Scope of the Position:
The chief responsibility of the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL) is to ensure a safe and equal working environment for all Americans. The position oversees 30 agencies within the DOL and acts as the Chief Operating Officer for a workforce of approximately 17,000 employees. The Deputy Secretary manages a $46.3 billion budget to best meet Department needs. Major issues the DOL is working to address include minimum wage, employer healthcare benefits, and family and medical leave. As the Department was founded on progressive workplace values, the top priority of the DOL and Deputy Secretary is to establish and maintain strong employee security and prosperity.
Illustrative Management Challenges:
In late 2015, the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General released a report that outlined six distinct management and performance areas where the Department can improve. They are: providing a safe learning environment at job corps centers; protecting the safety and health of workers; helping adults, youth, and veterans obtain the education, training, and support services needed to succeed in the labor market; protecting retirement, health, and other benefit plans for workers, retirees, and their families; securing and managing information systems; and reducing improper payments.1 Regarding the safety and health of workers, there has been progress made by the agency to improve worker health and workplace safety, but there should be a continued effort to develop protocols to evaluate these improvements and their compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The Department has also made strides in protecting the benefits of the people it covers. It has tried to identify issues with employee benefit plans, violations and investigations, but there have not been important insights gained from these analyses. A greater effort is necessary to ensure evaluation criteria actually reveal information that can be traced back to trends in violations the Department experiences. In a similar vein, the Department needs to stop improper Unemployment Insurance (UI) payments from being paid out to people who do not meet the requirements needed to receive them. As stated by the IG, "The Department needs to employ cost benefit and return on investment analyses to evaluate the impact of its improper payment reduction strategies for UI." Without these analyses, any investigation will be missing valuable information about the effectiveness of the policies that the Department has already or will put in place to address this issue.
1Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Labor; oig.dol.gov; November 2015.
Deputy Secretaries of Labor:
Deputy Secretaries of Labor typically possess a background in either law or private sector management, which dovetails nicely to the responsibilities required of the position. Overseeing the United States labor force requires a good understanding of the complex labor laws and regulations that dictate what can and cannot be done, and having experience overseeing a workforce also helps to understand the intricacies of the hiring and management processes.
Christopher P. Lu (2014-Present): Prior to his current appointment, Lu worked in the Obama White House as Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to the President. Lu was also the co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He began his law career at Sidley Austin law firm in Washington, D.C., and has clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Previous Deputy Secretaries:
Seth Harris (2009-2014): Harris is currently Counsel for the international law firm Dentons. Prior to his appointment with the Department of Labor, Harris served as the acting U.S. Secretary of Labor for six months, and he has also served as a law professor at New York Law School.
Howard M. Radzely (2007-2009): Radzely is currently the Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for the Boeing Company. Radzely's past positions included partner with Morgan Lewis & Bockius of Washington, D.C.; Solicitor of Labor; and a private practice litigation attorney.
Steven J. Law (2003-2007): Law is currently the President and CEO of American Crossroads. Some of Law's past positions included Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Chief of Staff to Sen. Mitch McConnell.
D. Cameron Findlay (2001-2003): Findlay is currently the Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of the Archer Daniels Midland Company. Findlay's past positions include Senior Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel of Medtronic, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Aon Corporation, a partner at the law firm Sidley Austin, a senior White House official in the George H. W. Bush Administration, Deputy Assistant to the President, and Counselor to the White House Chief of Staff.
Edward B. Montgomery (2000-2001): Montgomery is currently the Dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Montgomery's past positions have consisted of Executive Director of the White House Council for Auto Communities and Workers, Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland, and multiple faculty positions with Carnegie Mellon University, Michigan State University, and the University of Maryland.
Kathryn O. Higgins (1998-2000): Higgins' past positions included President and CEO of TATC Consulting, Vice President for Public Policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Cabinet, Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Labor, as well as multiple positions in various Senate offices and committees.
Cynthia A. Metzler (Acting) (1996-1997): Metzler is currently the Chief Administrative Services Officer for the General Services Administration. Metzler's previous positions included founding and running her own small business, serving as the President and CEO of Experience Works, Acting Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor, and counselor with the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
Thomas P. Glynn (1993-1996): Glynn is currently serving as the CEO of the Massachusetts Port Authority. Glynn's previous positions include General Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, Deputy Welfare Commissioner, General Manager of Boston's World Trade Center, Executive Director of the White House's Task Force on Youth Employment, and the COO of Partners Healthcare.