(Washington, DC) -- The nation's independent agency charged with monitoring federal civil rights enforcement has released a report concluding that enforcement of civil rights laws continues to be threatened by insufficient funding for federal agencies. In a series of three reviews, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights analyzed budget requests from the Clinton and Bush administrations from fiscal year 1994 to fiscal year 2003, and funding levels appropriated by Congress. The Commission found that civil rights agencies' budgets were reduced as their enforcement responsibilities were increased.
"As we have found in years past, the enforcement of civil rights laws receives short shrift in the funding cycle," stated Commission Chairperson Mary Frances Berry. "In terms of real spending power, we found unchanged or insufficient funding that has resulted in understaffed agencies with large pending case loads."
The agencies in question are the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights; Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division; Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; and two programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity: the Fair Housing and Assistance Progam and Fair Housing Initiatives Program.
The third of the Commission's civil rights funding reports was approved at
its April 12 meeting. Previous reports were released in 1995 and 2001. The Commission
will continue annual reviews of civil rights funding and make appropriate recommendations.
The reports can be viewed on the Commission's web site at www.usccr.gov.