Federal Coordination and Compliance Section Publications

  [Federal Register: March 24, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 56)] [Notices]                [Page 14180-14189] From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:fr24mr03-35]                           ======================================================================= -----------------------------------------------------------------------  DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE  Office of the Secretary  [Docket No.: 020125021-2021-01]    Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients on the Title  VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited  English Proficient Persons  AGENCY: Office for Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary, Department of  Commerce.  ACTION: Notice of policy guidance with request for comment.  -----------------------------------------------------------------------  SUMMARY: The purpose of this policy guidance is to clarify the  responsibilities of recipients of federal financial assistance  (``recipients'') from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and assist  them in fulfilling their responsibilities to Limited English Proficient  (LEP) persons, pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and  implementing regulations.  DATES: This guidance is effective March 24, 2003. Comments must be  submitted within 60 days from the date of this publication in the  Federal Register. DOC will review all comments and will determine what  modifications to the policy guidance, if any, are necessary.  ADDRESSES: Interested persons should submit written comments to Mr.  Jorge Ponce, Office of Civil Rights, Room 6003, U.S. Department of  Commerce, 14th and Constitution Ave, NW., Washington, D.C. 20230.  Comments may also be submitted by e-mail at JPonce@DOC.gov.  FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jorge Ponce, Office of Civil Rights,  telephone 202-482-8185, TDD: 202-482-2030. Arrangements to receive the  policy in an alternative format may be made by contacting the named  individual.  SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under DOC regulations implementing Title VI  of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d, et seq. (Title VI),  recipients of federal financial assistance have a responsibility to  ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by persons  with LEP. See 15 CFR 8.4(b)(2). The purpose of the LEP Guidance is to  assist recipients in complying with their Title VI responsibilities to  ensure that access to their programs or activities, normally provided  in English, are accessible to LEP persons. It clarifies existing  statutory and regulatory requirements for LEP persons by providing a  description of the factors recipients should consider in fulfilling  their responsibilities to LEP persons. It also reiterates DOC's  longstanding position that in order to avoid discrimination against LEP  persons on grounds of national origin, recipients must take adequate  steps to ensure that such persons receive the language assistance  necessary to afford them meaningful access to the programs, services,  and information those recipients provide, free of charge.     Executive Order 13166 (E.O.), reprinted at 65 FR 50121 (August 16,  2000), directs each federal agency that extends assistance subject to  the requirements of Title VI to publish guidance for its respective  recipients clarifying that obligation. The E.O. further directs that  all such guidance documents be consistent with the compliance standards  and framework detailed in DOJ Policy Guidance entitled ``Enforcement of  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964--National Origin  Discrimination Against Persons with Limited English Proficiency.'' See  65 FR 50123 (August 16, 2000). On March 14, 2002, the Office of  Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Report to Congress titled  ``Assessment of the Total Benefits and Costs of Implementing Executive  Order No. 13166: Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited  English Proficiency.'' Among other things, the Report recommended the  adoption of uniform guidance across all Federal agencies, with  flexibility to permit tailoring to each agency's specific recipients.  Consistent with this OMB recommendation, DOJ published LEP Guidance for  DOJ recipients which was drafted and organized to also function as a  model for similar guidance documents by other Federal grant agencies.  See 67 FR 41455 (June 18, 2002). The LEP Guidance is consistent with  the goals set forth in E.O. 13166, and with the DOJ policy guidance  documents dated August 16, 2002, and June 18, 2002.     Because this guidance must adhere to the federal-wide compliance  standards and framework detailed in the model DOJ LEP Guidance, DOC  specifically solicits comments on the nature, scope and appropriateness  of the DOC-specific examples set out in this guidance explaining and/or  highlighting how those consistent federal-wide compliance standards are  applicable to recipients of federal financial assistance through the  DOC.     Under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A),  interpretive rules, general statements of policy, and rules of agency  organization, procedure, or practice are exempt from notice and  comment. Because this policy guidance is a general statement of policy  without the force and effect of law, it falls within this exception and  prior notice and opportunity for public comment is not required. This  policy guidance is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order  12866.      Dated: February 28, 2003. Suzan J. Aramaki, Director, Office of Civil Rights.  I. Introduction      Most individuals living in the United States read, write, speak and  understand English. There are many individuals, however, for whom  English is not their primary language. For instance, based on the 2000  census, over 26 million individuals speak Spanish and almost 7 million  individuals speak an Asian or Pacific Island language at home. If these  individuals have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand  English, they are limited English proficient, or ``LEP.'' While  detailed data from the 2000 census has not yet    been released, 26% of all Spanish-speakers, 29.9% of all Chinese- speakers, and 28.2% of all Vietnamese-speakers reported that they spoke  English ``not well'' or ``not at all'' in response to the 1990 census.     Language for LEP individuals can be a barrier to accessing  important benefits or services, understanding and exercising important  rights, complying with applicable responsibilities, or understanding  other information provided by federally funded programs and activities.  The Federal Government funds an array of services that can be made  accessible to otherwise eligible LEP persons. The Federal Government is  committed to improving the accessibility of these programs and  activities to eligible LEP persons, a goal that reinforces its equally  important commitment to promoting programs and activities designed to  help individuals learn English. Recipients should not overlook the  long-term positive impacts of incorporating or offering English as a  Second Language (ESL) programs in parallel with language assistance  services. ESL courses can serve as an important adjunct to a proper LEP  plan. However, the fact that ESL classes are made available does not  obviate the statutory and regulatory requirement to provide meaningful  access for those who are not yet English proficient. Recipients of  federal financial assistance have an obligation to reduce language  barriers that can preclude meaningful access by LEP persons to  important government services.\1\ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \1\ DOC recognizes that many recipients had language assistance  programs in place prior to the issuance of Executive Order 13166.  This policy guidance provides a uniform framework for a recipient to  integrate, formalize, and assess the continued vitality of these  existing and possibly additional reasonable efforts based on the  nature of its program or activity, the current needs of the LEP  populations it encounters, and its prior experience in providing  language services in the community it serves. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      In certain circumstances, failure to ensure that LEP persons can  effectively participate in or benefit from federally assisted programs  and activities may violate the prohibition under Title VI of the Civil  Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d and Title VI regulations against  national origin discrimination. The purpose of this policy guidance is  to assist recipients in fulfilling their responsibilities to provide  meaningful access to LEP persons under existing law, including the  preparation of a LEP plan, as appropriate. This policy guidance  clarifies existing legal requirements for LEP persons by providing a  description of the factors recipients should consider in fulfilling  their responsibilities to LEP persons.\2\ These are the criteria the  Department of Commerce (DOC) will use in evaluating whether recipients  are in compliance with Title VI and Title VI regulations. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \2\ The policy guidance is not a regulation but rather a guide.  Title VI and its implementing regulations require that recipients  take responsible steps to ensure meaningful access by LEP persons.  This guidance provides an analytical framework that recipients may  use to determine how best to comply with statutory and regulatory  obligations to provide meaningful access to the benefits, services,  information, and other important portions of their programs and  activities for individuals who are limited English proficient. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      As with most government initiatives, this requires balancing  several principles. While this Guidance discusses that balance in some  detail, it is important to note the basic principles behind that  balance. First, we must ensure that federally-assisted programs aimed  at the American public do not leave some behind simply because they  face challenges communicating in English. This is of particular  importance because, in some cases, LEP individuals may form a  substantial portion of those encountered in federally-assisted  programs. Second, we must achieve this goal while finding constructive  methods to reduce the costs of LEP requirements on small businesses,  small local governments, or small non-profits that receive federal  financial assistance.     There are many productive steps that the federal government, either  collectively or as individual grant agencies, can take to help  recipients reduce the costs of language services without sacrificing  meaningful access for LEP persons. Without these steps, certain smaller  grantees may well choose not to participate in federally assisted  programs, threatening the critical functions that the programs strive  to provide. To that end, the Department, in conjunction with DOJ, plans  to continue to provide assistance and guidance in this important area.  In addition, DOC plans to work with recipients, state and local  administrative agencies, and LEP persons to identify and share model  plans, examples of best practices, and cost-saving approaches.  Moreover, DOC intends to explore how language assistance measures,  resources and cost-containment approaches developed with respect to its  own Federally conducted programs and activities can be effectively  shared or otherwise made available to recipients, particularly small  businesses, small localgovernments, and small non-profits. An  interagency working group on LEP has developed a Web site, http:// www.lep.gov , to assist in disseminating this information to recipients,   www.lep.gov, to assist in disseminating this information to recipients,   federal agencies, and the communities being served.     Many commentators have noted that some have interpreted the case of  Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275 (2001), as impliedly striking down  the regulations promulgated under Title VI that form the basis for the  part of the E.O. that applies to federally assisted programs and  activities. Consistent with the position of DOJ detailed below, DOC  takes n the position that this is not the case, and will continue to do  so. Accordingly, DOC will strive to ensure that federally assisted  programs and activities work in a way that is effective for all  eligible beneficiaries, including those with limited English  proficiency.  II. Legal Authority      Section 601 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.  2000d, provides that no person shall ``on the ground of race, color, or  national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the  benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or  activity receiving Federal financial assistance.'' Section 602  authorizes and directs federal agencies that are empowered to extend  federal financial assistance to any program or activity ``to effectuate  the provisions of [section 601] * * * by issuing rules, regulations, or  orders of general applicability.'' 42 U.S.C. 2000d-1.     The DOC regulations promulgated pursuant to section 602 forbid  recipients from ``utiliz[ing] criteria or methods of administration  which have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination  because of their race, color, or national origin, or have the effect of  defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives  of the program as respects individuals of a particular race, color, or  national origin.'' 15 CFR 8(b)(2).     The Supreme Court, in Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974),  interpreted regulations promulgated by the former Department of Health,  Education, and Welfare, including a regulation similar to that of DOC,  45 CFR 80.3(b)(2), to hold that Title VI prohibits conduct that has a  disproportionate effect on LEP persons because such conduct constitutes  national-origin discrimination. In Lau, a San Francisco school district  that had a significant number of non-English speaking students of  Chinese origin was required to take reasonable steps to provide them  with a meaningful opportunity to participate in federally funded  educational programs.     On August 11, 2000, the E.O. was issued--``Improving Access to  Services for Persons with Limited English    Proficiency,'' 65 FR 50121 (August 16, 2000). Under that order, every  federal agency that provides financial assistance to non-federal  entities must publish guidance on how their recipients can provide  meaningful access to LEP persons and thus comply with Title VI  regulations forbidding funding recipients from ``restrict[ing] an  individual in any way in the enjoyment of any advantage or privilege  enjoyed by others receiving any service, financial aid, or other  benefit under the program'' or from ``utiliz[ing] criteria or methods  of administration which have the effect of subjecting individuals to  discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin, or  have the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment  of the objectives of the program as respects individuals of a  particular race, color, or national origin.''     On that same day, DOJ issued a general guidance document addressed  to ``Executive Agency Civil Rights Officers'' setting forth general  principles for agencies to apply in developing guidance documents for  recipients pursuant to the E.O. ``Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil  Rights Act of 1964 National Origin Discrimination Against Persons With  Limited English Proficiency,'' 65 FR 50123 (August 16, 2000) (``DOJ LEP  Guidance''). The DOJ role under the (E.O.) is unique. The E.O. charges  DOJ with responsibility for providing LEP Guidance to other Federal  agencies and for ensuring consistency among each agency-specific  guidance. Consistency among Departments of the Federal Government is  particularly important. Inconsistency or contradictory guidance could  confuse recipients of federal funds and needlessly increase costs  without rendering the meaningful access for LEP persons that this  Guidance is designed to address.     Subsequently, federal agencies raised questions regarding the  requirements of the E.O., especially in light of the Supreme Court's  decision in Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275 (2001). On October 26,  2001, Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for the Civil  Rights Division, issued a memorandum for ``Heads of Departments and  Agencies, General Counsels and Civil Rights Directors.'' This  memorandum clarified and reaffirmed the DOJ LEP Guidance in light of  Sandoval.\3\ The Assistant Attorney General stated that because  Sandoval did not invalidate any Title VI regulations that proscribe  conduct that has a disparate impact on covered groups--the types of  regulations that form the legal basis for the part of the E.O. that  applies to federally assisted programs and activities--the E.O. remains  in force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \3\ The memorandum noted that some commentators have interpreted  Sandoval as impliedly striking down the disparate-impact regulations  promulgated under Title VI that form the basis for the part of  Executive Order 13166 that applies to federally assisted programs  and activities. See, e.g., Sandoval, 532 U.S. at 286, 286 n.6  (``[W]e assume for purposes of this decision that section 602  confers the authority to promulgate disparate-impact regulations; *  * * We cannot help observing, however, how strange it is to say that  disparate-impact regulations are `inspired by, at the service of,  and inseparably intertwined with Sec. 601 * * * when Sec. 601  permits the very behavior that the regulations forbid.''). The  memorandum, however, made clear that DOJ disagreed with the  commentators' interpretation. Sandoval holds principally that there  is no private right of action to enforce Title VI disparate-impact  regulations. It did not address the validity of those regulations or  Executive Order 13166 or otherwise limit the authority and  responsibility of federal grant agencies to enforce their own  implementing regulations. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------  III. Who Is Covered?      The DOC regulations, 15 CFR 8.4(b)(2), require all recipients of  federal financial assistance to provide meaningful access to LEP  persons.\4\ Federal financial assistance includes grants, training, use  of equipment, donations of surplus property, and other assistance. The  fundamental premise of the E.O. is that the Federal Government provides  and funds an array of services that can be made accessible to otherwise  eligible persons who are not proficient in the English language. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \4\ Pursuant to Executive Order 13166, the meaningful access  requirement of the Title VI regulations and the four-factor analysis  set forth in the DOJ LEP Guidance are to additionally apply to the  programs and activities of federal agencies, including the  Department of Commerce. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      To this end, the E.O. provides that federal agencies shall work to  ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance (recipients)  provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries. In  general, the DOC does not fund recipients who, in turn, provide  services and benefits of the entitlement-type to the general public.  The DOC does, however, fund recipients of the following DOC programs  who provide information and services to the public relating to various  aspects of business or economic development:     [sbull] Economic Development Administration's Economic Adjustment  Program and Trade Adjustment Program;     [sbull] International Trade Administration's Trade Development and  Commercial Service programs; and     [sbull] Minority Business Development Agency's Minority Business  Development Centers; Native American Business Development Centers; and  Minority Business Opportunity Committee Program.  Subrecipients likewise are covered when federal funds are passed  through from one recipient to a subrecipient.     Coverage extends to a recipient's entire program or activity, i.e.,  to all parts of a recipient's operations. This is true even if only one  part of the recipient receives the federal assistance.\5\ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \5\ However, if a federal agency were to decide to terminate  federal funds based on noncompliance with Title VI or its  regulations, only funds directed to the particular program or  activity that is out of compliance would be terminated. 42 U.S.C.  2000d-1. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      Example: DOC provides assistance to a university to provide  business development services to minority firms. All operations of the  university--not just the business department--are covered.     Finally, some recipients operate in jurisdictions in which English  has been declared the official language. Nonetheless, these recipients  continue to be subject to federal non-discrimination requirements,  including those applicable to the provision of federally assisted  services to persons with LEP.  IV. Who Is a Limited English Proficient Individual?      Individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and  who have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English  can be limited English proficient, or ``LEP,'' entitled to language  assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or  encounter.     Examples of populations likely to include LEP persons who are  encountered and/or served by DOC recipients and should be considered  when planning language services include, but are not limited to:     [sbull] Persons who are seeking technical assistance about starting  or expanding a business.     [sbull] Persons in rural and urban areas of the nations  experiencing high unemployment, low income, or other severe economic  distress.     [sbull] Persons in underserved communities interested in accessing  telecommunications and information technologies.  V. How Does a Recipient Determine the Extent of Its Obligation To  Provide LEP Services?      Recipients are required to take reasonable steps to ensure  meaningful access to their programs and activities by LEP persons.  While designed to be a    flexible and fact-dependent standard, the starting point is an  individualized assessment that balances the following four factors: (1)  The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely  to be encountered by the program or grantee; (2) the frequency with  which LEP individuals come in contact with the program; (3) the nature  and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the  program to people's lives; and (4) the resources available to the  grantee/recipient and costs. As indicated above, the intent of this  guidance is to suggest a balance that ensures meaningful access by LEP  persons to critical services while not imposing undue burdens on small  business, small local governments, or small nonprofits.     After applying the above four-factor analysis, a recipient may  conclude that different language assistance measures are sufficient for  the different types of programs or activities in which it engages. For  instance, some of a recipient's activities will be more important than  others and/or have greater impact on or contact with LEP persons, and  thus may require more in the way of language assistance. The  flexibility that recipients have in addressing the needs of the LEP  populations they serve does not diminish, and should not be used to  minimize, the obligation that those needs be addressed. DOC recipients  should apply the following four factors to the various kinds of  contacts that they have with the public to assess language needs and  decide what reasonable steps they should take to ensure meaningful  access for LEP persons.  (1) The Number or Proportion of LEP Persons Served or Encountered in  the Eligible Service Population      One factor in determining what language services recipients should  provide is the number or proportion of LEP persons from a particular  language group served or encountered in the eligible service  population. The greater the number or proportion of these LEP persons,  the more likely language services are needed. Ordinarily, persons  ``eligible to be served, or likely to be directly affected, by'' a  recipient's program or activity are those who are served or encountered  in the eligible service population. This population will be program- specific, and includes persons who are in the geographic area that has  been approved by a federal grant agency as the recipient's service  area. However, where, for instance, a geographic area serves a large  LEP population, the appropriate service area is most likely the  geographic area, and not the entire population served by the  department. Where no service area has previously been approved, the  relevant service area may be that which is approved by state or local  authorities or designated by the recipient itself, provided that these  designations do not themselves discriminatorily exclude certain  populations.     Recipients should first examine their prior experiences with LEP  encounters and determine the breadth and scope of language services  that were needed. In conducting this analysis, it is important to  include language minority populations that are eligible for their  programs or activities but may be underserved because of existing  language barriers. Other data should be consulted to refine or validate  a recipient's prior experience, including the latest census data for  the area served, data from school systems and from community  organizations, and data from state and local governments.\6\ Community  agencies, school systems, religious organizations, legal aid entities,  and others can often assist in identifying populations for whom  outreach is needed and who would benefit from the recipients' programs  and activities were language services provided. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \6\ The focus of the analysis is on lack of English proficiency,  not the ability to speak more than one language. Note that  demographic data may indicate the most frequently spoken languages  other than English and the percentage of people who speak that  language who speak or understand English less than well. Some of the  most commonly spoken languages other than English may be spoken by  people who are also overwhelmingly proficient in English. Thus, they  may not be the languages spoken most frequently by limited English  proficient individuals. When using demographic data, it is important  to focus in on the languages spoken by those who are not proficient  in English. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------  (2) The Frequency With Which LEP Individuals Come in Contact With the  Program      Recipients should assess, as accurately as possible, the frequency  with which they have or should have contact with an LEP individual from  different language groups seeking assistance. The more frequent the  contact with a particular language group, the more likely that enhanced  language services in that language are needed. The steps that are  reasonable for a recipient that serves an LEP person on a one-time  basis will be very different than those expected from a recipient that  serves LEP persons daily. It is also advisable to consider the  frequency of different types of language contacts. For example,  frequent contacts with Spanish-speaking people who are LEP may require  certain assistance in Spanish. Less frequent contact with different  language groups may suggest a different and less intensified solution.  If an LEP individual accesses a program or service on a daily basis, a  recipient has greater duties than if the same individual's program or  activity contact is unpredictable or infrequent. But even recipients  that serve LEP persons on an unpredictable or infrequent basis should  use this balancing analysis to determine what to do if an LEP  individual seeks services under the program in question. This LEP plan  need not be intricate. It may be as simple as being prepared to use one  of the commercially-available telephonic interpretation services to  obtain immediate interpreter services. In applying this standard,  recipients should take care to consider whether appropriate outreach to  LEP persons could increase the frequency of contact with LEP language  groups.  (3) The Nature and Importance of the Program, Activity, or Service  Provided by the Program      The more important the activity, information, service, or program,  or the greater the possible consequences of the contact to the LEP  individuals, the more likely language services are needed. The  obligations to communicate rights to emergency benefits or assistance  to a person who has been the victim of a sudden natural disaster  differ, for example, from those applicable to internet forums for beta  testers of proposed small business software. A recipient needs to  determine whether denial or delay of access to services or information  could have serious or even life-threatening implications for the LEP  individual. Decisions by a Federal, State, or local entity to make an  activity compulsory can serve as strong evidence of the program's  importance.  (4) The Resources Available to the Recipient and Costs      A recipient's level of resources and the costs that would be  imposed on it may have an impact on the nature of the steps it should  take. Smaller recipients with more limited budgets are not expected to  provide the same level of language services as larger recipients with  larger budgets. In addition, ``reasonable steps'' may cease to be  reasonable where the costs imposed substantially exceed the benefits.     Resource and cost issues, however, can often be reduced by  technological advances; the sharing of language assistance materials  and services among and between recipients, advocacy groups, and Federal  grant agencies; and reasonable business practices. Where appropriate,  training bilingual staff to    act as interpreters and translators, information sharing through  industry groups, telephonic and video conferencing interpretation  services, pooling resources and standardizing documents to reduce  translation needs, using qualified translators and interpreters to  ensure that documents need not be ``fixed'' later and that inaccurate  interpretations do not cause delay or other costs, centralizing  interpreter and translator services to achieve economies of scale, or  the formalized use of qualified community volunteers, for example, may  help reduce costs.\7\ Recipients should carefully explore the most  cost-effective means of delivering competent and accurate language  services before limiting services due to resource concerns. Large  entities and those entities serving a significant number or proportion  of LEP persons should ensure that their resource limitations are well- substantiated before using this factor as a reason to limit language  assistance. Such recipients may find it useful to be able to  articulate, through documentation or in some other reasonable manner,  their process for determining that language services would be limited  based on resources or costs. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \7\ Small recipients with limited resources may find that  entering into a bulk telephonic interpretation service contract will  prove cost effective. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      This four-factor analysis necessarily implicates the ``mix'' of LEP  services required. Recipients have two main ways to provide language  services: Oral interpretation either in person or via telephone  interpretation service (hereinafter ``interpretation'') and written  translation (hereinafter ``translation''). Oral interpretation can  range from on-site interpreters for critical services provided to a  high volume of LEP persons to access through commercially-available  telephonic interpretation services. Written translation, likewise, can  range from translation of an entire document to translation of a short  description of the document. In some cases, language services should be  made available on an expedited basis while in others the LEP individual  may be referred to another office of the recipient for language  assistance.     The correct mix should be based on what is both necessary and  reasonable in light of the four-factor analysis. For instance, a  Minority Business Development Center in a largely Asian-Pacific  community may need immediately available oral interpreters and should  give serious consideration to hiring some bilingual staff. In contrast,  there may be circumstances where the importance and nature of the  activity and number or proportion and frequency of contact with LEP  persons may be low and the costs and resources needed to provide  language services may be high--such as in the case of a voluntary  general public tour of a recipient's facility--in which pre-arranged  language services for the particular service may not be necessary.  Regardless of the type of language service provided, quality and  accuracy of those services can be critical in order to avoid serious  consequences to the LEP person and to the recipient. Recipients have  substantial flexibility in determining the appropriate mix.  VI. Selecting Language Assistance Services      Recipients have two main ways to provide language services: Oral  and written language services. Quality and accuracy of the language  service is critical in order to avoid serious consequences to the LEP  person and to the recipient.  A. Oral Language Services (Interpretation)      Interpretation is the act of listening to something in one language  (source language) and orally translating it into another language  (target language). Where interpretation is needed and is reasonable,  recipients should consider some or all of the following options for  providing competent interpreters in a timely manner:     Competence of Interpreters. When providing oral assistance,  recipients should ensure competency of the language service provider,  no matter which of the strategies outlined below are used. Competency  requires more than self-identification as bilingual. Some bilingual  staff and community volunteers, for instance, may be able to  communicate effectively in a different language when communicating  information directly in that language, but not be competent to  interpret in and out of English. Likewise, they may not be able to do  written translations.     Competency to interpret, however, does not necessarily mean formal  certification as an interpreter, although certification is helpful.  When using interpreters, recipients should ensure that they:     Demonstrate proficiency in and ability to communicate information  accurately in both English and in the other language and identify and  employ the appropriate mode of interpreting (e.g., consecutive,  simultaneous, summarization, or sight translation);     Have knowledge in both languages of any specialized terms or  concepts peculiar to the entity's program or activity and of any  particularized vocabulary and phraseology used by the LEP person; \8\  and understand and follow confidentiality and impartiality rules to the  same extent the recipient employee for whom they are interpreting and/ or to the extent their position requires. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \8\ Many languages have ``regionalisms,'' or differences in  usage. For instance, a word that may be understood to mean something  in Spanish for someone from Cuba may not be so understood by someone  from Mexico. In addition, because there may be languages which do  not have an appropriate direct interpretation of some courtroom or  legal terms and the interpreter should be so aware and be able to  provide the most appropriate interpretation. The interpreter should  likely make the recipient aware of the issue and the interpreter and  recipient can then work to develop a consistent and appropriate set  of descriptions of these terms in that language that can be used  again, when appropriate. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      Understand and adhere to their role as interpreters without  deviating into a role as counselor, legal advisor, or other roles.     Some recipients may have additional self-imposed requirements for  interpreters. Where individual rights depend on precise, complete, and  accurate interpretation or translations, the use of certified  interpreters is strongly encouraged.     While quality and accuracy of language services is critical, the  quality and accuracy of language services is nonetheless part of the  appropriate mix of LEP services required. The quality and accuracy of  language services in responding to someone who has suffered from a  natural disaster, for example, must be extraordinarily high, while the  quality and accuracy of language services in a bicycle safety class  need not meet the same exacting standards.     Finally, when interpretation is needed and is reasonable, it should  be provided in a timely manner. To be meaningfully effective, language  assistance should be timely. While there is no single definition for  ``timely'' applicable to all types of interactions at all times by all  types of recipients, one clear guide is that the language assistance  should be provided at a time and place that avoids the effective denial  of the service, benefit, or right at issue or the imposition of an  undue burden on or delay in important rights, benefits, or services to  the LEP person. For example, when the timeliness of services is  important, such as with certain activities of DOC recipients providing  dislocation services to someone whose business was destroyed in an  earthquake or hurricane, a recipient    would likely not be providing meaningful access if it had one bilingual  staffer available one day a week to provide the service. Such conduct  would likely result in delays for LEP persons that would be  significantly greater than those for English proficient persons.  Conversely, where access to or exercise of a service, benefit, or right  is not effectively precluded by a reasonable delay, language assistance  can likely be delayed for a reasonable period.     Hiring Bilingual Staff. When particular languages are encountered  often, hiring bilingual staff offers one of the best, and often most  economical, options. Recipients can, for example, fill public contact  positions with staff who are bilingual and competent to communicate  directly with LEP persons in their language. If bilingual staff are  also used to interpret between English speakers and LEP persons, or to  orally interpret written documents from English into another language,  they should be competent in the skill of interpreting. Being bilingual  does not necessarily mean that a person has the ability to interpret.  In addition, there may be times when the role of the bilingual employee  may conflict with the role of an interpreter . Effective management  strategies, including any appropriate adjustments in assignments and  protocols for using bilingual staff, can ensure that bilingual staff  are fully and appropriately utilized. When bilingual staff cannot meet  all of the language service obligations of the recipient, the recipient  should turn to other options.     Hiring Staff Interpreters. Hiring interpreters may be most helpful  where there is a frequent need for interpreting services in one or more  languages. Depending on the facts, sometimes it may be necessary and  reasonable to provide on-site interpreters to provide accurate and  meaningful communication with an LEP person.     Contracting for Interpreters. Contract interpreters may be a cost- effective option when there is no regular need for a particular  language skill. In addition to commercial and other private providers,  many community-based organizations and mutual assistance associations  provide interpretation services for particular languages. Contracting  with and providing training regarding the recipient's programs and  processes to these organizations can be a cost-effective option for  providing language services to LEP persons from those language groups.     Using Telephone Interpreter Lines. Telephone interpreter service  lines often offer speedy interpreting assistance in many different  languages. They may be particularly appropriate where the mode of  communicating with an English proficient person would also be over the  phone. Although telephonic interpretation services are useful in many  situations, it is important to ensure that, when using such services,  the interpreters used are competent to interpret any technical or legal  terms specific to a particular program that may be important parts of  the conversation. Nuances in language and non-verbal communication can  often assist an interpreter and cannot be recognized over the phone.  Video teleconferencing may sometimes help to resolve this issue where  necessary. In addition, where documents are being discussed, it is  important to give telephonic interpreters adequate opportunity to  review the document prior to the discussion and any logistical problems  should be addressed.     Using Community Volunteers. In addition to consideration of  bilingual staff, staff interpreters, or contract interpreters (either  in-person or by telephone) as options to ensure meaningful access by  LEP persons, use of recipient-coordinated community volunteers, working  with, for instance, community-based organizations may provide a cost- effective supplemental language assistance strategy under appropriate  circumstances. They may be particularly useful in providing language  access for a recipient's less critical programs and activities. To the  extent the recipient relies on community volunteers, it is often best  to use volunteers who are trained in the information or services of the  program and can communicate directly with LEP persons in their  language. Just as with all interpreters, community volunteers used to  interpret between English speakers and LEP persons, or to orally  translate documents, should be competent in the skill of interpreting  and knowledgeable about applicable confidentiality and impartiality  rules. Recipients should consider formal arrangements with community- based organizations that provide volunteers to address these concerns  and to help ensure that services are available more regularly.     Use of Family Members or Friends as Interpreters. Although  recipients should not plan to rely on an LEP person's family members,  friends, or other informal interpreters to provide meaningful access to  important programs and activities, where LEP persons so desire, they  should be permitted to use, at their own expense, an interpreter of  their own choosing (whether a professional interpreter, family member  or friend) in place of or as a supplement to the free language services  expressly offered by the recipient. LEP persons may feel more  comfortable when a trusted family member or friend acts as an  interpreter. In addition, in exigent circumstances that are not  reasonably foreseeable, temporary use of interpreters not provided by  the recipient may be necessary. However, with proper planning and  implementation, recipients should be able to avoid most such  situations.     Recipients, however, should take special care to ensure that  family, legal guardians, caretakers, and other informal interpreters  are appropriate in light of the circumstances and subject matter of the  program, service or activity, including protection of the recipient's  own administrative or enforcement interest in accurate interpretation.  In many circumstances, family members (especially children) or friends  are not competent to provide quality and accurate interpretations.  Issues of confidentiality, privacy, or conflict of interest may also  arise. LEP individuals may feel uncomfortable revealing or describing  sensitive, confidential, or potentially embarrassing personal, family,  or financial information to a family member, friend, or member of the  local community. In addition, such informal interpreters may have a  personal connection to the LEP person or an undisclosed conflict of  interest. For these reasons, when oral language services are necessary,  recipients should generally offer competent interpreter services free  of cost to the LEP person. For DOC recipient programs and activities,  this is particularly true in situations in which health, safety, or  access to important benefits and services are at stake, or when  credibility and accuracy are important to protect an individual's  rights and access to important services.     While issues of competency, confidentiality, and conflict of  interest in the use of family members (especially children) or friends  often make their use inappropriate, the use of these individuals as  interpreters may be an appropriate option where proper application of  the four factors would lead to a conclusion that recipient-provided  services are not necessary. An example of this is a voluntary  educational tour of a recipient's facility offered to the public.  There, the importance and nature of the activity may be relatively low  and unlikely to implicate issues of confidentiality, conflict of  interest, or the need for accuracy. In addition, the resources needed  and costs of providing language    services may be high. In such a setting, an LEP person's use of family,  friends, or others may be appropriate.     If the LEP person voluntarily chooses to provide his or her own  interpreter, a recipient should consider whether a record of that  choice and of the recipient's offer of assistance is appropriate. Where  precise, complete, and accurate interpretations or translations of  information and/or testimony are critical for adjudicatory, or legal  reasons, or where the competency of the LEP person's interpreter is not  established, a recipient might decide to provide its own, independent  interpreter, even if an LEP person wants to use his or her own  interpreter as well. Extra caution should be exercised when the LEP  person chooses to use a minor as the interpreter. While the LEP  person's decision should be respected, there may be additional issues  of competency, confidentiality, or conflict of interest when the choice  involves using children as interpreters. The recipient should take care  to ensure that the LEP person's choice is voluntary, that the LEP  person is aware of the possible problems if the preferred interpreter  is a minor child, and that the LEP person knows that a competent  interpreter could be provided by the recipient at no cost.  B. Written Language Services (Translation)      Translation is the replacement of a written text from one language  (source language) into an equivalent written text in another language  (target language).     What Documents Should be Translated? After applying the four-factor  analysis, a recipient may determine that an effective LEP plan for its  particular program or activity includes the translation of vital  written materials into the language of each frequently-encountered LEP  group eligible to be served and/or likely to be affected by the  recipient's program.     Such written materials could include, for example:     [sbull] Surveys and questionnaires.     [sbull] Intake forms with the potential for important consequences.     [sbull] Notices advising LEP persons of free language assistance.     [sbull] Applications to participate in a recipient's program or  activity or to receive recipient benefits or services.     Whether or not a document (or the information it solicits) is  ``vital'' may depend upon the importance of the program, information,  encounter, or service involved, and the consequence to the LEP person  if the information in question is not provided accurately or in a  timely manner. For instance, applications for bicycle safety courses  should not generally be considered vital, whereas applications for  business counseling could be considered vital. Where appropriate,  recipients are encouraged to create a plan for consistently  determining, over time and across its various activities, what  documents are ``vital'' to the meaningful access of the LEP populations  they serve.     Classifying a document as vital or non-vital is sometimes  difficult, especially in the case of outreach materials like brochures  or other information on rights and services. Awareness of rights or  services is an important part of ``meaningful access.'' Lack of  awareness that a particular program, right, or service exists may  effectively deny LEP individuals meaningful access. Thus, where a  recipient is engaged in community outreach activities in furtherance of  its activities, it should regularly assess the needs of the populations  frequently encountered or affected by the program or activity to  determine whether certain critical outreach materials should be  translated. Community organizations may be helpful in determining what  outreach materials may be most helpful to translate. In addition, the  recipient should consider whether translations of outreach material may  be made more effective when done in tandem with other outreach methods,  including utilizing the ethnic media, schools, religious, and community  organizations to spread a message.     Sometimes a document includes both vital and non-vital information.  This may be the case when the document is very large. It may also be  the case when the title and a phone number for obtaining more  information on the contents of the document in frequently-encountered  languages other than English is critical, but the document is sent out  to the general public and cannot reasonably be translated into many  languages. Thus, vital information may include, for instance, the  provision of information in appropriate languages other than English  regarding where a LEP person might obtain an interpretation or  translation of the document.     Into What Languages Should Documents be Translated? The languages  spoken by the LEP individuals with whom the recipient has contact  determine the languages into which vital documents should be  translated. A distinction should be made, however, between languages  that are frequently encountered by a recipient and less commonly- encountered languages. Many recipients serve communities in large  cities or across the country. They regularly serve LEP persons who  speak dozens and sometimes over 100 different languages. To translate  all written materials into all of those languages is unrealistic.  Although recent technological advances have made it easier for  recipients to store and share translated documents, such an undertaking  would incur substantial costs and require substantial resources.  Nevertheless, well-substantiated claims of lack of resources to  translate all vital documents into dozens of languages do not  necessarily relieve the recipient of the obligation to translate those  documents into at least several of the more frequently-encountered  languages and to set benchmarks for continued translations into the  remaining languages over time. As a result, the extent of the  recipient's obligation to provide written translations of documents  should be determined by the recipient on a case-by-case basis, looking  at the totality of the circumstances in light of the four-factor  analysis. Because translation is a one-time expense, consideration  should be given to whether the upfront cost of translating a document  (as opposed to oral interpretation) should be amortized over the likely  lifespan of the document when applying this four-factor analysis.     Safe Harbor. Many recipients would like to ensure with greater  certainty that they comply with their obligations to provide written  translations in languages other than English. Paragraphs (a) and (b)  outline the circumstances that can provide a ``safe harbor'' for  recipients regarding the requirements for translation of written  materials. A ``safe harbor'' means that if a recipient provides written  translations under these circumstances, such action will be considered  strong evidence of compliance with the recipient's written-translation  obligations.     The failure to provide written translations under the circumstances  outlined in paragraphs (a) and (b) does not mean there is non- compliance. Rather, they provide a common starting point for recipients  to consider whether and at what point the importance of the service,  benefit, or activity involved; the nature of the information sought;  and the number or proportion of LEP persons served call for written  translations of commonly-used forms into frequently-encountered  languages other than English. Thus, these paragraphs merely provide a  guide for recipients that would like greater certainty of compliance  than can be provided by a fact-intensive, four-factor analysis.          Example: Even if the safe harbors are not used, if written  translation of a certain document(s) would be so burdensome as to  defeat the legitimate objectives of its program, the translation of  the written materials is not necessary. Other ways of providing  meaningful access, such as effective oral interpretation of certain  vital documents, might be acceptable under such circumstances.      Safe Harbor Guides. The following actions will be considered strong  evidence of compliance with the recipient's written-translation  obligations:     (a) The DOC recipient provides written translations of vital  documents for each eligible LEP language group that constitutes five  percent or 1,000, whichever is less, of the population of persons  eligible to be served or likely to be affected or encountered.  Translation of other documents, if needed, can be provided orally; or     (b) If there are fewer than 50 persons in a language group that  reaches the five percent trigger in (a), the recipient does not  translate vital written materials but provides written notice in the  primary language of the LEP language group of the right to receive  competent oral interpretation of those written materials, free of cost.     These safe harbor provisions apply to the translation of written  documents only. They do not affect the requirement to provide  meaningful access to LEP individuals through competent oral  interpreters where oral language services are needed and are  reasonable. For example, Minority Business Development Centers should,  where appropriate, ensure that basic information to assist LEP  individuals in obtaining information about how to start a business is  explained.     Competence of Translators. As with oral interpreters, translators  of written documents should be competent. Many of the same  considerations apply. However, the skill of translating is very  different from the skill of interpreting, and a person who is a  competent interpreter may or may not be competent to translate.     Particularly where legal or other vital documents are being  translated, competence can often be achieved by use of certified  translators. Certification or accreditation may not always be possible  or necessary.\9\ Competence can often be ensured by having a second,  independent translator ``check'' the work of the primary translator.  Alternatively, one translator can translate the document, and a second,  independent translator could translate it back into English to check  that the appropriate meaning has been conveyed. This is called ``back  translation.'' ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \9\ For those languages in which no formal accreditation  currently exists, a particular level of membership in a professional  translation association can provide some indicator of  professionalism. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      Translators should understand the expected reading level of the  audience and, where appropriate, have fundamental knowledge about the  target language group's vocabulary and phraseology. Sometimes direct  translation of materials results in a translation that is written at a  much more difficult level than the English language version or has no  relevant equivalent meaning.\10\ Community organizations may be able to  help consider whether a document is written at a good level for the  audience. Likewise, consistency in the words and phrases used to  translate terms of art, legal, or other technical concepts helps avoid  confusion by LEP individuals and may reduce costs. Creating or using  already-created glossaries of commonly-used terms may be useful for LEP  persons and translators and cost effective for the recipient. Providing  translators with examples of previous accurate translations of similar  material by the recipient, other recipients, or federal agencies may be  helpful. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \10\ For instance, there may be languages which do not have an  appropriate direct translation of some courtroom or legal terms and  the translator should be able to provide an appropriate translation.  The translator should likely also make the recipient aware of this.  Recipients can then work with translators to develop a consistent  and appropriate set of descriptions of these terms in that language  that can be used again, when appropriate. Recipients will find it  more effective and less costly if they try to maintain consistency  in the words and phrases used to translate terms of art and legal or  other technical concepts. Creating or using already-created  glossaries of commonly used terms may be useful for LEP persons and  translators and cost effective for the recipient. Providing  translators with examples of previous translations of similar  material by the recipient, other recipients, or federal agencies may  be helpful. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      While quality and accuracy of translation services is critical, the  quality and accuracy of translation services is nonetheless part of the  appropriate mix of LEP services required. For instance, documents that  are simple and have no legal or other consequence for LEP persons who  rely on them may use translators that are less skilled than important  documents with legal or other information upon which reliance has  important consequences (including, e.g., information or documents of  DOC recipients regarding certain health, and safety services and  certain legal rights). The permanent nature of written translations,  however, imposes additional responsibility on the recipient to ensure  that the quality and accuracy permit meaningful access by LEP persons.  VII. Elements of Effective Plan on Language Assistance for LEP Persons      After completing the four-factor analysis and deciding what  language assistance services are appropriate, a recipient should  develop an implementation plan to address the identified needs of the  LEP populations they serve. Recipients have considerable flexibility in  developing this plan. The development and maintenance of a  periodically-updated written plan on language assistance for LEP  persons (``LEP plan'') for use by recipient employees serving the  public will likely be the most appropriate and cost-effective means of  documenting compliance and providing a framework for the provision of  timely and reasonable language assistance. Moreover, such written plans  would likely provide additional benefits to a recipient's managers in  the areas of training, administration, planning, and budgeting. These  benefits should lead most recipients to document in a written LEP plan  their language assistance services, and how staff and LEP persons can  access those services. Despite these benefits, certain DOC recipients,  such as recipients serving very few LEP persons and recipients with  very limited resources, may choose not to develop a written LEP plan.  However, the absence of a written LEP plan does not obviate the  underlying obligation to ensure meaningful access by LEP persons to a  recipient's program or activities. Accordingly, in the event that a  recipient elects not to develop a written plan, it should consider  alternative ways to articulate in some other reasonable manner a plan  for providing meaningful access. Entities having significant contact  with LEP persons, such as schools, religious organizations, community  groups, and groups working with new immigrants can be very helpful in  providing important input into this planning process from the  beginning.     The following five steps may be helpful in designing an LEP plan  and are typically part of effective implementation plans.  (1) Identifying LEP Individuals Who Need Language Assistance      The first two factors in the four-factor analysis require an  assessment of the number or proportion of LEP individuals eligible to  be served or encountered and the frequency of encounters. This requires  recipients to    identify LEP persons with whom it has contact.     One way to determine the language of communication is to use  language identification cards (or ``I speak cards''), which invite LEP  persons to identify their language needs to staff. Such cards, for  instance, might say ``I speak Spanish'' in both Spanish and English,  ``I speak Vietnamese'' in both English and Vietnamese, etc. To reduce  costs of compliance, the Federal Government has made a set of these  cards available on the Internet. The Census Bureau ``I speak card'' can  be found and downloaded at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/cor/13166.htm. When   be found and downloaded at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/cor/13166.htm. When   records are normally kept of past interactions with members of the  public, the language of the LEP person can be included as part of the  record. In addition to helping employees identify the language of LEP  persons they encounter, this process will help in future applications  of the first two factors of the four-factor analysis. In addition,  posting notices in commonly encountered languages notifying LEP persons  of language assistance will encourage them to self-identify.  (2) Language Assistance Measures      An effective LEP plan would likely include information about the  ways in which language assistance will be provided. For instance,  recipients may want to include information on at least the following:     [sbull] Types of language services available.     [sbull] How staff can obtain those services.     [sbull] How to respond to LEP callers.     [sbull] How to respond to written communications from LEP persons.     [sbull] How to respond to LEP individuals who have in-person  contact with recipient staff.     [sbull] How to ensure competency of interpreters and translation  services.  (3) Training Staff      Staff should know their obligations to provide meaningful access to  information and services for LEP persons. An effective LEP plan would  likely include training to ensure that:     [sbull] Staff know about LEP policies and procedures.     [sbull] Staff having contact with the public are trained to work  effectively with in-person and telephone interpreters.     Recipients may want to include this training as part of the  orientation for new employees. It is important to ensure that all  employees in public contact positions are properly trained. Recipients  have flexibility in deciding the manner in which the training is  provided. The more frequent the contact with LEP persons, the greater  the need will be for in-depth training. Staff with little or no contact  with LEP persons may only have to be aware of an LEP plan. However,  management staff, even if they do not interact regularly with LEP  persons, should be fully aware of and understand the plan so they can  reinforce its importance and ensure its implementation by staff.  (4) Providing Notice to LEP Persons      Once a recipient has decided, based on the four factors, that it  will provide language services, it is important for the recipient to  let LEP persons know that those services are available and that they  are free of charge. Recipients should provide this notice in a language  LEP persons will understand. Examples of notification that recipients  should consider include:     [sbull] Posting signs in intake areas and other entry points. When  language assistance is needed to ensure meaningful access to  information and services, it is important to provide notice in  appropriate languages in intake areas or initial points of contact so  that LEP persons can learn how to access those language services. This  is particularly true in areas with high numbers of LEP persons seeking  access to certain health, safety, dislocation or business assistance  services or activities run by DOC recipients. For instance, signs in  intake offices could state that free language assistance is available.  The signs should be translated into the most common languages  encountered. They should explain how to get the language help.\11\ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \11\ The Social Security Administration has made such signs  available at http://www.ssa.gov/multilanguage/langlist1.htm. These   available at http://www.ssa.gov/multilanguage/langlist1.htm. These   signs could, for example, be modified for recipient use. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      [sbull] Stating in outreach documents that language services are  available from the agency. Announcements could be in, for instance,  brochures, booklets, and in outreach and recruitment information. These  statements should be translated into the most common languages and  could be ``tagged'' onto the front of common documents.     [sbull] Working with community-based organizations and other  stakeholders to inform LEP individuals of the recipients' services,  including the availability of language assistance services.     [sbull] Using a telephone voice mail menu. The menu could be in the  most common languages encountered. It should provide information about  available language assistance services and how to get them.     [sbull] Including notices in local newspapers in languages other  than English.     [sbull] Providing notices on non-English-language radio and  television stations about the available language assistance services  and how to get them.     [sbull] Presentations and/or notices at schools and religious  organizations.  (5) Monitoring and Updating the LEP Plan      Recipients should, where appropriate, have a process for  determining, on an ongoing basis, whether new documents, programs,  services, and activities need to be made accessible for LEP  individuals, and they may want to provide notice of any changes in  services to the LEP public and to employees. In addition, recipients  should consider whether changes in demographics, types of services, or  other needs require annual reevaluation of their LEP plan. Less  frequent reevaluation may be more appropriate where demographics,  services, and needs are more static. One good way to evaluate the LEP  plan is to seek feedback from the community.     In their reviews, recipients may want to consider assessing changes  in:     [sbull] Current LEP populations in service area or population  affected or encountered.     [sbull] Frequency of encounters with LEP language groups.     [sbull] Nature and importance of activities to LEP persons.     [sbull] Availability of resources, including technological advances  and sources of additional resources, and the costs imposed.     [sbull] Whether existing assistance is meeting the needs of LEP  persons.     [sbull] Whether staff knows and understands the LEP plan and how to  implement it.     [sbull] Whether identified sources for assistance are still  available and viable.     In addition to these five elements, effective plans set clear  goals, management accountability, and opportunities for community input  and planning throughout the process.  VIII. Voluntary Compliance Effort      The goal for Title VI and Title VI regulatory enforcement is to  achieve voluntary compliance. The requirement to provide meaningful  access to LEP persons is enforced and implemented by DOC through the  procedures identified in the Title VI regulations. These procedures  include complaint investigations, compliance reviews, efforts to secure  voluntary compliance, and technical assistance.     The Title VI regulations provide that DOC will investigate whenever  it    receives a complaint, report, or other information that alleges or  indicates possible noncompliance with Title VI or its regulations. If  the investigation results in a finding of compliance, DOC will inform  the recipient in writing of this determination, including the basis for  the determination. However, if a case is fully investigated and results  in a finding of noncompliance, DOC must inform the recipient of the  noncompliance through a Letter of Findings that sets out the areas of  noncompliance and the steps that must be taken to correct the  noncompliance. It must attempt to secure voluntary compliance through  informal means. If the matter cannot be resolved informally, DOC must  secure compliance through the termination of federal assistance after  the DOC recipient has been given an opportunity for an administrative  hearing and/or by referring the matter to a DOC litigation section to  seek injunctive relief or pursue other enforcement proceedings. The DOC  engages in voluntary compliance efforts and provides technical  assistance to recipients at all stages of an investigation. During  these efforts, DOC proposes reasonable timetables for achieving  compliance and consults with and assists recipients in exploring cost- effective ways of coming into compliance. In determining a recipient's  compliance with the Title VI regulations, DOC's primary concern is to  ensure that the recipient's policies and procedures provide meaningful  access for LEP persons to the recipient's programs and activities.     While all recipients must work toward building systems that will  ensure access for LEP individuals, DOC acknowledges that the  implementation of a comprehensive system to serve LEP individuals is a  process and that a system will evolve over time as it is implemented  and periodically reevaluated. As recipients take reasonable steps to  provide meaningful access to federally assisted programs and activities  for LEP persons, DOC will look favorably on intermediate steps  recipients take that are consistent with this Guidance, and that, as  part of a broader implementation plan or schedule, move their service  delivery system toward providing full access to LEP persons. This does  not excuse noncompliance but instead recognizes that full compliance in  all areas of a recipient's activities and for all potential language  minority groups may reasonably require a series of implementing actions  over a period of time. However, in developing any phased implementation  schedule, DOC recipients should ensure that the provision of  appropriate assistance for significant LEP populations or with respect  to activities having a significant impact on the health, safety, legal  rights, or livelihood of beneficiaries is addressed first. Recipients  are encouraged to document their efforts to provide LEP persons with  meaningful access to federally assisted programs and activities.  [FR Doc. 03-6835 Filed 3-21-03; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-BP-P  
Updated August 6, 2015