POLICY GOALS & RECOMMENDATIONS
I. Improve access to occupational health
and safety information.
✓ Make real the letter and spirit of the Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act.
The Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act is a sweeping mandate to ensure that California’s LEP population has access to state and local government services via bilingual staff and translated documents.29 It requires state and local agencies to employ a sufficient number of qualified bilingual staff in public contact positions and to translate documents explaining available services into the languages of their constituents when they serve a “substantial number of non-English-speaking people” or 5% of their constituency.30 The State Personnel Board (SPB) is required to inform state agencies of their responsibilities under the Act, provide technical assistance to them if requested, and oversee a statewide language survey.31
In 1999, the California State Auditor’s office surveyed 10 state agencies to determine the level of compliance with the Act.32 It found that there was inadequate staffing dedicated to language assistance, inadequate process for determining and keeping current on their constituents’ language needs, and inadequate monitoring and involvement by the SPB to ensure compliance. The Report concluded that the SPB did not analyze the information in the biennial surveys or follow-up with the surveyed agencies to sufficiently assist agencies in improving their language capacities. Neither the BBC nor Cal/OSHA was one of the ten agencies surveyed in 1999. The State Auditor’s office has not conducted a similar survey or report since then.
The Act has no enforcement mechanism or complaint process if an agency fails to comply. Additionally, there is no funding provided by the state for the specific purpose of language assistance; rather, the agency is responsible for funding the program out of its regular budget. The Act specifically provides that an agency need not comply if it is financially unable to do so but provides no guidance as to what constitutes financial inability, creating a significant loophole for avoiding implementation.
Require SPB to provide more proactive technical assistance and translation services to agencies during the two years between Biennial Language Surveys—not just during the time of the surveys themselves.
Require SPB to consistently analyze Biennial Language Surveys, make recommendations to agencies and the legislature, and provide assistance to agencies for remedying
California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative
To determine the number of non-English speakers among the people they serve, the Act provides no authorization to initiate a survey or otherwise seek information concerning a licensee’s language or ethnic background. Consequently, agencies gather data on their constituents’ languages through more passive approaches such as phone calls or office visits received through the normal course of business.
Request that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee commission an update to the 1999 Report by the California State Auditor on compliance with the Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act. Include survey of BBC and Cal/ OSHA and gather information on agencies’ budgets for and expected costs of compliance. Use information as basis for legislative, executive and regulatory action.