U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

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Washington Division

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Civil Rights Program


"Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial discrimination. Direct discrimination by Federal, State or local governments is prohibited by the Constitution. But indirect discrimination, through the use of Federal funds, is just as invidious…" John F. Kennedy

Transportation touches the lives of all persons living in the United States – it affects their economic well-being, their safety, their links to other people and other places, the quality of their environment, their access to education and cultural activities, and their security at home and abroad.

Civil Rights laws and implementing regulations extend to every facet of the Federal-aid highway program. This includes the design and construction of highways – from planning to project development, right-of-way, safety, and protecting the human and natural environment. As such, the FHWA has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that public funds are not spent in any fashion, which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in discrimination. As leaders for National mobility and stewards for National highway programs, FHWA has an inherent responsibility to ensure that all persons – regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, age, disability or religion, share in the benefits of the transportation investments in our highway program.

Our transportation investments not only help to build needed infrastructure for accessible, multi-modal connectivity, but also result in positive benefits to the general public in the way of employment, contracting, and education opportunities. However, they have also been known to generate unintended negative impacts - oftentimes falling disproportionately upon those populations the civil rights laws were enacted to protect. Transportation and civil rights share a common thread – they both concern “people”.

As a primary recipient of FHWA funds, each State Transportation Agency (STA) must develop and implement specific civil rights programs that ensure nondiscrimination in their (and their subrecipients’) transportation programs/processes/decisions. While STAs may assume certain project approval authorities, the FHWA is ultimately accountable for ensuring that the Federal-aid highway program is delivered consistent with all Federal laws, regulations and policies.

The FHWA’s external civil rights program responsibilities include: Nondiscrimination; Equal Opportunity; and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). The Division office provides, through an interdisciplinary approach, front-line Federal-aid civil rights program delivery through leadership, technology deployment, technical assistance, problem solving, program administration and oversight. The Division has approval authority and oversight responsibility for recipients’ civil rights program activities in the aforementioned program areas. In addition, the Divisions have responsibility to take action, as appropriate, to effectuate compliance when violations occur.


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Page last modified on April 1, 2013
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000