WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner announced today the official opening of the new CBP Complaints Processing Center. The Complaints Processing Center is part of the Customs and Border Protection support of the Professionalism Initiative and will be used to streamline and consolidate operating procedures in order to process EEO disputes in a more timely and efficient manner.
When CBP became a unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security, it became essential to formulate a CBP Complaints Processing Office. Prior to March 1, 2003, U.S. Customs Service complaints were processed by the Department of Treasury. After March 1, 2003, CBP established a Memorandum of Agreement with the Internal Revenue Service for the processing of complaints. CBP was able to establish a Complaints Processing Center with 10 employees, located in Oakland, California, on August 8, 2004.
“As this Nation's first defense in the war on terror, we must protect the individual rights and civil liberties of our workforce and the people we serve. This CBP Complaints Processing Office will help ensure all CBP employee complaints receive the best service to process their complaints.” Commissioner Bonner said. “Our success as an organization is tied directly to the hard work of our employees - men and women with very diverse backgrounds - stationed throughout the world. Having a workforce that represents the pluralism of our Nation and practices the principles of EEO, fairness, and integrity is critical to the protection of our borders and the mission of CBP.”
The commitment to serving our country requires CBP, as an agency, to be in full compliance with our nation's civil rights laws. Not only must CBP employee interactions with the public be nondiscriminatory but also the interactions with each other must be based upon the same principles. Perceived or actual unfair treatment in the workplace can compromise the ability of CBP employees to perform their critical mission.
Last year, CBP received approximately 600 inquiries from employees, with 165 filing formal EEO complaints. In FY 04, to date, over 652 employees have contacted the EEO office for service, with 176 proceeding to file formal complaints. With over 41,000 employees to service, the filing rate per capita is less than .050 percent.
The Complaints Processing Center will focus on ways to expedite the processing of formal complaints and assist in facilitating the resolution of complaints, at the lowest possible level. The Complaints Processing Center is a part of the Equal Employment Opportunity Office within the Office of the Commissioner.