On April, 2012 the FAA Office of Human Resources contracted with Dr. James Outtz (hereafter, Outtz) to conduct a barrier analysis. The report was completed in May, 2013. The stated purpose was to identify and analyze potential barriers to equal employment opportunities with the ATCS hiring process and to offer solutions to establish the foundation for improving the process. This stated purpose found in the preamble of the barrier analysis report is important because Outtz presupposed the hiring process was flawed when he declared that he would offer solutions to improve the process. It always seems suspicious when an analysis has its findings published before the work begins...
Who is Outtz? He is a Washington D.C. area consultant who specializes in race discrimination and personnel practices. His work also includes the development of applicant and job promotion tests that essentially lower minimum qualifications standards to permit a wider group of successful applicants. This area of specialty keeps him in great demand by organizations trying to avoid being labeled as racists by civil rights groups.
Why did the FAA Office of Human Resources (hereafter, OHR) contract with Outtz? The overt reason was to comply with Management Directive 715. This directive contains policy guidelines for establishing and maintaining effective affirmative employment programs. MD-715 calls for periodic agency self-assessments and the identification and elimination of barriers that prevent equal employment opportunities in the workplace. It requires agencies to take appropriate steps to ensure that policies, practices, and procedures are conducted in a discrimination free manner for employees and applicants. However, there may have been a covert reason to contract with Outtz. Many FAA OHR employees belong to the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE).
The FAA has many sub-units, anyone of which might have been a candidate (including Civil Rights and OHR who are woefully non-diverse) for self-assessment. The OHR, without any valid reason, decided to target the FAA Air Traffic Organization (hereafter, ATO) for possible violation of MD-715. Their first action was to contract with Outtz for a barrier analysis report. Outtz hastily slapped together a report that found numerous barriers to employment. The OHR, barely able to contain their excitement, called for an immediate change in the hiring practice of air traffic controllers. The most egregious change was to de-emphasize the hiring preference giving to the graduates of the FAA Collegiate Training Initiative program (hereafter, CTI).
The CTI program was established by the ATO in partnership with 36 American colleges and universities that specialize in air traffic control training. The CTI program has been an unqualified success, providing the ATO with highly-educated and highly-motivated pool of candidates. These young people have dedicated considerable time and effort to earn a college degree in Aviation Science with a much-coveted CTI certificate in air traffic control.
The ATO routinely told the CTI institutions that their minority outreach efforts were exceeding even the most stringent FAA expectations. The CTI institutions understood the goal of the FAA and worked hand-in-glove with the FAA to help them achieve racial parity in the controller workforce. The FAA asked for the diversity statistics from the schools over the last few years. Of course, as the data illustrated a very diverse CTI population (as told to the author by a source very close to the issue) the actual data has never been revealed. More results- oriented ignoring of data in order to achieve the underlying racist objective.
The OHR, hidebound to anti-discrimination efforts from the past, feel they are free to level accusations of racial preferences at any sub-unit within the FAA. The ATO was the first on AHR and the NBCFAE’s “hit list.”
The Technical Operations unit is next. If past is prologue, the Technical Operations unit will be found guilty of racial preferences before the barrier analysis is even conducted. Evidence is not necessary before the accusation is hurled by the OHR. They just need to manufacture the evidence at some point during the process.
This is where Outtz comes in. Conducting research in testing, screening, etc. he seeks out any hint
of bias that favors one sub-group over another. His past body of work indicates that he has followed the same game plan throughout his career. He will often craft a new job application test for his
clients that use questions regarding the applicant’s past to determine suitability for the job being applied for. This use of biographical questionnaires in testing is controversial. It nearly always
replaces cognitive testing which is the standard format for job applications. In fact, Civil Aeronautical Medical Insitute (CAMI) employee Dana Broach, author of many studies regarding the validity
of FAA testing, recently (September 2013) concluded "[o]verall, the evidence for using the assessed biodata factors for selection [of air traffic controllers] was weak...." Mr. Broach has
participated as principal or co-author in many studies validating the current AT-SAT examination. A recent example is here.
In 1995, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley wanted to diversify the Chicago Fire Department. Daley hired Outtz to develop new firefighter hiring tests that minorities could do well on. The city spent $5 million to develop what it considered to be race-neutral tests crafted by Outtz. He made the tests so easy that nearly all applicants were able to pass. However, the unintended consequence of this effort was that over 93 percent of white applicants passed the exam.
Nearly 26,000 applicants took the test for 600 openings. A decision was made by the city to band the top performers who had test scores of 89 percent or higher. Outtz argued that the cutoff line should have been lower at 65 percent.
This final candidate pool had approximate 1780 applicants who tested at or above 89 percent. A decision was made to randomly draw 600 people from this final pool. The results were disappointing to Mayor Daley. The racial diversity of the selectees was essentially the same as before. Outtz’ effort to eliminate bias in testing by developing a “race-neutral” exam achieved no significant change. His attempt to eliminate subgroup differences in testing for Chicago firefighters was an abject failure. The city of Chicago reportedly paid Outtz $5 million for his multi-year effort.
Ironically, black test-takers filed suit anyway alleging the cut-off line of 89 percent was arbitrary and done only to eliminate most of the black candidates. They won in court and the city had to come up with an additional $6 million to settle. If the test results followed normal distribution this new cutline proposed by Outtz (65 percent) would have had a pool of nearly 8,000 to 10,000 applicants. Outtz suggested the city could have randomly selected from this pool for the 600 positions. Assuming the selection was not rigged (remember, this is Chicago) a person scoring 65 on the test would have an equal chance of getting the position as a person who scored 100. At this point why even bother taking an exam? Just have all applicants put their name into a big drum, turn it a few times like they do on a game show, then have Mayor Daley’s girlfriend scream "bingo" at the top of her lungs as she picks out the first 600 names.
Outtz’ next great adventure involved another fire department. This one was in New Haven, Connecticut. This case involved a group of white firefighters who sued the New Haven Fire Department for discrimination. The department tossed out the test results after deciding that only white applicants had scored high enough to get the promotion. They did this by conducting a disparity analysis after an assessment was implemented and they also changed the assessment implementation characteristics like cut scores and weighting schemes.
Although Outtz was not directly involved in this particular reverse-discrimination case, he offered amicus curiae to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the defendants. Outtz’ attempt to educate the Supreme Court on testing bias against minorities backfired. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The Supreme Court concluded that the New Haven FD engaged in "express, race-based decision-making" (i.e., disparate treatment/intentional discrimination) when it declined to certify the examination results because of the statistical disparity based on race. New Haven FD reinstated the examination results and promoted 14 of the 20 firefighters within months of the Supreme Court decision.
Outtz was popular with fire departments. He was retained in 2007 by the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut to develop a promotion examination for the position of fire lieutenant. The resulting promotion process designed by Outtz was an assessment center with a written multiple-choice test, work sample simulation, oral situational judgment test, and a form-completion exercise. A key factor in the implementation of the process as well as the subsequent legal dispute was weighting of the components. Outtz was directly involved in the development, implementation, and validation of the examination at issue, including weighting of the examination components and interpretation of the results.
Twelve white firefighters promptly sued the city of Bridgeport claiming the city discriminated against them by changing the weighting schemes post-administration in an attempt to reduce adverse impact against minority applicants. Faced with the factual evidence that mirrored the New Haven FD case and the recent Supreme Court ruling in the New Haven FD case in which the following factors are involved, the city of Bridgeport agreed to settle. The employer conducted disparity analyses after an assessment was implemented; the adequacy of the assessment is challenged; and after an assessment had been implemented, the employer “changed” assessment implementation characteristics like cut scores, weighting schemes, and so forth (or cancelled the results as in Ricci) based in part on the results of the disparity analysis and/or adequacy of the assessment.
It appears that Outtz may have learned an important lesson. You cannot change cut scores and weighting schemes after you have had a peek at the racial makeup of the successful candidates. The U.S. Supreme Court says so in Ricci.
Next stop for Outtz is the FAA. In April, 2012 the FAA-OHR contracted with Outtz to produce a barrier analysis report to comply with Management Directive 715. In his zeal to produce for this new client, Outtz slapped together an impressive looking document that would provide more usefulness as a doorstop than a barrier analysis. OHR, barely able to conceal their excitement, started adopting recommendations from Outtz even before he had his 180-page doorstop completed.
Some of the changes the OHR has implemented are directed at decision points Outtz identified as barriers to minorities. OHR aggressively attacked all hiring criteria for ATCS positions and changed it so the seven decision points are now either removed or reduced in effectiveness to the point that the hiring process more closely resembles a lottery rather than a test.
The FAA-OHR will roll out this sham “general public announcement” on February 10th, 2014. Once the 20,000 applicants’ questionnaires are scored by OHR, they will face a dumbed-down AT-SAT that will have plenty of practice sessions provided by special emphasis groups. If you are trying to figure out how an applicant’s personal biography can be assessed a value you are not alone. Only the wizards in OHR have the scoring key and they are not talking.
Once past the AT-SAT decision point it’s time to roll the dice on a “random selection” by OHR that will undoubtedly look at the original application and, using automated resume readers, will pick the applications that are salted with key words provided by insiders. What are key words? It is anything that OHR and their cronies want them to be.
By the time this phase of the selection process occurs our guess is that Outtz will be miles away from the FAA Headquarters. Outtz may be controversial, but he is not dumb. When the bell rings on this free-for-all he will be as far away from OHR as humanly possible.
For more light reading regarding Mr. Outtz check out:
We are students and veterans who believe those who serve in the military or graduate the CTI Program are better prepared to enter the air traffic control specialist career path. CTI and veteran students of all races and genders perform better and certify at a much higher rate than off-the-street candidates. The FAA is well aware of this fact, yet due to alleged discrimination, that their own studies disprove, the FAA has effectively eliminated the CTI/ Veteran special hiring pool.
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Oh where oh where has Juggalo CHRIS METTS gone, oh where oh where could he be…
After recusing himself for channeling Juggalo money to Tetra and others, Chris Metts goes DEEP DEEP UNDERCOVER (that’s for you PJ because we know you get off pretending to be a spy- we know the real story Pinnochijoe) trying to distance himself from the Juggalos.
NOTE TO CHRIS: Either come clean now Chris- or you’ll NEVER get the chance. Little Joey’s empire is crumbling away fast- and he will make YOU the fall guy. HELPFUL HINT #1: You may want to ring up Bill Nixon and get some REAL advice. HELPFUL HINT #2: If Bill tells you to just lay-low- errrr… get another “adviser.”