Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto, CA) gave the following statement today on the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report investigating the civil rights efforts overseen by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As Chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Departmental Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry, Rep. Baca has jurisdiction in the House over issues pertaining to oversight of the USDA.
The GAO report was conducted at the request of Reps. Baca and Edolphus Towns (D-NY), and U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Lugar (R-IN), and Charles Grassley (R-IA). The report found the USDA still has "significant deficiencies" in its civil rights efforts, and recommends new accountability structures to correct ongoing failures.
"The findings of today's GAO report on the civil rights efforts of the USDA are very troubling. The ongoing failure to properly track and adjudicate civil rights complaints is a serious issue. Unfortunately, today's report shows the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights has not lived up to it's congressional mandate."
"I thank the GAO for their diligent work in this report, and for the recommendations on improvement that it contains. I look forward to working proactively with my colleagues in Congress, and the next administration, to find a real solution that will end this long-standing stain on the USDA's performance."
A copy of the GAO report can be found online at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-62.