About ED OFFICES


OCR: Office for Civil Rights
   Current Section
OCR Strategic Plan FY 2000

Office Mission

To Ensure Equal Access to Education and to Promote Educational Excellence Throughout the Nation through Vigorous Enforcement of Civil Rights.

Customer Definition:

We serve student populations facing discrimination and the advocates and institutions promoting systemic solutions to civil rights problems, including other Offices of the Department of Education.

Key Office Goals:

First Goal: Impact on Students' Lives

The Office for Civil Rights will maximize the impact of available resources on civil rights in education. OCR will consider as broad a range of input as practicable in the setting of its priorities to ensure that OCR addresses the most acute problems of discrimination. OCR will provide tangible assistance to the greatest number of students possible.

Objective A: Proactive Targeting of Resources

OCR will move from a reactive system of almost exclusively responding to complaints to a balanced enforcement approach that proactively targets its resources for maximum impact.

Performance Measures:  

If OCR is successful, OCR will involve progressively more of its staff and monies in proactive measures; OCR will address the widely accepted real and acute problems in civil rights; and the gaps between majority and protected groups will close in the areas (substantive and geographic) in which OCR is active.

Short Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will as its top budget priority work to ensure that 40 % of resources are dedicated to proactive measures to ensure equal access to high quality, high standards education, including priority policy development, high impact compliance reviews, and targeted technical assistance.

(3) OCR will involve beneficiary representatives, advocacy groups and experts in its targeting efforts. This will include expert review of survey data.

Long Term Strategies:

(1) A team of field and headquarters staff will develop a system for priority ordering of complaints for investigation.

(2) OCR will develop a LAN-based system for cost based accounting, in order to ensure that its resource allocation is mission driven.

Objective B: Strong Remedies for Effective Change

OCR will effect positive change through uniformly strong remedies to civil rights violations. Remedial action will make injured parties whole, lessen the chance of future violations, and set a clear precedent for other parties. It will be taken at the broadest appropriate level, for instance, at the state rather than the local level.

Performance Measures:

 If OCR is successful, OCR remedial plans will compare favorably with its own past remedies and those achieved by other federal agencies and private litigants; monitoring of agreements will show that they are durable in the cases of violations found as well as instructive for future action; and OCR decisions will be cited and followed by other parties or deciding agencies.

Short Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will continue to develop expertise through national collaboration among offices in its top priority substantive areas. These issue networks will facilitate the use of strong remedial models for OCR.

(2) OCR will review remedies as part of its Quality Improvement Program.

(3) OCR will involve other Offices of the Department in remedial plans wherever appropriate, and will solicit external appraisals of its remedial plans.

Long Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will develop systems to involve beneficiary representatives in the development and monitoring of remedial plans.

(2) OCR will collaborate with other Offices of the Department, the Department of Justice and other agencies to provide more prompt and effective remedial action.

(3) OCR will develop proposals for remedial powers other than complete de-funding of recipients.

Objective C: Efficiency

OCR will eliminate practices and procedures that do not add value or do not contribute to the fulfillment of OCR's mission. OCR will develop new approaches to maximizing the impact of existing resources. This will require creativity and innovation from all OCR components.

Performance Measures:

 If OCR is successful, OCR action will be progressively faster, and will occur before problems are moot. Progressively fewer OCR dollars will be spent on investigations that yield findings of no violation. OCR will make positive changes in progressively more students' lives.

Short Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will eliminate current case backlogs.

(2) OCR will continually evaluate and improve its new Complaint Resolution Manual to provide for faster, more flexible and less bureaucratic handling of complaint resolution.

(3) OCR will re-invent its Magnet School and state Vocational Education review programs in coordination with OESE and OVAE.

(4) OCR will develop new approaches for collaboration with OSERS and DOJ in order to provide recipients with a single set of standards and a single review for complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability.

(5) OCR will develop and implement a performance measurement system for the major functions of the Office. OCR will develop an appropriate basket of performance indicators to measure effective and efficient use of OCR resources.

Long Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will pursue selective exhaustion of remedy requirements for appropriate issues and jurisdictions.

(2) OCR will make a comprehensive strategy for quality improvement a part of its planning, and will develop internal expertise at the national and field office level for quality management and continual process improvement.

(3) OCR will develop new approaches for collaboration with OSERS in order to strengthen and certify state complaint procedures when discrimination on the basis of disability is alleged.

Second Goal: Empowerment of Students and Parents

The Office for Civil Rights will empower others to learn to solve their own problems of securing equal access to quality education. OCR will focus on systemic education reform that enables communities throughout the nation to understand, commit to and implement strategies that provide opportunities for all to learn.

Objective A: Clearly Articulated Policy

OCR will clearly articulate standards for equal access to education under Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 and Title II and the Age Discrimination Act. Policy will be readily understandable by the public and implementable by educational institutions. OCR will also advocate within the Department of Education to ensure that all employees understand equity issues and their implications for the Department's work.

Performance Measures:

 If OCR is successful, OCR will adhere to a published schedule to keep all policy up-to-date; OCR staff and educational institutions will know what is expected of them in light of published policy; and beneficiaries and their advocates will have the tools they need to confront their own problems of securing equal access to quality education. OCR will be a visible and consistent presence in the work of the Department, in particular in key legislative and policy initiatives.

Short Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will continue to develop expertise through national collaboration among offices in its top priority substantive areas. These teams will facilitate policy development and dissemination.

(2) OCR will re-invent its process for policy development and dissemination to make it faster, more responsive and more inclusive of internal and external input.

(3) OCR will adhere to a published calendar for policy development in top priority areas.

Long Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will develop and adhere to a regular calendar for regulatory review and policy development in each of its jurisdictional areas.

Objective B: Promotion of Models that Work

OCR will find, describe and promote models that work for civil rights compliance. OCR will concentrate on promoting effective systems and mechanisms that ensure equal access to education at the state level. Models should provide the earliest and most accessible resolution possible of civil rights conflicts.

Performance Measures:

If OCR is successful, OCR will advocate models that are educationally vouched for, transferable to new situations, and systemic and preventative in nature. A growing number of mechanisms, especially at the state level, will promote equal access to education and provide speedy and fair resolution of civil rights grievances.

Short Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will continue to develop expertise through national collaboration among offices in its top priority substantive areas. These issue networks will facilitate the dissemination of model programs.

(2) OCR will solicit external input for model plans for ensuring equal access to quality education.

(3) OCR will develop a system of recognition of exemplary programs for civil rights in education.

Long Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will collaborate with other components of the Department, in particular OERI, to identify and promote model plans for ensuring equal access to quality education.

(2) OCR will seek to ensure that adequate funding is available to investigate and develop model plans for high standards in civil rights compliance.

Objective C: Outreach and Collaboration

OCR will become a partner to local beneficiary and advocacy groups and other entities, helping them help their communities understand, commit to and implement strategies that provide opportunities to learn for all through adequate information, technical expertise and back-up assistance.

Performance Measures:

 If OCR is successful, OCR information and technical assistance will be readily available and be clearly understandable by its audience. A growing number of local solutions that provided speedy and fair resolution of civil rights grievances will be implemented.

Short Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will continue to develop expertise through national collaboration among offices in its top priority substantive areas. These issue networks will facilitate the development and maintenance of relations with appropriate interest groups and institutions.

(2) OCR will use focus groups to understand the interests and concerns of beneficiary and advocacy groups and other entities.

(3) OCR will focus technical assistance on top priority areas and on fora where both beneficiary and recipient groups can work together.

Long Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will collaborate with components of the Department to ensure a clear and coordinated approach to outreach.

(2) OCR will develop a "train the trainers" program for technical assistance.

Third Goal: Investment in People

The Office for Civil Rights will recruit and retain the highest calibre staff, and will develop the training and tools they need to become most effective. OCR will provide an environment that values participation, innovation and change. OCR will model diversity, fairness and concern for employee well-being.

Objective A: Motivated and Able Staff

OCR will invest in training that is relevant to job mastery and opportunities for staff, particularly in the substantive areas of civil rights. OCR will develop a comprehensive approach to training for individuals and OCR as a whole.

Performance Measures: If OCR is successful, OCR will plan, dedicate and allocate adequate resources for training. OCR will compare favorably in the hours and breadth of training for staff delivered annually with peer federal law enforcement agencies and private sector civil rights advocates. Training will be delivered according to plan and most staff will rate the training "excellent" in quality and "very relevant" to their work in OCR.

Short Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will implement a comprehensive strategic plan for training, which will include an annual minimum training requirement for staff and adequate resource dedication for training.

(2) OCR will collaborate with HMLC to ensure that OCR-supported training resources are available to all OCR staff.

(3) OCR will establish a recognition system to reward and recognize outstanding contributions to OCR's mission.

Long Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will collaborate with Department of Justice and other civil rights agencies and organizations to provide high quality and efficient training in civil rights.

Objective B: Use of Appropriate Technology

OCR will maximize its use of appropriate technology. OCR will make its policy, information and data analysis readily available for enforcement and promotion of civil rights in education.

Performance Measures:

If OCR is successful, OCR staff will have ready access to OCR policy, survey information and case processing data via an electronic network. The public will have appropriate access to the information for which it has greatest need. Electronic communication will be available and used among staff in headquarters and between headquarters staff and the field offices.

Short Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will achieve a one-to-one computer to staff ratio.

(2) OCR will have a LAN to which headquarters staff are connected and field offices have access.

(3) OCR will develop a flexible and responsive Case Information System to serve internal and external customers of OCR case information.

(4) OCR will make available its policy, findings, and survey data via the LAN. Issue networks will manage specialized libraries for issue-specific information.

Long Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will connect all field office staff to the LAN.

(2) OCR will move all mainframe based systems to less costly and more accessible LAN-based systems.

(3) OCR will provide public access to its electronic information systems.

Objective C: Work Place Fairness

OCR will create a model work place, which includes an integrated and diverse work force that respects all its staff. OCR will foster communication and cooperation among its components and staff. OCR will strive to provide all staff with a safe, comfortable, accessible and well equipped work place.

Performance Measures: If OCR is successful, OCR will achieve diversity in hiring, retention, and promotion of staff. OCR managers will regularly meet and consult with staff and union representatives on work place issues, and solicit and act on recommendations. OCR staff will note increases in satisfaction with the work place and in productive communication. They will note an increase in cooperation among OCR components and staff.

Short Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will develop structures and systems for meaningful staff input and union participation in its management, program and human resource planning.

(2) OCR will develop an agency wide affirmative action plan that identifies the OCR's long term hiring and promotion objectives and the actions OCR will take to achieve those objectives.

Long Term Strategies:

(1) OCR will develop a system of 360 degree evaluation (supervisor, peers and staff) to provide all staff with more effective feedback.

(2) OCR will provide every office with appropriate and adequate space and furniture.

(3) OCR will develop a system of flexible specialization to take advantage of special staff interests and abilities.

(4) OCR will develop internal capacity for the quick, fair and amiable resolution of disputes.


 
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Last Modified: 03/09/2005