As FY95 drew to a close, the Commission was about to mark its
30th anniversary. The Commission, founded July 19, 1965, is Iowa's
anti-discrimination agency. The Commission is the contact point
for citizens who believe that they have been discriminated against
in the areas of employment, housing, credit, public accommodations,
and education. It is the action point for citizens who need information
about their civil rights, for employers and landlords who need
to know the best ways to conduct their businesses, and for communities
who seek to appreciate the diversity of their citizens. It is
the hub of civil rights activities in Iowa.
FY95 has been a banner year for the Commission, with "firsts"
and "mosts" abounding in a recounting of its work. More
newly-filed complaints were received than ever before; more complaints
were resolved than ever before. More tests were conducted than
ever, and more communities around the state were reached. For
the first time, monies received by Iowans from settlement of complaints
topped one million dollars. For the first time, the Commission
reached out to communities who wanted to start community diversity
All of these accomplishments are components of the Commission's fight against discrimination and its work to achieve equality. The Commission fights discrimination four ways: by investigating and resolving individual complaints alleging discrimination; by conducting a multifaceted public education program on anti-discrimination law and the value of diversity; by testing entities covered by the law to determine the nature and extent of discrimination in Iowa; and by helping Iowa communities form diversity teams to address diversity issues and fight discrimination locally. Each of these ways of fighting discrimination will be discussed in detail in the following pages of this report.
The Commisision's budget for FY95 was $1,885,088. The funding sources were the Iowa General Fund as appropriated by the legislature, contracts and grants from federal agencies, and reimbursements for copying and miscellaneous costs. We received $511,250 from EEOC for investigation of cross-filed complaints, an increase of $102,202 from the previous year. We received a total of $199,399 from HUD for case processing of cross-filed cases and development of fair housing materials, and additional funds for fair housing testing. Grants were also received from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Iowa Humanities Board.
Internally, major changes were made in the Commission's computer system: an interface between our system and EEOC's system. This will eliminate the need for each cross-filed case to be entered individually on each system. One entry will be picked up by both systems. Most of the computers in the office were also linked into a network, so workers can share information and use internal electronic mail. Additional laptop computers were purchased for use by workers away from the office.
The Commission also installed a calls-processing telephone system. The system eliminates the need for a receptionist to route each call that is not made to a specific extension. This allows the support person to be available for tasks other than answering the telephone.
Callers to our two main numbers will hear a menu in English or Spanish so that they can immediately access the person or service needed. Callers can choose from the following topics: information on filing a complaint; general information on civil rights; status checks by persons who are parties to a complaint; requests for speakers, posters and printed materials; employer questions; and fair housing information. The hundreds of information calls received monthly by the Commission regarding child support, ADC, food stamps and Title 19 can be routed directly to the Department of Human Services.
The caller may also dial directly to any staff member's extension. All telephones have the Phonemail system, so that individual phones may be accessed 24-hours a day for the purpose of leaving a message. Staff members can also access their messages by telephone when away from the office.
In spite of the Commission's record setting achievements, the
search goes on for new and better ways to use our resources. We
actively search out grant sources for our new programs. We seek
individual volunteers and alliances with groups who want to join
in accomplishing our vision. We constantly strive for innovations
and quality improvements that will help us manage our increasing
work load. Our work will not be done until discrimination is gone