227. Memorandum for the Record1
- Women’s Class Action Suit
A meeting was held in Bob Gershenson’s office on October 10 to discuss the present status of the Department’s defense and to plan for the immediate future; i.e., completing responses to interrogatories.
The following people attended:
Robert S. Gershenson, DGP/PER
Hal Fuller, PER/MGT
Geraldine Sheehan, PER/MGT/HRM
David Simcox, M/MO
Margaret Anderson, M/EEO
Paul Coran, L/M
Dennis Gallagher, L/M
Richard Swann, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice
Julia Albrecht, PER/MGT (temporary employee)
Lawrence Lesser, DGP/PC
Roy Nelson to begin working on case. Mr. Gershenson informed the meeting that FSO-1 Roy Nelson is about to begin working on coordination of the various responses to the interrogatories required by the plaintiffs. He is expected to be available for at least the couple of months necessary to complete responses to the 167 interrogatories addressed to the Department. He will be working most closely with PER/MGT day to day.
Responses to Interrogatories. Of the 167 interrogatories addressed to the Department, replies have been officially communicated to the Court and plaintiffs for just 12 to date. Another 35 will be ready shortly.
In addition, the Department is objecting to 8 (so far), chiefly on the basis that they impose an unreasonable burden. That leaves more than 100 questions unaccounted for, mainly because the offices assigned action have not yet responded with draft replies or with a clear timetable for providing them. Many of these interrogatories involve data processing; others are pure narrative, describing present and historic practices and procedures.
In early September, the plaintiffs proposed a stipulated schedule2 for responding to the interrogatories under which all replies would be available by late November. The Department has yet to respond to the stipulation because we haven’t known what schedule we could actually meet. We must reply by next week, however, and we plan to commit ourselves to answering all interrogatories before the Christmas holiday season, except those to which we object.
Quality of answers. For recognized, legitimate reasons, some offices have not attached highest priority to the research and preparation of answers to interrogatories. REE, for example, was focused until a few days ago on recruiting for the 1979 FS exam. FCA was setting up open assignments. PE was managing selection boards. Those and other offices—including some outside of PER, such as M/MED and A/SY—must now understand the high stakes involved in this case and the necessity of giving highest priority to assembling excellent quality responses as quickly as possible. This may mean laborious checks of files going back to 1971, and checking directly with people familiar with the history of various personnel-related functions since that time. There are no shortcuts, however, especially considering that the plaintiffs know the system and its history as well as the defendants; indeed, they have already informally corrected inaccuracies in our submissions.
Computer support. A great deal of data still must be coded and fed into computers for use in responding to the interrogatories. A/ISO is being cooperative, but its resources are limited by a shortage of man[Page 931]power (not of computer capacity). We are trying to get the necessary work for the WCAS done in large part with labor by Group Operations, the contractor. If that proves inadequate, other PER computer projects may have to be set aside until the interrogatories are completed.
Strategy for consciousness-raising. At the Director General’s staff meeting on October 11, Messrs. Gershenson and Fuller will impress upon the office directors of PER the importance of the Interrogatories. Mr. Fuller will set up a meeting with non-PER office directors as soon as possible thereafter for the same purpose. The addition of Roy Nelson to the effort greatly improves our ability to obtain urgent cooperation. For the duration of the effort to respond to interrogatories, there will be weekly progress reports to Deputy Assistant Secretary Gershenson.