Directorate of Technical Support
Approval & Certification Center
Center Operations Division
The Center Operations Division (COD) supports the Center's mission by providing program, management and administrative services necessary for the daily operation of the Center Office and Divisions. The 96-acre facility on which the Approval and Certification Center (A&CC) is situated is owned by the Department of Labor (DOL), Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and requires direct oversight of the property by the Chief of the COD. This responsibility includes management, maintenance and enhancement of the facility buildings and grounds. This is achieved through various contracts for which the COD Chief is the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR). These contracts include providing security services, facility maintenance and upkeep, housekeeping/janitorial services, internal mail services, grounds maintenance and structural improvements/modifications/repairs, as well as procurement and storeroom operations and shipping and receiving services for Center personnel.
Included in the Division Chief's responsibility is the oversight of the Information Processing Services Office (IPSO), the Center's administrative and personnel operations, computer services and LAN (Local Area Network) operations, accountability and employee safety and health programs, and special projects, including a variety of program and management analysis studies. To carry out its mission, the Division is separated into two offices under the direction of Team Leaders.
One function is the Information Processing Services Office. This office, referred to as IPSO, is responsible for the electronic storage, processing, maintenance and control of all documentation associated with the statutory responsibilities of the Center (e.g., product approval under Title 30 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR]). The information is input into various databases through data terminals. Images are scanned into the MSHA Information Management System (MIMS) and stored on CD-ROM disks and Center LAN servers. The information is input/output, controlled, verified and manipulated by IPSO Computer Assistants for use by Center personnel at remote Desktop computers. The databases established and maintained by IPSO are also accessed by Center investigators from remote locations in the field via laptop computers and modems. Remote access by Center investigators to the information resident in the MIMS, enables immediate review and evaluation of information to aid in field investigations and on-site decision-making.
Some data files are provided in hardcopy to MSHA Coal and Metal/Non-metal enforcement and mining equipment manufacturing personnel based upon their right to receive the information. Because the information may be proprietary in nature, strict internal controls are adhered to before releasing the information. Information that is released carries notations that require MSHA enforcement personnel to destroy the documents once their usefulness is met or to return the documents to IPSO for proper destruction. Release of information to manufacturing personnel is limited to the owners' authorization for release of such to the requestor.
IPSO also creates specialized database applications using SQL, ACCESS and/or EXCEL and Visual Basic Software and stores them on IPSO resident computers. These specialized databases are controlled and managed by IPSO Computer Assistants for output to Center end users/requestors. Such databases may include policies and procedures that govern internal operations, lists of approved products by 30 CFR part and product, company approval number transfers and takeovers, etc. Because the IPSO is the only DOL, MSHA, organization responsible for official approval documentation management and retention, all system information is updated and backed-up on CD ROM, as well as specific data files are transmitted to an off-site mainframe computer system for central Agency data access and use.
To aid in the processing of mining equipment approval applications, the IPSO monitors and accesses on-line Manufacturing Company accounts where approval applicants submit requests electronically through the Center's servers. All such approval applications are processed electronically, from receipt of the application, assignment to a Division, receipt and review of equipment/component drawings, investigation and correction of investigator identified deficiencies, to final acceptance and issuance of an approval number. All fees associated with the issued approval are processed, monitored, verified and reconciled by the IPSO Computer Assistants who interface with the MSHA finance office in Denver, Colorado regarding fees collected and delinquent accounts. For information relative to establishing an on-line approval account, contact Lois Carr at 304-547-2094 or via e-mail at Carr.Lois@dol.gov.
The second office consists of the remainder of the Center Operations Division personnel. One of the responsibilities of this office is to direct the administrative, personnel and management program areas within the Center. This includes overseeing and providing assistance to the Center Chief and Division managers in areas such as, but not limited to: budget development and fiscal tracking, performance appraisal development/implementation/operation of these systems, employee incentives and development, development and establishment of position descriptions, providing guidance on and monitoring a variety of personnel activities, and interfacing with employees pertaining to various Federal benefits. Coordination, monitoring and tracking of these administrative activities is maintained with the MSHA National Office in Arlington, Virginia, the Regional Personnel Office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Department of Labor in Washington, DC.
In addition, the employee and labor relation activities fall within this office. Guidance and assistance is provided to management with regard to the Contractual Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the National Council of Field Labor Locals and the Department of Labor. Services provided to management in these areas ensure efficient and effective operation of daily work activities in accordance with law and regulatory requirements. As such, balancing employee rights with management rights, and resolving issues and problems as early as possible to minimize disruption of work activities and ensure fair and equitable treatment of employee's, aid in achieving these goals.
As a safety and health organization and to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for employees, the Center's Safety and Health Program is also directed, managed and operated within this office. This program provides guidance to Center employees with regard to safe work practices, oversight and implementation of Agency and Department safety requirements and programs, monitoring and maintenance of building and office safety practices and correction of identified safety violations. Safety and health related training programs are provided to Center employees to continually remind employees of the need for safety in the work environment, at home and at play. Numerous health programs are also managed as part of the Safety and Health program, such as hearing protection, noise and environmental monitoring, Hepatitis B screening and inoculation, as well as others.
To ensure internal programs are functioning within established procedures and guidelines, the Center's Accountability Program is managed out of this office. The Accountability Program provides a mechanism whereby internal "audits" of Division programs are conducted to review and verify they are operating within the specified requirements and the appropriate documentation is completed and on-file. Identified deficiencies are corrected within established timeframes to ensure optimum and up-to-date operation of programs.
One of the most significant challenges of this office is to develop and maintain the Center's Local Area Network (LAN) and its connectivity to the DOL and MSHA Wide Area Networks (WANs), as well as connectivity to the mining community. A&CC is one of the few MSHA field offices that maintains its own LAN/WAN system. Because of the nature of the Center's work (e.g., equipment approval and accident investigations), its requirements to establish and maintain on-line access to approval documentation from Center employee's Desktop PC's and remote field sites is imperative for completion of the Center's mission. Special software programs are developed to enable advanced record keeping, tracking and access to a variety of up-to-date documents and reports dealing with mining equipment approvals (PAR) and associated activities (WAR), such as accidents and injuries, quality control activities and complaints, etc. Computer Specialists ensure Center personnel are adequately connected to documentation and reports and also ensure the mining community has access to on-line mining equipment approval accounts and other information such as application procedures, information pertinent to the Center's programs and contacts, directions to the facility and local lodging, to name a few. With the ever-changing information technology (IT) age in full force, the challenge to maintain state-of-the-art equipment, connectivity, and information is enormous and time consuming, but one that this office is ready and willing to attack.
Finally, a variety of analytical studies are conducted within this office with regard to human resource utilization and management and program evaluations. These studies aid in evaluating resource needs, reorganization of personnel, program and operational changes, workload and resource efficiency, proper utilization of monetary resources, cost benefits and reductions, among others, to ensure the Center continues to serve its clients in the most effective and efficient manner with ever decreasing personnel and monetary resources.