Collage depicting fish, ships, satellites, ocean,
                          maps, buoys, sun, hurricanes -- with the NOAA
People Locator
Site Map


EEO Program Managers

EEO Counselors

Anti-Discrimination Statutes, Regulations, and Policies

Discrimination Complaints

NOAA EEO Programs Committee

Educational Outreach Programs (See site map.)

Affirmative Employment Programs (See site map.)

Special Events

Frequently Asked Questions


Related Links

NOAA Civil Rights Office


Document Source: The U.S. Department of Commerce



DAO 215-4

Effective Date:



.01 This Order sets forth Department policy and requirements for affirmative action plans, program, and related activities.

.02 This revision changes the title of this Order and reflects changes in Department administrative requirements, and those contained in EEO Management Directives 713 and 714 issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).


This Order is prepared pursuant to the authorities and functions assigned to the Office of Civil Rights in Department Organization Order 20-10. It applies to the Office of the Secretary and all operating units.


It is the policy of the Department of Commerce to provide equal opportunity in employment for all persons without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or handicap; to promote a continuing affirmative employment program for groups which are employed at less than representative levels in the Department's work force; and to ensure that management and personnel policies, practices and procedures are non-discriminatory in intent and impact.


.01 Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Program. The EEO Program encompasses efforts to provide fair and equitable treatment for employees and applicants for employment. Specific efforts include the elimination of employment barriers, and affirmative actions to recruit, employ, advance and retain members of groups which are employed at less than representative levels in the work force of the Department, or any of its component organizations.

.02 EEO Group. A term which refers to members of race and national origin groups by sex, i.e., white males, white females, black males, black females, Hispanic males, Hispanic females, Asian males, Asian females, American Indian or Alaskan Native males, and American Indian or Alaskan Native females. For purposes of this Order, handicapped persons including disabled veterans will be considered members of EEO groups.

.03 Representation. A term which denotes parity between an EEO group's employment percentage in a Departmental organization, and the group's corresponding percentage in the Civilian Labor Force, or other appropriate measure of the group's presence in the Nation's labor force. Such comparisons are made when affirmative employment program plans are initially developed, or when they are updated. If a group is employed in the work force of a Department organization at less than its corresponding rate in the labor force, it is not fully represented.


The 1972 amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 address the problem of employment discrimination in the Federal Government. These amendments and subsequent legislation results in requirements for the development of affirmative action plans for minorities and women, handicapped individuals, and disabled veterans. These requirements have their basis in the following statutes:

a. Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 (P.L. 92-261). Section 717(b)(1) requires departments, agencies and appropriate units to prepare and submit national and regional equal employment opportunity plans (now referred to by EEOC as "affirmative employment program plans"). The affirmative employment program plan covers both sexes of each race and national origin group;

b. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112). Section 501(b) requires departments and agencies to submit affirmative action plans for the hiring, placement, and advancement of handicapped individuals;

c. Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-508). Section 403 requires departments and agencies to prepare plans for the hiring, placement, and advancement of disabled veterans; and

d. Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-454). Section 310 requires Executive agencies to conduct continuing affirmative recruitment programs for minorities and women to improve their representation in Federal employment. This effort is known as the Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program (FEORP). See DAO 215-3).


.01 Responsibilities of the Secretary include:

a. Approving Departmentwide affirmative action plans and objectives;

b. Ensuring that heads of operating units, Secretarial Officers and employees in the Senior Executive Service are held accountable for achievement of affirmative action requirements and objectives; and

c. Providing sufficient resources and systems for administration of the Department's affirmative action programs.

.02 Responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary for Administration include:

a. Approving policies, directives, and other materials on the Department's affirmative action programs;

b. Reporting to the Secretary on the status of affirmative action programs within the Department;

c. Ensuring that affirmative action objectives are designed to remedy identified problem areas; and

d. Fulfilling, on behalf of the Secretary, those responsibilities in paragraph 6.05 of this Order which require action at the operating unit and Office of the Secretary levels.

.03 Responsibilities of the Director for Personnel and Civil Rights include:

a. Establishing policies and procedures which ensure that:

1. Personnel programs and operations are non-discriminatory;

2. Data contained in the Department's personnel file(s) are accurate and secure; and

3. Support of affirmative action goals and objectives is a factor in the annual performance appraisals of supervisors and managers.

b. Informing executives and managers of Department policy and requirements for affirmative action programs; and

c. Clearing written responses to external requests for information about the Department's affirmative action programs. Such information may apply to the Department or any of its component organizations.

.04 Responsibilities of the Department's Director of Civil Rights include:

a. Developing policies, directives and guidance on the Department's affirmative action programs;

b. Establishing affirmative action program goals and objectives for the Department in consultation with heads of operating units, and preparing Department affirmative action plans;

c. Providing assistance to operating units on the preparation, implementation and monitoring of affirmative action programs, plans and related activities;

d. Developing policies and program guidance for EEO training, and identifying problems in management and supervision attributable to inadequate EEO training;

e. Conducting on-site evaluations to periodically assess the status of operating unit affirmative action programs, and the effectiveness of Department policy and program guidance. These evaluations are part of the Department's Program Management Evaluation Program; and

f. Reviewing operating unit affirmative employment program plans to ensure they are consistent with EEOC and Departmental instructions, and address problem areas.

.05 Responsibilities of Heads of Operating Units include:

a. Approving the operating unit affirmative employment program and FEORP plans, and organizational input to the Department Handicapped and Disabled Veterans Plans;

b. Integrating development and implementation of the affirmative employment program plan, and activities to improve employment of the handicapped and disabled veterans, with other internal management systems, e.g., budget and performance management process;

c. Providing sufficient resources, including data processing support, for affirmative action programs, plan development, implementation, and monitoring;

d. Ensuring, through the performance appraisal process, that managers and supervisors contribute to, and are accountable for the achievement of affirmative action goals and objectives;

e. Fostering and environment which supports the objectives of affirmative action programs;

f. Appointing a Principal EEO Official who will be the primary point of contact on equal opportunity issues; and

g. Designating a FEORP Coordinator who will be responsible for development of the organization's FEORP Plan.

.06 Responsibilities of Principal EEO Official include:

a. Informing executives and managers of Departmental policy, and Departmental and operating unit requirements for affirmative action programs;

b. Overseeing administration of affirmative action programs within the operating unit and its components;

c. Consulting with personnel officers and management officials to identify barriers to the employment of groups covered by affirmative action plans, and to develop strategies for overcoming barriers and implementing such plans;

d. Preparing affirmative employment program plans, attendant reports, and other information which the Department's Office of Civil Rights will use for preparation of Departmental Handicapped and Disabled Veteran Affirmative Action Plans;

e. Submitting plans, reports and other information described in subparagraph "d" above, to the head of the operating unit for approval, then to the Department's Office of Civil Rights;

f. Providing affirmative action goals and objectives to appropriate personnel offices, and a description of support activities needed from these offices to achieve goals and objectives;

g. Evaluating the effectiveness of affirmative action program efforts within the operating unit and, if appropriate, its components;

h. Promoting an accountability system for supervisors and managers which emphasizes positive affirmative action results;

i. Promoting equal opportunity training for executives, managers and supervisors, particularly probationary supervisors; and

j. Ensuring that employees with full-time, part-time or collateral duty affirmative action program responsibilities are:

1. Knowledgeable about affirmative action programs;

2. Qualified to perform assigned duties;

3. Adequately trained to carry out specific responsibilities; and

4. Provide with sufficient resources to satisfactorily perform such responsibilities.

.07 Responsibilities of Principal and Servicing Personnel Officers include:

a. Employing recruitment strategies, including those identified in FEORP Plans, and other support activities which facilitate the achievement of affirmative action goals and objectives for client organizations;

b. Working with managers, supervisors and EEO officials to achieve affirmative action goals and objectives;

c. Reviewing performance plans, of managers and supervisors and reporting to management the need for improved affirmative aciton related performance elements or activity items;

d. Maintaining a system or process to identify probationary supervisors;

e. Verifying that probationary supervisors have completed required EEO training, or have demonstrated competency in EEO before completion of the probationary period;

f. Making special efforts to accommodate the reasonable needs of handicapped employees and applicants for employment;

g. Ensuring that accurate data on employees are contained in the Department's automated personnel file; and

h. Ensuring that all qualification requirements, including selective placement factors and rating criteria, are job valid and do not present barriers to the employment of any EEO group.

.08 Responsibilities of managers and supervisors include:

a. Being knowledgeable about affirmative action programs requirements;

b. Incorporating affirmative action goals and objectives in performance plans, as appropriate;

c. Contributing to the achievement of organizational affirmative action goals and objectives;

d. Informing personnelists or other recruiters of the need to search for a diversity of applicants to establish a balanced work force;

e. Considering affirmative action objectives when staffing positions in employment categories which are not fully represented by groups covered by affirmative action plans. Employment categories include pay systems, grade levels and occupations in white and blue collar employment classifications;

f. Using special appointment authorities when appropriate to further the goals of the Handicapped and Disabled Veterans Programs;

g. Ensuring that subordinate, probationary supervisors meet EEO training or competency requirements described in Civil Rights Bulletin 83-1 before certifying that probationers have satisfied such requirements; and

h. Making special efforts as necessary to accommodate the reasonable needs of handicapped employees.


The head of each operating unit shall ensure that:

a. Affirmative employment program plans, reports and activities for the handicapped and disabled veterans are prepared consistent with guidance from the Department's Office of Civil Rights;

b. The focus of such plans and activities are directed toward improving the employment of groups which are not fully represented, or are represented at less than desirable levels;

c. Managers and supervisors use the full complement of special employment programs, special appointment authorities and training to further the aims of affirmative action programs, e.g., Cooperative Education, Upward Mobility Training, Selective Placement and supervisory training; and

d. Equal opportunity, personnel and management officials work cooperatively to achieve the objectives of affirmative action programs.


This Order supersedes DAO 215-4, dated March 28, 1983.


Assistant Secretary for Administration

Office of Primary Interest

Office of Civil Rights


Document Source: The U.S. Department of Commerce

Link to DOC Home Page
Link to NOAA Home Page
NOAA Civil Rights Office
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Last Updated: July 11, 2005
Tillman M. Peck
NOAA Home Page
DOC Home Page