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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Reflecting on Our Civil Rights Accomplishments this Independence Day

From: LawrLCL@aol.com
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 2013 13:38:22 -0400

Subj: Re: Reflecting on Our Civil Rights Accomplishments this Independence Day

You want to guess why they released this statement now?

July 3, 2013
Dear Employees,
As we take time to celebrate our nation's independence and our traditions of liberty and equality under law, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the great strides we have made in embracing a new era for civil rights at USDA. 
Employees at every level of the Department have been engaged in efforts to improve complaint processing, outreach and program delivery. Our customers have noticed and responded. Complaints by USDA customers have decreased in each of the last four years.   In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, the total volume of complaints filed is expected to be less than half the number received in FY 2009.  Complaints involving USDA's lending programs under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act are projected to be at record lows. 
The reduction in complaint numbers has yielded notable savings to USDA.  Since FY 2009, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights has saved USDA more than $2 million in costs associated with processing, investigating and responding to employment and program complaints of discrimination.   These savings are more important than ever in an era of heightened budget scrutiny.
Our accomplishments are due to a comprehensive effort.  We've created an Office of Advocacy and Outreach to help foster awareness of USDA programs, greatly increased outreach to Tribal areas, and worked together to create the StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity to better target resources and technical assistance.  At the same time, every agency has played a key role. The Farm Service Agency (FSA), for example, has shown great initiative in making programs more responsive to customer needs. FSA developed an innovative new micro lending program to better serve smaller producers, while also restructuring its County Committee system to ensure the needs of all customers are met.  These efforts have made possible reconciliation with communities that have been historically underserved. I'm also encouraged by the commitment that the U.S. Forest Service has made over the past four years to promote inclusion of all communities in program delivery. Many other USDA agencies can boast similar accomplishments.
I'm proud of the work we have accomplished to help overcome a troubled history of discrimination at USDA. We can all be truly proud of tangible evidence of a restored faith in our programs and services. I hope you will continue to join me in making USDA a place that exemplifies the values expressed in the familiar words, "One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."
I wish you and your family a safe and happy Independence Day.
Tom Vilsack

Lesa L. Donnelly

We have lost our sense of shame. Colin Powell