The ultimate sanctions under title VI are the refusal to grant an application for assistance and the termination of assistance being rendered. Before these sanctions may be invoked, the Act requires completion of the procedures called for by section 602. That section require the department or agency concerned (1) to determine that compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means, (2) to consider alternative courses of action consistent with achievement of the objectives of the statutes authorizing the particular financial assistance, (3) to afford the applicant an opportunity for a hearing, and (4) to complete the other procedural steps outlined in section 602, including notification to the appropriate committees of the Congress.
In some instances, as outlined below, it is legally permissible temporarily to defer action on an application for assistance, pending initiation and completion of section 602 procedures-including attempts to secure voluntary compliance with title VI. Normally, this course of action is appropriate only with respect to applications for noncontinuing assistance or initial applications for programs of continuing assistance. It is not available where Federal financial assistance is due and payable pursuant to a previously approved application.
Whenever action upon an application is deferred pending the outcome of a hearing and subsequent section 602 procedures, the efforts to secure voluntary compliance and the hearing and such subsequent procedures, if found necessary, should be conducted without delay and completed as soon as possible.
Compliance with the nondiscrimination mandate of title VI may often be obtained more promptly by appropriate court action than by hearings and termination of assistance. Possibilities of judicial enforcement include (1) a suit to obtain specific enforcement of assurances, covenants running with federally provided property, statements or compliance or desegregation plans filed pursuant to agency regulations, (2) a suit to enforce compliance with other titles of the 1964 Act, other Civil Rights Acts, or constitutional or statutory provisions requiring nondiscrimination, and (3) initiation of, or intervention or other participation in, a suit for other relief designed to secure compliance.
The possibility of court enforcement should not be rejected without consulting the Department of Justice. Once litigation has been begun, the affected agency should consult with the Department of Justice before taking any further action with respect to the noncomplying party.
A number of effective alternative courses not involving litigation may also be available in many cases. These possibilities include (1) consulting with or seeking assistance from other Federal agencies (such as the Contract Compliance Division of the Department of Labor) having authority to enforce nondiscrimination requirements; (2) consulting with or seeking assistance from State or local agencies having such authority; (3) bypassing a recalcitrant central agency applicant in order to obtain assurances from, or to grant assistance to complying local agencies; and (4) bypassing all recalcitrant non-Federal agencies and providing assistance directly to the complying ultimate beneficiaries. The possibility of utilizing such administrative alternatives should be considered at all stages of enforcement and used as appropriate or feasible.
Title VI requires that a concerted effort be made to persuade any noncomplying applicant or recipient voluntarily to comply with title VI. Efforts to secure voluntary compliance should be undertaken at the outset in every noncompliance situation and should be pursued through each stage of enforcement action. Similarly, where an applicant fails to file an adequate assurance or apparently breaches its terms, notice should be promptly given of the nature of the noncompliance problem and of the possible consequences thereof, and an immediate effort made to secure voluntary compliance.
The following procedures are designed to apply in cases of noncompliance involving applications for one-time or noncontinuing assistance and initial applications for new or existing programs of continuing assistance.
Where the assurance, statement of compliance or plan of desegregation required by agency regulations has not been filed or where, in the judgment of the head of the agency in question, the filed assurance fails on its face to satisfy the regulations, the agency head should defer action on the application pending prompt initiation and completion of section 602 procedures. The applicant should be notified immediately and attempts made to secure voluntary compliance. If such efforts fail, the applicant should promptly be offered a hearing for the purpose of determining whether an adequate assurance has in fact been filed.
If it is found that an adequate assurance has not been filed, and if administrative alternatives are ineffective or inappropriate, and court enforcement is not feasible, section 602 procedures may be completed and assistance finally refused.
Where an otherwise adequate assurance, statement of compliance, or plan has been filed in connection with an application for assistance, but prior to completion of action on the application the head of the agency in question has reasonable grounds, based on a substantiated complaint, the agency's own investigation, or otherwise, to believe that the representations as to compliance are in some material respect untrue or are not being honored, the agency head may defer action on the application pending prompt initiation and completion of section 602 procedures. The applicant should be notified immediately and attempts made to secure voluntary compliance. If such efforts fail and court enforcement is determined to be ineffective or inadequate, a hearing should be promptly initiated to determine whether, in fact, there is noncompliance.
If noncompliance is found, and if administrative alternatives are ineffective or inappropriate and court enforcement is still not feasible, section 602 procedures may be completed and assistance finally refused.
The above-described deferral and related compliance procedures would normally be appropriate in cases of an application for noncontinuing assistance. In the case of an initial application for a new or existing program of continuing assistance, deferral would often be less appropriate because of the opportunity to secure full compliance during the life of the assistance program. In those cases in which the agency does not defer action on the application, the applicant should be given prompt notice of the asserted noncompliance; funds should be paid out for short periods only, with no long-term commitment of assistance given; and the applicant advised that acceptance of the funds carries an enforceable obligation of nondiscrimination and the risk of invocation of severe sanctions, if noncompliance in fact is found.
The following procedures are designed to apply in cases of noncompliance involving all submissions seeking continuation or renewal under programs of continuing assistance.
In cases in which commitments for Federal financial assistance have been made prior to the effective date of title VI regulations and funds have not been fully disbursed, or in which there is provision for future periodic payments to continue the program or activity for which a present recipient has previously applied and qualified, or in which assistance is given without formal application pursuant to statutory direction or authorization, the responsible agency may nonetheless require an assurance, statement of compliance, or plan in connection with disbursement or further funds. However, once a particular program grant or loan has been made or an application for a certain type of assistance for a specific or indefinite period has been approved, no funds due and payable pursuant to that grant, loan, or application, may normally be deferred or withheld without first completing the procedures prescribed in section 602.
Accordingly, where the assurance, statement of compliance, or plan required by agency regulations has not been filed or where, in the judgment of the head of the agency in question, the filed assurance fails on its face to satisfy the regulations, or there is reasonable cause to believe it untrue or not being honored, the agency head should, if efforts to secure voluntary compliance are unsuccessful, promptly institute a hearing to determine whether an adequate assurance has in fact been filed, or whether, in fact, there is noncompliance, as the case may be. There should ordinarily be no deferral of action on the submission or withholding of funds in this class of cases, although the limitation of the payout of funds to short periods may appropriately be ordered. If noncompliance is found, and if administrative alternatives are ineffective or inappropriate and court enforcement is not feasible, section 602 procedures may be completed and assistance terminated.
Special procedures may sometimes be required where there is noncompliance with title VI regulations in connection with a program of such short total duration that all assistance funds will have to be paid out before the agency's usual administrative procedures can be completed and where deferral in accordance with these guidelines would be tantamount to a final refusal to grant assistance.
In such a case, the agency head may, although otherwise following these guidelines, suspend normal agency procedures and institute expedited administrative proceedings to determine whether the regulations have been violated. He should simultaneously refer the matter to the Department of Justice for consideration of possible court enforcement, including interim injunctive relief. Deferral of action on an application is appropriate, in accordance with these guidelines, for a reasonable period of time, provided such action is consistent with achievement of the objectives of the statute authorizing the financial assistance in connection with the action taken. As in other cases, where noncompliance is found in the hearing proceeding, and if administrative alternatives are ineffective or inappropriate and court enforcement is not feasible, section 602 procedures may be completed and assistance finally refused.
In situations in which applications for Federal assistance are approved by some agency other than the Federal granting agency, the same rules and procedures would apply. Thus, the Federal Agency should instruct the approving agency-typically a State agency-to defer approval or refuse to grant funds, in individual cases in which such action would be taken by the original granting agency itself under the above procedures. Provision should be made for appropriate notice of such action to the Federal agency which retains responsibility for compliance with section 602 procedures.
The Attorney General should be consulted in individual cases in which the head of an agency believes that the objectives of title VI will be best achieved by proceeding other than as provided in these guidelines.
While primary responsibility for enforcement of title VI rests directly with the head of each agency, in order to assure coordination of title VI enforcement and consistency among agencies, the Department of Justice should be notified in advance of applications on which action is to be deferred, hearings to be scheduled, and refusals and terminations of assistance or other enforcement actions or procedures to be undertaken. The Department also should be kept advised of the progress and results of hearings and other enforcement actions.
28 C.F.R. § 50.3