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Title VI Responsibilities for Local Public Agencies

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Are Title VI and its requirements on local programs new?

Who is considered to be a ‘sub-recipient’ triggering Title VI compliance?

What about a local program that is funded with other funding, local or city taxes, for instance?

If our city, county or agency is covered by Title VI, what does that mean to us?

Are cities/counties that are granted Federal funds in small amounts and/or very infrequently subject to monitoring by the ITD EEO Office?

What is the purpose of the Title VI Non-Discrimination Agreement?

How does a Local Public Agency (LPA) make the public aware that it is covered by Title VI?

What key requirements should an LPA be aware of?

We have a planning project – what kinds of Title VI issues should we be sure are considered?

What do we need to know about requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

We will be overseeing a consultant who will be conducting an environmental study – what should we watch for in the consultant's work?

We will be dealing with Right-of-Way issues as part of our project which may include appraisals, negotiation and relocation – what are the Title VI issues to watch for?

If we are awarding contracts or agreements for a project that includes Federal funding (or Federal reimbursement) what should we be aware of?

 

Are Title VI and its requirements for local programs new?

No. Title VI, and other Federal non-discrimination statutes have been around for decades. Through a recent clarification from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), it is Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) responsibility to ensure that all local agencies receiving US DOT funds administered by ITD are in compliance with these regulations (23 CFR 200.9(b)(7), 49 CFR 21.7).

 

Who is considered to be a ‘sub-recipient’ triggering Title VI compliance?

Financial or other types of assistance provided by the FHWA through the Idaho ITD to local public agencies or local highway jurisdictions for transportation related projects makes the local entity a ‘sub-recipient’. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other Federal Non-discrimination statutes prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin and sex (gender) in the provision of benefits and services in programs and activities that receive Federal funds. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (US DOT) implementing regulations are contained in 49 CFR Part 21 and 23 CFR 200. These regulations require:

  • affirmative action to ensure non-discrimination in programs and services;
  • recipients to execute Title VI Assurances as a condition of receiving Federal aid.
 

What about a local program that is funded with other funding, local or city taxes, for instance?

The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 broadened the scope of Title VI coverage by expanding the definition of the terms “programs and activities” to include all programs and activities of Federal aid recipients, sub-recipients, and contractors, whether those programs and activities are federally funded or not. In short, if a local entity receives any Federal funding at all, every program and service offered by that local entity is covered by Title VI and other Federal Non-discrimination statutes.

 

If our city, county or agency is covered by Title VI, what does that mean to them?

The FHWA requires each local entity that receives Federal funds through ITD to establish a Title VI Program of their own in order to prevent discrimination in the provision of benefits and services. This Title VI Program is a system of policies and procedures designed to monitor compliance, address complaints, and to eliminate discrimination where it is found to exist. In turn, the local entity’s Title VI Program is reviewed and evaluated by ITD’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office (EEO) to ensure that it is effective in preventing and eliminating discrimination.

 

Are cities/counties that are granted Federal funds in small amounts and/or very infrequently subject to monitoring by the ITD EEO Office?

Cities and counties that are granted less than $250,000 in Federal funds, and/or receive Federal funding very infrequently will be subject to limited Title VI monitoring. This monitoring will generally require the filing of an annual report each year during the life of the project.

Cities and counties that generally receive ongoing funding, or a one-time grant in excess of $1,000,000 will undergo at least one on-site review during the life of the project. This review will require that the city/county provide documentation of their efforts, along with an annual report describing their activities in the Title VI requirements.

 

What is the purpose of the Title VI Non-Discrimination Agreement?

The Title VI Non-Discrimination Agreement is a legal document that imposes individual legal liabilities to the signatory agency that are not transferable. Each public agency must develop the agreement to reflect its individual Federal aid transportation program structure. The non-discrimination agreement is incorporated into the funding document and is developed as part of that process.

 

How does a Local Public Agency (LPA) make the public aware that it is covered by Title VI?

All LPA’s and any other Federal aid recipient/subrecipient have an obligation to notify the public that they are bound by Title VI and program requirements. A Policy Statement recognizing Title VI and its requirements is a good way to satisfy this requirement. The Policy Statement certifies that the LPA understands its responsibilities under Title VI. It can serve as notice to the public and can be published in the local newspaper and on the LPA’s website. It can also be adopted by the LPA’s Board or Commissioners as another way to showing support for the concept of ensuring and preventing discrimination. A sample, one-page Policy Statement is located on ITD’s EEO website.

 

What key requirements should an LPA be aware of?

Non-discrimination – There must be no discrimination in any of your programs and services. For example, an LPA should not discriminate in the selection of contractors, ensuring that all contractors are selected fairly and provided an equal opportunity to compete for work. LPA’s must pass non-discrimination requirements on to contractors that are selected for work.

Also, there should be no discrimination in any of your employment practices in connection with highway construction projects or other projects assisted by the FHWA.

Assurances Required – Each LPA agreement will include an assurance that the program will be conducted, or the facility operated in a non-discriminatory manner.

Voluntary Compliance – LPA’s are required to cooperate in obtaining compliance with Title VI. ITD will provide assistance and guidance to LPA’s in obtaining their compliance.

Data Collection – LPA’s are required to keep accurate and complete records necessary to determine whether they are complying with Title VI. All required reports should be submitted in a timely manner. In addition, LPA’s should have available racial and ethnic data showing the extent to which members of minority groups are beneficiaries of programs receiving Federal financial assistance. 

 

We have a planning project – what kinds of Title VI issues should we be sure are considered?

The most important Title VI issue for planning projects is to ensure that there is adequate public involvement, particularly for populations that are traditionally underserved communities. Inadequate efforts to reach and involve low income, minority, disabled and Limited English Proficient (LEP) populations during the planning process can result in denying these groups the opportunity to participate in public decisions on transportation systems and projects directly affecting them.

Consider whether there is effective public involvement and participation:

  • Public meetings should be conducted at convenient and accessible locations, and scheduled at convenient times.
  • Visuals should be used to describe plans.
  • Information should be made available in an electronic accessible format.
  • The participation plan should be published and made available electronically.
  • A variety of methods should be used to increase participation of underserved populations (i.e. contacts with minority group leaders, focus group discussions, workshop format public meetings, and advertising in minority and diverse language media). Methods used should be tailored for your particular area and community make-up.
  • Minority and diverse language media should be appropriately included in all notification processes for public meetings or public review of agency documents.
  • Where needed, contact with minority groups or leaders to identify information needs and planning/programming issues of concern.
  • Technical information should be made available in formats and at places and times convenient for review by minorities. This may require providing information to people with visual impairments, non-English and LEP speakers, or to persons without extensive formal schooling.
  • Groups who are traditionally underserved should be actively sought out for involvement. This active effort goes beyond merely offering a passive opportunity to comment to those who see a notice in a newspaper of general circulation. It may be necessary to translate bureaucratic documents into lay language and to describe why minorities and other groups should be interested in participating.
  • Use a neutral facilitator to encourage minority persons at public meetings to actively participate.
  • Hold meetings in minority areas in the evening or weekends to encourage minority attendance.
  • Use less formal meeting structures so that they are less intimidating such as circulating at an open house and encouraging one-on-one conversations about plans and programs. Provide informal discussions to provide information tactfully to persons who have difficulty reading.

Ensure that input from minority groups/persons is seriously considered:

  • Soliciting input from the general public is critical in the planning process. Failing to seriously consider comments by minority groups/persons is discriminatory.
  • The use of newsletters is also an effective tool to provide information to minority communities or groups on how past input has been considered and to continue soliciting their involvement.

Coordinating appropriately with Native American tribal governments in transportation planning:

  • Projects that typically have the greatest potential for discriminatory impacts are those within metropolitan areas. However, some rural projects also have that potential, especially those impacting Native Americans. It is necessary for planners to recognize and be sensitive to tribal customs and to the nationally recognized sovereignty of tribal governments.
  • Tribal governments should be actively solicited to participate in the development of plans and programs as independent government bodies rather than as specific minority groups.
  • Coordination with tribal governments should reflect early involvement, timely information exchange, adequate notice and consideration of input.
  • It is important to establish better and more effective relationships with tribal governments.
  • It may be helpful to obtain training about Native American customs and laws that govern their various sovereign nations.

Adequate data collection:

  • Data collection should include a description of community boundaries, racial/ethnic make-up, income levels, tax base, and information from community services, schools, hospitals, shopping, and public safety groups.

Contracting opportunities for planning studies, corridor studies, or other work must be provided to minorities and women:

  • Efforts should be made to ensure that minority and women-owned businesses have opportunities to bid on and undertake this work. This may require special outreach.
 

What do we need to know about requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Planning for a project must include aspects that comply with the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA), such as curb ramps and landings, continuous sidewalks, and detectable warnings:

  • Ensure that sufficient right of way will be available to provide room for accessible pedestrian facilities.
  • Provide pedestrian access for persons with disabilities to your streets and sidewalks, whenever a pedestrian facility exists. If non-compliant pedestrian facilities exist within the project boundaries, they must be upgraded or reconstructed to meet ADA compliance standards.
  • Where no pedestrian facility exists, the ADA does not require they be installed. However, wherever you provide a pedestrian facility, it must be accessible to persons with disabilities to the maximum extent feasible (without regard to cost).
  • New construction and alterations such as reconstruction, major rehabilitation, widening, resurfacing (structural overlays and mill and fill), signal installation and upgrades, and projects of a similar scale and effect trigger the need to comply with the ADA when construction is completed. Routine maintenance such as chip seals/seal coats do not trigger ADA compliance.
  • Compliance with the ADA includes developing a Transition Plan. Transition plans are required for LPA’s with 50 or more employees and must include a self assessment and schedule first, for providing for pedestrian access upgrades to State and local government offices and facilities, transportation, places of public accommodation, and employers, followed by walkways serving other areas.
  • The transition plan must:
    • Identify physical obstacles in the LPA’s facilities that limit the accessibility of its programs or activities to individuals with disabilities;
    • Describe in detail the methods that will be used to make the facilities accessible;
    • Specify the schedule for taking the steps necessary to upgrade pedestrian access to meet ADA requirements in each year following the transition plan; and
    • Indicate the official responsible for implementation of the plan.
 

We will be overseeing a consultant who will be conducting an environmental study – what should we watch for in the consultant’s work?

The most commonly used environmental option is a Categorical Exclusion (CE). This is a determination that a project will have no significant individual or cumulative significant environmental effects. In other words, the project would not have significant impacts on planned growth or land use for the area; does not require the relocation of significant numbers of people; does not have a significant impact on any natural, cultural, recreational, historic or other resource; does not involve significant air, noise, or water quality impacts; do not have significant impacts of travel patterns; or does not otherwise either individually or cumulatively have any significant environmental impacts.

A list of project types that have been determined to meet the CE criteria and to have no significant impacts are provided in 23 CFR 771.117(c) and (d). Some of these activities, for example are utility installations; bicycle and pedestrian lanes, paths and facilities; installation of fencing, signs and pavement markings; small passenger shelters; traffic signals; railroad warning devices; emergency repairs; improvements to rest areas and truck weigh stations, reconstruction or modification of an existing bridge structure on essentially the same alignment or location; minor modifications of an existing highway; and highway safety or traffic operation improvement projects.

There should be adequate documentation to show that consideration was made of existing environmental conditions and the potential for a proposed project to negatively or positively affect or impact the human environment has been determined to be minor or non-existent.

A good environmental analysis will include identified beneficial and adverse impacts. Where significant adverse impact is determined to exist, mitigation measures should be identified and provided in the environmental document. 

 

We will be dealing with Right-of-Way issues as part of our project which may include appraisals, negotiation and relocation – what are the Title VI issues to watch for?

Title VI requirements of non-discrimination apply during all phases of the right of way process. For Federally funded projects, ITD requires that appraisers be hired from its Qualified Appraisers List. For all other locally funded projects, the city/county can hire outside of the ITD list.

When contract appraisers are hired, the contracting and assignment process must be done without restriction as to race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Available and qualified minority and/or disadvantaged appraisers must be included in the hiring process. Excessive qualifications standards may impose unacceptable barriers.

Information gathering, analysis and reporting must be objective and nondiscriminatory. Some examples of how appraisal reports may reflect bias are by including unfounded statements, inappropriate data, prejudicial analysis or misleading conclusions. Such practices are unethical and illegal. The same concerns may apply to appraisal review reports.

Every effort must be made to negotiate for required property before filing condemnation. Property owners must be fully informed of their rights to receive just compensation for their property before any donation of such property. It is important that minimum payment and related policies are consistently applied from project to project.

Relocation advisory assistance must be provided equitably, and the selection of comparable replacement housing must be fair, consistent and with discrimination. Extra care must be taken relocation issues involve a minority community where there are residents with limited English proficiency (LEP) or low education levels. It may be necessary to translate vital documents into other languages and provide interpreters from the very first contact. 

 

If we are awarding contracts or agreements for a project that includes Federal funding (or Federal reimbursement) what should we be aware of?

  • LPA-issued contracts and agreements must contain Title VI non-discrimination assurances.
  • Required mitigation measures must be effectively implemented such as safety through construction zones, noise and air impacts, etc.
  • Prime contractors must award subcontracts in a non-discriminatory manner.
  • Prime contractors must provide fair and equal treatment in the provision of wages, overtime hours, and other employment related decisions.
Page Last Modified: 1/17/2012 10:05:29 AM

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