Specifically, the Members of Congress have requested that the GAO:
Â· Assess the extent to which the action plans developed by the Coast Guardâ€™s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) are enabling the Coast Guardâ€™s Equal Opportunity program to meet Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) standards and provide effective Equal Opportunity (EO) services to the members of the Coast Guard.
Â· Track the implementation of these plans.
Â· Determine whether OCR has the necessary resources and personnel to meet EEOC standards and provide adequate EO services.
Â· Identify any additional measures necessary to enable the Coast Guardâ€™s civil rights and diversity programs to meet these standards.
The request for a GAO study was sent in response to a hearing convened by the Subcommittee on April 1, 2009, to examine civil rights and diversity initiatives within the Coast Guard, particularly as they relate to the findings of a February 2009 review of the Coast Guardâ€™s OCR and civil rights initiatives by Booz Allen Hamilton. The Booz Allen Hamilton report was critical of the Serviceâ€™s civil rights program and is the most recent in a decade of analyses citing deficiencies in the program.
Chairman Cummings has emphasized to the Coast Guard that it is time for real results in improving civil rights and diversity initiatives. A follow-up hearing will be convened in June to examine the progress of the Coast Guardâ€™s OCR in filling 6 new positions and in implementing its more than fifty action plans.
April 14, 2009
Mr. Gene L. Dodaro
Acting Comptroller General
Government Accountability Office
441 G St., NW
Washington, DC 20548
Dear Mr. Dodaro:
On April 1, 2009, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructureâ€™s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing to examine the administration of the Coast Guardâ€™s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the serviceâ€™s implementation of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Equal Opportunity (EO) programs. At the hearing, the Director of the OCR announced action plans to improve the OCRâ€™s structure, policies, and procedures as well as the administration and provision of civil rights services throughout the Coast Guard. We request that you assess whether these action plans are supporting the provision of effective and efficient civil rights services to the members and employees of the Coast Guard. Please submit a final report on the implementation of these changes to the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation by April 1, 2010.
In April 2008, the Director of OCR asked the Department of Homeland Security to commission and supervise an independent assessment of the OCR and of civil rights programs within the Coast Guard. The study, conducted by Booz|Allen|Hamilton, was presented to the Coast Guard in February 2009, and subsequently released to the public. The study concluded that both the OCR and the administration and provision of civil rights services in the Coast Guard are limited by a number of shortcomings. Specifically, the study found that the Coast Guard currently fails to fully protect the confidential personal information of Coast Guard employees. The service fails to conduct thorough analyses of barriers to equal opportunity in employment and to develop specific plans to break these barriers down. Further, the study found that civil rights service providers are not adequately trained and that service providers cannot ensure implementation of a complaints management process in full compliance with regulatory requirements. Studies commissioned by the Coast Guard in 1998 and 2001 reached similar conclusions.
During its April 1 hearing, the Subcommittee learned that OCR had been authorized to fill 6 additional full-time civilian positions. The Subcommittee also learned that the OCR Director developed extensive action plans subsequent to the release of the Booz|Allen|Hamilton report to bring the OCR and the administration and provision of civil rights services into compliance with all applicable federal regulations. The Subcommittee plans another hearing on or about June 15, 2009, to consider the current state of civil rights services in the Coast Guard.
To ensure that a thorough assessment can be made of the Coast Guardâ€™s efforts in resolving deficiencies in its civil rights services, we request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO):
1. Assess the extent to which the action plans developed by the Director of OCR, including those developed in direct response to findings made by the Booz|Allen|Hamilton teamâ€™s February 2009 Program Review, are
a. enabling the Coast Guardâ€™s EEO program to meet the standards of a model program as defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and
b. supporting the provision of effective and efficient EO services to the members of the Coast Guard.
2. Track implementation by the OCR of the action plans prepared by the OCR Director.
3. Assess whether the OCR has the resources and personnel necessary to maintain a model EEO program as defined by the EEOC and an effective and efficient EO program.
4. Identify any additional measures necessary to enable the Coast Guardâ€™s EEO program to meet the standards of a model EEO program and to ensure the effective and efficient administration and provision of EO services.
For additional information, please feel free to contact our staff members, John Cullather (Oberstar, Cummings) at 202-226-3578 or John Rayfield (Mica, LoBiondo) at 202-226-0204.
Congressman James L. Oberstar, Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Congressman John L. Mica, Ranking Member, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, Chairman, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation