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July 19, 2011

Report Shows Coast Guard Civil Rights Directorate Not on Track

(WASHINGTON) – The Government Accountability Office released a report on the shortcomings of the Civil Rights Directorate in the United States Coast Guard (USCG), entitled "Coast Guard - Civil Rights Directorate Can Enhance Workforce Restructuring Efforts" (GAO-11-718). The report, requested by leaders of the House Transportation & Infrastructure and Homeland Security Committees, shows that despite independent studies and reports from the GAO, the USCG's Civil Rights Directorate is understaffed and lacks strategic direction.

The GAO found:

  • The Civil Rights Directorate serves 50,000 active duty military and 8,000 civilian employees in the USCG but, in 2008, only had 41 non-dedicated staffers (Civil Rights Service Providers).
  • An independent study conducted in 2009 found that the Directorate needed 37 more Civil Rights Service Providers, a plan to allocate them geographically based on need, and establish them as dedicated staff.
  • As of April 2011, the Directorate only had 45 Civil Rights Service Provider positions (with 5 vacancies) and many regional Civil Rights Service Providers worked on casework on an as-needed basis. It also had no detailed strategic plan for staffing.
  • The Directorate has failed to document that Civil Rights Service Providers are properly trained.

Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement with the release of the report. "Several sources have highlighted multiple staffing problems at the Coast Guard Civil Rights Directorate. The Civil Rights Directorate has had two years to correct these problems, yet it has not made sufficient or identifiable progress. Clearly, the Coast Guard must put greater effort into creating a more robust Civil Rights Directorate with dedicated, well-trained staff in order for it to have the institutional knowledge and manpower to serve its workforce."

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, added the following statement: "In early 2009, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, I convened a series of hearings to examine the provision of civil rights services to the Coast Guard's officers, members, and civilian employees following the release of a scathing Booz|Allen|Hamilton report. While the Coast Guard has made significant progress over the past two years in improving its civil rights services, I am troubled that it has apparently not yet developed a clear, transparent, and strategic rationale to guide all of the changes it is making – including personnel staffing decisions – to ensure that they support the creation of a model civil rights program. I hope that the Coast Guard will utilize this current study to redouble its effort to ensure that every Coast Guard service member and civilian employee has access to civil rights services that meet the highest quality standards."

Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, released the following statement: "I am pleased to see that the Coast Guard is making progress, however as the report clearly demonstrates, the Coast Guard needs to take additional steps to ensure that the civil rights directorate adequately serves its clientele. In my position as the ranking Democrat on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, I will be closely monitoring the service's actions in protecting the rights of those who serve." 


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Media Contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978
(Cummings) Paul Kincaid at (202) 225-4741
(Larsen) Emily Halnon at (202) 226-9716