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Strategic Management of Human Capital Goals and Objectives

As discussed, EOIR’s strategic management of human capital and workforce planning will require aligning strategic planning, human capital, and budgeting to meet organizational goals and objectives. Further, in order to accomplish EOIR’s priority to reduce the backlog, we need to ensure EOIR has an enterprise-wide approach to implementation. The below framework will be used to drive EOIR’s actions and decisions, from overall mission to individual programs.

Within the DOJ Strategic Plan, EOIR aligns to the following DOJ Strategic Objectives:

Objective 1.1: Protect Our Democratic Institutions
Objective 1.2: Promote Good Government
Objective 3.4: Expand Equal Access to Justice
Objective 5.1: Administer an Equitable and Efficient Immigration Court System

EOIR’s Strategic Plan was published online in April 2024. In that plan, EOIR provided details regarding how EOIR strategic goals and objectives align to the DOJ Strategic Plan’s goals and objectives. Information demonstrating how EOIR aligns to the DOJ Strategic Plan as well as the DOJ Human Capital Operating Plan can be found in Appendix C: EOIR Strategic Management of Human Capital and Workforce Planning Alignment. EOIR’s Strategic Plan also provided a high-level outline of how it would manage human capital and discussed the following four goals to align to the aforementioned DOJ Objectives:

a. EOIR Strategic Goal 1: Maximize Operational Efficiency while Ensuring Due Process

EOIR’s ability to invest in increasing, supporting, and retaining its human capital is its greatest challenge to maintaining the highest levels of operational efficiency and ensuring due process. With an ever-increasing number of cases and a caseload primarily determined by the volume of cases filed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), retaining and increasing human capital in EOIR is a requirement for maintaining maximum operational efficiency.

b. EOIR Strategic Goal 2: Foster a Culture of Public Service with Highly Engaged and Goal-Driven Employees

EOIR relies upon effective decision-making processes governing the allocation and use of judges, staff, facilities, and funds to ensure the best use of limited resources. These processes must respond to immigration court and appellate workloads.  As an example, within the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ), workloads vary by location and over time. Developing, evaluating, and implementing best practices will assist managers in addressing workload changes. With IJ hiring reaching historical highs in FY 2023 and the surging volume of new cases filed by DHS, the increase in judges must coincide with appropriate support staff and administrative and operational hiring. There have also been record levels of appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) as a direct result of the increased immigration court workload.

EOIR recognizes that mission success hinges on the recruitment, development, and retention of a talented, engaged, and goal-driven workforce. EOIR must recruit, train, and allocate staff in accordance with agency human capital goals, and thereafter provide training and performance feedback to ensure employee development, advancement, and retention. EOIR must also provide training and feedback throughout an employee’s tenure, well beyond onboarding training, with particular emphasis on their first year of federal service through implementation of our New Employee Integration Program. This will foster commitment to the agency’s mission, aid in retention, and promote the commitment to excellence we strive for to ensure our collective success. In addition, EOIR understands leadership development is a critical component in building a talented, diverse, and skilled workforce to meet the challenges that lie ahead for the DOJ. As such, EOIR will use programs such as the Leadership, Enrichment, and Advancement Detail (LEAD) Program, which EOIR recently launched to promote EOIR employees’ professional growth while supporting the mission and strategic goals of our agency. The LEAD Program provides employees with opportunities to strengthen competencies, enhance performance, expand skillsets, and achieve professional objectives through enrichment and detail opportunities. Enrichment opportunities are geared towards skill development and may include opportunities for advanced trainings or projects, such as legal writing workshops or shadowing opportunities, for example. Advancement detail opportunities are designed to provide employees with the experience needed to excel in their current positions and advance into other positions.

c. EOIR Strategic Goal 3: Create an Adaptable Organization by Using the Right Technology

Technology is a critical component of EOIR’s ability to adapt to shifts in immigration flows, address its caseload, and ensure due process. EOIR will endeavor to utilize technology to the fullest extent, including AI, while maintaining a strong prioritization of security of sensitive information. EOIR must modernize its information technology to keep up with the demands of adjudicating cases.

d. EOIR Strategic Goal 4: Improve Communication to Ensure Proactive Management of the Immigration System

Proactive management of the immigration adjudication system refers to: (a) overseeing day-to-day court operations; (b) managing adjudication methods – in-person, telephonic, virtual (internet-based or through video-teleconferencing/VTC); (c) maintaining ICOR for all EOIR stakeholders; and (d) utilizing effective data management tools.

Continuing to promote constructive and responsive communication between EOIR leadership and staff will reap benefits for the agency and stakeholders alike. For example, EOIR, through the offices of the Ombuds and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), recently held joint listening sessions with each component and with immigration courts nationwide, to increase communication and transparency and to provide a forum for staff to express their concerns. EOIR also revamped its Intranet page to highlight important stories and information pertaining to EOIR to increase transparency. An employee who feels appreciated is more engaged in their duties and better positioned to serve the agency and help address its challenges. Increased productivity is the byproduct of an employee feeling supported by their leadership, as evidenced by research demonstrating the impact of transformational leadership on employee performance. When employees thrive, the mission benefits.

Effective communication between OIT and all EOIR components is critical to improving court processes. EOIR leadership prioritizes strong communication, not only to convey policies or operational information, but also to foster a sense of community. It is critical for the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to cultivate and maintain a forward leaning communications approach toward other EOIR components. For example, the CIO should focus on strategic and enterprise-level messaging with the components such as educating and socializing component leadership on new and additive technologies and capabilities. The CIO should also strive to keep the other components apprised of developments and trends within its workforce, especially regarding initiatives designed to improve the office work environment. Further, EOIR must ensure that employees’ voices are heard. Employee feedback provides valuable insight into both operations and morale, identifying potential high-value areas for improvement.

To achieve the aforementioned objectives, EOIR has developed four goals and their underlying objectives based upon the OPM Human Capital Framework. Each goal area also includes information about recent key accomplishments, as well as EOIR Accountability Measures and Milestones. These are high-level measures and milestones meant to measure and track progress in accomplishing the human capital strategic goals. Other metrics EOIR will utilize include agency retention rates, exit surveys, responses to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), and feedback received during performance appraisal evaluations, EEO/Ombuds listening sessions, and EOIR-wide Town Halls with leadership. More detailed tracking information may be found in future implementation plans. See Appendix D:  Implementation of EOIR’s Human Capital and Workforce Plan.

Many of the below strategies are cross-cutting. Thus, rather than repeating them throughout the document, they are denoted only in the location deemed most appropriate.