U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Office for Civil Rights Annual Report to Congress (1999)

Managing Resources for Positive Impact on Students

OCR is committed to achieving equal access to a high quality education for all students. But our ability to have a positive impact on students' lives is directly related to maintaining a competent, well-trained, technologically proficient workforce. Our work is labor-intensive, and approximately 80 percent of OCR's budget is used to pay staffing expenses. In fiscal year 1999, OCR received $66,000,000 from Congress, which was $2,000,000 less than requested, approximately 7 percent more than the previous year. However, it did enable OCR to complete the hiring process begun in FY 1998 and to continue staff training. By the end of the fiscal year, OCR had expanded to 737 full-time equivalent staff hours.

OCR Appropriation and Workload

The decade of the 1990's brought OCR an increase in workload and case complexity, along with decreasing resources. Managing more with less became a necessity. To meet this challenge, OCR reduced its headquarters staff and put additional staff in the field, instituted more flexible case resolution procedures, replaced an out-of-date mainframe data collection system with a personal computer based system, provided staff with on-line access to critical case resolution resources through an electronic library, and established internal networks for key subject matter issues.

In FY 1999, OCR received more complaints than in any previous year in its history. While complaint receipts have risen this decade in general, the increase in the number of FY 1999 complaints is due largely to a single complainant who filed more than 1,600 complaints against postsecondary institutions nationwide. While this is an unusual occurrence, it illustrates one of the challenges OCR faces in building a balanced civil rights enforcement program-the fact that we cannot control the number or type of complaints received.

Complaints Received and Resolved

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