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Program Complaint Processing and Resolution Branch

Program Complaint Processing:

For questions on issues or how to file a Program Discrimination complaint you may contact the Rural Development Civil Rights staff via the “Contact Us" link in the left menu, or call them at 1-800-787-8821 option 02. Or File a discrimination complaint as a USDA customer at: Center for Civil Rights Enforcement.

Program Complaint Processing and Resolution Branch

The Program Complaint Branch is responsible for monitoring recipient compliance under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VIII of the Fair Housing Act of 1988, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Americans with Disability Act of 1990, The Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987. The Program Complaint (PC) Branch provides key outreach and educational tools to empower Rural Development employees to administer the various (Business, Housing, and Utility) programs to rural America. The Branch performs the following functions:

  • Process program discrimination complaints by drafting recommendation(s) for corrective action for resolution of complaints. Conducts intake analysis on informal complaints.
  • Provides input for or independently devises Agency Position Statements for the Director of the Civil Rights Staff on Departmental civil rights policy, procedures, and problems. Prepares reports and performs special projects of a complex, and sensitive nature, for the RD Administrator(s) or the Director, Civil Rights Staff in response to their requests for civil rights activity information involving RD programs.
  • Handles difficult, highly complex and sensitive cases of discrimination. Process Hotline complaints and FOIA and Congressional Requests related to Civil Rights Program matters.
  • Provides technical assistance to RD and external customers.
  • Assists OGC in preparation of necessary documentation to initiate enforcement action. Establish and maintain contact with community businesses and minority leaders to exchange information for the resolution of mutual problems and provides explanations of RD/USDA policies and practices.

The following includes contact and complaint information:

  • What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

    Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, is a process USDA Rural Development uses to help complainants resolve program discrimination disputes in an informal setting. ADR helps to avoid the cost, delay, and unpredictability of more formal dispute processes like litigation, hearings, and appeals, which can potentially take years to reach a decision. Several techniques of ADR exist, including mediation, conciliation, and early neutral evaluation, to name a few.

    USDA Rural Development has selected mediation as the preferred ADR method for resolving program discrimination disputes. Through mediation, a neutral, impartial third-party mediator assists the people involved in the disagreement with voluntarily reaching a resolution acceptable to all. Mediators facilitate the process — they do not have the authority to make final decisions or rulings on a dispute.

  • How to file a complaint

    To file a Program Discrimination complaint, you can contact the Rural Development Civil Rights staff via the “Contact Us” Button. An available specialist on staff will be happy to assist you.

    For questions on issues or how to file a complaint you may contact the Rural Development Civil Rights staff at 1-800-787-8821, option 02.

    What is a Program Discrimination Complaint?

    Filing a Program Discrimination Complaint as a USDA Customer

    USDA prohibits discrimination against its customers. If you believe you experienced discrimination when obtaining services from USDA, participating in a USDA program, or a program that receives financial assistance from USDA, you may file a complaint with USDA. OASCR, through the Center for Civil Rights Enforcement, will investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination in programs operated or assisted by USDA.

    USDA prohibits discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, familial status, disability, limited English proficiency, or because all or a part of an individual's income is derived from a public assistance program. In programs that receive Federal financial assistance from USDA, discrimination is prohibited on the bases of race, color, religious creed, sex, political beliefs, age, disability, national origin, or limited English proficiency. (Not all bases apply to all programs.) Reprisal is prohibited based on prior civil rights activity.

    To file a program discrimination complaint, you may obtain a complaint form by sending an email to SM.OASCR.Info. You or your authorized representative must sign the complaint form. You are not required to use the complaint form. You may write a letter instead. If you write a letter, it must contain all of the information requested in the form and be signed by you or your authorized representative. Incomplete information will delay the processing of your complaint. Employment civil rights complaints will not be accepted through this email address.

    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). Send your completed complaint form or letter by mail, fax, or email.

    By Mail
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Director, Center for Civil Rights Enforcement
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20250-9410
    Fax (202) 690-7442
    E-mail: program.intake@usda.gov

  • Name    Title    Phone    Email Address   
    Terri Sneed    Acting Civil Rights Director 202-642-0665  Terri.Sneed@usda.gov
    Heather Rhine-Bouie  Acting Branch Chief, Program Complaint Processing and Resolution Branch 318-473-7934 heather.rhine-bouie@usda.gov
    Jerry V. Frink Equal Opportunity Assistant   202-692-0357 jerry.frink@usda.gov
    Elaine Chalmers Equal Opportunity Specialist 202-692-5219 elaine.chalmers@usda.gov
    Kelly Cunningham-Bowers Equal Opportunity Specialist   720-544-2983  kelly.cunningham-bowers@usda.gov
    Tonja Jackson Equal Opportunity Specialist    202-692-0102 Tonja.Jackson@usda.gov  
    Pauline Waterman Equal Opportunity Assistant 202-692-0359  Pauline.Price2@usda.gov  
    Heather Rhine-Bouie Equal Opportunity Specialist 318-955-2387 Heather.Rhine-Bouie@usda.gov   
    Carolyn Turner Equal Opportunity Specialist  254-742-9747 Carolyn.Turner@usda.gov
    Sherran Nutson Equal Opportunity Specialist  770-282-5501 Sherran.Nutson@usda.gov
    Patrick Alexander Equal Opportunity Specialist 469-383-3727 Patrick.Alexander@usda.gov
  • Types of Programs

    • Assisted – Multi-Family Housing (MFH); Rural Utilities Service (RUS); Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBCS), Community Facilities (CF)
    • Guaranteed – (*interest credit only*)
    • Conducted – Single-Family Housing (SFH); Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBCS)
    • Guaranteed Loans

    Discrimination by Type

    Learn about the various types of discrimination prohibited by the laws enforced by RD Instruction 1901-E and 7 CFR Part 15 Subpart A. We also provide links to the relevant laws, regulations and policy guidance, and also fact sheets, Q&As, best practices, and other information.

    • Age
    • Disability
    • Income Derived From Public Assistance
    • National Origin
    • Race
    • Color
    • Religion
    • Retaliation
    • Sex
    • Language Barriers
    • Familial Status
    • Marital Status
    • Sexual Orientation