss the overall plan. The installation and local union representatives, though, have ultimate responsibility for individually negotiating the actual plans for the installation; the negotiations remain at the local level.

The above method is only one way of the achieving uniform region-wide CPOC processes. Where the CPOC, local commanders and CPACs agree alternate methods can accomplish the same results, this policy does not necessarily prohibit their usage. For example, the parties may want to use video teleconferencing or the CPOC may want to distribute a position paper detailing the consistencies it is seeking and have each of the local installations independently discuss and negotiate their implementation.

The CPOC dealings with CPAC labor relations specialists should be limited to region-wide and individual installation concerns to the extent they involve the operations of the CPOC. Direct dealings between CPOCs and installation union officials are strongly discouraged and should be almost nonexistent. This lack of direct dealings will protect the CPOC from potential interference ULP changes, discourage the union forum shopping and ensure that labor relations remains a command issue and not just a civilian personnel issue. The CPOC labor relations specialists can obtain labor relations advice from their OPCON MACOM or from HQDA.

Major Command

The MACOMs continue to provide guidance to their installations and the CPOCs for which they have operational control on general labor relations policy and individual concerns. Where an issue raised has implications beyond a single MACOM, coordination between MACOMs (and HQDA) is appropriate.

Headquarters, Department of the Army

The HQDA will continue to publish general advice and guidance and is available to answer specific questions raised from the field.

Looking Ahead

As regionalization efforts increase, unexpected situations may arise where the delegation of responsibility is unclear. Please let us know of these situations so we can address and publicize their circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Finally, as this document demonstrates, our labor relations philosophy continues to be that responsibility and accountability for labor relations rests at the level of exclusive recognition, i.e., the installation and activity level. It is only through the diligent efforts of the installation commanders and their labor relations specialists that the Department of the Army's labor relations program has earned its fine reputation throughout the Federal government.

//original signed//
Carol Ashby Smith
Deputy Assistant Secretary
(Civilian Personnel Policy)