The Federal Labor Relations Authority

Its First Year in Operation Gao ID: FPCD-80-40 April 2, 1980

The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), an independent, bipartisan, and neutral third party for resolving labor-management relations disputes in the Federal Government, became a statutory agency on January 11, 1979, under the Civil Service Reform Act. The Act guarantees Federal employees the right to bargain collectively through their chosen representatives and established procedures for adjudicating complaints and enforcing rights established by its provisions. Throughout its first year, startup and operational problems impaired the ability of FLRA and its general counsel to perform effectively all duties assigned to them under the Act.

These problems included insufficient resources to handle new functions under the Act; delayed appointment and confirmation of the general counsel; a continuing and unanticipated increase in case filings; and difficulties in acquiring suitable office space for its headquarters and several of its regional offices. The resulting delay in processing cases and issuing decisions has caused confusion and frustration among the parties to the collective bargaining process. While the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) assigned one staff person to monitor the transfer of people and functions to FLRA, assistance in setting up the new agency was not given. FLRA officials believed that such assistance may have prevented some of their initial problems. A lack of trained staff, inadequate office space, delay in issuing regulations, and having to assume administrative and support services were major factors contributing to the delay in processing cases and issuing decisions. Within the Office of the General Counsel, the persistent problems are a growing case backlog; insufficient office space; the continuing need to train newly hired staff; and the necessity to inform and familiarize agencies, unions, and employees with FLRA procedures and policies. The Federal Service Impasses Panel, a separate entity within FLRA, has also experienced diminished effectiveness due to delays in processing cases and issuing decisions. Although transition and startup problems have impaired FLRA in its effectiveness, many improvements have occurred in recent months.


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