January 11, 2002
 

MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF FEDERAL GRANT AGENCIES
                                  GENERAL COUNSELS AND CIVIL RIGHTS DIRECTORS
 

FROM:                  Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
                              Assistant Attorney General
                              Civil Rights Division
 

SUBJECT:            Executive Order 13166 (Improving Access to Services for Persons with
                             Limited English Proficiency)
 

           I am writing to encourage agencies to expedite their work on limited English proficiency
(LEP) guidance documents in order to be in a position to meet the 120-day deadline set forth in
my memorandum dated October 26, 2001. A copy of that memorandum is attached.

BACKGROUND

          On October 26, 2001, I issued a memorandum to clarify policy guidance issued by the
Department of Justice (DOJ) entitled "Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -
National Origin Discrimination Against Persons With Limited English Proficiency." 65 F.R.
50123 (August 16, 2000) (DOJ LEP Guidance). That policy guidance had been issued to set
forth general principles for agencies to apply in developing guidance on how their recipients can
provide meaningful access to LEP persons and, therefore, comply with the Title VI disparate-
impact regulations, as required by Executive Order 13166.

          The memorandum instructed agencies that had issued LEP guidance for their recipients
pursuant to Executive Order 13166 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to notify the Department
of Justice, publish a notice asking for public comment on the guidance documents they have
issued, and, if necessary, clarify or modify its existing guidance. Agencies that had not yet
published guidance documents were to submit agency-specific guidance to the Department of
Justice. Following review by the Department of Justice and before finalizing their guidance, the
agencies were to obtain public comment on their proposed guidance documents.

FURTHER AGENCY ACTION

           The Department of Justice has learned that some agencies that had previously published
LEP guidance had obtained significant public comment on those materials following the original
publication of that guidance. The Department therefore believes that it is appropriate for these
agencies to expedite their review of their existing guidance in light of the comment they have
already received and the Department's October 26 memorandum. These agencies should notify
the Department of Justice of any need to clarify or modify existing guidance by January 25,
2002.

            Other agencies, however, have not yet obtained significant public comment on their
previously published guidance. These agencies should immediately publish a request for
comment on their existing guidance documents. In addition, they should expedite their review of
their existing guidance in light of the comment they will obtain and notify the Department of
Justice of any need to clarify or modify existing guidance as soon as possible.

             If it is determined that an agency's existing guidance should be clarified or modified, that
agency should seek public comment on any proposed revisions before making them final.

             Finally, for those agencies that have not previously published LEP guidance documents, I
request them to expedite their drafting of LEP guidance documents and to submit them to the
Department of Justice as soon as possible. Following review by the Department and before
finalizing its guidance, each of these agencies must then publish its agency-specific LEP
guidance documents for public comment.
 

            My October 26 memorandum requested that all new LEP guidance documents be
published in final form by February 25th, 2002. Because many agencies have not yet submitted
their guidance documents to the Department of Justice for review or taken steps to obtain public
comment, I am concerned that they may have difficulty meeting this deadline. I thus request that
all such agencies expedite their consideration of this matter and notify the Department regarding
the status of their progress regarding the development of LEP guidance by January 22, 2002.
 

             The DOJ's Civil Rights Division, Federal Coordination and Compliance Section ((202) 307-2222),
stands ready to assist agencies in this matter.