We often joke here at the Labor Department that we should put a jar in the center of the conference table before every meeting. And during the meeting, if any of the participants use an acronym, or a word or phrase that a person on the street wouldn’t understand, then they’d have to put a dollar in the jar. The consensus is that we’d be rich pretty fast … and eventually, our meetings wouldn’t sound like the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in Star Wars:
PPI, CPI, COBRA. WIA, H1b, H2b. Black lung, Davis-Bacon, Diffusion Index.
Those are just some of the phases, titles and acronyms uses by our agencies, including (here we go again) OFCCP, BLS, EBSA, ETA, etc. If it’s confusing for the employees of the U.S. Department of Labor, think what it must be like for folks across the country trying to access and understand our resources and services.
That’s why today we are launching “DOL A-to-Z: Learn about the Labor Department,” an education campaign designed for both Department of Labor employees and the public at large. The goal of the campaign is simple: we want people to learn more about us. That means, for example, we want the department’s OLMS (Office of Labor-Management Standards) to know more about how our ETA (Employment and Training Administration) works. And vice versa.
And we want every working family across the country to know more about the Labor Department, the services we offer and the resources we provide. We believe folks will know us better if they know what we are talking about. We are going to break through the jargon, and simply, better explain what we do. In the process, we hope to connect people to the agencies who work on these issues every day.
To do this, we’ll highlight words, phases or acronyms that play a critical role in our core mission and work though monthly elevator posters and the employee intranet, as well as through our weekly public e-newsletter, the dol.gov homepage and social media activities. And they will be ones we know people are interested in, because we’ll chose them from among the most frequently searched terms on the dol.gov website.
So we are kicking it off with A, B, C: apprenticeship, black lung and COBRA. And that gives us plenty of time to figure out what word to highlight for the letter “Z.”
Carl Fillichio heads the Labor Department’s Office of Public Affairs.