SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOCUNITED STATES COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS
THURSDAY, JULY 17, 1997
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:00 a.m., in room 2226, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Charles T. Canady (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Charles T. Canady, Bob Inglis, Ed Bryant, William L. Jenkins, Bob Goodlatte, Bob Barr, Asa Hutchinson, Robert C. Scott, Maxine Waters, John Conyers, Jr., and Melvin L. Watt.
Staff Present: Robert Corry, counsel; Keri D. Harrison, counsel; John Ladd, counsel; Kathryn Lehman, chief counsel; and Brian Woolfolk, minority counsel; Brett Shagren, staff assistant; Michael Connolly, staff assistant.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN CANADY
Mr. CANADY. The subcommittee will be in order. The subcommittee convenes today for the purpose of conducting oversight on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Congress established the Commission in 1957 as an independent fact-finding agency of the United States Government.
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It is clear that this Nation needs bipartisan, objective and informed voices on the issue of civil rights. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has the potential to be one of those voices within the Federal Government on these issues. In recent years, however, the Commission's potential to be a credible voice on important civil rights issues has gone largely unfulfilled.
This subcommittee has invested a great deal of effort and energy into helping the Commission since 1995. At our earlier hearings, the subcommittee was disappointed to find that the Commission failed to comply with its most basic statutory mandate that it submit to Congress at least one report each year monitoring Federal civil rights enforcement. We were also distressed to find that the Commission had released a report on civil rights enforcement in which three of commissioners were denied a proper opportunity to vote, a troubling practice for an agency with responsibilities for investigating deprivations of voting rights. The subcommittee was also disturbed to learn that the Commission had abused its subpoena authority in a manner that chilled the constitutionally protected rights of individuals seeking to participate in the political process.
As we begin this third hearing, the subcommittee now has independent confirmation of some of our serious concerns that the Commission, as it is currently constituted, is not effectively carrying out the important task for which it was created. At my request, the United States General Accounting Office conducted a thorough review of the Commission. GAO has now finished its report, and I am pleased that this morning will hear first from Ms. Cornelia Blanchette of the GAO, who will summarize the GAO's findings.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The GAO found the Commission to be an agency in disarray, and concluded that the Commission's management and fiscal controls are in serious need of repair. It is also noteworthy that the GAO experienced difficulty in obtaining basic information from the Commission concerning the Commission's operations.
We on the subcommittee know how the GAO must feel. In preparation for this morning's hearing, the subcommittee requested that the Commission provide certain documents in advance to assist the subcommittee in holding a meaningful hearing. Until late yesterday afternoon, the Commission had failed to provide any of the documents we requested. In the past as well, the Commission has been less than forthcoming in providing the information the subcommittee has requested.
The GAO report confirms the subcommittee's assessment of the Commission and GAO's experience mirrors our frustration in obtaining information in a complete and timely manner. I hope that the Commission will take an earnest look at itself in light of the significant deficiencies identified by GAO.
Recently, President Clinton announced the formation of the Advisory Board to the President's Initiative on Race. The founding charter of this new entity establishes a mission for the Advisory Board remarkably similar to the mission of the Civil Rights Commission. Why did the President ignore the Civil Rights Commission? The need for the formation of an entirely new advisory board casts a great deal of doubt on the efficacy of an existing Commission that purports to address the same issues as the new board.
Questions arise as to whether the new board and the Commission will be engaged in a wasteful, costly and counterproductive duplication of efforts. I would welcome any explanation as to why the taxpayers will be paying for the same product twice.
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I look forward to hearing the testimony of all of our witnesses today. Your testimony will be of great importance to the subcommittee as we continue our efforts to ensure that the Commission on Civil Rights functions effectively in carrying out its important responsibility.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this oversight hearing on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was established in 1957 to provide the country with advice and counsel on how to best address our still complex and persevering civil rights problems.
Although the Commission was initially intended to last only 2 years, because of its importance and good work it still serves as a valuable tool in our war against bigotry. In recent years, the Commission has held hearings and issued reports on such issues as church burnings, employment discrimination, police brutality and hate crimes.
In addition, the Commission has made plans to study disability, discrimination and religious freedom in schools. The Commission's work on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act is particularly timely. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, national origin in federally assisted programs.
After extensive study of the Justice Department's Title VI enforcement, the Commission concluded that the Justice Department's enforcement actions were inadequate. As a direct result of this report, the Justice Department has improved its Title VI enforcement program and other Federal agencies have made significant improvements as well.
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The Department of Agriculture has relied heavily on this report in its response to discrimination against black farmers. No other agency provides this crucial information. Without the Civil Rights Commission, one would have to wonder how thoroughly concerns of underenforcement and noncompliance would be addressed.
The General Accounting Office recently released a report on the Civil Rights Commission. This report points out a number of management and organizational problems and make recommendations on how the Commission can best address these concerns. The Commission has actively moved to initiate all of the GAO's recommendations. Its management information system will be operational in October. This will allow greater accountability in program management and oversight.
In addition, the Commission has begun to implement two of the other recommendations of the GAO, creating a new organizational and process document, and ensuring staff compliance with applicable statutes and regulations. I am happy to see that a new staff director was appointed on June 30th. She is well-known for her management expertise and her experience in working with both Democrats and Republicans and will ensure that the GAO recommendations will be implemented in a timely manner.
I look forward to this hearing serving as a forum for the dissemination of the good information and informative work done by the Commission. Millions of Americans are suffering because civil rights laws are underenforced or being repealed. Bigotry still persists and the need for a strong Civil Rights Commission is as compelling as ever. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today and particularly interested in learning about the areas where civil rights laws should be improved. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. CANADY. Thank you, Mr. Scott. Are there other Members wishing to make an opening statement?
Ms. WATERS. Yes, I wish to make an opening statement.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman from Tennessee is recognized.
Mr. BRYANT. Thank you very much. I just want to say I appreciate you having this hearing. I know this is one of several we have had in the past few years in the function of oversight. I think this is a proper function of the committee. Too often we get bogged out in administration and don't get a chance to look back at the success and failures of some of the things we are involved in.
Like Mr. Scott, I am glad to have this hearing to showcase or give a forum to hear about some of the good things the Commission is doing. But, frankly, I am, concerned, too, about the GAO findings and very interested in hearing what they have to say, and I know that we can use this for a positive today and I look forward to participating in the process and, again, thank the Chairman for the hearing.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you. The gentlelady from California is recognized.
Ms. WATERS. Good morning. While I am very pleased to be here this morning to extend my welcome to my old friend, the Honorable Mary Frances Barry, Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, my patience with the attack on civil rights and affirmative action is wearing thin, and I think this committee's, subcommittee in particular, unrelenting and mean-spirited attempts to dismantle civil rights protections is causing me to be less than satisfied with the approaches that are being taken.
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Last week, we were here before this subcommittee marking up legislation to dismantle affirmative action. Three weeks ago, we were here to talk about reverse discrimination, hiding behind the Civil Rights Act and equal protection laws which were designated to remedy discrimination against, Blacks, Hispanics, and others. There seems to be a real move to return us to a society dominated by white males.
This Chairman has made his specialty the introduction of legislation which polarizes and divides this Nation by pitting citizens of this country against one another. America pays a high price for this. When the Commission on Civil Rights was established in 1957, this country was in turmoil. The ugliness and brutality of racism was present in every facet of American society. Unfortunately, today, some 39 years later, we are still facing many of these programs.
Indeed, we are witnessing an increase in hate crimes, scapegoating and race-baiting that is sweeping across the country. Because I am a member of this subcommittee, unfortunately I have to sit through today's hearing. Next week, probably I will be here sitting through the full Judiciary markup of H.R. 1909, the Chairman's antiaffirmative action legislation.
Since I have served on this committee, we have not looked into any case of discrimination against any person of color or women. In the Chairman's world, I suppose white males are the victims. Every one else apparently doesn't count. We have not heard hearings on the well-documented cases of discrimination at Texaco, Pitney Bowes, Avis Rent-A-Car, Mitsubishi, on and on.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This subcommittee has not investigated the brutal murder of an African-American couple by white Aryan members of the United States Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the rise of militia and Skinhead movements in this country. This subcommittee has not had a single hearing on the widespread and systemic discrimination in Federal Agencies, in the United States Department of Agriculture, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Library of Congress, the General Service Administration itself, or a host of other Federal Agencies recently brought to our attention by my good colleague, Congressman Albert Wynn, and I dare say never will.
I do not feel we are really interested in any efforts to better race relations or to promote fairness and equality. Instead, this subcommittee and too much of the direction of this Congress dominated by conservatives is only prepared to conduct hearings like today's which attempt to dismantle the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights pioneers who were trying to make this a country where all citizen's civil rights would be protected.
Our struggle for civil rights is far from over. We need a strong, viable U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. I look forward to this hearing. Now, perhaps I will be proven to be wrong, and this hearing is one to give some oversight simply to make sure that this Commission stays in business and that it is stronger, and it will do the work that it was designed to do. If there are problems, we need to straighten them out. If we were out to dismantle it, then we are going to have a fight. I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. CANADY. Other Members wishing to make an opening statement? The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I, at the outset of the last markup in this subcommittee, started my comments with an attitude of conciliation and a presumption that nobody came to that markup with any sinister motivations; that everybody sought to, by whatever means they thought was appropriate, to achieve a society where everyone has opportunity, and no one is discriminated against. I am trying to start this hearing today with the same attitude.
By the time I got to the end of the last hearing, I think I had been dissuaded of the notion that I started with substantially. I hope that by the time I get to the end of this hearing I am not substantially dissuaded of the notion that I try to start with today, that this is about constructively trying to make the Civil Rights Commission a better agency as we should, and hopefully will be trying to make every agency of the Federal Government a better and more responsive agency.
But I should remind my Chairman that racism and bigotry is no more acceptable for me or to the American people when it is dressed up in a dark blue or black suit, when it is dressed up in a robe on the United States Supreme Court, when it is preceded by all kind of high-powered sounding phrases that talk about constructive criticism and constructively trying to make our Nation better. And I am getting closer to where Ms. Waters is on this issue regarding our Chairman, and I have to tell him that publicly.
This subcommittee, it seems to me, at some point under his leadership has a responsibility to do something other than criticize the Agencies of Government whose responsibility it is to try to get us to a nondiscriminatory, color-blind society. This subcommittee, under his leadership, has responsibility at some point to investigate some of the discrimination that we read about in the newspaper as often, more often than we read about any kind of agency mismanagement or shortcoming. And I haven't seen it.
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I have been on this subcommittee now ever since I have been in this Congress, 5 years. And for the last three or four of them, three of them at least, the Republicans have been in the majority in this Congress and we have yet to have any hearing on anything about discrimination against people of color, people of different racial, ethnic backgrounds, and we just keep having them one after another on things of this kind, and I am, you know, I don't have any problem with an oversight hearing. It is our responsibility to have an oversight hearing. But at some point in life
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired. Without objection the gentleman will have 1 additional minute.
Mr. WATT. I just want to have enough to finish this one sentence, Mr. Chairman. At some point in life, I would hope that this subcommittee will do something that is somewhere associated with the purposes for which I thought this subcommittee existed, which was to supervise and oversee and do something about discrimination in this country. I am going to try to keep my positive presumptions going in favor of my Chairman, but I am getting pretty close to where Ms. Waters is on it. My patience is wearing thin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CANADY. We will now move to our first panel.
On our first panel today, we will hear from Ms. Cornelia Blanchette. She is the Associate Director for Employment and Education Issues at the United States General Accounting Office where she directs audits and evaluations in the area of Federal education and employment. Ms. Blanchette is accompanied by Sigurd Nilsen, GAO's Assistant Director, Employment and Education Issues; and Jacqueline Harpp, Senior Evaluator of GAO's Health, Education, and Human Services Division. If you would come forward and take your seats, I would appreciate it.
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We want to thank you for being with us today. We appreciate the work you have put into this project and we look forward to your testimony. We will ask that you try to confine your remarks to 5 minutes as closely as possible, although we are not going to strictly enforce that with any of our witnesses today.
STATEMENT OF CORNELIA M. BLANCHETTE, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION ISSUES, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Thank you. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, we are pleased to be here today to discuss the management of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. My comments will summarize findings discussed in our recent report on the management of the Commission. We found broad management problems at the Commission, including lack of accountability for agency resources and lost, misplaced or nonexistent records documenting agency operations and decisions.
Our work showed that management of the 12 projects completed or ongoing during fiscal years 1993 through 1996 appeared weak or nonexistent. The Commission's written guidance for carrying out written projects is outdated. The practice described to us for conducting projects was largely ignored, and Commission management did not systematically monitor projects to ensure quality and timeliness.
The Commission's management of operations showed a lack of control and coordination. A number of factors have contributed to the situation. The Commission has not documented its current organizational structure or its administrative procedures, an omission that leaves the public and Commission employees unsure of the agency's procedures and processes for carrying out its mission.
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The high turnover of staff in key positions at the Commission makes up-to-date guidance on organizational responsibilities and relationships and day-to-day operating procedures especially important for maintaining continuity, efficiency and effectiveness. Further, the Commission does not maintain key records of either the basis for or documented decisions about Commission operations and management of projects.
For example, according to Commission officials, minutes of Commission meetings discussing the initiation of the seven of the 22 projects that were completed, ongoing, or deferred during fiscal years 1993 through 1996 were lost or misplaced. In addition, other key records that contained critical information about projects did not exist or were not available.
Financial information, a key ingredient for effective management control, did not appear to be readily available. Commission officials told us that they maintained a central budget and could not provide the amount or percentage of the budget used by individual offices or functions. The Commission gave us information on the cost of projects, but records were poorly maintained and it is unclear whether they reflect the true cost for projects.
Finally, the Commission seems to be lacking another key ingredient for sound, overall management, effective human resource management. After a recent review of the Commission's personnel practices, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management concluded in 1996 report that the Commission is badly in need of managerial attention. The Commission's overall management problems are reflected in its management of individual projects.
I mentioned the missing project records and questionable project cost information earlier. In addition, the Commission's administrative manual that governs the process for conducting projects has not been updated since 1982. According to Commission officials, the process that should be used has five stages, concept initiation, proposal development, researchreport approval, and report publication and dissemination. However, this process is frequently ignored. It takes the Commission years to complete projectson average, 4 years for the completed projects we looked at.
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The Commission has no standard for assessing a project's timeliness or estimating the time needed for specific projects. While time estimates are required to be included in proposals, very few projects had estimated time frames. For the projects that did have estimated time frames, the actual project took 2 to 3 years longer than anticipated. Six of the seven ongoing projects we reviewed were approved nearly 6 years ago.
The Commission does not systematically monitor projects. The staff director receives periodic updates about the progress of at least some of the projects. However, most of the Commissioners told us they frequently have no knowledge of the status of a particular project from the time they approve it until a draft report is given to them for review. Commissioners are not informed of which projects the Staff Director starts, when projects are started, cost adjustments, time frame changes or personnel changes.
Mr. Chairman, our overall assessment of the Commission is that its operations lacks order, control, and coordination. Management of projects, a key component of the Commission's operations is haphazard or nonexistent. In our report, we recommended the Commission develop and document policies and procedures that assign responsibilities for management functions to the Staff Director and other Commission officials and provide mechanisms for holding them accountable for properly managing the Commission's day-to-day operations.
In the Commission's comments on our draft report, half of the Commissioners agreed with our assessment, while the other half challenged the report. All of the commissioners, however, agreed to implement our recommendations. We hope that these efforts will significantly improve management of the Commission. Mr. Chairman, this concludes my remarks. We will be happy to answer any questions you or members of the subcommittee have.
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[The prepared statement of Ms. Blanchette follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF CORNELIA M. BLANCHETTE, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION ISSUES, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, we are pleased to be here today to discuss the management of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Racially motivated church burnings across the country; racial and civil unrest in major metropolitan cities such as St. Petersburg, Florida; and the national debate over the continuing need for federal affirmative action programs and policies are only some of the issues the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is working on today. Established by the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Commission had a budget of $8.75 million, 8 part-time commissioners, and a staff of 91 in fiscal year 1996. The commissioners have two principal responsibilities: (1) investigating claims of voting rights violations and (2) studying and disseminating information, often collected through specific projects, on the impact of federal civil rights laws and policies.
Last year, amid complaints of mismanagement and in preparation for the agency's reauthorization, your Subcommittee began to look into how the Commission carries out its responsibilities and manages its resources. You asked us to assist you in this effort by providing information on the Commission's management of projects during fiscal years 1993 through 1996. The Commission identified 22 projects in this time frame5 were completed, 7 were ongoing, and 10 were deferred. Commission projects entail collecting and analyzing information on civil rights issues, such as racial and ethnic tensions in American cities and fair housing, in order to appraise applicable federal laws and regulations. While our review initially addressed the Commission's management of its projects, problems we encountered during our work caused us to be concerned with general management at the Commission as well.
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My comments today will summarize the findings discussed in our recent report on the management of the Commission, focusing first on general management issues and then on the management of the Commission's projects.(see footnote 1) Our report is based on reviews of Commission records; interviews with all of the current commissioners, the staff director at the time of our review, and other responsible Commission officials; and our observations from Commission meetings we attended.
In summary, we found broad management problems at the Commission on Civil Rights. The Commission appears to be an agency in disarray, with limited awareness of how its resources are used. For example, the Commission could not provide key cost information for individual aspects of its operations, such as its regional offices; its complaints referral process; its clearinghouse; public service announcements; and, in one case, a project. Furthermore, significant agency records documenting Commission decision-making were reported lost, misplaced, or nonexistent. The Commission has not established accountability for resources and does not maintain appropriate documentation of agency operations. Lack of these basic, well-established management controls makes the Commission vulnerable to resource losses due to waste or abuse.
Commission records indicate that projects accounted for only about 10 percent of the agency's appropriations during fiscal years 1993 through 1996 despite the broad array of civil rights issues addressed. Furthermore, our work showed that management of the 12 Commission projects completed or ongoing during this 4-year period appeared weak or nonexistent. The Commission's guidance for carrying out projects is outdated, and the practice described to us for conducting projectsincluding specifying anticipated costs, completion dates, and staffingwas largely ignored. For instance, 7 of the 12 projects had no specific proposals showing their estimated time frames, costs, staffing, or completion dates. Specific time frames were not set for most projects, and when they were, project completion dates exceeded the estimates by at least 2 years. Overall, projects took a long time to complete, generally 4 years or more. Some projects took so long that Commission staff proposed holding additional hearings to obtain more current information. Poor project implementation likely contributed to the lengthy time frames. Moreover, we found that Commission management did not systematically monitor projects to ensure quality and timeliness. Finally, Commission project reports are disseminated to the public through three different offices, none of which appears to coordinate with the others to prevent duplication.
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We made several recommendations in our report about improving management at the Commission. Even though the commissioners did not all agree with our findings, they did agree to implement the recommendations.
The Commission on Civil Rights was created to protect the civil rights of people within the United States. It is an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding agency directed by eight part-time commissioners. Four commissioners are appointed by the president, two by the president pro tempore of the Senate, and two by the speaker of the House of Representatives No more than four commissioners can be of the same political party, and they serve 6-year terms. The Commission accomplishes its mission by (1) investigating charges of citizens being deprived of voting rights because of color, race, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin; (2) collecting and studying information concerning legal developments on voting rights; (3) monitoring the enforcement of federal laws and policies from a civil rights perspective; (4) serving as a national clearinghouse for information; and (5) preparing public service announcements and advertising campaigns on civil rights issues. The Commission may hold hearings and, within specific guidelines, issue subpoenas to obtain certain records and have witnesses appear at hearings. It also maintains state advisory committees and consults with representatives of federal, state, and local governments and private organizations to advance its fact-finding work.
The Commission is required to issue reports on the findings of its investigations to the Congress and the president, and to recommend legislative remedies. The Commission also must submit to the president and the Congress at least once annually a report that discusses the Commission's monitoring of federal civil rights enforcement in the United States. Because it lacks enforcement powers that would enable it to apply remedies in individual cases, the Commission refers specific complaints it receives to the appropriate federal, state, or local government agency for action.(see footnote 2)
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Projects conducted by the Commission to study various civil rights issues are largely the responsibility of its Office of the General Counsel (OGC) with a staff of 15 and the Office of Civil Rights Evaluation (OCRE) with a staff of 12 in fiscal year 1996. The largest component of the Commission is the Regional Programs Coordination Unit with 2 staff members in the Washington, D.C., office and 25 staff members in six regional offices. The regional offices direct the Commission's work, which is carried out through 51 advisory committeesone in each state and the District of Columbiacomposed of citizens familiar with local and state civil rights issues.
COMMISSION'S MANAGEMENT REFLECTS AN AGENCY IN DISARRAY
The Commission's management of operations at the time of our review showed a lack of control and coordination. The Commission had not updated its depiction of its organizational structure as required under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) nor its administrative guidance to reflect a major reorganization that occurred in 1986. Obsolete documentation of the agency's operating structure and administrative guidance leaves the public and Commission employees unsure of the agency's procedures and processes for carrying out its mission. Moreover, Commission officials reported key records as lost, misplaced, or nonexistent, which leaves insufficient data to accurately portray Commission operations. Agency spending data are centralized, and Commission officials could not provide costs for individual offices or functions. We also found that the Commission has never requested audits of its operations, and information regarding Commission audits in its fiscal year 1996 report on internal controls was misleading.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAgency Policies and Procedures Unclear
The Commission has no documented organizational structure available to the public that reflects current information on procedures and program processes of the Commission. The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to publish and keep up to date their organizational structure and to make available for public inspection and copying the agencies' orders, policies, and administrative staff manuals and instructions. The Code of Federal Regulations, the principal document for publishing the general and permanent rules of federal agencies, shows the Commission's organizational structure as of May 1985,(see footnote 3) but the Commission's current organizational structure is substantially different because of a major reorganization in 1986.
In addition, the Commission's Administrative Manual was issued in May 1975, but the Commission has paid little attention over the last 10 years to maintaining and updating it to accurately reflect agency operations. The purpose of the manual is to translate administrative policy derived from the various legislative and regulatory policies affecting the day-to-day operations of the Commission into procedures that the Commission staff can rely on for guidance in carrying out the agency's mission. The Commission's major reorganization in the mid-1980s, coupled with a high turnover of staff in key positions, makes up-to-date operating guidance especially important for maintaining continuity and performing work efficiently and effectively. The directors of the two offices responsible for conducting projects, howeverwho had been employed at the Commission for 5 and 21/2 years, respectivelyhad only the 1982 version of the manual Administrative Manual to rely on for official procedures for conducting projects.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Commission officials told us that, although it was outdated, the guidance in the manual still reflects the basic Commission policy for conducting projects. We found, though, that projects did not follow all steps outlined in this guidance, and could not, for some steps, because the offices no longer existed.
Commission officials told us that they were in the process of updating the Commission's Administrative Manual and had updated 8 of 73 administrative instructions; but the administrative instruction for implementing projects is not one of the 8. The Staff Director(see footnote 4) told us that she had recently convened a task force, made up of the two office directors responsible for conducting projects and the Special Assistant to the Staff Director, to revamp the administrative instruction for projects. As of June 16, 1997, Commission officials said that the task force had met at least three times over the past several months and that the Commission expected to have a final version of the administrative instruction to propose to the new staff director when appointed.
Key Commission Records Missing
The Commission reported that key recordsthat either were the basis for or documented decisions about Commission operations and management of projectswere lost, misplaced, or nonexistent. And minutes of certain Commission meetings were reported to be lost. According to officials, minutes of Commission meetings discussing the initiation of 7 of the 22 projects were lost or misplaced. Additionally, the files for these seven projects were misplaced, misfiled, or not available for review.(see footnote 5) Other key records outlining critical information about projects did not exist, such as project proposals, or were not available, such as the actual start dates for projects. The Commission also did not have a record showing the total cost of its project on funding federal civil rights enforcement.
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Spending Data Not Maintained by Office or Function
Commission officials told us that they maintain a central budget and could not provide the amount or percentage of the budget used by individual offices or functions, such as complaint referrals or clearinghouse activities. The only function Commission officials gave us separate financial information on was the projects' costs. But even for project costs, records were poorly maintained and it is unclear whether they reflect the true costs for projects. For example, the Commission approved one project's report for publishing on September 9, 1994, and the report shows an issuance date of September 1994. Yet financial information provided to us showed costs incurred through fiscal year 1996 for this project. A November 1, 1995, letter from the Commission to the House Constitution Subcommittee showed actual costs for the project of $261,529, but data Commission officials provided us showed total project costs of $531,798. At the time of our audit work, the Commission was not able to reconcile these differences.(see footnote 6)
Commission's Management Controls Are Weak
The Commission's management controls over its operations are weak and do not ensure that the Commission can meet its statutory responsibilities(see footnote 7) or program objectives. Federal agencies are required under the Federal Manager's Financial Integrity Act to report annually on internal controls to the president and the Congress, but the Commission did not do such a report for fiscal year 1995. Furthermore, the Commission's internal controls report for fiscal year 1996 appears to misrepresent information concerning audits of the Commission. The report claims that several administrative activities are randomly audited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Inspector General, when in fact no such audits were done. The only direct connection between the Commission and the Department of Agriculture is that the Commission's financial transactions are handled through Agriculture's National Finance Center. Vendors submit invoices directly to the National Finance Center for payment, and the Commission does not verify the accuracy of the invoices submitted. The Agriculture Inspector General is responsible for auditing the automated systems of Agriculture's National Finance Center. But the Inspector General's office told us that the Commission has never requested any audits of its transactions. We did not find that any other audits of Commission expenditures had been performed.(see footnote 8)
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Recent reviews of the Commission's operations by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and a civil rights advocacy group have been critical of Commission management. OPM reviewed the Commission's personnel practices and concluded in a 1996 report that the Commission is ''badly in need of managerial attention.''(see footnote 9) The OPM report has resulted in proposed corrective actions that, if fully implemented, should improve the situation. A 1995 report by the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights reported that the Commission's performance has been ''disappointing.''(see footnote 10) The report noted that projects take so long to complete that changing conditions may render them out of date by the time the project is completed, reducing the effectiveness of the Commission's work.
COMMISSION PROJECTS ARE POORLY MANAGED AND TAKE YEARS TO COMPLETE
Although Commission projects address a broad array of civil rights issues, including racial and ethnic tensions in American communities; the enforcement of fair housing, fair employment, and equal education opportunity laws; and naturalization and citizenship issues, its project spending accounts for a small percentage of the Commission's budget. Furthermore, the Commission's efforts to manage these projects fall short in areas such as following project management guidance, meeting projected time frames for completing projects, and systematic monitoring of projects. During fiscal years 1993 through 1996, the Commission completed 5 projects, deferred 10 others, and worked on another 7 that were still ongoing at the end of fiscal year l996.
Project Spending Accounts for Small Percentage of Commission Budget
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Although the Commission appears to spend about 10 percent of its resources annually on projects, we were unable to verify project spending because of the Commission's poor record-keeping. According to Commission records, costs incurred for ongoing and completed projects during fiscal years 1993 through 1996 ranged from about $33,000(see footnote 11) for a completed project on funding for federal civil rights enforcement to about $764,000 for a project on racial and ethnic tensions in Los Angeles that had been ongoing throughout the 4-year period.
Project Management Guidance Often Ignored
The Commission's Administrative Manual, which governs the process for conducting projects, has not been updated since 1982 and does not accurately reflect the current practices as described to us. Furthermore, our review of the projects showed that the process described was often not followed. According to Commission officials, the process that should be used to develop an idea into a project and ultimately a report includes five stages: (1) initiating an idea as a concept, (2) selecting concepts to develop into proposals for projects, (3) conducting project research, (4) approving final publication of a report, and (5) publishing and disseminating the report.
Project documentation showed that this process was frequently ignored; less than half of the projects during the period we studied followed these procedures. Of the 12 completed and ongoing projects, only 4 had both concept papers and detailed proposals specifying the focus of the project, time frame, budget, and staff level. None of the racial and ethnic tensions projects included proposals indicating the time frame for completion, proposed budget, or anticipated staff level. These six projects have absorbed years of staff time and accounted for more than 50 percent of the Commission's total project spending, yet only two have been completed. Although concept papers are required for deferred projects, only 3 of the 10 deferred projects had concept papers.
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Projects Take Years to Complete
The Commission has no overall standard for assessing a project's timeliness or for estimating the time needed for specific projects. While an estimate of the time needed to conduct projects is required in proposals, very few projects had estimated time frames for completing projects. For the projects that did specify time frames, the actual time a project took to complete was 2 to 3 years beyond its planned duration. Only two of the five completed projects had anticipated start and finish dates, but both overran their time frames. Both had anticipated time frames of 1 year, but one project took 3 years (Federal Title VI Enforcement to Ensure Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs, issued June 1996), and the other took 4 years (The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988: The Enforcement Report, issued September 1994). The Commission attributed delays in meeting estimated time frames to staff turnover, limited staff resources, and the need to update factual information.
Although the duration of the projects cannot generally be compared with an expected or approved length, we found that their actual time frames spanned several years. During the period of our review, projects took an average of 4 years to complete from the time they were approved by the commissioners.(see footnote 12) Four of the five completed projects had data available on time framesthree of the projects took 4 or more years to complete, and one was completed in about 21/2 years. For one project, the Commission held a hearing in May 1992 and in the ensuing 3 years incurred additional costs of about $50,000. In 1995, it issued the hearing transcript, accompanied by a summary of its contents without any further analysis, as a final product.(see footnote 13) The Commission's staff director reported in a November 1995 letter to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution that the Commission originally scheduled publication of the hearing transcript for fiscal year 1993 but ''subsequently, the decision was made to publish an executive summary in addition to the transcript, which delayed publication of the document.'' Ongoing projects appeared likely to overrun estimated time frames as well: Six of the seven ongoing projects were approved nearly 6 years ago.
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Problems with the quality of the planning and implementation of certain projects have apparently contributed to the lengthy time frames. For example, the Commission's General Counsel requested additional hearings on three projects because of poor planning for the initial hearings and the resulting inadequate data gathering. For the racial and ethnic tensions projects for New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, the General Counsel determined that the information gathered at previous hearings was insufficient, outdated, or too weak to support a quality report. The New York project had insufficient testimony and documentation in eight different areas. The Chicago project was criticized by city officials as presenting an unbalanced picture, including unsubstantiated testimony, mischaracterized information, inadequate or nonexistent analyses, and missing certain recent city initiatives. The Los Angeles report contained information that the Commission's General Counsel viewed as outdated and therefore required further investigation for the Commission's report to be current.
Projects Not Systematically Monitored
The Commission does not systematically monitor projects to ensure quality and timeliness of project results and to help set priorities. The only formal mechanism in place to inform the commissioners about the status of projects is used at the discretion of the staff director, who may report status orally or in a monthly report to the commissioners.(see footnote 14) We found that the commissioners received only limited updates on some projects in the staff director's monthly report. The staff director did receive periodic updates about the progress of projects being conducted by OCRE. However, because of frequent staff turnover and misfiled or lost records, we could not determine whether the staff in the General Counsel's office similarly informed the staff director about project progress.
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Commissioners do not receive information routinely on the costs of projects or personnel working on the projects. After a vote to approve a project, commissioners are not informed of (1) which projects the staff director decides to start, (2) when projects are actually started, (3) cost adjustments for projects, (4) time frame changes, or (5) personnel changes, all of which can affect the timeliness and quality of projects. All of the commissioners told us that they are not involved in assigning projects or specific tasks to the staff and that this is strictly a responsibility of the staff director. However, most commissioners expressed a desire to receive routine reports on the status of individual projects, specifically, costs and time frames for completion, so they would know when to expect draft reports. In fact, most of the commissioners told us that they frequently have no knowledge of the status of a particular project from the time they approve it until a draft report is given to them for review. Some commissioners said that communication is a big problem at the Commission and that improvement in this area up and down staff levels could help resolve the problem.
DISSEMINATION OF PROJECT REPORTS
The Commission uses three different offices to disseminate project reports, but a lack of coordination among these offices raises the potential for duplication. The responsible project office; the Congressional Affairs Unit; and the Office of Management, Administrative Services and Clearinghouse Division, all maintain mailing lists but do not coordinate to prevent duplicative mailings.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our overall assessment of the Commission is that its operations lack order, control, and coordination. Management is unaware of how federal funds appropriated to carry out its mission are being used, it lacks control over key functions, and it has not requested independent audits of Commission operations. These weaknesses make the Commission vulnerable to misuse of its resources. The lack of attention to basic requirements applying to all federal agencies, such as up-to-date descriptions of operations and internal guidance for employees, reflects poorly on the overall management of the Commission.
Projects embody a key component of the Commission's operations, yet the management of projects is haphazard or nonexistent. No overall standard exists for assessing the timeliness of projects or for estimating how long projects should take. And the lack of project documentation, systematic monitoring to detect delays and review priorities, and coordination among offices that disseminate reports seriously hamper the Commission's ability to produce, issue, and disseminate timely reports. Results from independent reviews of the Commission's operations, such as the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights and OPM, substantiate our assessment of the Commission's management and the need for improvements.
In our report, we recommended that the Commission develop and document policies and procedures that (1) assign responsibility for management functions to the staff director and other Commission officials and (2) provide mechanisms for holding them accountable for properly managing the Commission's day-to-day operations. We specified some actions that such an effort should include.
In the Commission's comments on our draft report, half of the commissioners agreed with our assessment, while the other half challenged the report. All of the commissioners agreed, however, to implement the recommendations. In fact, the Commission Chairperson and the Office of the Staff Director reported that some efforts already were under way to implement the recommendations. We hope that these efforts will significantly improve management of the Commission.
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Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. We would be happy to answer any questions you or Members of the Subcommittee may have.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you.
Mr. Scott, you are recognized.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. A lot of the criticisms that you have started off by saying, mention the fact that the problem goes back to the early 1980s. I think you mentioned one, something hadn't been done since 1982. So this is not a new problem with the Civil Rights Commission; is that right?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. That is correct. The 1982 date was the last update of the administrative manuals.
Mr. SCOTT. Now, earlier this year, when was the establishment of the position of Staff Director?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Well, the former Staff Director resigned as of December 31, 1996. The position remained vacant until June 30 when the current Staff Director was appointed.
Mr. SCOTT. Now, had another person been appointed and not accepted? Was there a problem in getting the Staff Director to begin with a couple of years ago?
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Ms. BLANCHETTE. I am sorry, I don't have any specific knowledge as to what went on during that interim period in terms of obtaining a new Staff Director.
Mr. SCOTT. Well, you had indicated that the entire Commission has agreed to implement the recommendations.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. That is correct.
Mr. SCOTT. Are you familiar with the new Staff Director?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. I know there is a new Staff Director. I have met her, yes.
Mr. SCOTT. Is there any reason to believe the recommendations will not be implemented?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. I have no reason to believe they will not be implemented.
Mr. SCOTT. And I understand you to say half the Commission enthusiastically accepted the recommendations, the other half were not as enthusiastic, but all have agreed to implement the recommendations.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. BLANCHETTE. That is correct.
Mr. SCOTT. How will the implementation of the recommendations help the Commission fulfill its mission?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Well, we believe it will help the Commission substantially. We agree with your Member, Ms. Waters, that what we really need is a strong and viable Commission. In order to have a strong and viable Commission there are certain management practices and procedures that need to be in place.
If, for example, the Commission Staff Director and the Commissioners had access to current information about the progress of projects, then to the extent there are problems in conducting a project, those problems would come to light, a number of experts and skilled individuals could come to bear on those problems and perhaps solve them and perhaps it would not take so long to do projects.
Mr. SCOTT. And as a result of the implementation of your recommendations, which everyone has agreed to and the new Staff Director apparently has the expertise to ensure, we should have a much stronger Civil Rights Commission.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. We should.
Mr. SCOTT. No further questions. I yield back the balance of my time.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANADY. Thank you. I recognize myself now for 5 minutes.
I appreciate your report, and one thing I wanted to focus on that was of concern, among a variety of things, on page 11 of your report you state that vendors submit invoices directly to the National Finance Center, that is with Department of Agriculture, and the Commission does not verify the accuracy of the invoices submitted.
Now, the Commission responds and attempts to refute that. They say, the Commission response on page 65 of the report in Appendix 5, in addition, the Commission monitors payments versus obligations internally. I guess they are just directly denying what you have said there.
Could you shed any more light on that issue. That is kind of a basic thing. If people are being paid, we need to make sure they have provided the services, and that is the kind of internal control that we would want to ensure in any Government entity, so that the potential for fraud and deception is countered by some mechanism.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Surely. I will make a brief statement and let my colleagues respond if they can add anything. I don't believe that the Commission's response directly addresses our comment. Our comment is that invoices come from vendors and they arrive at the national finance center in New Orleans and they are paid, but that there is no mechanism for anything showing that the goods and services were ever received at the Commission, or even ordered or requested by the Commission. I am not sure what the respondent meant by monitoring payments, but I don't believe that gets at the essence of the problem.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANADY. Well, they say, and I am trying to understand exactly what is meant here, but they say the Commission monitors payments versus obligations internally. The way I understood that was that they meant there was some mechanism to ensure that payments were only made if there was an obligation that existed to make the payment.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. And that may be. Obligations, of course, are made at the time you would order or request goods or services, and part of sound internal controls would be that you would make sure there is an obligation before there is a payment. But it still does not get at the issue of whether the goods and services were, number one, needed; number two, requested; (formally ordered); and three, received.
Mr. CANADY. I understand. Does anybody else have a comment on that. Obviously, we will give the Commission an opportunity to respond.
Ms. HARPP. The only comment I would make in this respect is we, of course, asked for records in determination ofthat would verify or tell us what they did in relation to monitoring payments and expenditures at the Commission, and we did not receive those. And we, of course, talked with the Inspector General who said they do not or have not gotten any requests for audits or anything of their operations at NFC. So if they have that, do that, we weren't given any records to verify that.
Mr. CANADY. Okay. Now, as to your general conclusions, they are very troubling, and I think that everyone who looks at the conclusions has to be disturbed by the conclusions. Now, we are going to hear from other people who will dispute some aspects of your findings. It is our object to figure out how we can make things better at the Civil Rights Commission, and I want that to be the focus of what we are doing.
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In response to some points Mr. Watt made, I won't attempt to respond to all of them, I will point out that I introduced legislation in the last Congress to reauthorize the Civil Rights Commission. I support the efforts of the Civil Rights Commission. I think the historic role for the Commission is an important role and it has an important function to carry out. But I am disturbed by the things that are contained in your report and other information we have received about a failure to exercise just common sense in the way the commission functions in carrying out its very important responsibilities. And that is why we are here today.
I would also point out in response to what Mr. Watt had to say earlier that we work very closely with the Minority in inviting witnesses to hearings. We don't always invite everybody suggested by the Minority, but I think if you look at the witnesses invited to today's panel you will find this is very balanced. We are going to certainly hear from the Commissioners. I think that is important if we are going to have a full understanding of what is going on. So I understand the gentleman is not happy with some policy differences that we have, and I don't expect the gentleman to be happy about that. But I have made every effort to conduct this subcommittee in a way that is fair to everyone and I think anyone who looks at the way the hearings are conducted and the opportunity for input from the Minority will conclude that that has happened. My time has expired. The gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Conyers is recognized.
Mr. CONYERS. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members. I would like to reserve any comments that I might have for a slightly later time if it is all right with you. And thank you.
Mr. CANADY. Yes. The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt.
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Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank the Chairman for his comments. He may have thought I wasn't listening to him, but I was listening intently to what he said, and I, first of all, want to say that I still haven't gotten all the way to where I said I am beginning to lean, and I hope I never get all the way over there. I hope there is no reason for me to get there. But I had to express publicly my concern.
Now, having said that, let me get back to the matter, the issue, and agree with the Chairman, that we all ought to be concerned when there are management issues that arise. I don't want anything I say here this morning about the overall broader subject of the status of discrimination and race and equality and civil rights in this country to be taken as an indication that we shouldn't be trying to pursue those objectives with the most expedient and best management of every agency that we have. And I want to be on record clearly as saying that.
Ms. Blanchette, let me ask a couple of questions. If I look at early on in the report on page 6, and I am going to quote this. The Commission's authorization expired on September 30, 1996. Although the Congress did not reauthorize the Commission, it appropriated funds that allowed the Commission to continue its operations through September 30, 1997. The Commission's funding adjusted for inflation has declined by about 58 percent since fiscal year 1980. As shown in figure 2, the largest cuts in funding occurred between fiscal years 1986 and 1988, when funding was reduced by 56 percent. Since fiscal year 1991, funding has been largely unchanged.
What impact, if any, does your study indicate that those, the fact that the Commission was not reauthorized, that is funding has been substantially decreased, may have had on the operations of the Commission, or did you address that issue in your report?
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Ms. BLANCHETTE. We did not address the issue, and in terms of the time period we looked at, which is fiscal years 1993 through 1996, the decline in the mid-eighties really did not have an impact. The budget resources have been pretty much stable over the last 5 or 6 years.
Mr. WATT. Well, let me be clear on what you are saying. You are saying because you were dealing, you were reviewing a period that was after there had been a substantial budgetary decrease, you wouldn't find any impact of that decrease when the period of time you say some of these management problems have taken place have gone all the way back to 1980?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. What I am saying is we did not look at operations prior to fiscal year 1993, except perhaps to the extent that some of the projects that were still ongoing in 1993 and thereafter started before 1993.
Mr. WATT. So you are saying if you had a 56 percent decrease in your income 10 years ago, it wouldn't have any impact on your operations and day-to-day living 10 years later.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. I am not
Mr. WATT. You would know that and have taken it into account by now.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. BLANCHETTE. I cannot possibly answer that question. I am not commenting on that.
Mr. WATT. Are we going to have another round, Mr. Chairman? Could I ask unanimous consent for 2 additional minutes.
Mr. CANADY. Without objection, the gentleman will have 2 additional minutes.
Mr. WATT. All right. Let me go to another issue. I am looking at page 5 of your report. You know, we are treating the Civil Rights Commission as if its structure is like any other agency of government, and, you know, we deal with all of these things on a regular basis. But I am looking at the function of the Commissioners that is outlined on page 5 of your report, and I am looking at a description of the commissioners themselves. They are all part-time people; is that right?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. That is correct.
Mr. WATT. And their primary function, is it not, has a lot less to do with administering the agency itself than with the fact-finding and field work that the Commission itself is set up to implement; isn't that correct.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Well, the Commissioners function as directors, so to speak. They set the policy and direction for the Commission, but they are not responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Commission.
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Mr. WATT. That's right. So really, the brunt of your criticism falls on, in the organizational chart, the Office of the Staff Director; is that correct.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Well, I would not say that. There certainly has been difficulties at both the Office of the Staff Director levelthe Office of the Staff Director being the position that is the chief executive officer for the day-to-day operations of the Commissionand at the policy level. One of the concerns we have noted has to do with information and the availability of information. And the
Mr. WATT. Well, no board of directors is going to come in on a day-to-day basis and do the records.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. That is right.
Mr. WATT. You are talking about people whose responsibility it is on a day-to-day operating basis to operate the agencies.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. That is right. Updating the organization chart in the Code of Federal Regulations, and updating the administrative manual for internal knowledge of what should be existing are Staff Director functions.
Mr. WATT. All right. I just wanted to be clear on that, Mr. Chairman, because sometimes we paint with these broad brushes and we start condemning people that really don't have a lot of responsibility or time or philosophical bent to do. You know, I mean, it is one thing to criticize the Staff Director, which, as I recall this committee pretty much drummed out of office, and then left it without a Staff Director for 6 months and then ordered a report, and then act surprised when we find out that there is nobody over there running the operation.
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Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Barr is recognized.
Mr. BARR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, yesterday on the floor of the House as part of a discussion of an appropriations bill, there was a discussion that arose out of a finding by another oversight committee of this Congress that had found some very serious evidence of misdeeds and mismanagement in another agency having nothing to do with the Commission that brings us here today. But there is a disturbing trend, Mr. Chairman, in Congress for people to overlook mismanagement, to overlook outright violations of the law and focus entirely on the laudable overall mission of an agency or some other government body.
And I think that is disturbing because one of the important responsibilities of all of us, the witnesses here today and those of us on this subcommittee are as stewards of the public money to ensure that those monies are used to carry out the missions of this country and the policies of the administration in a very fair, legal, ethical, manner and according to sound principles of management. And the GAO provides a very valuable function in assisting us in identifying those institutions or functions that do not measure up to that standard and they do it in a dispassionate way, not focusing on the laudable political or societal mission of a Commission or organization, but focus on the hard facts of is it being run properly.
Now, the Commission on Civil Rights of the United States of America is not a new commission. Nor is it one that has no history of consuming large sums of money. It has been in existence for 40 years and over the years, while the funding levels may vary and some people may say with more money they could do a better job of management, the fact of the matter is that from year to year, over that 40-year period, they have received substantial sums of money to carry out their mission. Their mission includes, as GAO has correctly identified and included in the enabling legislation, the authority to investigate charges of discrimination, to study and collect information concerning the deprivation of voting rights, to appraise and study Federal laws and policies, to serve as a national clearinghouse, to prepare public service announcements and advertising, and also, the Commission has a power that is very significant and that is the power to hold hearings and issue subpoenas.
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I don't think it is too much on the part of the citizens of this country to demand that when an agency has a mission as important as that that it carry out that mission in a way that reflects sound management and sound fiscal policies. The GAO, I think, has done a very important service for the American people and for this Congress, and its paper, its study, which has already been alluded to and I think it speaks far more eloquently than a lot of other things we have seen up here, and I would like to quote from it very briefly for the record, even though the chairwoman of this report has already commented on it.
Quote, ''Our overall assessment of the Commission suggests that its operations lack order, control, and coordination. Management is unaware of how Federal funds appropriated to carry out its mission are being used. Lacks control over key functions and has not requested independent audits of Commission operations. These weaknesses make the Commission vulnerable to misuse of its resources. The lack of attention to basic requirements applying to all Federal agencies such as up-to-date descriptions of operations as internal guidance from employees reflects poorly on the overall management of the Commission,'' close quote.
Then further it says the management of the projects is haphazard or nonexistent. No overall standard exists for assessing the timeliness for projects or the expectations of how long projects should take. These deficiencies, the report also concludes, seriously hamper the Commission's ability to produce, issue, and disseminate timely reports.
In other words, Mr. Chairman, what we see here is a Commission, an important part of our government's operation, that is proving itself to be utterly incapable of carrying out its lawful mission. And I think this does go to the heart of the matter here. It has nothing to do with the overall value of the mission, but the ability to carry that mission out
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Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired. Without objection, the gentleman will have 2 additional minutes.
Mr. BARR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think this is very relevant for our oversight responsibilities on this subcommittee, and I would hope that all Members on both sides of the aisle would focus not on the overall mission of the Commission, which I think we would all agree, but rather on strengthening the Commission and make changes where necessary and to recommend to the President that changes be made where necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its mission, which the Commission has now proven itself absolutely and unequivocally unable to carry out. And I appreciate the work of the GAO in bringing these matters to our attention in a professional, objective and dispassionate way. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you. The gentlelady from California is recognized for 5 minutes.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me be clear. I am not for mismanagement. I am not for wasteful spending, and I am not for agencies not carrying out their mandate. But we have to view all of this in the proper context. First of all, let me just say to you, I know that there are problems in most of government. If you take a look at the ways these Members of Congress manage their offices, and if you had to do a report on them, you would say shut them down tomorrow. Some of them will run out of money before the end of the appropriation. Many of them have 100 percent staff turnovers, so we know about mismanagement, and we are not surprised when we see it. But when I talk about how you correct it, I do want to talk about the appropriation, how much money they are working with, I want to talk about the ratios of employees to supervisors.
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I don't want to hear that the projects take too long; what does that mean. Some projects take 10 years. Some take 2 years. If, in fact, there are projects that have been ongoing for 4 years, there may need to be 4 or more years. I want to know whether or not they have enough staff to carry out the mandate of that particular project as it has been designed. I do want to know the impact that cutbacks have had on this agency. I want to understand when you talk about recordkeeping, are they computerized?
If not, do you recommend that, and how much would that cost. Would that help them to do their job better. Those are the kinds of things I want to hear about. Now, I am not going to go through this report because knock on any door and you will find Nicky Romano. I heard that in a movie once, that means we are all a little bit guilty.
I want to know from you, since we are all about the business of strengthening and making sure that it stays around, because some people don't have the same objective that you have. And when you come here and you feed them with not all of the information, then it is used to do precisely the opposite of what you have said you would like to see. So did you take a look at funding? They have got the same problems as EEOC, for example, with all these cases backed up where these members won't give them the amount of money they need to do their work.
Do they have enough money to do what their designed mission is? Are they computerized? When you talk about audits, must that be initiated by them? Is there something designed in the way the money that is given to them that would dictate when an audit is to take place? Just kind of deal with those three aspects of it even though I am rather putting it in general ways.
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Ms. BLANCHETTE. Okay, I think I missed the third aspect. You addressed audits and who should initiate an audit?
Ms. WATERS. Yes. In most RFPs I have seen, and I don't know if the funding to the agency works this way. They say this is what you are supposed to do. This is how you do it, and there will be an audit once a year or once every 2 years. They don't say we will wait for you to tell us when to audit. So I want to know what the difference is with that.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. And you want me to address the adequacy of resources.
Ms. WATERS. I want funding. I want to talk about how much money they get, is that funding appropriate for the mission, are they working understaffed, are they stretched out, and then discuss length of projects that you alluded to, they take too long. What do you mean and how did you come to that conclusion? And let me just give you some time to do that.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Okay. I will take the easy one first, which is audits. You are absolutely right. There surely could be provisions in authorizing legislation or appropriating legislation that requires audits of the Commission. Or the Commission on its own could request an audit. The key is not how the audit originates, it is that an audit is an important internal control mechanism.
Ms. WATERS. Yeah, but it is not their fault they didn't ask for the audit. It was not built into the funding.
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Ms. BLANCHETTE. We weren't intending to place blame. We were simply stating a fact that an audit would perhaps substantiate that the records are available there and in good order, or perhaps it would disclose problem areas that could be addressed. We were not trying to place blame in that statement.
Ms. WATERS. Okay. I want to know
Mr. CANADY. Without objection, the gentlelady will have 2 additional minutes.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you. All right, go ahead.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. With respect to your other issues having to do with funding, it is not a question GAO could answer or even address given the information available to us. Furthermore, I am not sure that it is a question the Commission can answer at this point or that the Congress can answer.
Before you even begin to determine how much funding is needed, you have to have agreement on what it is the Commission is supposed to do, and a good part of that is in doing projects, projects that investigate the status of civil rights issues in the country and investigate the impact of legislationFederal legislation and regulation. All right. You have projects, and it is agreed that that is part of what the Commission is going to do. It is a big part of what the Commission does.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You then need a procedure to decide what is going to be the focus of those projects. Now, there apparently is a procedure that makes sense and I mentioned it earlier in my statements and it is covered in our report, and that procedure is not currently followed consistently, consistantly enough for it to be the procedure. So the first question is what does it make sense for the Commission to be looking at.
Once that is decided, an estimate needs to be made as to what does it take to adequately look at these issues, in terms of staff, travel funds, locations visited, a number of things. This is where the Staff Director and the Commissioners have a joint role. Commissioners approve the direction of the Commission, they decide what is important to look at. Ideas are often also generated at the Office of the Staff Director level or below in the organization and the Staff Director is the conduit of those ideas. Once all of this is decided you have a plan, and then estimates can be made of what it costs to implement the plan. We did not see in most cases plans that would even get us to that point.
Mr. CANADY. The gentlelady's time has expired. The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Bryant.
Mr. BRYANT. Mr. Chairman, would it be possible, I have been in another committee meeting, to just pass me? I would like to ask some questions, but I am just not quite ready at this moment.
Mr. CANADY. Sure. Mr. Jenkins.
Mr. JENKINS. I don't have any questions at this time.
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Mr. CANADY. Okay. Mr. Hutchinson.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I thank the Chairman, and I do appreciate you conducting this hearing, and I apologize to the witnesses. I came in late, but I have reviewed your testimony and I have reviewed the report of the GAO in reference to this Commission. I want to address some questions, to you Ms. Blanchette, concerning the role of the general counsel.
Under your report, the general counsel has, I believe, 15 staff positions that are filled which seems to me to be a fairly significant staff commitment to the general counsel's position. How key a role does the general counsel play in the day-to-day operations of the Commission and how important is that staff position to the issues of concern that you have expressed?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. All right. Most of the projects are run out of the Office of the General Counsel or the Office of Civil Rights Evaluation. And they have approximately the same number of staff. The Office of Civil Rights Evaluation, I believe, has 12 staff positions. That is the headquarters unit that is responsible for implementing projects.
In terms of what role the general counsel plays in the day-to-day activities of the Commission, I don't believe we are in a position to answer that, but that is one of the major components of the Commission and one of the sponsoring entities for projects.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I think one of your criticisms is that there is not sufficient planning for the projects and direction given to those projects?
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Ms. BLANCHETTE. That is correct.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. And so that would fall under the responsibility of the general counsel's office in large part.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. In large part.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. And in addition, if my memory serves me correctly, your report indicated that the annual report to Congress that is required under statute was not made in 1995.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. That is correct.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Was it made in 1996?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. It was.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. It was not made in 1995. Does the general counsel's office have a responsibility in the development or presentation or review of the report to Congress?
Ms. HARPP. In terms of the report to Congress, based on what we saw, the Commissioners determine which project report will be the report to Congress. So it could come from the Office of General Counsel or it could come from the Office of Civil Rights Evaluation. So it is up to theit is the Commissioners' decision as to which report will be the report to the Congress and meeting its statutory responsibility.
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Mr. HUTCHINSON. And I believe there was another report not made besides the report to Congress in 1995?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. There was a Financial Integrity Act report that was not made.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. And whose responsibilities is that?
Ms. HARPP. That is the Commission's responsibility.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. And administratively, the Staff Director's responsibility as the chief operating officer.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I missed that point. Did you say the general counsel has responsibility in reference to that?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. No, the Office of Staff Director would be responsible. It is an administrative, executive function.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Is the general counsel a key part of the management team?
Mr. NILSEN. Yes. Yes, I would say that the operation of the Commission, you have the Office of the Staff Director and the two principal offices that conduct studies are the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Civil Rights Evaluations, and I would say the directors of those two offices are key management officials with the Commission.
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Ms. BLANCHETTE. I will add, however, one of our difficulties in doing this assignment was to determine just who was responsible for various things and that is why we make a point of there being no documented organizational chart available to the public or any Commission employee. It sounds like perhaps it is not the most important matter the Commission could be concerned with, but we, in asking questions and talking to Commissioners even, it was not clear in some cases who is responsible for what.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I know I am catching you a little bit off guard with this line of questioning and I don't mean to do that, but I think it is clear that the general counsel's position, particularly with a staff of 15, is a key position in the proper implementation and development of plans, whether it is in a business or in a Commission such as this. And I know your report did not go into all the details, but it has come to my attention that the general counsel in 1996 and 1997
Mr. CANADY. Without objection, the gentleman will have 2 additional minutes.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Thank you. was employed in addition to the Civil Rights Commission, was employed by the University of Pennsylvania, which required her to be away in Philadelphia 2 days a week. Does that cause you any concern? Did you have that information, first of all, in developing your report?
Ms. HARPP. No, we did not.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. BLANCHETTE. No, we did not.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. If that is indeed the case, and I believe those facts are accurate, would that be of concern to you from a management standpoint if the general counsel was out of the office basically 2 days a week?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Well, it would certainly be something that would bear looking into.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Now, I think the general counsel makes about $103,000 a year, and the University of Pennsylvania teaching position, I believe, pay about $30,000 for 2 years. Are you in a position to say whether or not that is in line with government policy to allow an executive position such as general counsel to have such an extensive outside income and outside teaching responsibility?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. I am not in a position to address that.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Okay. I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman from Tennessee.
Mr. BRYANT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your indulgence and thank you, members of the panel. I have reviewed your statements, and sometimes, unfortunately, in Washington, as you know with your busy schedules, we get scheduled in different hearings at the same time and we are trying to go back and forth right now between a couple of these.
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I understand that you have had the opportunity to read the Commission's response to your findings, and four of the Commissioners argue that the GAO report does, ''a great injustice,'' to the Commission. Do you have a response to the Commission's response?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Well, of course, we disagree. Our objectives in conducting this assignment and the manner in which we have conducted it were simply to determine what is occurring. Our initial focus was on projects. When we started to look at projects, other management issues came to light and we have addressed that on a broader scope.
We have conducted our analysis dispassionately and we are reporting it dispassionately. We find ourselves, as is obvious here today, in the middle of the debate as to what the future of the Commission should be. The only thing we can say is what was presented to us in terms of facts. Our analysis was made from what we could derive from the information that was presented to us.
As we state in our report, we were limited in that in some cases we didn't get complete information. In response to our report, there were comments that the information exists. Well, perhaps it does, but we were not given the information after asking several times. So we have done the best job we can to identify what we see as management problems. We are making no comment at all with regard to the future of the Commission. We recognize that its objectives, of course, are something that are worthwhile and needed, and we would hope that with management improvements, the Commission would be in a position to fulfill those objectives.
Mr. BRYANT. I think this committee shares that view and that is why we have an oversight with the idea of finding out and improving what is working and not working.
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Let me follow up something you said about projects. It would seem the primary responsibility of the Commission is the creation of the published projects reflecting its findings for government and public use. And on page 14 of your report, you point out that only 10 percent of the Commission's budget, including salaries, is devoted to such projects. Could you go into further detail? Do you understand why only 10 percent of their budget is on projects?
Ms. BLANCHETTE. We do not understand why. I will reiterate what we said in the report. We requested the cost information that we did receive and we did not receive complete information about everything we asked. Based on what we were given, the percentage is 10 percent. We show on page 35 of the report as part of our Appendix II, Table 23, what categories were included in the 10 percent, and it is mostly personnel costs. There is rent, some indirect cost such as utilities, supplies, travel and transportation. But we are in no way certain that this is the total cost and therefore that the cost is not more than 10 percent.
Mr. WATT. Would the gentleman yield? What page was that again?
Mr. BRYANT. I would be happy to yield.
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Thirty-five.
Mr. WATT. Page 35. Thank you.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BRYANT. Does my friend from North Carolina have a question on that?
Mr. WATT. No, I just was trying to get the page you referred to.
Mr. BRYANT. With that I would yield back.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you. I think there are no other Members present
Ms. BLANCHETTE. Could we add something?
Mr. CANADY. Yes.
Mr. NILSEN. The two offices was the responsibility or the projects were the Office of Civil Rights Evaluation and the Office of General Counsel. Together they have about 27 staff. So out of the 99 people in the Commission, of which eights are Commissioners, so out of that 91 staff members, 27 are engaged or are in the two primary offices that conduct projects. So you have roughly 70 or so staff doing other things in the Commission. So you would expect that there would be less than half of the Commission's spending on projects, maybe even about a third or so or maybe even less.
Mr. CANADY. We want to thank you for being with us today. We appreciate your testimony. I would also like to note that my understanding is that the Commission has agreed to implement your recommendations and it would be important to the committee for the GAO to follow up in evaluating that implementation process. So that is something we will further discuss with you, but I wanted to make note of that.
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I think that it is encouraging that there is an acknowledgment here that these are recommendations that should be implemented. We want to make sure there is follow through on that, and I think the GAO has a role in making sure we accomplish that.
Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Chairman, I would like unanimous consent to enter into the record the memorandum which speaks to the legality of the teaching position.
Mr. CANADY. Without objection that will be done.
Mr. CANADY. I would like to ask the members of our second panel to come forward and take your seats. We will hear first from the Chairperson of the Commission, Dr. Mary Frances Berry. Dr. Berry has chaired the Commission since 1993. She is also the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches history and law.
Next to testify will be Mr. Carl Anderson. Mr. Anderson was appointed to the Commission in 1990 and was subsequently reappointed in 1996. From 1985 to 1987, Mr. Anderson served as a special assistant to the President and is currently the Vice President of the Knights of Columbus.
I want to thank both of you for being here today. We would ask that you do your best to summarize your testimony in no more than 5 minutes, but as I indicated earlier, we will not strictly enforce the 5-minute rule. And, of course, without objection, your full written statements will be made a part of the permanent record of the hearing.
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STATEMENT OF MARY FRANCES BERRY, CHAIRPERSON, U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS
Ms. BERRY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. I am pleased to testify today in this oversight hearing on the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights. I will not respond to some of the comments that were made in opening statements by the Members since my years of working in Washington tells me that way lies peril, and I will not take the time to do it. But some of it has already been responded to and we might want to enter some response into the record, and I understand that my entire testimony will be entered in the record.
I think the most useful thing I can do here is tell you about what the Commission does and plans to do, and then get on to the management issues that have taken up the first panel here at the hearing. The first thing is to point out that the Commission is not a race advisory board or Commission. Our jurisdiction extends to race, religion, national origin, sex discrimination, any denials of equal protection on any of those bases. So to compare us to a race advisory commission or race initiative takes a narrow view of the work of the Commission in all these years.
The second point I would make is that the Commission does engage in issuing reports, and we have evidence in our statement of the use of our reports by the Justice Department, by the Agriculture Department, Secretary Glickman in a meeting I have had with him has acknowledged that. It is in a task force report on black farmers for the Department of Agriculture.
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I was just down to Mississippi recently and met with the Governor where our State advisory committee has been trying to get him to set up a human rights agency in that State so that people in Mississippi don't have to go all the way to Atlanta to file a civil rights complaint under the law, and was pleased to have his commitment at that meeting that he would, in fact, endeavor doing so for the first time and that the SAC could come back in 6 months and get a report from him. We do a lot of things.
We track complaints, people file complaints with us saying other Federal agencies aren't doing their job and want us to go out and find out what is happening, 8 to 10,000 reports a year. We have State advisory committee members in every State and in the District of Columbia who are unpaid volunteers, citizens in their community, leading citizens who work on civil rights issues and are the eyes and ears of this Commission.
What do we intend to do if we are reauthorized or given an appropriation? First, we will finish the Racial Tensions Project and give the reports that are produced to Congress, the President, the public and also to the Advisory Board on Race that the President has established for their use.
Our major projects next year, should we continue to exist, have nothing to do with race. One is on schools and religion, on the Equal Access Act and Supreme Court decisions concerning equal access in public schools for religious groups. The second is on the Americans with Disabilities Act, on the public accommodations section and employment section of that Act. So these are major projects. If we had more money, we would expand the regional offices, because we don't have as many regional offices as we should. In California, for example, our regional office in Los Angeles handles the whole West, including Alaska and Hawaii, which is ridiculous considering the small staff there.
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Let me go to the management issues. These management issues are primarily for the Staff Director under our statute and regulations: I think it was established in the previous testimony that we haven't had a staff director in 6 months. And because of the lawsuits that were filed in the first year of the Clinton administration, we haven't even had an acting Staff Director for 6 months, and off and on over the past 3 years we haven't had a Staff Director at all.
We do have a new one, Ruby Moy, who is sitting back there, who has long experience she worked up here on the Hill as Chief of Staff for Congressman Frank Horton, Republican Congressman for New York, and worked in the White House, so we have a Staff Director as of June 30. And all Commissioners have agreed that we will implement the recommendations made by GAO. I just wanted to point out a couple of things.
When the GAO was testifying, they referred to an Office of Personnel Management audit of the Commission and said that we had management problems. They forgot to quote from their report the response we got from OPM that we had implemented their recommendations and that they were pleased with what we were doing to solve those problems.
I also want to point out that GAO did an audit of the Civil Rights Commission in May 1988, ''Concerns About Commission Operations,'' it is called. It found some of the same problems that exist now at the Civil Rights Commission, years later, and I want to quote to you from a letter written by the then-Chairman of the Commission, Clarence M. Pendelton, Jr., complaining about the GAO audit.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And he said, ''Certain administrative problems were inherited by Commission officials in 1983. A good deal of material in this report is something of a rehash of a previous GAO record again focusing on later years.'' What kind of problems does he refer to, and I think it is worth doing, on page 2 and 3 of this report, which I would like to enter into the record if there is no objection. It says that the limited availability of records seriously hampered our ability to develop information for areas of concern.
I am only pointing this out to you because I am telling you this is a long-standing problem. One issue is why didn't the people deal with this problem before I became chair and before we had this hiatus with no Staff Director? Why didn't somebody do something about these problems?
Our new Staff Director has to start right away implementing these recommendations, doing somebody else's dirty laundry. In fact, we have GAO reporting that the organizational structure of the Commission has not been updated since 1982. This is 1997. Yet, it is laid on our lap as if we didn't do something.
Now, I want you to ask the later witness coming up here, Mr. Allen, who was Chairman of the Commission earlier, why didn't they do it? We are going to implement the recommendations, and we hope it makes things better. The GAO also reports the administrative manual has not been modified or reviewed since 1985, and the Commission has totally changed because of budget decreases and downsizing.
Why didn't the staff rewrite this huge volume? I know why. They told me. It was too much trouble. All that writing, all that, they didn't have staff. After the staff was cut in half, the question was, do you work on sustanstive of administrative matters or do you do this. We are going to do it, even though the budget is still cut in half. We are going to do it because GAO said to do it and we hope it makes things better.
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On the management information system: We are going to set it up and we are going to report on it, and I welcome, I want you, Mr. Chairman, please, ask GAO to come back next year. We can't afford to hire any outside auditors. We don't have any money, even if we exist, unless we get a budget increase.
The last thing I want to say is that, I would ask your permission to modify the figures that show that only 10 percent of the budget was spent on projects because that 10 percent does not include indirect costs at all. There is nothing for rent, nothing for communications, nothing for any of the administrative offices of the Commission. It only includes the salaries of the individuals that worked on projects and their travel. That is all. That would be like saying a Member of Congress, how much does he cost, or she, write down their salary and they are suspended out there in the air somewhere, floating around. It is not the same thing.
I would ask your permission to let us amend that information. It is not GAO's fault, the staff didn't give the information. But that is old news. We have a new Staff Director and he wants to move on and see if we can get this done.
The very last thing I want to point out is that I am told, Mr. Chairman, is that there was a question about whether we, in fact, told the National Finance Center that things had been received before there was payment made. I am told by staff that there is a procedure by which you have to send a form showing the receipt of the goods, if it costs more than $1,000 before it can be paid for and we will provide that information for the record.
The other last thing I want to say is that the Commission on Civil Rights. Will not to be late with the statutory report, this year, Mr. Chairman. At our last meeting last month, the Commission approved a statutory report on disabilities and education. We have instituted a new procedure that may help us. It has so far, since we are split 4, 4.
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We have started with our special assistants trying to negotiate out the material that is in the report ahead of time. It would be as if this committee was assigned four Republicans and four Democrats. You would never get anything done, or it would be hard. So, in fact, we have special assistants working that process in the hope that we can be more successful and more timely and the reason why we haven't been as timely as we should be on some projects, 1. some of them took longer than we thought; 2. staff left and somebody else came and we were a small agency; and 3. sometimes the staff would finish and we would vote down the report 4 to 4 and have a strong struggle.
We welcome the GAO audit and we will implement their recommendations and I certainly hope it improved matters at the Commission and thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I will be pleased to answer any questions. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Berry follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MARY FRANCES BERRY, CHAIRPERSON, U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to testify today on behalf of the reauthorization of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
I appear before you representing the eight part-time Commissioners who comprise our diverse, bipartisan body. In addition to serving as Chairperson I also hold the position of Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, professor of history and adjunct professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania. My seven colleagues are: Vice Chairperson Cruz Reynoso, Special Counsel to the law firm of Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays and Handler and professor of law at the UCLA Law School; Carl A. Anderson, vice president for public policy for the Knights of Columbus, and dean, vice president, and professor of family law at the North American Campus of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family; Robert P. George, associate professor of politics at Princeton University; A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Of Counsel to the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison, and public service professor of jurisprudence at Harvard University; Constance Horner, guest scholar in governmental studies at the Brookings Institution; Russell G. Redenbaugh, partner and director of Cooke & Bieler, Inc., and cofounder and head of Kairos, Inc.; Yvonne Y. Lee, president of Yvonne Lee Consultants.
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Though the members of the Commission represent a range of backgrounds, talents, and viewpoints on civil rights issues, we are all committed to fulfilling the Commission's legislative mandate. We each believe there is a need for a strong and independent Federal agency whose primary mission is to illuminate, through careful and objective fact finding, ways of strengthening civil rights for all Americans. Accordingly, the Commissioners are unanimous in recommending that the Commission be reauthorized in fiscal year 1998 and authorized to receive an appropriation sufficient to carry out its broad mandate. For fiscal year 1998, the Commission has requested an appropriation of $11 million, consistent with the President's budget.
As this committee considers the future of the Commission, we ask that you bear in mind that the Commission's statutory fact finding authority and powers, its bipartisan makeup, and its independence to carry out its mission freely are critical to making the Commission strong and effective. Our independent status means that we have no vested interests in particular civil rights policies or enforcement programs, nor are our recommendations and policy decisions subject to Administration approval before issuance. And our bipartisan makeup ensures that key issues are examined from a range of perspectives. Although our task would be easier if we were all of the same mind and experience, I believe we all agree that the effort of forging consensus from diverse perspectives enhances both the credibility and effectiveness of the Commission's work.
Unlike private organizations, the Commission possesses special investigative powers, including the power to issue subpoenas and conduct hearings. Additionally, Federal agencies are required, by law, to cooperate with the Commission's fact finding activities. The Commission does not advocate, litigate, mediate, or enforce laws. Our agency has just one central mission: to investigate the status of civil rights and civil rights enforcement and to inform the President, the Congress, and the public of our findings and recommendations. In sum, these factors give the Commission a unique and important position to oversee and shape civil rights policies and law enforcement, irrespective of which political party predominates in the Presidency or Congress.
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A review of the Commission's recent accomplishments and plans for fiscal year 1998 reveals a program that addresses some of the most pressing and controversial civil rights issues of the day.
Plans for fiscal year 1998
The Commission's programmatic agenda for fiscal year 1998 continues to emphasize three principal areas: Federal civil rights enforcement, issues of national civil rights importance, and civil rights developments in the our States, cities, suburbs, and rural communities.
Among its top priorities, the Commission remains strongly committed to its statutory responsibility for monitoring and evaluating Federal civil rights enforcement efforts. In the coming year we will undertake a major review of the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), specifically, titles I and II of the Act. This study will bring to bear the Commission's full fact finding capabilities, including a formal hearing, and should provide the most comprehensive evaluation of ADA to date when a report is issued at the end of fiscal year 1998.
A second high priority for fiscal year 1998 is a project addressing the critical and controversial issue of public schools and religious freedom. Through a series of hearings, this project is intended: (1) to assess school districts' compliance with the Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. §4071, and Supreme Court decisions governing equal access to school facilities by religious groups; (2) to determine whether schools are maintaining the delicate balance between the legally mandated separation between church and state, which requires a nonsectarian, neutral position and the avoidance of entanglements in regard to teaching religious doctrine or practice, while complying with equal access law; (3) to determine whether all religious groups are accorded protection under existing laws; and (4) to identify specific religious practices and beliefs that may be subject to discrimination or denial of equal protection. We expect to complete fact finding for this study in fiscal year 1998 and to issue a report with our findings and recommendations in fiscal year 1999.
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In addition to these two new projects for fiscal year 1998, the Commission will commit sufficient resources to complete two important projects that will be carried over from fiscal year 1997.
A multiyear project that has sought, through a series of hearings, to illuminate the causes and consequences of the racial and ethnic tensions that plague many American communities. We will issue the remaining hearing reports and a final volume summarizing the Commission's findings and recommendations.
A study of the crisis facing young African American males in the inner cities. Beginning in fiscal year 1998, the Commission will conduct a consultation and a public fact finding hearing, to examine the sources and possible solutions to this crisis, as manifest in disproportionately high rates of unemployment, underemployment, incarceration, and drug addiction. Additional research will include studying census data, State agency population data, local social service data, local prosecutor and district attorney data, and a detailed analysis of the policies of the U.S. attorney's offices serving five selected cities.
Other projects planned for fiscal year 1998 under the Commission's $11 million appropriation request include the following:
Federal affirmative action programs and policies relating to employment, contracting and licensing, and education, and the Federal workforce will be examined. Developing issues concerning affirmative action by State and local governments may be addressed. A hearing will be held in fiscal year 1999 to collect factual information in these topical areas followed by the release of a report with the Commission's findings and recommendations.
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The role of the Federal Government in encouraging citizenship will be examined to determine what the government might reasonably be expected to do to foster naturalization and whether existing impediments to naturalization can be ameliorated. The project will examine the effect and efficacy of recently enacted reforms as well as various proposals to improve accessibility to citizenship. We will also consider evidence on the issue of whether naturalization procedures are implemented differently for different national groups. A report on this project is planned for fiscal year 1999.
In addition to the above-mentioned projects, the Commission is currently laying the groundwork for a major project in fiscal year 1998 whose purpose is to develop appropriate indicators of and methodologies for measuring discrimination in America. This ambitious, yet essential, undertaking is expected ultimately to provide a stronger factual basis for conducting the national dialogue on civil rights and for developing Federal, State, and local civil rights policies. Improved measures of discrimination would also provide a valuable tool for Federal agencies to determine how and to what extent they are fulfilling their civil rights enforcement responsibilities. Given the complex and controversial nature of issues relating to defining and measuring discrimination, the Commission is taking special care in implementing this project. Decisions on whether and how to proceed with the project are pending the completion of related preliminary work by the Commission staff.
The Commission will maintain an active program for disseminating information and educating the public. Of particular note, we plan to build upon our success in developing public service announcements and will continue the publication of the Commission's magazine, Civil Rights Journal. We also expect to expand and further automate the operations of the Commission's National Clearinghouse Library, which, as the largest collection of civil rights information in the country, serves as a valuable resource for scholars, public and private sector organizations, interested citizens, as well as Commission staff members.
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The Commission's plan for fiscal year 1998 includes expanding the staff of our six regional offices. These small offices of 36 employees support the vital work of the 51 State Advisory Committees (SAC) which serve as the ''eyes and ears'' of the Commission in communities across America. The more than 600 committee members who have volunteered to participate in various fact finding and outreach activities of the SACs, through their collective participation, bring to bear an impressive range of expertise and knowledge on civil rights, local and national affairs, and related issues. The SACs' potential as a resource for guiding the Nation's civil rights policies can be more fully realized by expanding the regional staffs' capacity to bring the committees' work to light.
In fiscal year 1998, the Commission expects to receive approximately 10,000 written and telephonic complaints from individuals alleging civil rights violations. These complaints originate in all 50 States and the territories, and relate to a wide spectrum of issues including civil rights concerns, child abuse, police brutality, and denial of social security. Each complaint must be reviewed and forwarded to the appropriate agency for action. In fiscal year 1998, resources will be used to enhance the tracking of complaints referred by the Commission to other Federal agencies.
Over the years, the Commission's reports, hearings, and other products have had a major influence on civil rights policies and enforcement efforts. In the past year, we have extended this fine record with the completion of several major reports and two hearings.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Under the Equal Educational Opportunity Project, the Commission has been examining Federal programs and civil rights enforcement relating to four key areas of education: accessibility of educational services to students with disabilities, educational opportunities of students with limited English proficiency, accessibility of public school math and science programs to girls, and ability grouping and tracking of minority youth. Planned as a series of reports, thus far, the project has yielded two reports, Equal Educational Opportunity Project SeriesVolume, published, December 1996, and Equal Educational Opportunity and Nondiscrimination for Students with Disabilities: Federal Enforcement of Section 504, which is due to be published in the near future. In addition, two draft reports currently are being revised for Commissioner review and approval.
In the past year, the Commission completed the last in a series of hearings for the multiyear project on Racial and Ethnic Tensions in American Communities: Poverty, Inequality, and Discrimination: In September 1996, we held a hearing in Los Angeles to look into law enforcement and police-community relations issues in the Los Angeles area. And in March 1997, we held the final hearing in Greenville, Mississippi, to consider issues relating to economic and educational opportunity and voting rights in the Mississippi Delta region. Hearings previously have been held in Washington, DC, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Currently being prepared for release is a report, entitled Racial and Ethnic Tensions in American Communities: Poverty, Inequality, and DiscriminationMiami Hearing, which focuses on immigration-related issues in south Florida. Other reports are being prepared on hearings in Los Angeles, New York City, and Greenville, Mississippi. We expect the Racial and Ethnic Tensions reports will provide elected leaders, policy makers, community organizations, and the general public with valuable insight into why race relations remain seriously strained in many American communities and ways of solving the underlying causes.
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Commission reports may take years to have an impact on civil rights, particularly when many Federal civil rights enforcement agencies are facing tighter budgets. Nevertheless, a recent report, Federal Title VI Enforcement to Ensure Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs (June 1996), illustrates well the potential value of Commission reports.
The Title VI report evaluated whether the Federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race and national origin in federally assisted programs was being adequately enforced. Simply stated, we found that it was not.
Since its release a year ago, the Title VI report has been received very well by Federal and State agencies and the general public. For example, based on the Commission's findings and recommendations, several Federal agencies have taken action to improve their Title VI implementation, compliance, and enforcement activities. As just two specific cases:
The Department of Justice has reorganized its Civil Rights Division to provide more resources to its Title VI enforcement activities and to create a Coordination and Review Section devoted entirely to the coordination of Title VI and Title IX enforcement. In addition, based on the Commission's inquiries, the Civil Rights Division has resumed publishing the Civil Rights Forum and has developed a comprehensive training module on Title VI. Moreover, the Department has improved its public outreach and education activities by installing a telephone hotline, producing a public service announcement, and distributing a pamphlet explaining to the general public how to exercise their rights under Title VI.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Department of Agriculture also has reorganized to improve its external civil rights obligations. In February of 1997, the Department issued a civil rights action plan that relies heavily on the Commission's report as a road map for improving its civil rights program.
In the area of education and outreach, we have resumed publication of the Commission's magazine, entitled Civil Rights Journal. The Commission has also been successful in developing public service announcements (PSAs) which are intended to combat discrimination and intolerance. Our first radio PSA campaign, ''Discrimination: Just Out of Tune with America,'' was recorded by Mary Chapin Carpenter and aired by radio in 1996. The cost to the Commission for developing and distributing this message was relatively small and, based on a very high station response rate, the air time has been estimated to be worth at least $1,000,000. The success of this PSA is also indicated by a marked increase in the number of civil rights complaints and inquiries the Commission received each month after the PSA aired: many people simply do not know where to turn when they think their rights have been violated or that the Federal agency responsible for protecting them is being unresponsive. The Commission's PSA program, as part of a larger education and outreach effort, informs people about the law and assists people who seek help to protect their rights.
The Commission has begun distributing its second PSA, ''Teach our Children,'' about tolerance and valuing others despite our differences, recorded by both Phyllicia Rashad and Eriq LaSalle.
The Commission recently updated and reissued Getting Uncle Sam to Enforce Your Civil Rights. This small, 115-page guide is packed with useful information for individuals who believe their civil rights have been violated and want to know the ''who, what, when, and where'' in finding help to protect those rights. Given the complexity of civil rights law and the diffuse nature of Federal civil rights enforcement, as well as State and local jurisdictions, this little booklet, like its predecessor, published in 1980, will prove invaluable to a great many people who need assistance.
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The State Advisory Committees conduct fact finding meetings and prepare reports on a wide range of topics, such as affirmative action, enforcement of Title VI, police-community relations, Federal immigration law enforcement, and hate crime. While reports often require considerable time and effort to complete, the SACs have also demonstrated an ability to react quickly in a crisis. For example, responding to the rash of arson attacks on predominantly African American churches, the SACs in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee held community forums to examine the response of Federal, State, and local law enforcement to the attacks and race relations in the affected areas. The Commission collected the information in executive summaries and published transcripts of each forum which were sent to the various law enforcement agencies, the Community Relations Service (DOJ), State and local government agencies, private organizations, and other interested parties. Based on this record, SAC members have met with the Governors of Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi to press for strong action to curb the violent attacks and to ease racial tensions. The SACs in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana recently held site visits to assess local conditions, one year later. The Chairperson and other Commissioners have participated in these SAC activities.
Mr. Chairman, in the past year, you requested and have received two reports on the Commission's personnel operations and management, one by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the other by the General Accounting Office (GAO). In response to the OPM report, we have taken a number of steps to correct the deficiencies in our personnel function, and have received a very positive response from OPM indicating that our actions are on the right track.
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The GAO report (GAO/HEHS97125), issued just this month, was critical of the Commission's program management, budgeting, and accounting procedures, and makes three recommendations: that the Commission update agency regulations on the organizational structure, procedures, and program processes of the Commissionnot updated since 1985; update internal management guidancenot updated since 1982, and establish a management information system for planning and tracking projects. We will implement each of these recommended changes.
Commissioners agree that a critical element in successfully addressing these areas is the day-to-day management of the Staff Director, both in directing the staff and in supporting the Commissioners' role of planning and policy making. Regulations and internal guidelines can be updated, and management information systems developed, but without an effective Staff Director, the changes we expect in processes, accountability, and performance cannot be fully realized. I want to assure the members of this Subcommittee that the Commissioners are committed to making any necessary changes to improve the agency's performance.
Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by saying that we look forward to working with the Subcommittee on reauthorizing the Commission. I will be pleased to answer questions you might have concerning the work of the Commission and its reauthorization.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF CARL ANDERSON, COMMISSIONER, U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS
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Mr. ANDERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee today. Let me begin by saying I accepted the appointment to the Civil Rights Commission in 1990 because of my deep concern that the rapidly changing demographics within many American communities held the potential in coming decades to exert great pressure on our already existing and strained racial and ethnic tensions.
Shortly after joining the Commission, I suggested that the exploration of this issue be the overarching theme to guide the Commission's investigation of civil rights issues. The result was the multiyear series of hearings entitled, ''Racial and Ethnic Tensions in American Communities, Poverty, Equality and Discrimination.'' Because of this project, the Commission has held hearings in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Greenville, Mississippi.
I have attended each of these hearings and also participated in investigative trips to Los Angeles and St. Petersburg following the racial disturbances in those cities, and in forums in South and North Carolina regarding church burnings in those States. I mention these activities, Mr. Chairman, because I believe the Commission on Civil Rights can make a positive contribution to the advancement of civil rights and racial harmony in the United States.
On July 16, the Commissioners Robert George, Constance Horner, Russell Redenbaugh, myself, sent to you a letter regarding the central issue, I believe, before the subcommittee today, that is the General Accounting Office report. I would like to read a portion from that letter.
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''After reviewing the draft text of this report, we wrote to GAO on June 16 stating that we were grateful to the GAO for its thorough investigation and that we concurred with its assessment and recommendations, we still do. Indeed, many of the difficulties cited in the report such as lack of documentation, poor record-keeping, and management of information are problems with which we have been confronted for some time. After discussion of the report during our June 13 Commission meeting, we are of the opinion that the Commission has no higher administrative authority than the implementation of the GAO recommendations.
We believe that their timely implementation will be the single most effective initiative in the near future to ensure that the Commission fulfills its fundamental mission to protect and enhance the exercise of civil rights throughout the United States. We would welcome the GAO back to the Commission next July to review the progress that has been made in overcoming these difficulties during the coming year.''
I was interviewed by GAO officials on December 18, 1996. I found them to be highly professional, well-informed about the work of the Commission, and fair-minded, but quite perplexed over their inability to obtain information and documents from the Office of the Staff Director. My constant impression during this meeting, which lasted approximately 3 hours, was one of genuine interest on their part in arriving at an accurate assessment of the activity of the Commission and in determining recommendations that would assist the Commission in more effectively and efficiently fulfilling its mission. Based on my experience with the GAO officials involved, and I might say of GAO in general, any suggestion that this report was somehow conditioned by political bias or an animus toward the Commission or against effective civil rights enforcement is simply ridiculous.
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As the letter which I have just read indicates, it is my opinion that the timely implementation of the GAO recommendations will be the single most effective initiative in the near future to ensure that the Commission fulfills its fundamental mission. I recommended to the Chair and the new Staff Director that we develop a schedule to implement these recommendations by the end of this fiscal year. I hope this recommendation will be on the agenda for our Commission meeting in August and on the agenda of each of our meetings until all these reforms have been implemented.
In closing, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership in this area, and in particular for requesting this report by GAO. In my opinion, it may have been the only way to achieve needed updating and reforms of management practices at the Commission. Thank you.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you, Mr. Anderson. I appreciate your testimony. Let me address one point that has come up, and that is the funding level for the Commission. Obviously, we have differences of opinion about the proper funding level, but the notion that inadequate funding for the Commission justifies management problems or justifies a lack of management controls does not seem to make sense to me.
As a matter of fact, the tighter the resources are the more effective the management needs to be, the more important it is to establish clear goals, to have well-thought-out plans, and to move forward with awareness of the restraints on the resources available. If you are in a big, bloated agency where you have got more money than you need, management really becomes less important. But in this environment, accepting the premise that the funding has not grown the way you would like it to grow, it seems to me that makes a stronger case for good management.
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That is just a point I wanted to make. In a letter, Dr. Berry, that you sent along with some of the other Commissioners in response to the GAO's report, you said the Commission has been saddled with a Sisyphean task of doing more and more with less and less. In that light, the management deficiencies identified in the report are not an indictment of the Commission's performance, but a testament to its resiliency. I don't quite understand how management deficiencies are a testament to resiliency. Management deficiencies are a testament to management deficiencies.
Now, there may be a testament to resiliency in the fact that employees at the Commission keep moving forward and trying to do the best they can in a chaotic situation, but it is not really a testament to the resiliency of the Commission. Would you like to comment on that?
Ms. BERRY. Sure, I would be happy to. I think you are right, you will get no quarrel from me about the need to have good management and if you have less in the way of resources you need better management. I think what that statement is is exactly what you said. The staff, under these awful circumstances, many of them have been there for years, saw half the staff RIFed and wiped out when the budget cut came and offices that use to have twice as many people had twice as many people have half as many. Furthermore they have had new responsibilities added including PSAs, public service announcements, which we do, and the like. But my point would be, I think these management deficiencies should have been taken care of
Mr. CANADY. Well, let me ask, Dr. Berry, when did you first become a member of the Commission?
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Ms. BERRY. I have been a member of the Commission since 1980. I had no power. 6 to 2 was the vote all the time; I was part of the 2 for years and years and years. I even got fired by President Reagan. That is how we got the statute with a bifurcated commission. I am still here, but the Commission is barely surviving. But in any case, I think you are right, we need better management. I wish those folks had instituted it before, and I agree with you absolutely, Mr. Chairman. You will get no quarrel from me.
Mr. CANADY. Let me address the relationship between the Commission and the President's Advisory Board on Race. I agree with your statement that the Civil Rights Commission has a much broader charter than the President's Advisory Board on Race, but I think that what the President's Advisory Board on Race is doing falls clearly within the scope of the sorts of issues the Commission would deal with. Which is not within the scope of the Civil Rights Commission? Issues related to promoting a constructive national dialogue to confront and work through challenging issues that surround race; increasing the Nation's understanding of recent history of race relations and the course of our Nation is charting on the issues of race relations and racial diversity; bridging racial divides by encouraging leaders in communities throughout the Nation to develop and implement innovative approaches to calming racial tensions; identifying, developing and implementing solutions to problems in areas in which race has a substantial impact, such as education, economic opportunity, housing, health care and the administration of justice.
Now, that is language directly from the charter of the President's Advisory Board on Race. What is listed there is not also within the scope of the issues dealt with by the Civil Rights Commission?
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Ms. BERRY. The point is
Mr. CANADY. No, answer my question.
Ms. BERRY. I am going to answer it. This is not a Commission the President set up. The President is going to give a report. The Civil Right Commission does reports. We are independent, and bipartisan, and proactive. The Advisory Board is going to serve the President by doing all those things you listed in service to the President's vision of what should be done about each one of those issues. Now, the President has a specific vision which he has announced to the world.
Mr. CANADY. The point is that the Advisory Board is
Ms. BERRY. The handmaiden of the President.
Mr. CANADY. Is carrying out the President's agenda, whereas the Civil Rights Commission would approach the issue on a bipartisan basis.
Ms. BERRY. That's right, absolutely, and do.
Mr. CANADY. All right. That is a helpful clarification. Now, you indicated that the 10 percent figure for projects was, the amount of the budget spent on projects was not accurate, and I think the GAO acknowledges that they don't have a lot of confidence in the 10 percent figure given the constraints they were faced with. What is the correct percentage of the Commission's budget that should be attributable to work on projects?
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Ms. BERRY. I have no idea. I discovered this at 3:00 this morning when I woke up and said ''I wonder if that figure included rent and postage and equipment maintenance and employee health service.'' I only did that because five different people stopped me on the street yesterday and said only 10 percent of your budgetbut we are going to work it out and give it to you.
Mr. CANADY. But that is not new. That is what was in the draft report submitted to the Commission, I believe. But you don't know.
Ms. BERRY. At that time, I thought it included, and the staff told me that it was the cost of the project. It was only when I started asking and thinking, does that include rent, does that include postage, because people kept saying to me 10 percent. And I asked the staff this morning when I came in, and they said, no, it is only direct costs.
Mr. CANADY. I see my time has expired. Without objection, I will give myself 2 additional minutes. You agree that the Commission was without a Staff Director for 6 months and that was not a good circumstance. Why was the Commission without a Staff Director for 6 months?
Ms. BERRY. Because under the decision in the case of George v. Ishimaru, which was decided in the district circuit court here in D.C., the only way to get an acting Staff Director, until the President clears a nominee, finds one, the White House does all the vetting and the FBI and all that stuff you have to do for appointments, you name somebody acting and then you get nominees and you get a vote, and you have to get somebody that out of this bipartisan split Commission, you have got to get five votes. You have to find a candidate and get
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Mr. CANADY. The bottom line, what you are telling me, did the President send up any, the name of any person which was rejected by the Commission during that 6-month period?
Ms. BERRY. I don't think so, although I am aware
Mr. CANADY. If you don't know, who would know?
Ms. BERRY. Somebody at the White House. No, no, no, no, there was no one sent to the Commission, but there were candidates who were considered, I am told, but for various reasons in the vetting process they didn't make it.
Mr. CANADY. So the problem was it took the President 6 months to come up with a name of somebody to send to the Commission.
Ms. BERRY. That we could agree to.
Mr. CANADY. Well, he only sent one, so it wasn't a problem of getting an agreement.
Ms. BERRY. Yes.
Mr. CANADY. Commissioner Anderson, do you have anything to add to that?
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Mr. ANDERSON. In terms of the vacancy in the Staff Director, it is quite clear we did not get a nominee from the White House for that. The Commissioners were eager to have a Staff Director. I would say in terms of an earlier question, I don't believe that the Commission can put all of the blame or the burden on the Office of the Staff Director.
I think that commissioners have, and I must say I have argued for some time that we have a greater role of supervisory authority to review the actions of the staff director. Frankly, we haven't lived up to that as well as we could have, and I hope that by putting in place these new procedures and new reforms the Commissioners will be able to exercise greater supervisory authority. Because whether we are given $10 million or $20 million by the taxpayers, we must be good stewards of that money, and frankly, given even the problems of downsizing, we cannot simply refuse to accept the responsibilities for much of the situation described by GAO.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you, Commissioner. My time has expired. Mr. Scott.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think Dr. Berry has pointed out that a lot of these problems of mismanagement are not new. They have been going on for a long time. I think there is a lot of blame to be passed around as to why there was not a staff director, why there was not an acting director. I guess my question to Dr. Berry now is do you have a Staff Director?
Ms. BERRY. We do have a Staff Director, who was unanimously voted on by the Commission.
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Mr. SCOTT. Does your Staff Director, since you are dealing with a split Commission, do you have evidence that your Staff Director can work with both Democrats and Republicans.
Ms. BERRY. The idea was since the nominee had worked long years as Chief of Staff for a Republican congressman and then had worked also for Democrats; there was at least an appearance of bipartisanship, and we got an approval from the chair of this committee, the full committee, that this was someone he could work with, so we hoped there would be no problem.
Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Anderson, do you have any doubts that your new Staff Director can work with both Democrats and Republicans?
Mr. ANDERSON. No, I don't. I would tell you regarding our previous Staff Directors, I could not tell you whether they were Democrats, Republicans or independents. I think the real question is strong management ability.
Mr. SCOTT. On that point, do you have any doubt that she can implement the GAO recommendations?
Ms. BERRY. Who are you asking?
Mr. SCOTT. Either one.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. BERRY. I don't have any doubt at this point. I think it is important for us as a Commission to engage in oversight of the Staff Director's activities, which we have agreed to do and intend to do.
Mr. SCOTT. One of the problems that has been mentioned is that you would get started on these projects without any plans, without any direction. The proper process, presumably, would be a plan would be developed and then the Commission would vote on that plan. It is my understanding that occasionally the Commission would, on its own initiative, direct the staff to start a project without any of that planning process going on; is that right.
Ms. BERRY. Yes. Our Racial Tensions Project started exactly that way. We were at a meeting and didn't consider anything the staff recommended, and at the meeting we all started talking and decided we wanted to do this project and we told the staff to go forth and develop this project. There was no planning, although we, as Commissioners, have the right ultimately to decide. That is bad management. And so I would hope that during my tenure, and I have said it to the Commissioners and I would hope that we would agree that we shouldn't do that willy-nilly, and we should have restrained ourselves from making management worse.
Mr. SCOTT. So, as I understand it, so you are not going to do that anymore.
Ms. BERRY. To the extent that I can keep the Commission from doing it.
Mr. SCOTT. Are there any of the GAO recommendations thatas I understand it, you will implement all of the GAO recommendations.
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Ms. BERRY. Yes, absolutely. There are three of them and we will implement them.
Mr. SCOTT. Why does it take so long to complete a project?
Ms. BERRY. A lot of reasons. Sometimes it takes a long time because we decided on a project without any preliminary investigation and had no idea how long it was going to take, as in Racial Tensions. The other times it may take a long time because of staff turnover. We have had successive general counsels who last a year and a half or 2 years, sometimes less, and other staff coming and going. The other thing is we on the Commission, once a report comes to us, we may send it back for more work. There may be a number of reasons. I think we can do a better job of projecting how long it will take, and we will inform the Commissioners. We cannot say absolutely.
Mr. SCOTT. Are sometimes projects designed to take a long time just so you can have an ongoing investigation in certain areas and never come to an ultimate conclusion, just continue getting information, sometimes measuring improvements that have taken place from the beginning of the investigation toas you go on, and that would obviously take a long time.
Ms. BERRY. Well, we try to do discrete projects that come to an end with recommendations, although in our monitoring function, the Office of Civil Rights Evaluation will have ongoing monitoring functions as in the case of the black farmer issue, with little reports from time to time with what is happening there.
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Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's times has expired. Without objection, the gentleman will have 2 additional minutes.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me ask you to describe any project that you can think of as an example of your work, what difference the project made.
Ms. BERRY. In the Title VI report that we did last year, clearly, as a result of that report, we found that the Justice Department had not emphasized Title VI enforcement at all, and in this era of block grants and State responsibility for Federal Programs, we really have to worry about whether the States were enforcing it. They have to have oversight there. There was no real office at the Department of Justice that paid sustained attention to that. There had been cases where lawsuits were filed claiming in Tennessee where there was a nursing home where they would not admit older black people to a nursing home. There was a lawsuit in Federal district court, and, in fact, something needed to be done there.
So the Justice Department took our recommendations, expanded the office, engaged in an outreach program to inform people of Title VI and started a procedure of educating State people because the State people told us the Justice Department never sent out any instructions about what to do about implementing Title VI. The State of Tennessee, which is where I am from, has passed a law and has an implementation process going on directed at Title VI. That is one example.
The second example is the black farmers. We did two reports on black farmers, one in the eighties. On Title VI we did a section on agriculture and talked about that issue. They used our recommendation for the task force report over there which is being used to address the situation of the black farmers and the employees in the Department who claim there are discrimination problems. So those are just two examples.
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Mr. SCOTT. And your plans for the future, you have two specific projects you are going to develop. Would you describe those briefly?
Ms. BERRY. The priorities are the Americans with Disabilities Act, the section on public accommodations, monitoring how that is being enforced, and the section on employment, and the second is schools and religion, how the Equal Justice Act is being applied concerning schools.
Mr. SCOTT. Equal Access Act.
Ms. BERRY. Yeah, Equal Access Act.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Bryant.
Mr. BRYANT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I welcome Dr. Berry, a fellow Tennessean, and Mr. Anderson as well. I would like to direct the first couple of questions to the chairperson of the Commission. I understand you were appointed to the Commission around 1980. When were you appointed or selected as the chairperson for the Commission?
Ms. BERRY. 1993.
Mr. BRYANT. And Commissioner Anderson, when were you appointed to the Commission?
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Mr. ANDERSON. 1990, then reappointed in 1996.
Mr. BRYANT. Now, as I understand it, in reviewing the statements and some of the GAO report, there was a substantial problem that GAO faced in obtaining materials, information which they were there to review. And Chairperson Berry, you indicated that certainly this was a long-standing problem, you recall, back in the 1980s, even in reference to the 1988 GAO report which pointed these out, and basically, if there is a first line of defense, it is really I inherited this mess and these kinds of things. And I find that of interest, that defense, because I am going this afternoon to my other committee meeting in Agriculture and facing Secretary Glickman and it is on this black farmer issue, as you phrase it, and as I understand there that is an external problem, not the internal Ag, there the allegations were made and the Commission investigated and found that black farmers were discriminated against in farm-type loans.
And I don't know if you were as forgiving there, because as I understand, that was kind of an inherited problem that the new office inherited from the Old Farmers Home Administration. But apparently the forgiveness is not there because there are going to be substantial changes made by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture to make sure this doesn't happen. I am not saying that is a bad thing to do. I am just saying I don't know if I buy off on the defense that I inherited this.
Ms. BERRY. Could I respond?
Mr. BRYANT. Well, you have been there 3 years, and I am wondering with this advanced knowledge of the problem why there wasn't more cooperation earlier on with GAO this time around just to make sure they got the information.
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Ms. BERRY. That is an excellent question.
Mr. BRYANT. Thank you.
Ms. BERRY. My response is, I am not asking for forgiveness. I am, if you want to know the truth, ticked off about the failure of the staff to cooperate with GAO. As you know, Commissioners are part-time. By statute, we can only work so many days involved in this, and the Staff Director does this.
I am ticked off because on several occasions the GAO called me to see if I could help them get some information and I had to say to the staff, why don't you give these people, I don't understand why you can't give them whatever it is you are supposed to be giving them, not that I knew exactly what it is they were supposed to give them, but I have been around the government. I used to run education programs in the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and I know what GAO does and it is crazy to get into a fight with GAO about some documents, and I knew the folks before from this 1988 report hadn't been forthcoming.
So I told them to be forthcoming over and over again and on two occasions actually went over there to make sure they were giving GAO information. But I am sorry, I can't go over there every day. That is why we got a new Staff Director. But I am not asking for forgiveness. I want to by next year have GAO say we complied, we gave them everything they asked for, so I can see smiles on the faces of the subcommittee by this time next year.
Mr. BRYANT. That is a good Tennessee answer. Do you view thetell me if this is a fair question, if it is not, don't answer it. Do you view GAO as particularly partisan one way or the other or is it fairly independent?
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Ms. BERRY. As Washington goes, it is fairly independent. If you are talking about Goodlettsville, no, but in Washington, it is independent. It has to be responsive to the inquiry as it is shaped by the subcommittee. I know this, I have been around here, but I call GAO in the green eye shade people; they use computers now. They try to be fair and balanced, but they are a government agency too. So for Washington, they are fair.
Mr. BRYANT. How large of a legal staff does the Commission have?
Ms. BERRY. I am glad you asked me that because I was supposed to correct that and didn't do it. The Commission has eight lawyers and
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired and without objection, the gentleman has 2 additional minutes.
Ms. BERRY. Eight lawyers in the general counsel's office, a deputy general counsel and general counsel. So that is 10 professionals.
Mr. BRYANT. And they are full-time.
Ms. BERRY. Yes.
Mr. BRYANT. Now, I think my colleague from Arkansas in the first panel mentioned the example of the general counsel teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, which I understand that was something I formerly did and perhaps even the general counsel took your job.
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Ms. BERRY. No, no, no. Let me answer it, please. I am glad you answered the question.
Mr. BRYANT. Could you do it real quickly? I want to understand and I want to ask another question.
Ms. BERRY. I have an endowed chair at the University of Pennsylvania. I am a tenured faculty member. That is my job, that is how I make my living. And in fact, I go on leave whenever I need to as a term of my employment, and then I bring young scholars who want to do some teaching in to teach courses and we pay them, and that is how it gets done.
The general counsel, by the way, makes $103,000, not $130,000.00. Anyway, employees are encouraged to teach by the regulations if it can be done. I said if the general counsel wanted to ask the Staff Director, if you get the Staff Director's approval and the Office of Ethics' approval, but if it interferes with your work, I am going to make you quit and you can't do it and I am going to be asking if it interferes. The general counsel is a well-known workaholicnot alcoholicand it seems not
Mr. BRYANT. I'm glad you corrected that.
Ms. BERRY. The teaching seems not to have interfered with her work, and even got commendations of her work from my colleagues, including Commissioner Redenbaugh, who said it was one of the most professional hearings.
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Mr. BRYANT. Let me ask Commissioner Anderson that. Did you understand that your general counsel would be out, from what I can tell probably 2 out of the 5 days and working 3 of the 5 days of the normal work week? Did you understand that?
Mr. ANDERSON. I believe the first time I knew about it is today. I think the Commissioners would have questions about that. That is not to prejudge what the answer would be, but I think a number of Commissioners would question that.
Mr. BRYANT. Thank you.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired. The gentlelady from California.
Ms. WATERS. I yield to the gentleman for a quick question.
Mr. SCOTT. I would like to ask Dr. Berry, could you estimate the number of hours that your counsel is actually on the job per week?
Ms. BERRY. Right, according to the Staff Director, who was the general counsel's supervisor, the general counsel worked at least 8 hours every day during the week, and with the permission of the Staff Director, when she taught for an hour and a half for a course at Penn when she actually was in the classroom were the only time they were not in contact, and then she worked when she was in transit, and worked when she returned from Philadelphia and the Staff Director was quite satisfied
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Mr. SCOTT. Could you estimate the number of hours a week she works?
Ms. BERRY. Probably 60, 60 to 80.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much. Let me say that even though it has been alluded to, that no one on the subcommittee on either side of the aisle has accused GAO of being biased, being political. So let's just take that off the table. That is not what is said by anybody up here.
What I think I have identified is a report that has been done based on an investigation that concludes their needs to be changes and there needs to be certain kinds of work done and certain kinds of procedures instituted without a discussion about money. I don't know how to administer anything without the resources that are needed to do it.
If you tell me you have got to develop a manual, and you tell me that you have got to take somebody from somewhere to do it, I want to know what they were doing when you took them away and what happens to that work, and what happens to that responsibility. So as you go about trying to do what is being asked of you, I really want to know at some point, and I am going to ask this Chairman to have us take a look at your plan, and your response in relationship to dollars.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There have been serious cuts here. I don't care what anybody says. If anybody cut my budget 50 percent, it would change my life, period. Whether it is done in my office or my home. I don't know people, I don't know anybody that can take those kinds of cuts and say, well, it really doesn't have any impact on my ability to administer or get the job done. Is the mandate going to change?
So I want to know as you set about doing this, how you are able to do it, and whether or not, if you do your planning and respond to everything that is being requested whether or not you need more money, whether or not you are going to ask for that money, and whether or not you are going to do everything that you can to make sure that request gets into the budget, so this authorizing committee will be able to respond to it.
I don't believe that you can talk about administration and execution. I see you have done all these church burnings in all these places and they are still going on. And I see where you did a number of activities in relationship to these church burnings. Well, you know, your mandate is pretty broad and racism is alive and well in America. There are going to be some more churches burned, some more killings, some more confrontations. I wish we could stop all of that, but I tell you in this atmosphere we are talking about, fueled by right wing radio talk shows that just whip people up and accusations about reverse discrimination, I am telling you, your mandate is very broad as you try to relate to all of this.
I really want to see the plan and the dollars that you are going to recommend are needed to do what is being requested of you. I think that is the responsible thing to do. Again, I wish GAO had looked at this in relationship to dollars and money. I wish that they had been able to talk about whether or not certain tasks could be performed without or with appropriate staff to do it. I want to know how you cover the entire United States with 90 people. I don't understand that. I don't understand as I look at your numbers and what I understand the mandate to be how you do that and I am looking forward to
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Mr. CANADY. The gentlelady's time has expired. The gentlelady will have 2 additional minutes.
Ms. WATERS. So I appreciate the fact that you have come here already concluding and deciding you will do everything that you can to respond to these recommendations and make them work. But I must ask you, do you anticipate in any of this that you are going to have to deal with this dollar question, money, to be able to carry out the mandate?
Ms. BERRY. Well, we clearly have to do it, and you hit on something. It is hard with 90 people. As I said, we have a regional office in LA that covers the whole western United States, including Alaska and Hawaii and doesn't have enough people to even service all of the State advisory committees so they can have meetings. It may not seem important to us sitting in Washington, but to the people out there who look to the Civil Rights Commission. And Commissioner Anderson knows this, when we went to St. Petersburg, the two of us went down to some of the church burning forums.
People want to see the Civil Rights Commissioner come; they look to us to give them a hearing. They think they will be fair. They think we will help to monitor these other Government agencies and get them to respond, and we try. I think resources, I hope the committee will ask GAO to look at resources in relationship to everything else we do.
Ms. WATERS. And let me thank you for the work you have done on the black farmer issue. This problem has been going on for so long. There is a hearing on it today also, the Congressional Black Caucus also had a hearing. This is an example of the most profound systemic discrimination that you can see anytime, anyplace, anywhere, and what is amazing about it all is they have not had investigators since 1983 when the whole Civil Rights Division was dismantled. I believe it was under Reagan.
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And so the complaints have backed up and this problem even needs some more work, because I sat down and spent hours trying to look at how this agency is constructed, only to find that they have institutionalized racism in the way that they constructed the county committees, where the very people to deny the loans to the farmers are the ones who are supposed to investigate the complaint. It is awful. Please take another look at it if we give you enough money.
Ms. BERRY. All right. Thank you.
Mr. CANADY. The gentlelady's time has expired. The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Barr.
Mr. BARR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ms. Berry, there is quite a difference in tone between your letter of June 16 of 1997 to Ms. Blanchette and the companion letter submitted the same day by Commissioner Anderson and three others, and I would like to focus a little bit on that.
Apparently, a month ago you were adamantly opposed to what GAO was doing, how it did it and what it found. I am glad to hear today that you are taking a somewhat different attitude. One of the many excuses you put forward for the Commission's, for the findings of the GAO, was that theand this is on page 1 of your lengthy letter reprinted at pages 41 et seq. in the GAO report, is that the authority of the Commission has expanded, and then you list several areas.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, I do know and GAO recognizes the fact that in 1978 the mission of the Commission was expanded to include gender. In 1994, age and handicapped were added, and then an additional duty in 1994 was added to entail public service announcement and advertising and I know that it has been expanded there. But there are other areas that you set forth such as sexual orientation, emotional disability and economic disadvantage, none of which are found in the enabling legislation nor in those additional pieces of legislations that expanded the work and duties of the Commission.
I might just suggest that perhaps one reason why the Commission's mission has expanded so much and that might be a reason why y'all aren't able to carry out your mission is you have chosen to expand the mission, because there is no legislative authority for expanding it in those particular areas. So your word on page 41 of the GAO report, which is page 2 of your lengthy letter that the Commission has been saddled with the task of doing more and more with less, might in reality be the fact that it has saddled itself with additional duties that it has wished to take on.
My main concern is found in your conclusions, though. And you state that the report does not and cannot conclude that the operational deficiencies that it found with the Commission somehow substantially inhibit the Commission from doing its job. I am not sure that was the purpose of the GAO study. I think I was just to point out these things and leave it up to others to determine how to address those things. But my point is if these deficiencies, as we have discussed with the previous panel, that the operations of the Commission lacked order, control, and coordination, that management is unaware of how Federal funds appropriated to carry out its mission are being used, that it lacks control over key functions, that it has not requested independent audits, that the Commission is vulnerable to misuse of its resources, that the management of the projects is haphazard or nonexistent, that no overall standard exists for assessing the timeliness of projects or the expectation of how long projects should take, that the Commission has inadequate recordkeeping, a lack of data, that it does not break down allocations to headquarters by unit and regional offices in a way that allows tracking of funding and expenditures, that no budget data is available, that documents are lost, misplaced or nonexistent. My question is, and I pose this to you as a manager, you are a manager. If those deficiencies don't inhibit a Commission in doing its job, what in heaven's name would inhibit a Commission from doing its job?
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Ms. BERRY. Well, I don't know what answer I am required to give. All I will say is that earlier I have responded that many of those things you cited were included in the 1988 GAO report. And I would also point out that in your letter we do say that we will implement the GAO recommendations. That is very clear.
Mr. BARR. That wasn't my question.
Ms. BERRY. We will implement them. Thirdly, I clearly believe there should be better management at the Commission. That is why we have a new Staff Director, and we will see that there is better management and I agree that absolutely there should be.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman has 2 additional minutes.
Mr. BARR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Do you then agree at this time that the deficiencies that were found by the GAO and included in its report do inhibit the Commission from doing its job?
Ms. BERRY. I believe that the three recommendations the GAO made, which is what this was focused on, the administrative manual, organizational structure, since that is a long-standing problem since, 198285, hasn't inhibited
Mr. BARR. Excuse me, I am not talking about the recommendations, I am talking about what you cite in your conclusion, and that is the operational deficiencies that the GAO found, not its recommendations. Would you agree at this point the operational deficiencies that the GAO found, some of which I have indexed there, would and do inhibit the Commission from doing its job?
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Ms. BERRY. It hasn't prevented the Commission from producing reports, doing hearings and other work, but it has made it more difficult to do so, and therefore these things ought to be done, and they ought to be improved.
Mr. BARR. I am not quite sure why we are fighting each other on this.
Ms. BERRY. I am not fighting, sir.
Mr. BARR. Because if, in fact, these deficiencies have inhibited the Commission, we are trying to give the Commission the tools to do things better. But if you are saying these things are all great, and they don't inhibit the Commission, I don't know where we start. All I am trying to get at is do you now recognize that those things do inhibit the ability of Commission to carry out its job?
Ms. BERRY. Oh, I have long recognized that.
Mr. BARR. I am glad, because right here it says you don't recognize that, but I am glad you have corrected that.
I would like also the record to reflect that as noted in a table on page 36 of the GAO report, that indeed while there has been from the year 1980 and 1981, 1982, and 1983, and 1984, 1985, and 1986 decreases in funding to current levels, that during those years, 1981 through 1986, there were substantially more funds appropriated, beginning in fiscal year 1987 there were not, and can we correctly presume that the Commission did request additional funds of Congress in those years, 1987 through the current year?
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Ms. BERRY. Yes.
Mr. BARR. And the Congresses have not responded to fulfill your requests?
Ms. BERRY. That is right.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Conyers, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. CONYERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to commend you for the peace pipe that is being passed around this morning. You are a nonsmoker. Well, for those of us who indulge in this process symbolically, I want to commend Chairman Canady for doing a good job and for bringing us together to understand the details around what has been happening with the Commission. The chairperson, as usual, has brought her thorough report and insight to the Members' attention who have oversight and authorizing jurisdiction over this subject matter, so I think this has been a very good hearing. I wanted to get that compliment on the record.
I also recommend to our distinguished Chairman that we also hold a hearing, perhaps in the fall if it is his choice, to focus on the substantive aspects of all these things that the Commission is doing. One of these days we are going to have to get a report on the activities and not just the process, and sooner or later we have got to get into the problems of race in America about which the commission are concerned. After all, this is the number one unresolved social problem in American history. None would know that better than the Chairman of this committee, himself an authority of civil rights in at least some respect. So that is an important, I think, consideration for us and the Chair to deal with.
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Now, the other thing that makes this hearing very good is we are not trying to take subpoena authority away from the Chair anymore. Don't mention it, okay. We sort of understand, we got over that, and everybody has calmed down.
Mr. CANADY. If the gentleman would yield, I did mention that in my opening statement.
Mr. CONYERS. You did? Well, I thought that was gone. There may be a little bit of lingering on that, but two aspirins and a good night's sleep and we will continue to talk about that. And we are not talking about cutting the budget of the Commission. Probably on both sides of the committee there may be some consideration that perhaps we ought to initiate increasing the budget and not allow the appropriating processes of the Congress to do any harm to it. I mean, we have to protect the committees, the organizations over which we have jurisdiction. That is not somebody else's job. It is our job. If this committee seems to be doing an important service and needs more money, this is the place that it should be able to come to and lay out the case for what additional resources are required, and I hope that we get around to that as quickly as we can.
Another compliment, if I can, while I am in this mood today. The question of the President's Commission on Race has been raised for a few, and it was unclear whether there was some conflict, contradiction, or some conflict with the duties of the Commission itself. And it is very important that we lay that out to anybody in or out of the Congress that doesn't understand clearly the incredible differences between the functions of these two bodies. For some it can be a source of confusion. For some you can see we have got one, you don't need the other. Surely you don't need two Commissions studying race in America. Well, we need probably quite a few more things in addition to these
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Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired. Without objection the gentleman will have 2 additional minutes.
Mr. CONYERS. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In the condition that we are in, the President's call for a national dialogue on race complements the work of this Commission, which probably somewhere in all of its reports, discussions, hearings, forums, publications, has called for an enlightened, sensible discussion on race. And so I see all of this as extremely, extremely important, and perhaps we will be able to figure a way, Madam Chair, of moving into high ground on the subject of how we support and improve the resources and the operation of the Commission. I think you have madeacquitted yourself in a very excellent way, but you have also made clear to anybody with doubts understand where we all are on this. So hopefully we are through this part.
Okay, now, where do we go from here? The race problem isn't getting smaller. There may be ways that the Congress cannot only facilitate your responsibilities, but even their own, and that, Chairman Canady, perhaps we could sit with our friendsyou know, there is no law against us meeting with the chairperson other than when she is called as a witness. I mean, we could have dialogue ourselves. The President has instructed everybody in the country to do it. Maybe we might consider ourselves included.
Ms. BERRY. Do you want me to comment or just listen, Mr. Chairman?
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANADY. Well, the gentleman's additional 2 minutes have expired, and we are expecting a vote relatively soon, so I would like to give the other Members an opportunity.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, would you indicate some assent or consent to the all of the requirements, suggestions I have imposed upon you?
Mr. CANADY. Well, I will certainly be delighted to talk with you about any suggestions you have. I do think that one of the suggestions in particular you made about hearing about the substantive work product of the Commission in some context, whether it is a hearing or a briefing before Members of the subcommittee, could be something that could be of benefit to Members of the subcommittee and perhaps even a benefit to Members of the committee.
Ms. WATERS. Would the gentleman yield for a moment on that?
Mr. CANADY. Well, I don't have time.
Ms. WATERS. Well, then, I will just say it. I would like for us to go to a field hearing. The Members of this committee really need to get out and see what happens in these instances.
Mr. CANADY. Again, I think that that is a good suggestion, and hopefully the Members of the subcommittee would be able to work out a time when at least some of us would be able to attend a field hearing, and it may be that some of us would go to one field hearing and some to another. I think that is the sort of thing that would help us increase our understanding of what the Commission is doing and give us a fuller perspective on the work.
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Mr. CONYERS. I thank the Chair.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman from Arkansas Mr. Hutchinson is recognized.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to come back to the line of questioning I asked the previous panel. Dr. Berry, I think this hearing to a large extent is about management and use of taxpayers' dollars, about how well run the Commission is, and I have some sympathy because I know you are in a part-time status, but you and the other Commission members do have responsibilities for setting policy.
I want to ask about the teaching position of Stephanie Moore, the general counsel, at the University of Pennsylvania. It is my understanding from your testimony thus far that you were aware from the very beginningin fact, you recommended Stephanie Moore for this teaching position.
Ms. BERRY. No. I said she agreed that she would like to do it, and I suggested she talk to the Staff Director about whether it could be done without conflicting with her duties and the legality of it, and once I was told that the Staff Director said that she could do it, I said she could only do it if it doesn't interfere with what you are doing it was all legal.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUTCHINSON. And you taught at the University
Ms. BERRY. I still teach at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. But during the time you took a leave of absence, Stephanie Moore started teaching the same class you previously taught.
Ms. BERRY. Right.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. And then you were going to go back and teach those classes this year.
Ms. BERRY. Right.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. So in essence, there is a year hiatus when Stephanie Moore replaced you in a teaching position at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ms. BERRY. No, that is not precisely accurate.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Now, the salary is $103,000 that she receives at the Commission, and she indicated she would receive $30,000 from the University of Pennsylvania, and you indicated this could not be approved under the ethics rules unless there was a finding that her activities and outside employment, one, did not exceed 15 percent of the executive level II salary, and secondly, it did not interfere with her official duties.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. BERRY. Precisely. And if I may introduce for the record
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Let me go ahead and ask this line of questions. Miguel Sapp was the designated Agency official who indicated that he was satisfied that the teaching position did not conflict with the official's duties. Do you know Miguel Sapp?
Ms. BERRY. Yes.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Is that person in the General Counsel's Office?
Ms. BERRY. He is the ethics officer. I am not sure. He may be, but I am not sure.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. It is my understanding that that person is in the General Counsel's Office working with or under Stephanie Moore.
Ms. BERRY. But he is also the Agency's designated ethics official and does not report to her. Designated ethics officials do not report in that capacity.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Were you aware in March of 1996of course you werethat she was going to take this teaching position?
Ms. BERRY. Of course.
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Mr. HUTCHINSON. Now, this is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You indicated that she could work on the way. Did she have a chauffeured automobile?
Ms. BERRY. I did not indicate this, Mr. Hutchinson, with all due respect. This was approved by the ethics officer and the Staff Director who was Ms. Moore's supervisor. There is a letter to that effect, which I now enter into the record, if it is not already there.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I have that.
Ms. BERRY. It should go into the record, which was done by the Staff Director, not me, and my understanding by the Staff Director was she had arranged how this could be done, and I said if at any time I feel that she couldn't do both, let me know, and I will get somebody else to do it. I saw it as an opportunity for Ms. Moore. I have brought over post-docs on to teach as part of what you do for growth and development. There is nothing strange about it. You may question the judgment, but there is nothing illegal about it.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. That is exactly what I question: Judgment and management. That is what this hearing is all about. If you have an agency that the GAO says is in disarray; that if you have management problems that you acknowledge; you have a General Counsel's Office that is responsible for projects, projects that are not being done; and as you indicated, we don't know how long they are going to take because there is not adequate planning; and you have a general counsel that is out of the office for 2 days a week in Philadelphia; how can you or your staff attest or say this does not interfere?
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Ms. BERRY. May I answer?
First of all, the Staff Director attested to that, not me.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. But you
Ms. BERRY. Secondly, none of the reports that Ms. Moore was responsible forin fact, two hearings were done during that time. I got all this from the Staff Director. I don't manage personnel. And there was no time when she was derelict in her duty, according to the Staff Director, and if she had been, I would have immediately said she can't do it anymore.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired. Without objection the gentleman will be 2 additional minutes.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I want to be terribly respectful to you, Dr. Berry, and I don't want to put you on the defensive about this, but as a taxpayer and a Member of Congress, that troubles me. It is common sense that being 2 days out of the office interferes with her work duty when you are behind to begin with. Now, if she is caught up, that might be a different matter, but she is not caught up. So I think it is a problem, and you are aware of this and have been aware of this. Are you going to allow this policy to continue?
Ms. BERRY. First of all, she isn't doing it anymore. It was for 3 1/2 months in 1996 and 3 1/2 months in 1997. She was not in Philadelphia 2 days a week, that is not true. She was not.
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Mr. HUTCHINSON. How did she travel there?
Ms. BERRY. I have no idea. I think she traveled by train, but that is not sure. So long as the government isn't paying for it, I don't see why it matters.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. You stated that she could study on the way?
Ms. BERRY. That was an arrangement made between her and the Staff Director, not by me. It would not be appropriate for me to be involved in that because I was not her supervisor, and I don't manage the Agency, and all I said was if it gets to be a problem, tell me, and she won't do it anymore. You know, you may question that judgment, and certainly you can, but there was nothing illegal about it, and it was a great opportunity for her, and her work, according the Staff Director, was not affected by it.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Were the other Commissioners aware of this?
Ms. BERRY. There is no provision that they need to be.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Mr. Anderson, would you respond to whether you think teaching in Philadelphia 2 days a week would interfere with responsibilities and job performance?
Mr. ANDERSON. To the best of my recollection, I don't recall any of the other Commissioners being informed about this. Some may have been. I don't recall learning about it until today. Without judging the performance of the general counsel, I would say that I would not have entered into that kind of a relationship, nor would I have approved it. I would also say that, frankly, given what I consider to be the poor management performance of the previous Staff Director, I would not have relied upon her judgment in this matter.
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Mr. HUTCHINSON. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield to Mr. Scott.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you.
Dr. Berry, did you testify that the general counsel was putting in 60 to 80 hours per week on Commission business?
Ms. BERRY. Right. According to the Staff Director, that is entirely the case.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you.
I yield back to the gentleman from North Carolina.
Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, I think in the interest of moving forward, I will not ask any questions, although I have neither smoked nor inhaled from the pipe that Mr. Conyers made reference to. Maybe it is the effect of the secondary smoke in the room; that I will just stay out of this and let it keep going. I yield back. Thank you.
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Mr. CANADY. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
I want to thank both of you for being here. I will note that this line of questioning that Mr. Hutchinson has pursued raises a troubling issue. I don't know how a general counsel can be away from the office a substantial portion of 2 days, particularly when that person as general counsel has supervisory responsibility. You talk about being tasked and behind, and
Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, I don't think I yielded my time to you. I yielded it back. If you are going to use my time and not move the hearing forward, I will use it myself.
Mr. CANADY. Your time has been yielded, and we thank the witnesses for being here, and we will go to the next panel.
Mr. CANADY. On our final panel we will hear first testimony from Mr. Wade Henderson. Mr. Henderson is currently the Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. We will then hear from Mr. Bill Allen. Mr. Allen is a former Chairman on the Commission of Civil Rights and is currently a professor at Michigan State University. Is Mr. Allen here?
I want to thank both of you for being with us here today. I would like to ask that you do your best to summarize your testimony in 5 minutes, subject to the understanding that we are not going to strictly enforce that. Without objection, of course, your full statements will be made a part of the permanent record of the hearing.
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Mr. CANADY. Mr. Henderson.
STATEMENTS OF WADE HENDERSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL RIGHTS
Mr. HENDERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today in support of the reauthorization of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. I am Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is the Nation's oldest, largest and most diverse coalition of civil rights organizations. The Leadership Conference was founded in 1950 as an independent body to promote passage and the implementation of civil rights laws. Today, the Leadership Conference has over 180 national organizations working together to resolve the significant civil rights problems of the day. These organizations include groups representing persons of color, women, organized labor, persons with disabilities, older Americans, gays and lesbians, and major religious groups.
As the Executive Director of the leadership conference, I am pleased to express our strong support of the reauthorization of the Civil Rights Commission. Now, the role of the Commission in affecting public policy, particularly when it has been performed over the years with commitment, independence, and adequate resources, is virtually unparalleled by any other arm of the government in our Nation's quest for equality. As an independent bipartisan agency, the Commission at its best offers both information and guidance which are useful in the development and evaluation of the national civil rights policy. While in the not too distant past the Commission was virtually moribund, its recent years reflect a necessary resurgence and vitality in these times of heightened intolerance.
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Mr. Chairman, like you, I am proud to be an American, but I am also keenly aware that America is a work in progress. This Nation has made much progress over the last 30 years in ending legal segregation. However, discrimination and bigotry are significant and continuing problems in too many aspects of American life.
Recently the Leadership Conference and the Leadership Conference Education Fund issued a report examining the problems of hate crime violence in the United States. The report is entitled Cause for Concern: Hate Crimes in America, and we found that although violent crime generally is on the decline, hate crime activity is on the increase, sufficient such that President Clinton has chosen now to convene a National Conference on Hate Crimes in November of this year. We believe that kind of activity helps to document what we see as a persistent and continuing problem for the enforcement and protection of civil rights in America.
As you well know, Mr. Chairman, questions around tensions and fairness and equality in our country continue to persist. We believe that there is a necessary role for the Federal Government in the enactment and enforcement of civil rights laws, and there was also a necessary role for the Civil Rights Commission in analyzing the nature of discrimination, bigotry and intolerance in our society and in offering sound solutions toward repairing the breach.
Some individuals, Mr. Chairman, have mistakenly confused the limited short-term role of President Clinton's recently appointed Advisory Board on Race, and I think Dr. Berry has adequately addressed some of the distinctions. Obviously the broad mandate of the Civil Rights Commission is far more substantial than the narrow responsibilities of the President's initiative. That is not to say, however, that the President's initiative isn't absolutely essential. It is very important, and we think it is an important step in the national search for racial reconciliation.
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It in no way supersedes or diminishes the ongoing responsibility of the Civil Rights Commission, and I would point to the fact that there have been other short-term advisory bodies that have assisted in making recommendations to the executive branch on issues that also touched on the jurisdiction of the Civil Rights Commission, and as Mr. Conyers pointed out, in the past these Commissions have worked in a complementary way with the Commission, not at odds. I would cite the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly called the Kerner Commission, which made its reports on the events in the summer of 1967 and outlined as a blueprint for what he called the, ''abrasive relationship between the police and minority communities.'' Once that was done, its job was completed. However, the Civil Rights Commission continues to examine the police community relations in our Nation and whether the recommendations of the Kerner Commission and other useful proposals have been implemented.
We think in the years ahead the civil rights community and the Nation will need the valuable work of the Civil Rights Commission to help transform the Nation and take us where we believe all Americans hope the country will eventually evolve. Now, the Civil Rights Commission's record in recent years in addressing controversial civil rights matters is a testament, we think, to its value, and I would cite, as a couple of examples at least, one of the hearings that was held last year on the issue of racial and ethnic tensions in Miami, Florida. Now, we found those hearings especially useful, and we know they helped to advise the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, and the Community Relations Service on steps it might take, those Agencies might take, in addressing the problem.
We have seen other valuable recommendations from the Civil Rights Commission which have been incorporated in the work of other Federal agencies. As was noted by the previous panel, for example, the Department of Agriculture, in confronting the systemic long-term discrimination against African-American farmers, used the advice of the Civil Rights Commission in helping to shape its recommendations, and we support that effort.
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Now, we are aware, of course, of the recent audit of the Commission by the General Accounting Office, which has dominated much of the debate here this morning, and we appreciate the recommendations for management improvement that the GAO has made. And we note, as has been previously addressed, that at least two or three of the recommendations could have been implemented over a longer period of time. But that in no way takes away from the importance if the recommendations themselves. And as has been acknowledged by Chairman Berry, we believe that the Commission's willingness to implement the GAO's findings and recommendations is a solid step toward taking the Commission to where it needs to be in the future.
We were pleased, Mr. Chairman, that you, too, acknowledged in your opening remarks the importance of the Commission and the valuable service it had rendered over the years and what appeared to your implicit support at least for the reauthorization of the Commission. Certainly that is a finding that the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights strongly supports, and with that I will conclude my formal remarks here today, but to thank you for the opportunity to appear in support of the reauthorization of the Commission.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you.
Mr. CANADY. Mr. Allen.
STATEMENT OF BILL ALLEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS
Mr. ALLEN. Thank you, Chairman Canady. Greetings, Chairman and Members. I am William B. Allen. From April 1987 through December 1992, I served on the Commission on Civil Rights as a member, and from August of 1988 to October of 1989 I served as Chair.
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During my tenure on the Commission, a General Accounting Organization Report on the Commission spoke harshly of management and administrative improprieties at the Commission. The Commission responded to that earlier GAO report not only with corrections of errors in fact and interpretation in the GAO report, but also with the determined effort to correct what were, in fact, serious lapses in Agency functioning.
The GAO report issued in spring 1988. By the following spring the Agency had undertaken serious efforts to bring the ship aright, including giving long-standing calls for enforcement reports. I believe that our efforts in the period from mid-1989 to 1991 were successful relative to correcting management flaws in the Agency. We put in place personnel and management procedure to restore some measure of confidence in the Agency to manage the important public funds invested in its work. I believe, moreover, that we put in place processes that should have eventuated in a thorough reformulation of the management practices at the Agency along with concomitant improvement in mission performance at the Agency.
I deeply regret, therefore, to have to read the gloomy conclusions of the July 1997 GAO report on the management and information failures at the Commission. Each of these reads quite credibly in light of my experience, although I believe it is true that the limited time frame deprives the report of some dimensions of historical context. Had full historical context been provided, the failure would seem even more depressing.
The actual record is that a Commission that had been battered in ill-tempered political battles was left as of 1991 sufficiently stabilized to perform its vital work. There had been previous devastating budget reductions, but by that time it was clear that the Agency had sufficiently defended the Commission to ensure long-term, at least, confidence in stable provision.
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Thus, the current picture should give rise to concern both about the Commission as an institution and about the role of parties within and without the Commission in providing adequate expression to the proper mission of the Commission. That mission, very simply, is to provide permanent eyes and ears to identify and express the Nation's continuing pain over matters of injustice that derive, in fact, from a prior legacy of racial discrimination. While the mission has been enlarged over time to refer to other concerns, and while it has been a contentious battlefield for interested parties, that historic mission remains the defining criterion of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
But one of my final achievements on the Commission was to influence colleagues toward a general embrace of the idea that we needed to perform a clear-headed and clear-eyed review of the then already looming problem of heightening racial tension and division in this society. The GAO report seems to suggest that inadequate records exist to document the purpose of that project, which I cannot understand. I am certain that my archives contain full notes of minutes and drafts and final text as were discussed at that time. Those archives are available for public inspection at the archives in the Special Collections Department of the library at the Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California.
That project was hijacked and diverted from its proper goal in the aftermath, and the result since has been that we have experienced a heightening drumbeat of concern about rising racial tension, with no effective response whether from the Commission or anybody else. Nor is a late and feeble new Presidential Commission an adequate response inasmuch as it sets off without so much as an honest nod to failures of the existing governmental apparatus, a failure in which they have called for the new to play a large role in the old negligence.
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I would urge in conclusion that the Members return to lines of inquiry laid out before you once before. What is described as management failure at the Commission is more accurately political failure. The constitution of the body that emerged from the struggles of the 1980s has never succeeded as needed, nor is likely to succeed, save momentarily. The original constitution of a Presidentially-appointed body subject to confirmation would immensely strengthen the operation. Further, since the political battles at the Commission, which only the shadow forms of political struggles within and without the Congress, have eviscerated any possible appearance of a will of the body itself, no one should expect employees at the Commission to sustain any clear or long-held sense of direction. Thus, the question today is whether we are willing to take the steps to ensure an effective Commission. That question requires that we answer the question do we still need the Commission?
Several times recently, and often during my tenure, I have been invited by the existing dialogue to embrace the notion that perhaps the Commission had exceeded its usefulness and should be put quietly to sleep. I will respond to that now as I have before. I honestly believe and will defend the proposition that our Nation has not yet strived free of the entanglements of race considerations as foundations of public policy. That statement may additionally be made about gender, sex, age, and disability today, but I continue to insist that those are but of the unnatural offspring of the central difficulty.
Until we are free, the one positive statement we have made about the situation as a people is the affirmation that we think a body charged not with acting but with thinking and speaking should force us to confront the reality of our failure. That failure consists, primarily today and not in the past, of our inability to conceive of any approach to our common problems that does not begin in separating us into separate and nonconsanguine, separate entities. Thus the very laws that have been promulgated operate largely to inflame racial jealousies and, in consequence, racial tensions. We need to be told that officially and, moreover, to be able to embrace the opportunity to correct it. A Commission on Civil Rights can do that if we should only ask it to do so.
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I thank you for your time, and I have left with you further an essay recently written that further extends the discussion in these notes.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you, Mr. Allen.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Barr, is recognized.
Mr. BARR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You have heardMr. Allen, were you here for the entire morning's proceedings?
Mr. ALLEN. Not the entire morning, only the latter half. My plane was late.
Mr. BARR. You have, obviously, from your remarks, studied the GAO report, and apart from your opening statement, are there some specific recommendations that you could put on the record today to address some of the what I consider very serious deficiencies enumerated by GAO? No purpose would be served by going over them again, but they are laid out in GAO's report. But are there any specifics you could suggest as areas of specific legislative attention as we move through the reauthorization process to address these specific deficiencies?
Mr. ALLEN. The best way for me to answer that, Mr. Barr, is to distinguish this report from the 1988 report. If you read the 1988 report, you will discover that its primary concern was, yes, with management and personnel practices, but far more some of the practices of Commissioners themselves and the way in which Commissioners had an influence on the management of the Agency, and even questions of possible improprieties. Those plays a very large role in that 1988 report.
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What is really troubling about this report is that it goes squarely to the heart of Agency functioning in a way that exceeds greatly what happened in 1988. So it seems to me that attention has to be given to the fundamental issue of management and constitution. Is the Commission properly organized, and do we need to reconsider how it has been put together if we want to have something that properly functions.
Mr. BARR. So one recommendation you are making is that Congress do a better job of paying close attention and, in fact, pay closer attention to what is going on with the Commission, and we have an opportunity now with the reauthorization process to do that, and you are urging us not to drop the ball.
Mr. ALLEN. Absolutely.
Mr. BARR. Also through some earlier question, and I think I alluded to it, but let me just make sure, Mrs. Berry indicated in her response to the GAO report, her written response, that part of the problem is that, in her words, the Commission has been saddled with doing more things, and she enumerates at the beginning of her response additional areas in which the Commission has had to devote its resources, including sexual orientation, emotional disability and economic disadvantage.
Would onewould you agree with the proposition that it might be best to get back to first principles and make sure that in whatever authorizing legislation we pass, more care is taken to give clear and more limited direction to the Commission so it does a better job of its fundamental mission; and what turns out, I think, to be a very poor job of trying to do all these other things, it winds up, I think, not doing anything very well.
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Mr. ALLEN. In my experience as a manager, Mr. Barr, it is absolutely true that good management is mission-driven. Clarity about mission, repeated over and over again, actual articulation is the first criterion of good management, and that means avoiding mission creep. It is also true, I have to point out, that it is always good to have more money than less money, but that doesn't change the management equation.
Management is possible in any situation, and in the past 6 years, there has been relatively stable funding, relatively predictable funding, which mean good managers ought to be been able to figure out how to work with what they had. I wish I could have heard 10 years ago about what occurs with drastic budget cuts. I didn't receive such sympathy in those days when those very cuts were made.
Mr. BARR. And we see the record of prior Congresses in cutting back through the latter 1980s and into the 1990s.
Mr. Henderson, I suspect you might disagree with my prior question, but again, apparently labor matters and matters of homosexuality loom larger in your view of what the Commission ought to be doing than Mr. Allen, but given the fact that it is unlikely certainly in the near term that there will be substantial budget increases for the Commission, would you not agree, quite aside from your own disagreement whether those are legitimate concerns in the first place, that it might be better to have to have a more narrow focus focusing on the fundamental problem of race in America which continues to plague us with those limited resources rather than getting into these other areas and dissipating those scarce resources and are not likely to increase?
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Mr. CANADY. The gentleman will have 2 additional minutes.
Mr. HENDERSON. Two observations. The first, the report makes observations about additional administrative difficulties which date back to the 1988 study done by the GAO, and at least through years of the period covered by the new period actually reflect the time served as Chair by Mr. Allen. And so the question of administrative difficulty, which were cited in this report, presumably at least had some of their genesis under the administration of
Mr. BARR. I really don't want you to take my time. I have given you an opportunity to respond to a question that I have posed. If you have a criticism of Mr. Allen, you can do it on somebody else's time.
Mr. HENDERSON. I think the question of civil rights enforcement, which is the prime directive of the Leadership Conference and also the Civil Rights Commission, is measured by a single yardstick. We believe that equal protection of the law and we believe that enforcement of civil rights statutes apply to all persons in our society. To the extent that one can identify a problem which should be addressed, it should be addressed, and the Civil Rights Commission has a responsibility to do so. To the extent that is has extended its mandate to address problems of other segments of society not included in the original mandate of Congress, we believe that is an appropriate response by the Commission, and we believe that it is appropriate that the Commissioners make determinations about what areas it chooses to pursue.
Now, the question of priorities and the allocation of resources are obviously serious issues, and while we may agree with some decisions, we may dispute others, but the general premise, which is to say that the Civil Rights Commission looks at a number of issues beyond those originally identified with its mandate, we think are perfectly appropriate.
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Mr. BARR. Okay. I just think if you follow that philosophy, you would be condemning the Commission to a future history of at best mediocrity because it is simply not going to have the resources to do all these additional missions that, in the words of Ms. Berry, it has been saddled with. I think the Commission has a very important task to do. I would much prefer to see it do a very good job at that fundamental task first and then worry about these other things.
Mr. CANADY. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Allen, references have been made to whether or not there was mismanagement, and how far it went back, and who is to blame, and whether it was Congress or the President that cut the budget. I think at this hearing we would serve ourselves best by looking forward rather than trying to find out how we got here. Do you disagree with any of the recommendations the GAO has made?
Mr. ALLEN. No, I think the recommendations are very sensible ones. I have obviously added recommendations of my own that go beyond those. That doesn't bespeak disagreement. What it reflects is a lack of comprehensiveness in those recommendations.
Mr. SCOTT. But so far as the recommendations that have been made, you would agree with those recommendations?
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Mr. ALLEN. All represent good management practice.
Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Henderson, how valuable is a Commission that has no legislative or enforcement powers? How valuable is the Civil Rights Commission with those limitations?
Mr. HENDERSON. I think, notwithstanding its limitations, the Civil Rights Commission has been one of the most significant and valuable agencies of the Federal Government in advancing principals of equal protection of the law for all persons in our society. Over the 40 years history of the Civil Rights Commission, its reports, its analysis, its recommendations, its ability to speak with moral authority, its independence, its willingness to speak truth to power regardless of who may be in the White House or who may be in control of houses of Congress has provided, I think, an incredibly valuable service to the American people. Without that moral voice, without that authority, the ability to move the principles on which the country could incorporate all persons in our society I think would not have come about, and I think it continues to play as important a role today as when it was originally conceived.
And I recognize that it has experienced shortcomings in part of the funding difficulty and the ideological squabbles that have from time to time divided the Agency. But notwithstanding that, I think its importance and function is vital, and I hope it will be reauthorized by this Congress.
Mr. SCOTT. Now, what areas of concern should be the priority of the Commission?
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Mr. HENDERSON. I think the Commission has indeed set out a number of areas of inquiry. Some of these continue to relate to the problems of racial discrimination in our country, and I think those were adequately addressed by Dr. Berry. The problem of church burnings in the Southeast, the impact of those hearings over the lives of individual Americans I think have been absolutely compelling, and it was the report of the Civil Rights Commission that helped bring those to the attention of American public. I think they have served a valuable role in going into communities that have experienced racial conflict in the wake of police difficulties, whether in Miami or St. Petersburg; that plays a vital role.
But I think the Commission also has an opportunity to look at other areas not previously examined in the public debate which continues to have impact on the quality of life for many persons in our society. The upcoming hearings on the Americans with Disabilities Act, its implementation and examination, I think it is critically important, and I am pleased they will examine those issues. And I think areas that look at the impact of decisions affecting religion are very important. We hope that the Commission can be encouraged, perhaps, to examine the problem of stereotyping Asian-Americans in the ongoing debate on campaign finance reform.
We are troubled by many of the things we see in society, and we think that the jurisdiction of the Civil Rights Commission is sufficient to open the door to an examination of some of these problem, and we hope that the agenda that the Commission has outlined for the coming year will be pursued with vigor and with the resources necessary to carry out its function well and effectively.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you.
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I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you.
The gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Hutchinson, is recognized.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Mr. Allen, I wanted to ask you the same question that Mr. Scott addressed to Mr. Henderson, and that question is what is your view of an agency and the effectiveness of the Civil Rights Commission when it has no enforcement responsibility or legislative responsibility?
Mr. ALLEN. I would be happy to address that. Let me say first, as I said, I left the Commission in 1992, and the GAO report covers the years 1993 through 1996. They do not cover the period when I was at the Commission.
But to answer the question directly, I think it is vitally important that the Commission should not have legislative or enforcement authority. I mentioned that obliquely in my remarks. The Commission is a think tank. It is not a clearinghouse for ideas and complaints. It therefore doesn't have to do everything or be everywhere. It is charged with the very important moral responsibilities of thinking out loud about the most sensitive part of our national soul. That is its task. That is what it was established to do in 1957, and that is what it has done when it has acted at its best. But that means it has to be capable of recognizing what is important.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One cannot run a first-rate cyclotron lab by also assigning tasks to people to identify every UFO rumor. High physics doesn't require encyclopedic reference to every physical phenomenon someone might think of. The same is true here. This is a critical problem. This is fundamental, and it must be met at its center. It cannot be frittered away by people who are less concerned with trying to resolve the central dilemma than simply trying to multiply the opportunity to work off of it. Multiplying the opportunity to work off of it is perfectly fine, but the Commission on Civil Rights is there to take the center, to grab hold of the center, to make it stand firmly before us and force us to see it and come to some terms of resolution about it. And if we don't do that, we are going to remain in the pattern we have been in, which is what I refer to loosely as ideological squabbles, but probably ought to be better considered as simply the time wasted sharing out, divvying up inconsequential opportunities to small advances.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Thank you. That is all, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized.
Mr. WATT. I think I will reserve my time.
Mr. CANADY. Mr. Goodlatte.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have any questions of these witnesses.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANADY. Mr. Watt, do you want toyou are recognized if you wish to go.
Mr. WATT. I think I will reserve my time.
Mr. CANADY. Well, I am going to conclude the hearing, so if you want to go, this is your opportunity.
Mr. WATT. Okay. Well, I will yield back my time.
Mr. CANADY. Okay. I appreciate that.
I want to thank both of you for being here. I think your testimony has been very helpful to us. Let me specifically ask if you haveif either of you have suggestions about changes in the structure of the Commission that could help ensure that it performs its fundamental task more effectively. Mr. Allen, if you want to go first. You have had some experience, I guess, with different structures on the Commission, but what is your thought on that?
Mr. ALLEN. What I mentioned today is the same thing I mentioned in my last appearance before the committee as Chair, namely that the Commission has suffered because it no longer has the unquestioned stature in the eyes of its authorizing agents that it once had, and having a Commission that forces the Congress and the President to come together rather than to stand at opposite ends of the broadway is extremely important to this country.
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And I do believe, therefore, that it is important that it should be there as it was once, a body that is Presidentially appointed and confirmed. I think that will go a long way to remove many of the troubles that we have now seen in differing eras affect this Commission, and it can't be dismissed as merely the result of ideological squabbling.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you, Mr. Allen.
Mr. Henderson, do you have a comment?
Mr. HENDERSON. Mr. Canady, thank you for the question. I think as has been noted previously, the Commission is going to undertake the recommendations of the GAO Commission, which I think is sound. I think right now the Commission needs the support of its authorizing committee. It needs to be reauthorized. It needs to be given the funding to carry out its mandate. Even an appropriation at last year's level is inadequate to do the task for which the Commission is charged.
The answer, in my view, is not to reduce the scope of its mission or to curtail legitimate activities that bring enlightenment to the public on difficult issues, but rather to get the funding and support from both Congress and the administration so it can carry out its responsibility. In the long term there may be other recommendations that might be made, and with your permission, sir, I would look to reserve the opportunity perhaps to provide them in writing if there are other suggestions that could be useful.
Mr. CANADY. Certainly we would appreciate receiving any suggestions that you would like to commit to us in writing. It is important that you do so as soon as possible, because we are hoping to move forward with consideration of this issue very quickly.
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Mr. Allen, if you have additional thoughts you wish to submit in writing, we would be pleased to receive those.
Mr. CANADY. Let me follow up on this question about
Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, may I make a parliamentary inquiry. Are you proceeding on the clock at this point? I notice that neither one of those lights is on and has not been on since you started.
Mr. CANADY. That is an error and an oversight. We will keep it to 5 minutes.
Mr. WATT. Thank you.
Mr. CANADY. Mr. Allen, let me ask you to make any comments you might have about what you have heard today concerning the general counsel being out of the office for at least substantial portions of 2 days each week during a period of time. Do you think the general counsel could function effectively under circumstances such as that based on your experience at the Commission?
Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Chairman, you will excuse me for not commenting on something about which I am entirely ignorant except what I have heard today. I will say this about the Office of General Counsel, having myself worked closely with the general counsel at the Commission. I believe that task is far more seriously a supervisory task than it is a pencil-pushing task, though it has much pencil-pushing as well, and I think any analysis ought to be an analysis that focuses on the supervisory aspects of the general counsel.
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Mr. CANADY. All right. I thank you for that. I think that is an important element that needs to be taken into account as we look into whether that practice was appropriate or not.
With that I want to thank both of you again for being with us, and the subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:06 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned.]
INSERT OFFSET RING FOLIOS 1 TO 78 HERE
[The Appendix is being held in the committee's file.]
UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCOF THE
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
JULY 17, 1997
Serial No. 80
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
SONNY BONO, California
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRISTOPHER B. CANNON, Utah
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
THOMAS E. MOONEY, Chief of Staff-General Counsel
JULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Staff Director
Subcommittee on the Constitution
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
BOB BARR, Georgia
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MAXINE WATERS, California
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
JERROLD NADLER, New York
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
KATHRYN HAZEEM LEHMAN, Chief Counsel
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCKERI D. HARRISON, Counsel
JOHN H. LADD, Counsel
ROBERT J. CORRY, Counsel
C O N T E N T S
June 26, 1997
Canady, Hon. Charles T., a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida, and chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution
Allen, Bill, former chairman, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Anderson, Carl, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Berry, Mary Frances, Chairperson, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Blanchette, Cornelia M., Associate Director, Employment and Education Issues, General Accounting Office
Henderson, Wade, Executive director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
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LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Berry, Mary Frances, Chairperson, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Prepared Statement
Blanchette, Cornelia M., Associate Director, Employment and Education Issues, General Accounting Office: Prepared Statement
Material submitted for the hearing
(Footnote 1 return)
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Agency Lacks Basic Management Controls (GAO/HEHS97125, July 8, 1997).
(Footnote 2 return)
Several agencies have enforcement authority for civil rights issues. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is charged with enforcing specific federal employment antidiscrimination statutes, such as title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Also, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Department of Justice is the enforcement authority for civil rights issues for the nation.
(Footnote 3 return)
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights mission and functions: 45 C.F.R., part VII.
(Footnote 4 return)
The staff director at the time of our review resigned effective December 31, 1996. A new staff director joined the Commission on June 30, 1997.
(Footnote 5 return)
These projects included six on racial and ethnic tensions in American communities that were completed or ongoing and one completed project on funding federal civil rights enforcement.
(Footnote 6 return)
The project evaluated the enforcement of the fair housing Amendments Act of 1988. In responding to a draft of our report, the office of the Staff Director said that the project produced two reports and data provided to the congress reflected fiscal year 1994 cost while the GAO request represented all costs on the project and adding the costs associated with the two reports reconciles the difference. Records provided us during the audit do not support these comments.
(Footnote 7 return)
The Subcommittee on the Constitution, House Committee on the Judiciary, reported that for fiscal year 1995 the Commission did not meet its statutory requirement to submit to the Congress at least one report that monitors federal civil rights enforcement. (104th Congress, House Report 104846, Sept. 1996).
(Footnote 8 return)
The Commission is not required by statute to have an Inspector General, and its operations have not been audited by an outside accounting firm.
(Footnote 9 return)
OPM, Office of Merit Systems Oversight and effectiveness, Report of an Oversight Review: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights-Washington, D.C. (Washington, D.C.: OPM, Nov. 1996).
(Footnote 10 return)
Citizens' Commission on Civil rights, New Challenges: The Civil Rights Record of the Clinton Administration Mid-term: Interim Report on Performance of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights During the Clinton Administration (Washington, D.C.: Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights, 1995). The Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights is a private bipartisan group of officials who formerly served in federal government positions with responsibility for equal opportunity. The Citizens Commission was established in 1982 to monitor the federal government's civil rights policies and practices and seek ways to accelerate progress in the area of civil rights.
(Footnote 11 return)
The total cost of this project is not known because Commission officials did not, as they had for other projects, account for staff salaries spent to conduct the project.
(Footnote 12 return)
Because the Commission did not have information on actual start dates, we determined our cycle time calculations using the project approval date as the start date and the report issuance date as the end date.
(Footnote 13 return)
Commission on Civil Rights, Racial and Ethnic Tensions in American Communities: Poverty, Inequality, and DiscriminationA National Perspective, executive summary and transcript of hearing held in Washington, D.C. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, May 2122, 1992). Commission data provided us showed that the Commission approved the transcript and executive summary for publication as of March 1995, but the actual document is dated May 1992.
(Footnote 14 return)
While the Commission holds planning meetings to discuss future projects, these meetings are held annually and therefore do not serve to routinely inform the commissioners about the status of projects.