U.S. Department of Agriculture: Problems Continue to Hinder the Timely Processing of Discrimination Complaints.
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC RESOURCES COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIV
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Civil rights at the U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA has long been a troubled area. Over the years, internal and external reports have described problems in USDAS delivery of services to program beneficiaries-such as minority farmers-and in its treatment of minority employees. These studies have also cited weaknesses in the Departments overall management of its civil rights programs. In February 1997, the Civil Rights Action Team, composed of senior USDA officials appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, reported on its review of civil rights issues throughout the Department. Among other things, the team found that 1 USDA lacked an organizational structure to support an effective civil rights program, 2 USDAS process for resolving discrimination complaints about the delivery of program benefits and services program complaints was a failure, and 3 USDAS system for addressing complaints of employment discrimination employment complaints was untimely and unresponsive. The team made numerous recommendations to resolve these problems, one of which was to combine the Departments civil rights functions in one office that reports directly to the Assistant Secretary for Administration- USDAs top civil rights official. This was done in March 1997.
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