Detailed Information on the
Commission on Civil Rights Assessment

Program Code 10006243
Program Title Commission on Civil Rights
Department Name Commission on Civil Rights
Agency/Bureau Name Commission on Civil Rights
Program Type(s) Direct Federal Program
Assessment Year 2006
Assessment Rating Results Not Demonstrated
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 80%
Strategic Planning 38%
Program Management 43%
Program Results/Accountability 8%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $9
FY2008 $9
FY2009 $9

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Continue to explore additional collaborative research and investigative opportunities with other Federal, state, and local programs.

Action taken, but not completed In FY07, the agency adopted a new strategic plan for FY2008 ??FY2013 that formalizes its commitment to exploring collaborative partnerships. The plan specifically creates a strategic goal that calls for ??Expanding the capacity of federal agencies to raise public awareness of civil rights and efficiently and effectively execute their civil rights enforcement responsibilities by engaging in strategic partnerships.?? During FY08, we should document our efforts aimed at collaboration.

Implementing agency oversight and fiscal controls, including a human capital accountability system that ties performance to achieving strategic goals and the use of sound management practices.

Action taken, but not completed An agency working group was formed in FY07 to work with OPM on the development of a fully compliant Human Capital Accountability System in 2008. An unqualified clean financial audit with no material weaknesses was received in FY07 as a result of improved financial management controls. Included among the controls are handbooks for processing procurement and other financial transactions, and new internal policies governing various agency financial processes and responsibilities.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Develop annual and long-term performance measures, including targets that demonstrate progress towards long-term programmatic outcomes. Complete strategic plan to focus agency efforts.

Completed In October 2007 the Commission adopted a final Strategic Plan that includes long-term and annual performance measures. As a part of the agency's annual budget formulation process an annual performance plan is created that is linked to the agency's strategic goals and objectives as established by its Strategic Plan. The annual plan will be re-evaluated based on the agency's actual appropriation.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term/Annual Outcome

Measure: Enhance national civil rights enforcement and data collection by ensuring that all 33 advisory committees with expired charters as of Jan. 30, 2007, are re-chartered by 2011.


Year Target Actual
2008 25% re-chartered
2009 50% re-chartered
2010 75% re-chartered
2011 100% re-chartered
Long-term/Annual Outcome

Measure: Re-charter all SACs with charters that will expire after January 30, 2007 within 60 days of their expiration dates.


Year Target Actual
2007 60 days avail 2008
2008 60 days
2009 60 days
2010 60 days
2011 60 days
2012 60 days
Long-term/Annual Outcome

Measure: Promote public awareness of current civil rights laws, remedies and enforcement agencies by increasing Commission participation in public policy symposia and venues in which the Commission shares its views concerning civil rights policies.


Year Target Actual
2007 Baseline 2
2008 Baseline + 1%
2009 Baseline + 2%
2010 Baseline + 3%
2011 Baseline + 4%
2012 Maintain 2011 target

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: Yes, the program purpose is clear as reflected in the Commission's most recent authorizing statute, the Civil Rights Commission Amendments Act of 1994. While this statute expired in 1996, the agency continues to operate under its mandate by receiving an annual Congressional appropriation. The agency, an independent, bipartisan fact-finding federal agency established in 1957, monitors and reports on the status of civil rights in the nation. The agency serves as the nation's conscience on civil rights matters by informing the President, the Congress, and the public about civil rights issues that deserve concentrated attention. The agency fulfills its mission through (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 relating to discrimination or denials of equal protection due to color, race, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin or in the administration of justice; (3) monitoring and appraising federal laws, policies and agencies to assess their civil rights enforcement efforts; (4) serving as a national clearinghouse for civil rights information; (5) preparing public service announcements and advertising campaigns to discourage discrimination and denials of equal protection of the laws; and (6) issuing at least one annual report to the President and Congress monitoring civil rights enforcement efforts in the United States and other reports as deemed appropriate.

Evidence: The Commission's original authorizing statute is Pub.L. No. 85-315, § 101, 71 Stat. 634 (1957). The 1994 statute is Pub. L. No. 103-419, 108 Stat. 4338 (1994) is codified at 42 USC § 1975, et seq.

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: The Commission continues to address a specific and existing problem. The nation is becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse; in 2005, the minority population totaled 98 million, or 33 percent. Data suggests increased barriers for the minority population and other groups in certain employment sectors. For example, religious discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased from 1,939 in 2000 to 2,340 in 2005. Violence motivated by intolerance also increased in recent years. In 2004, law enforcement agencies reported more than 7,600 criminal incidents that were motivated by a bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Vigilance against discrimination in all its forms, whether based on race, color, religion, disability, national origin, gender, or age, is the cornerstone of the USCCR's mission. The Commission addresses the increasing incidence of discrimination by investigating and studying the causes and consequences of discrimination, and by making recommendations for corrective actions and remedies. Recent agency activities have focused on the reauthorization of expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act, federal civil rights funding, the stagnation of the black middle class, anti-Semitism on college campuses, disparity studies, and the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act pending in Congress.

Evidence: Authorizing legislation and legislative history; U.S. Census Bureau population statistics; EEOC employment discrimination data; and agency publications: Reauthorization of the Temporary Provisions of the Voting Rights Act, Disparity Studies as Evidence of Discrimination in Federal Contracting, Findings and Recommendations of the United States Commission on Civil Rights Regarding Campus Anti-Semitism, The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005, and The Economic Stagnation of the Black Middle Class. 2000-2010 Employment Projections (US Department of Labor--BLS); Hate Crime 2004 Data (US Department of Justice); Minority Population Statistics (US Census Bureau); Religion-Based EEOC Charges 1992-2005 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: While the Commission was created to research and study a full range of civil rights issues, there are federal, state, and local agencies that also research such issues. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Policy Development and Research and Fair Housing Office produce reports on housing discrimination and may pass violations on for legal review. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) produces reports on employment discrimination. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluates federal agencies' civil rights enforcement programs. The Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights ensures equal access to health care. While these programs may not individually report on a full range of civil rights issues, their combined efforts cover a large range of such issues. In addition, non-governmental organizations such as the ACLU and NAACP and anti-discrimination academic units such as those found at Harvard, UCLA, and UC-Berkeley (among others) often litigate, advocate, and report on behalf of civil rights issues. Thus, USCCR's activity portfolio appears to overlap significantly enough with other organizations' efforts to warrant a "No" response.

Evidence: Examples of civil rights studies include: The Housing Discrimination Study 2000 and HUD's Study Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities: Barriers at Every Step 2005; Voters With Disabilities: Access to Polling Places and Alternative Voting Methods, GAO-02-107, October 15, 2001; Department of Agriculture: Hispanic and Other Minority Farmers Would Benefit from Improvements in the Operations of the Civil Rights Program GAO-02-1124T, September 25, 2002; and Equal Employment Opportunity: The Policy Framework in the Federal Workplace and the Roles of EEOC and OPM, GAO-05-195, April 29, 2005; web sites of non-governmental entities include: ACLU - www.aclu.org; NAACP - www.naacp.org; Harvard University - www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu; UCLA - www.law.ucla.edu (multiple research units); and UC-Berkeley - http://www.law.berkeley.edu/centers/index.html (multiple units).

NO 0%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: Generally, the statute is free of major design flaws that may limit efficacy. However, the effectiveness of the agency's various research projects, investigations, and reports is difficult to determine in the absence of long-term agency goals and adequate performance measures. The agency's statutory mandate explicitly identifies key agency stakeholders; specifically, the President and Congress. Other federal agencies and departments, and the general public, are identified consumers and beneficiaries of the agency's services and products. The organizational structure of the agency is generally consistent with and supports the accomplishment of its broad civil rights mandate. The primary agency leadership positions include eight appointed Commissioners (four of whom are appointed by the President and four by Congress), and a Staff Director (a presidential appointee that serves as the administrative head of the agency). Two offices in the national office are primarily responsible for national research projects, studies, evaluations, and report -- the Office of Civil Rights Evaluation and the Office of General Counsel. The agency's 51 advisory committees play a central role by collecting state and local civil rights-related data that may assist in identifying national trends.

Evidence: Organizational Chart depicting the structure of the agency and its authorizing statute describes the appointment of its political leadership; 42 USC § 1975; Administrative Instruction 1-6 on national program planning; Administrative Instruction 5-7 on regional program development and implementation; and Administrative Instruction 5-9 on changes advisory committee appointment criteria.

YES 20%

Is the program design effectively targeted so that resources will address the program's purpose directly and will reach intended beneficiaries?

Explanation: The Commission believes its impact on the course of civil rights policy helps demonstrate that its program is relied upon and available to stakeholders. The agency has directly influenced the course of civil rights policy in the United States. The Commission has spent nearly 50 years engaged in bi-partisan investigations and recommendations that have altered the civil rights landscape. The Commission's 1961 report was considered by Congress and the Supreme Court as the intellectual and factual grounding for the provisions of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. Furthermore, the Commission's hearings on the blatant and deliberate disenfranchisement of blacks in various voting precincts formed the basis of the recently renewed Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Commission's impact on civil rights legislation can be measured further still by its 1983 report on the challenges disabled individuals face in their daily lives. This report was relied upon by Congress in enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act. Today, Congress and other stakeholders continue to rely upon Commission reports and recommendations. For instance, the Commission's recommendation against passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005, (S.147) was frequently cited by opponents of the legislation; in articles submitted to the media for publication as well as statements submitted in the Congressional record and made during floor debate. It should also be noted that the Administration relied on the report in formulating its opposition to S.147. To ensure that the research, information, and reports generated by agency program activities remain available to stakeholders, the agency conducts almost monthly fact-finding events that are open to the public and captured in substantive reports. Copies of agency civil rights reports are mailed to members of Congress, the President, and other interested or affected parties. Agency briefing reports and State Advisory Committee reports are made available to the public via the Commission website and library, soon after completion. Additionally, the Commission entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Maryland School of Law, Thurgood Marshall Law Library (TMLL), giving the library permission to store electronically and make available via the internet access to Commission reports and other publications.

Evidence: Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, 107th Congress, 2nd Session, April 11, 2002 (NAACP relies upon the work of the Commission during a congressional hearing); Cong.Rec. 8 May, 2006: S4149. (Senator Alexander (TN) cites Civil Rights Commission in floor testimony on S.147); "Rights Commission's Report on Florida Election," The Washington Post, June 5, 2001 (news article about Commission's extensive investigation of the 2000 election in Florida)"; ADL Statement to US Commission on Civil Rights: Anti-Semitic Incidents on College Campuses, November, 2005 (Commission's role is "very productive" in addressing civil rights issues); William E. Moschella, Assistant Attorney General, letter to Senator Frist (TN) dated June 7, 2006, (Administration quotes Commission on Civil Rights in support of its opposition to S.147); Administrative Instruction 1-6 on national office project objectivity.

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 80%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: The agency's 1997 strategic plan contains six goals: (1) Evaluate and identify ways of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the federal enforcement of civil rights laws and policies; (2) Study allegations of denials of civil rights and equal protection of the laws, and illuminate the causes, the consequences, and possible remedies relating to discrimination based on race, color, gender, age, disability, national origin, or in the administration of justice; (3) Promote greater public awareness of civil rights protections and responsibilities; (4) Assist members of the public who seek advice and information about protecting their civil rights; (5) Enhance the unique network of 51 state advisory committees which serve as the agency's "eyes and ears" on state and local civil rights issues; and (6) Improve the management, accountability, and productivity of the agency. The strategic plan, however, does not fully comply with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and applicable guidance because it has not been updated, its strategic goals and objectives are primarily activity-based, and its performance measures rely on outputs and activities. The performance goals in the plan are not long-term outcome goals but are annual output goals. In May 2005, the agency began the process of revising its strategic plan to align Commission activities and programs with its mission/vision and strategic objectives, incorporate outcome-oriented goals and objectives, and provide performance measures. The strategic planning process is currently anticipated to conclude in late 2006.

Evidence: The Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 1997-2002.

NO 0%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: Until the agency's strategic planning process is completed in late 2006, targets and timeframes are not available.


NO 0%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?

Explanation: While the agency has annual performance plans, its plans are not linked to achieving long-term goals and objectives. This is because the current strategic plan, adopted in 1997, has long-term goals that are activity and output-oriented. Its annual performance measures, as a result, gauge annual output unrelated to outcome.

Evidence: FY 1997-2002 Strategic Plan.

NO 0%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?

Explanation: The program does not have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures because it has not finished its strategic planning process.

Evidence: The agency's 1997 Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 1997-2002 and FY2005 Performance and Accountability Report discussion on performance.

NO 0%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: Since the Commission does not have long term and annual performance measurements, its partners can neither commit to nor work toward these goals.

Evidence: 1997-2002 Strategic Plan.

NO 0%

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: While the agency does not have an Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) frequently conducts evaluations of the agency's program and agency management. OPM has also conducted periodic reviews of human resource management. Six GAO evaluations, and two OPM audits, were conducted between 1997 and 2006 on mission-critical agency functions. The resulting reports evaluated program management, agency controls, financial management, strategic planning, agency oversight, human capital management, quality assurance policies, and the use of the advisory committees in carrying out the program's mission. These reports, touching on all mission-critical agency functions, yielded more than 60 recommendations for corrective action. The 2006 report on advisory committees, for example, recommended integration of the advisory committees into national office program planning to allow the agency to better accomplish its mission.

Evidence: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Agency Lacks Basic Management Controls, GAO-HEHS-97-125; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Update on Its Response to GAO Recommendations, GAO-HEHS-98-; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: More Operational and Financial Oversight Needed, GAO- 04-18; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Management Could Benefit from Improved Strategic Planning and Increased Oversight, GAO-05-77; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Deficiencies Found in Financial Management and Internal Control, GAO-05-68R; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: The Commission Should Strengthen Its Quality Assurance Policies and Make Better Use of Its State Advisory Committees, GAO-06-343.

YES 12%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: The program does tie its budget requests to annual performance goals. Prior to the submission of the agency's annual budget, the agency's component offices and divisions are required to calculate the total cost of their program activities by completing a Budget Call. The Budget Call requires that costs associated with program activities be calculated. These costs are classified and reported at the office and division level by the budget office using budget object codes (BOCs). Based on the long-term goals in the 1997 strategic plan, the agency's budget is tied to conducting activities and producing outputs reflected in its annual goals. Absent a five-year strategic plan with adequate long-term goals, there is little linkage between budget and outcomes.

Evidence: Agency Administrative Instruction 1-6 on national project development and implementation, and Administrative Instruction 3-1 on performance-budget execution.

YES 12%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: The program has taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies. The agency's strategic planning process is currently underway and is led by a working group composed of agency commissioners. A draft timeline of the strategic planning process anticipates the plan's completion in 2006. As part of the strategic planning process, a comprehensive review of the agency's statutory obligations, goals, and measures was conducted by a staff working group and a draft preliminary plan was produced in October 2005. Congressional and other interested and affected parties' input was received in writing and during meetings with agency representatives. Following outreach, additional work was undertaken on the draft by the commissioner-level working group established in February 2006. The commissioners may adopt new strategic goals and objectives by late 2006.

Evidence: April 2005 Commission meeting transcript excerpt adopting Government Accountability Office recommendations from 1997 through 2005, including those from the report on improved strategic planning and plan deficiencies; February 17, 2006 Commission meeting transcript excerpt creating a commissioner working group on strategic planning; two copies of stakeholder outreach letters sent to several federal agencies and all state advisory committee members in 2006. Sample of Strategic Planning Outreach Letters Issued by USCCR (a SAC sample and a federal agency sample from April 2006).

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 38%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: Agency offices and divisions, including regional offices on behalf of their state advisory committees, are required to collect and report projected and actual performance data annually. Office and division heads are required to report program activities, accomplishments, planned versus actual performance; provide explanations for any variance between planned and actual performance; explain how any variance can be addressed in the future; and report actual versus estimated costs of program activities for the current year and the preceding four years. Currently, performance is primarily measured by output (e.g., the number of reports and briefings completed), and efficiency (e.g., project costs and staff hours per project, the amount of time required to completion a project, the number of national office and regional complaints processed, and whether the average complaint processing time was under 30-days). National office program managers are required to prepare timelines with milestones for tracking the progress of program activity and ensuring completion of projects within 12 months. Regional offices track the completion of regional and state advisory committee fact-finding reports on a 24-month timeline. The agency provides management with monthly cost information to support decision-making related to program planning, program activity management and evaluation, and agency financial management. Generally, these monthly cost reports are based on financial information collected using project codes assigned to specific agency program activities.

Evidence: Administrative Instruction (AI) 1-6 on national program planning development and implementation, AI 3-1 § 4 .07 on agency budget formulation, agency monthly project cost reports, and monthly project timeline reports, Performance and Accountability Report for FY05.

YES 14%

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: Federal managers and program partners are not held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results. While the Commission identifies managers who are responsible for achieving key program results during the agency's annual program planning, program performance is not formally linked to employee evaluations. Moreover, its partners, the State Advisory Committees, do not have performance standards. The agency is currently developing a Strategic Human Capital Plan and a Human Capital Accountability System to increase workforce accountability and improve the management of human capital. Furthermore, a human capital skills assessment survey was conducted to identify areas were improvement in the skill sets of staff is required to fulfill the agency's mission. When completed, the human capital plan and accountability system will create a blueprint for improving agency performance.

Evidence: GAO report and recommendations on agency strategic planning (October 2004); sample monthly project cost reports; Administrative Instruction (AI) 3-2 on performance-budget execution and required program data; and written responses to three congressional requests on agency reform (including accountability and strategic planning); draft timeline for completion of agency allotment procedures. GAO report: Management Could Benefit from Improve Strategic Planning and Increased Oversight (October 2004). Previously provided and available online at: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0577.pdf

NO 0%

Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner, spent for the intended purpose and accurately reported?

Explanation: While the Commission has proposed several changes to improve its financial management, it is unclear as to whether Prompt Payment Act issues have improved. Under new allotment procedures that should be completed in June 2006, the agency will provide a budget to offices and divisions to fund approved program activities. Monthly and year-end budget reports provide actual and estimated spending information to managers to facilitate budget and project management. Monthly reports on the status of agency funds are provided to the head of the agency to ensure strict financial control of agency-wide expenditures. In addition, revised internal procedures governing the reporting and investigation of possible Anti-Deficiency Act violations have been created to minimize the likelihood of violations. The Commission's use of the General Services Administration's financial management services will help in this effort. A violation in FY04 was reported as a result of an agreement between the agency and GSA to defer $75,000 in rent payments until FY05. It is unclear, however, whether the new procedures will ensure future ADA compliance. These procedures describe prohibited actions, ADA penalties, the obligation of employees to report possible violations, and the agency's obligation to investigate reported violations and its reporting obligations and procedures. The agency, however, continues working to resolve Prompt Payment Act issues. The timeliness of fund obligation has improved as a result of a new accounting system that complies with applicable federal accounting standards, and internal procedures for the processing of non-salary related financial transactions. The Commission's recent efforts will serve to strengthen agency finances and will greatly reduce the likelihood of further violations, particularly as the agency fully adopts project-based apportionments. However, the relative infancy of these efforts, the lack of an independent audit subsequent to their implementation, and the very recent resolution of two past ADA violations require a sustained observation period to determine the extent of improvement.

Evidence: Memorandum of Understanding with accounting services provider describes services and compliance with applicable federal standards; the agency procurement manual outlines authority and workflow for agency procurement; Administrative Instruction 3-2, § 9 on Anti-Deficiency Act violations; Allotment procedures timeline developed by financial management consultant. Administrative Instruction 3-2, § 9 on Anti-Deficiency Act violations. Draft timeline for new allotment procedures.

NO 0%

Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: The agency currently does not have an efficiency measure.


NO 0%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: Yes, the program collaborates and coordinates effectively with related programs. Ongoing coordination and collaboration with other federal and state agencies occurs when necessary, and when it does not appear to compromise the agency's role as an independent watchdog agency on federal agency civil rights enforcement. Collaboration primarily occurs during the evaluation of the civil rights programs at federal and state agencies, and during agency hearings and briefings on civil rights issues when other federal agencies are invited to participate because of their policy expertise or enforcement responsibilities.

Evidence: Recent USCCR reports and hearings reflecting the participation and corporation of other federal and state government representatives: Federal Procurement After Adarand (2005) (the Departments of Justice, Defense, Transportation, Education, Energy, State, and Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Small Business Administration (SBA); Broken Promises (2004) (Indian Health Service, Center for Medicare and Medicaid); Not In My Backyard (2003) (Environmental Protection Agency, and the Departments of Transportation, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development); Ten Year Check-up Vol. IV (the Departments of Agriculture and Interior, and EPA and SBA); The Farmington Report: Civil Rights for Native Americans 30 Years Later (tribal leaders, state and local government officials).

YES 14%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: While the agency is in transition, bringing itself into full compliance with applicable federal financial management practices after years of mismanagement, it is unclear as to whether the program is currently using strong financial management practices. During its fiscal year (FY) 2005 independent financial audit, five reportable conditions were noted. These included inadequate controls resulting in errors and unrecorded financial transactions; human capital needs (inadequate staffing levels and the need for more staff training); non-compliance with the Accountability of Tax Dollars Act (no completed audit for FY04); inadequate documentation of travel transactions; and inadequate or outdated policies and procedures. In addition, several relevant audit opinions were not offered due to insufficient information. Since then, however, the agency has created and implemented a corrective action plan and is working with a consultant to resolve these conditions and any additional weaknesses prior to the agency's FY06 audit. Also, effective FY06, the agency retained a new accounting services provider that uses systems fully compliant with government-wide accounting standards, ensures segregation of financial duties/functions, eases the transition to project-based apportionments, and tracks payments to ensure proper authorization. Collectively, the Commission's efforts to improve financial management practices should yield a vastly improved financial condition going forward; however, the recent implementation of new practices and recent existence of negative financial issues make it difficult to elevate the agency to a "Yes" at this point.

Evidence: The independent auditors' report and related agency corrective action plan; Performance and Accountability Report for FY2005; Memorandum of Understanding for obtaining accounting services and an accounting system compliant with applicable federal standards; Administrative Instruction on 3-2 administrative control of funds and budget execution; Statement of Work used in the contracting of a financial consultant to review and advise on agency financial management practices. Statement of Work used to retain a financial consultant to review and advise on agency financial management practices as published on www.fedbizopps.gov in FY05.

NO 0%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: The program has taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies. Following the fiscal year 2005 independent financial audit that identified several areas of deficiency, the agency created and implemented a corrective action plan that includes determining the training needs for current employees to ensure that they are up-to-date on financial management requirements, financial statement preparation and analysis, and information technology and security. This agency is currently working with a consultant to identify and develop a plan to resolve other reportable audit conditions prior to the agency's FY06 audit. This process should be concluded by July 2006. Prior deficiencies, as identified by GAO, have also been addressed by the agency. For example, effective FY06, the agency retained a new accounting services provider that uses an accounting system that meets the requirements for federal financial management systems. In addition, between March 2005 and February 2006, policies were issued to reasonably ensure that the agency recognized payroll expenses in the proper period; embraced a wide variety of reforms to ensure that non-salary expenditures have proper authorization, approval, and supporting documentation; created Anti-Deficiency Act procedures; and established procedures to ensure proper documentation of agency non-salary related transactions. The agency also revised policies and procedures on budget preparation, execution, apportionment, and allotment, consistent with applicable guidance. The agency also issued a comprehensive, written travel policy to ensure compliance with Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) and to eliminate waste and abuse.

Evidence: Administrative Instruction (AI) 3-1 on budget formulation; AI 3-2 on budget execution; AI 3-14 on official travel; AI 3-15 on recognizing payroll expenses in the proper period for accounting purposes; AI 3-16 on ensuring that non-salary expenditures have proper authorization, approval, and supporting documentation; AI 4-21, on procurement of goods and services; and AI 4-16, on acquisition management; transcript excerpts of reform timeline and agency response from April 8, 2005 and February 17, 2006, chart of GAO recommendations addressed by agency reforms; three written reports to Congress on implementation of reforms and agency management submitted in September 2005 and January 2006; retention of financial consultant to review and advise on agency financial management practices. Transcript excerpts from April 8, 2005 and February 17, 2006 Commission meetings adopting reform proposed by GAO and adopting a nine-month timeline: Excerpts from April 8, 2005 and February 17, 2006 meetings. Chart of GAO recommendations addressed by agency reforms. Statement of Work used to retain a financial consultant to review and advise on agency financial management practices. Corrective Action Plan from FY05 financial audit. Corrective Action submitted to OMB on financial audit in FY05 PAR.

YES 14%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 43%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Explanation: The agency's 1997 strategic plan does not include specific long-term performance goals and measures. The agency is currently revising this strategic plan.

Evidence: FY 1997-2002 Strategic Plan.

NO 0%

Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: While the agency has annual performance plans, its plans are not linked to achieving long-term goals and objectives. This is because the current strategic plan, adopted in 1997, has long-term goals that are activity and output-oriented. Its annual performance measures, as a result, gauge annual output unrelated to outcome.

Evidence: FY 1997-2002 Strategic Plan

NO 0%

Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Explanation: Agency received a "no" on question 3.4.


NO 0%

Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: While the Commission is the only independent, bi-partisan executive branch agency with the mission of evaluating, monitoring, investigating, and studying federal civil rights enforcement and protections, there are other government programs that evaluate, monitor, investigate, and study particular civil rights issues. While the research conducted by the Commission may reach the program's intended target, the quality of such research is questionable. While the Commission has some policies for ensuring the quality of its national office reports, briefings, and hearings, it lacks policies for ensuring that these products are objective and that the Commission is sufficiently accountable for the decisions made on these products. While the Commission's policies for its national office products call for legal and other reviews, and Commissioners have an increased role in the development of its products, the Commission's policies do not require that Commission reports, briefings, or hearings incorporate balanced, varied, and contrasting perspectives in order to ensure objectivity. Moreover, it is unclear whether the program's target users actually use this research to make policy decisions.

Evidence: GAO-06-343: U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS: The Commission Should Strengthen Its Quality Assurance Policies and Make Better Use of Its State Advisory Committees

NO 0%

Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: The Government Accountability Office, between 1997 and 2006, reviewed almost every aspect of agency management, including its program and program related activities. In spite of the well-documented management and financial issues, the agency continues to execute its mission of informing the President and Congress of civil rights issues through reports and other publications, briefings, studies, and evaluations. During the first nine months of FY2006, four reports were approved and published, and seven briefings were conducted. To ensure the integrity and objectivity of its reports and other information, new information quality guidelines and internal procedures for national office reports are currently being developed. For state advisory committees, new streamlined procedures govern the publication of committee reports.

Evidence: Reports to Congress in September 2005 January 2006 on agency reform implementation; draft information quality guidelines; GAO reports from 1997 through May 2006. Draft Information Quality Guidelines for USCCR. See Question 2.6 evidence as noted above; GAO-06-343: U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS: The Commission Should Strengthen Its Quality Assurance Policies and Make Better Use of Its State Advisory Committees.

Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 8%

Last updated: 09062008.2006SPR