Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (codified as 48 USC § 2000d):
No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 5517; February 7, 1994):
To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, … each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States [and its territories and possessions].
As stated in Box 2-1, the enactment of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 codifies the principle that government programs must provide equivalent benefits to all segments of the population; Executive Order 12898 in 1994 created similar language for environmental justice, dictating that federal agencies must avoid creating disparate negative impacts (in terms of health or environmental effects) among low-income or minority communities. As part of the enforcement of these provisions, federal grant making agencies may impose reporting requirements on their state and local agency recipients, documenting their compliance with antidiscrimination rules; Jarosz and Sanders noted in their presentations that the ACS is gaining increased use in providing quantitative evidence of compliance. The role of the ACS in the allocation of billions of dollars of federal funds is well known, but Jarosz and Sanders suggested that the ACS is an important part of evaluating how those allocated funds are spent.
In his presentation, Sanders described METRO’s work in adapting ACS data for demonstrating compliance with foreign language assistance requirements. In 2007, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)—an important funding source for transit agencies like METRO—slightly adjusted its requirements for documenting Title VI compliance. Specifically, as summarized in Box 2-2, the new guidance to FTA fund recipients called for creation and maintenance of a language implementation plan for the relevant service population’s limited English proficiency (LEP) constituency. The language specifically called for these plans to include a strong quantitative assessment of the proportion of LEP persons likely to be served by the recipient program and estimation of the frequency with which LEP persons “come into contact with the program” in any form (e.g., signage, printed materials like timetables, promotional materials). Plans