30:0672(83)NG - NTEU Chapter 250 and Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation -- 1987 FLRAdec NG

[ v30 p672 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 30 FLRA NO. 83
 30 FLRA 672

 31 DEC 1987






Case No. 0-NG-1389


     I. Statement of the Case

     The petition for review comes before the Authority because
of a negotiability appeal filed under section 7105(a)(2)(E) of
the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute (the
Statute). It raises issues concerning the negotiability of a
single Union proposal concerning the delay of implementation of
performance objectives until the Agency obtains certain
technology and employees are given access to the technology. For
the reasons which follow, we find this proposal to be
nonnegotiable because it violates management's right to determine
its technology and it is not an appropriate arrangement.

     II. Background and Proposal

     During impact and implementation bargaining on proposed
changes in performance objectives and performance requirements
for benefits payment examiners GS-5-9, the Union submitted the
following proposal:

     Delay implementation of benefits examiners' performance
objectives number 2 and 3, together with the associated
performance requirements, proposed by the Employer for Benefits
Examiners GS-5, GS-7 and GS-9, submitted to the Union by the
Employer in re-typed form on December 5, 1986, until benefits
examiners are given access through desk-top Data General
terminals in their own work clusters to an on-line data base
Benefit Payment System which has current, accurate data
concerning all pension participants for whom the benefits
examiners are responsible.

     III. Positions of the Parties

     The Agency stated that it was prepared to negotiate delaying
the implementation of the proposed changes in the performance
standards but that requiring benefits examiners to be provided
with their own desk-top Data General terminals interfered with
its right under section 7106(b)(1) to determine the technology,
methods, and means of performing work. See Statement of Position
at 2 and at May 18, 1987, Declaration of Frank Tobin, Agency
Director of Personnel.

     The Union asserts that the proposal is not an attempt to
negotiate over "technology, methods, and means of performing
work" but rather, is only intended to delay the implementation of
proposed performance standards until the Agency provides
employees with access to the technology upon which the standards
are based. In the alternative, the Union claims that the proposal
is intended to serve as an appropriate arrangement pending
implementation of the computer system.

     IV. Analysis and Conclusion

     A. Proposal Interferes with Agency's Right to Determine the
Technology, Methods, and Means of Performing Work

     In American Federation of Government Employees, AFL - CIO,
National Council of Social Security Field Office Locals and
Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security
Administration, 24 FLRA  842, 846-47 (1986), we stated that in
order to sustain a claim that an otherwise negotiable proposal
directly interferes with management's right to determine the
technology used in performing its work, an agency must

     (1) the technological relationship of the proposal to
accomplishing or furthering the performance of the agency's work;

     (2) how the proposal would interfere with the purpose for
which the technology was adopted. 

     The record in this case reflects that the benefits examiners
employed by the Agency are required to verify pension plan files
and other financial data in order to ensure the timely and
continual payments to participants and beneficiaries of the
pension plans. It also appears that computer systems have been
and may continue to be utilized by employees in accomplishing
their assigned duties. In our view, therefore, the decision as to
the particular type of computer system that will be used to
obtain and verify the data upon which pension payments are made
constitutes a decision as to the technology of performing work
within the meaning of section 7106(b)(1) of the Statute. See, for
example, American Federation of Government Employees, Local 644,
AFL - CIO and U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Health and Safety
Administration, Morgantown, West Virginia, 15 FLRA  902 (1984);
National Federation of Federal Employees Council of Consolidated
Social Security Locals and Social Security Administration, 13
FLRA  422 (1983).

     The Union does not contest the Agency's decision under
section 7106(b)(1) to chose the particular computer system to
perform the Agency's work. Rather, the Union claims that the
Agency has already selected the particular computer system
involved which permits access to current data and is only
experiencing delays in installing it. Reply Brief at 2. The
Agency, however, disputes the Union's claim that it has already
selected the computer system in question. The Agency also argues
that it has not decided to obtain a computer system which has the
capability to access up-to-the-minute data. Agency Supplemental
Submission at 2-3.

     Although the Union claims that this proposal is intended
only to delay application of the proposed performance standards
until the Agency selected computer system is installed, we find
that this proposal is not so limited. Rather, the proposal
expressly requires the Agency to provide employees with a
particular type of computer terminal with specified capabilities.
Further, under this proposal the Agency would be obligated to
provide one of the specified computer terminals in each work
cluster. Consequently, this proposal requires the Agency to
utilize a specified computer system with defined capabilities to
the exclusion of other computer systems which may not have the
same precise capabilities. Moreover, even if the Agency had
adopted the particular computer system in question, as claimed by
the Union, this proposal would require the Agency to provide a
certain number of terminals in the manner specified by the

     Thus, this proposal directly interferes with the Agency's
right to determine the technology of performing work within the
meaning of section 7106(b)(1) of the Statute and is negotiable
only at the Agency's election. See International Organization of
Masters, Mates and Pilots and Panama Canal Commission, 13 FLRA 
508 (1983) (Proposals 1 and 2). Compare American Federation of
Government Employees. AFL - CIO, National Council of Social
Security Field Office Locals and Department of Health and Human
Services. Social Security Administration, 24 FLRA  842 (1986)
(Proposals 2 through 12) (Proposals 2 through 12 requiring
particular furniture and equipment found to be negotiable because
the Agency did not establish a technological relationship between
the proposals and performance of the agency's work).

     B. The Proposal is Not an Appropriate Arrangement

     We turn now to the question of whether the proposal
constitutes a negotiable appropriate arrangement under section
7106(b)(3) of the Statute. In National Association of Government
Employees, Local R14-87 and Kansas Army National Guard, 21 FLRA