Department of Justice Language Access PlanMarch 20121. GENERAL LANGUAGE ACCESS POLICYa. Policy Statement1. It is the policy of the Department of Justice that Department staff shall takereasonable steps to provide limited English proficient (LEP) persons withmeaningful access to all programs or activities conducted both by theDepartment and by entities receiving funding from the Department.2. This policy is based on the principle that it is the responsibility of theDepartment and not the LEP person to take reasonable steps to ensure thatcommunications between the Department and the LEP person are notimpaired as a result of the limited English proficiency of the individual.3. Department staff shall take reasonable steps to effectively inform the public ofthe availability of language accessible programs and activities.b. Purpose and AuthorityThe purpose of this language access Plan is to make reasonable efforts to eliminate orreduce limited English proficiency as a barrier to accessing Department of Justice programs oractivities. This Plan was created by the Department of Justice Language Access Working Group,a Department-wide group established by the Attorney General consisting of representatives fromeach component as well as leadership offices.This Plan establishes guidelines in accordance with Executive Order 13166, ImprovingAccess to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, 65 Fed. Reg. 50,121 (Aug. 16,2000). These guidelines are designed to be consistent with the standards set forth in theDepartment’s initial LEP Guidance, Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—National Origin Discrimination Against Persons With Limited English Proficiency, 65 Fed. Reg.50,123 (Aug. 16, 2000), 1 the Department’s later LEP Guidance to Federal Financial AssistanceRecipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination AffectingLimited English Proficient Persons, 67 Fed. Reg. 41,455 (June 18, 2002), 2 and the Attorney1This document is available at f.2This document is available at FRJun182002.php.
2General’s memorandum to the heads of Department components, Language Access ObligationsUnder Executive Order 13166 (June 28, 2010). 3 It is necessary for Department staff to makereasonable efforts to provide timely language assistance services to ensure that LEP individualshave substantially equal and meaningfully effective access to Department programs or services. 4c. Definitions1. Direct “In-Language” Communication – Monolingual communication in alanguage other than English between a multilingual staff and an LEP person(e.g., Korean to Korean).2. Effective Communication – Communication sufficient to provide the LEPindividual with substantially the same level of access to services received byindividuals who are not LEP. For example, staff must take reasonable steps toensure communication with an LEP individual is as effective ascommunications with others when providing similar programs and services.3. Interpretation – The act of listening to a communication in one language(source language) and orally converting it to another language (targetlanguage) while retaining the same meaning.4. Language Assistance Services – Oral and written language services needed toassist LEP individuals to communicate effectively with staff, and to provideLEP individuals with meaningful access to, and an equal opportunity toparticipate fully in, the services, activities, or other programs administered bythe Department.5. Limited English Proficient (LEP) Individuals – Individuals who do not speakEnglish as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read,write, speak, or understand English. LEP individuals may be competent inEnglish for certain types of communication (e.g., speaking or understanding),but still be LEP for other purposes (e.g., reading or writing). 53This document is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/cor/language access memo.pdf. Furtherinformation, guidance, and technical assistance on the implementation of Executive Order 13166 can be found onthe website of the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section of the Civil Rights Division,http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/cor/, or www.lep.gov.4Regarding timeliness, the LEP Guidance to DOJ Recipients provides that “[w]hile 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 thelanguage assistance should be provided at a time and place that avoids the effective denial of the service, benefit, orright at issue or the imposition of an undue burden on or delay in important rights, benefits, or services to the LEPperson.” 67 Fed. Reg. at 41,461.5The Department has determined that Executive Order 13166 applies only to persons who are located within theUnited States and its territories, and does not apply extraterritorially.
36. Meaningful Access – Language assistance that results in accurate, timely, andeffective communication at no cost to the LEP individual. 6 For LEPindividuals, meaningful access denotes access that is not significantlyrestricted, delayed or inferior as compared to programs or activities providedto English proficient individuals.7. Multilingual staff or employee – A staff person or employee who hasdemonstrated proficiency in English and reading, writing, speaking, orunderstanding at least one other language as authorized by his or hercomponent.8. Primary Language – An individual’s primary language is the language inwhich an individual most effectively communicates.9. Program or Activity – The term “program or activity” and the term “program”mean all of the operations of the Department. 710. Qualified Translator or Interpreter – An in-house or contracted translator orinterpreter who has demonstrated his or her competence to interpret ortranslate through court certification or is authorized to do so by contract withthe Department or by approval of his or her component.11. Sight Translation – Oral rendering of written text into spoken language by aninterpreter without change in meaning based on a visual review of the originaltext or document.12. Translation – The replacement of written text from one language (sourcelanguage) into an equivalent written text in another language (targetlanguage).13. Vital Document – Paper or electronic written material that containsinformation that is critical for accessing a component’s program or activities,or is required by law.6When federal rules or statutes allow for recovery of fees against a losing party to a court proceeding, it is the policyof the Department not to seek recovery of costs for language assistances services if doing so would result indiscrimination against LEP individuals.7For the purposes of this Plan, the definition of “program or activity” is identical to that used under the regulationsimplementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: “[A] federally conducted program or activity is, insimple terms, anything a Federal agency does. Aside from employment, there are two major categories of federallyconducted programs or activities covered by the regulation: those involving general public contact as part ofongoing agency operations and those directly administered by the department for program beneficiaries andparticipants. Activities in the first part include communication with the public (telephone contacts, office walk-ins,or interviews) and the public’s use of the Department’s facilities (cafeteria, library). Activities in the secondcategory include programs that provide Federal services or benefits (immigration activities, operation of the Federalprison system).” 28 C.F.R. § 39.102.
4Language access plans from DOJ components may supplement these definitions with additionalterms or component-specific definitions that are not inconsistent with these definitions or withthe objective of timely providing LEP persons with substantially equal and meaningfullyeffective access to Department programs or services.d. Scope of Policy/Staff ComplianceDepartment staff should take reasonable steps to provide language assistance services toLEP individuals when they encounter or have reason to believe that they may encounter LEPindividuals in the course of fulfilling their component’s mission. 8 Subject to guidelines set forthherein, Department staff should take reasonable steps to provide language assistance servicesupon request by an LEP person who wishes to access Department programs or activities or towhom Department staff wishes to communicate. 9This directive is intended only to improve the internal management of the Department’slanguage access program, and does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural,enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers oremployees, or any person. Because this document is intended for the internal management of theDepartment’s language access program, it is not intended to be cited in any judicial oradministrative proceeding. Administration of the programs discussed herein is within the solediscretion of the Department and its components. The Department will create and post a processfor obtaining feedback regarding the Department’s implementation of this policy.2. BACKGROUNDEvery day, Department staff interview witnesses, victims, and defendants in civil,criminal, and administrative cases and investigations; communicate with inmates who seek toaccess prison grievance procedures, counseling, health services, religious and otheraccommodations, and educational programming; hold immigration hearings, review immigrationjudges’ determinations, generate correspondence related to these activities, and defendadministrative immigration decisions in federal court; maintain hotlines and establish complaintprocedures for members of the public; host web pages containing important information;transport prisoners between facilities and to court; account for communications between trusteesand debtors, ensure that debtors understand information on bankruptcy, and oversee the creditcounseling and debtor education process; and conduct outreach and produce brochures related tocrime victims’ rights, trafficking in persons, police misconduct, predatory telemarketing, and ahost of other important issues.8Many Department tasks and functions are conducted by contracted personnel and, consequently, contractedpersonnel may interact with LEP individuals. Components should notify contracted personnel of the obligation toensure nondiscrimination, including compliance with Executive Order 13166. Components should considercontractors and interns having contact with LEP individuals when determining who needs to be briefed on their rolesand responsibilities under the Department’s language access policies, plan, and procedures.9The Department seeks to deliver the highest standards of professional competence and ethical conduct during thecourse of fulfilling its mission. Consequently, Department attorneys should also consider their responsibilities underthe applicable rules of professional conduct when dealing with LEP individuals, including unrepresented parties,victims, and witnesses. The Department’s Professional Responsibility Advisory Office is available to assistDepartment attorneys in this regard.
5These and other examples highlight that the Department’s mission depends on accuratecommunication with members of the public, regardless of their level of English proficiency. Incompliance with Executive Order 13166, this Plan details the Department’s initiatives to enhanceaccess to its federally conducted programs and activities by LEP individuals.a. Executive Order 13166On August 11, 2000, the President issued Executive Order 13166, Improving Access toServices by Persons with Limited English Proficiency. See 65 Fed. Reg. at 50,121. On the sameday, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights issued an initial LEP Policy Guidance. See65 Fed. Reg. at 50,123. 10The Executive Order has two broad objectives: The first directs each federal agency todevelop and implement a system to ensure that LEP individuals can meaningfully access theagency’s federally conducted programs and activities; the second directs federal agenciesproviding federal financial assistance to issue guidance to recipients of such assistance regardingtheir legal obligation to ensure meaningful access for LEP persons under the national originnondiscrimination provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and implementingregulations. In short, Executive Order 13166 tasks the Department with improving accessibilityfor LEP persons in all DOJ programs and activities and ensuring that those entities that receivefunding from the Department do the same.b. Transforming Policy into Practice: The Department of Justice Language AccessWorking GroupOn June 28, 2010, the Attorney General issued a memorandum to the heads ofDepartment components regarding their language access obligations under Executive Order13166. 11 Among other requirements, the Memorandum established the DOJ Language AccessWorking Group (DOJ LAWG), co-chaired by the Assistant Attorneys General for Civil Rightsand for Administration. 12The purpose of the DOJ LAWG is to guide and oversee component efforts toward fullcompliance with Executive Order 13166. Consisting of representatives from each componentand leadership offices, the DOJ LAWG assists in implementing the Attorney General’s requestthat each DOJ component create and implement its own language access plan by the end ofcalendar year 2011. The Attorney General set forth a number of responsibilities for componentrepresentatives who are participants in the DOJ LAWG, including: (1) serving as thecomponent’s language access coordinator; (2) assessing component operations for LEP needsand gaps in service; and (3) creating a component language access plan, along with policies and10Pursuant to Executive Order 13166, DOJ’s federally conducted language access plan must also be consistent withthe standards set forth in the Department of Justice guidance regarding the Title VI prohibition against nationalorigin discrimination affecting LEP individuals.11This document is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/cor/language access memo.pdf.12LEP Guidance to Recipients, 67 Fed. Reg. at 41,461.
6protocols to implement the plan. Once all plans are submitted to, reviewed, and approved by theco-chairs, the DOJ LAWG will monitor the implementation and ongoing assessment ofcomponent language access plans.Beginning in December 2010, the DOJ LAWG convened several bimonthly plenarymeetings and established smaller focus groups or subcommittees to discuss topics includinghuman resources, information technology, and procurement. Smaller focus groups also sharedknowledge on language access issues affecting law enforcement components, components withcorrectional responsibilities, components that provide federal financial assistance, and civillitigating components. The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS) 13 of the CivilRights Division provided technical assistance to the DOJ LAWG, including training regardinglanguage access program planning and the distribution of resources such as the Language AccessAssessment and Planning Tool for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs 14;Common Language Access Questions, Technical Assistance, and Guidance for FederallyConducted and Federally Assisted Programs 15; and Considerations for Providing LanguageAccess in a Prosecutorial Agency. 16 DOJ LAWG members began drafting component-specificlanguage access plans during the spring of 2011 and submitted those plans for review in thesummer of 2011. This Plan is a product of the training, discussion, feedback, and ideasgenerated by the DOJ LAWG and will evolve as the demands, challenges, and opportunitiesfaced by the Department change over time. 17c. Updating the Departmental Plan Implementing Executive Order 13166In the eleven years since the Executive Order was signed and the Department first issuedits implementation plan, our understanding of the need for language assistance services hasexpanded, the diversity of non-English languages we encounter has grown, and methods forproviding language services have evolved. With over a decade of experience in complying withExecutive Order 13166 and, in particular, enforcing the national origin anti-discriminationprotections of Title VI, our approach focuses on implementing practical policies and proceduresthat will enable staff in Department components to communicate with LEP individuals.Understanding the ways in which individuals in general, and consequently LEP individuals,interact with each component has been critical in determining which language access policiesand procedures apply to each component.In compliance with the Attorney General’s June 2010 memorandum, each componentbegan the process of creating a language access plan by evaluating their current efforts toprovide meaningful access to LEP individuals. The DOJ LAWG encouraged components to use13The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, among other functions, is responsible for government-widecoordination with respect to Executive Order 13166. The Section serves as the federal repository for the internalimplementation plans that each federal agency is required to develop to ensure meaningful access to its ownfederally conducted programs and activities, and it also reviews and approves each funding agency’s external LEPguidance for its recipients.14Available at http://www.lep.gov/resources/2011 Language Access Assessment and Planning Tool.pdf.15Available at http://www.lep.gov/resources/081511 Language Access CAQ TA Guidance.pdf.16Available at http://www.lep.gov/resources/092111 Prosecutors Planning Tool.pdf.17See Part 3(k) (Performance Measurement and Evaluation).
7the Language Access Assessment and Planning Tool for Federally Conducted and FederallyAssisted Programs to self-assess and determine their own capacity and need to provide servicesto LEP individuals. This tool is a practical application of the four-factor analysis set out inguidance issued in accordance with Executive Order 13166, and provides components withtechnical assistance in creating a language access plan, policies, and procedures.The four-factor analysis is a flexible and fact-dependent standard that is used todetermine the appropriate language assistance services to ensure an LEP individual hasmeaningful access to that agency’s programs and activities. The four-factor analysis considers:(1) The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered bythe program; (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 topeople’s lives; and, (4) the resources available to the program and costs. 18 The AttorneyGeneral’s June 2010 memorandum explains that “Executive Order 13166 tasks the Departmentwith improving accessibility for LEP persons in everything that we do on the Departmentlevel.” 19 Some components with high levels of interaction with the public will have morelanguage service requirements than others based on component assessment of the range andnature of component activities and contact or potential contact with LEP individuals.The creation of the DOJ LAWG and related cost-saving or cost-sharing initiatives areaimed at maximizing Department resources to ensure cost-effective delivery of quality languageassistance services. 2018LEP Guidance to Recipients, 67 Fed. Reg. at 41,459.19Language Access Obligations Under Executive Order 13166 at 1.20The LEP Guidance to Recipients, 67 Fed. Reg. at 41,461, provides further information regarding the considerationof costs as a factor in the
1. It is the policy of the Department of Justice that Department staff shall take reasonable steps to provide limited English proficient (LEP) persons with meaningful access to all programs or activities conducted both by the Department and by entities receiving funding from the Department. 2.
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