On February 2, 2015, President Obama released his proposal for the FY 2016 budget. In it he requests across the board funding increases for the Department of Labor (10.9% increase from FY 2015), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2.3% increase from FY 2015), and the National Labor Relations Board (1.4% increase from FY 2015).
Considering the disparity between the increase sought for the DOL compared to other agencies, the DOL budget will likely be low-hanging fruit in the Republican-controlled Congress as members begin participating in the budget planning process. For a preview of coming attractions, consider former House Majority Whip Peter Roskam’s likening of the President’s proposed budget to the Seattle Seahawks’ unfathomable second-and-goal pass call in the final minute of last Sunday’s Super Bowl.
President Obama emphasized budgetary goals of improving governmental agency efficiency and middle class opportunities. And if any agencies could benefit from increased efficiency, the EEOC and NLRB are certainly among them. By the end of FY 2014, the EEOC faced a backlog of 73,134 private sector discrimination charges. The proposed budget [pdf] projects that the EEOC will receive more charges in both FY 2015 and 2016 than it did in FY 2014, but that the EEOC will operate at a resolution surplus with increased funding. The proposal estimates that the backlog will decrease to 68,734 charges by the end of FY 2016, and claims that the EEOC will improve efficiency with the $8.6 million boost by consolidating data resources, promoting knowledge sharing, and fostering communication to avoid duplicative efforts.
The NLRB faced different issues of inefficiency in 2014, having to deal with unwinding all of the decisions invalidated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Noel Canning (see our blog post here). So what would the NLRB do with the additional $3.8 million? The NLRB projects its financial obligations will increase for administrative law judge hearings by $1 million in 2015 and for field investigations by $4 million in 2016. The NLRB also anticipates a slight but steady influx of unfair labor practice cases and representation cases in the coming years.
Budget developments are hardly scintillating, but they are nonetheless important, as they provide an indication of the resources those agencies with workplace oversight responsibility will have at their disposal in the coming fiscal year.